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itslearning – Teaching Made Easier from itslearning USA on Vimeo.

It’s coming as a new initiative for us.

Day One at #GATATL June 26, 2014

I’ve been in some trainings recently, getting acclimated to the LMS coming to my district. Do I like it over Google’s Classroom? As a recent graduate of the  Google Teacher Academy (#GTAATL) and now sporting a shiny new endorsement, Google Certified Teacher, one would think I would be a holdout. Yes, I wish we had gone with Google’s Classroom, but alas, even though we are a GAFE district, we chose a different program, ItsLearning.

I will not lie–I was disappointed we opted for this one over Google’s  Classroom, especially after my introduction and exposure through my Google Teacher Academy experience this summer.  Each day as I become more acclimated to ItsLearning, I become a fan, an enthusiastic one. I’m sure this is true with any LMS,  but I really think this has potential to be a panacea for teachers and their ownership of technology learning. I’m sure the scale of implementation will be appropriate to the levels of technology comfort our teachers have, and I can say that since I am tapped as a trainer in my district.

My initial worry with the plan for implementation is that teachers would approach it like many other initiatives we are introduced to each “back to school” fiscal year:

  • This too shall pass….
  • Same thing, new name. (Beat it to fit, paint it to match mentality)

Do those reactions ring true for anyone else?  I must confess I have muttered these sayings myself over the years. Where was my inner “team player” thinking cap?

But this time I’m very excited about our new initiative. I can envision a bright future using this LMS. I don’t think it will magically cure all that ails teachers, especially with their adoption of seamlessly integrated technology in the classroom. But I do think we are definitely on the right track. I realize there will be some who get on the bandwagon immediately, and these will serve as models to others. There will be those who will adopt, but not without a lot of support. And there will be those who need a lot of side-by-side “thinking out loud” and brainstorming to wrap their minds around using it.  What really makes me happy is that our students will be using a program K-12, and for the first time, I feel teachers will look forward to newer technologies I share.

Okay, so maybe panacea is too strong a description of the impact ItsLearning might have. I do feel it will help us turn the corner to more authentic use of technology in our schools. I hope as a district trainer, I can be instrumental in casting the vision for this LMS and its use/impact in my district. So for now it IS the panacea we need.

What’s your panacea? Inquiring minds want to know.


The South Carolina Association of School Librarians is accepting proposals NOW for the 2015 Annual Conference. It already sounds EXCITING!! Just get a look at the save the date card that came in the mail. Are you dismissing it? Do you avoid conference because it’s the same old stuff each year? Well STEP into your super hero shoes and make this the best conference ever! Break the mold by presenting something at our conference. You may be just the difference we are looking for. What better way to advocate for school library programs everywhere than by sharing what is working in your own teaching (and learning) context!


What will I propose?

I submitted my proposals today:

  • Ten Tools to Flipping the Library – Concurrent
  • Not Another Powerpoint! – Concurrent
  • My Google Certified Teacher Journey – Idea  Exchange (aka poster session)

These are what I have been thinking about and/or actually doing in my own professional learning, and I just want to share with other librarians, opening the door to learning via conversations at our annual conference. To me, the value of SCASL Conference is not measured by the keynotes and authors (which are always grand) but rather the sharing and learning from librarians just like me facing students day to day. I look forward to sharing my stories, and can’t wait to hear yours, and better, learn from you.  Crossing my fingers these proposals are accepted!!


So, what are YOU willing to share?

Keep in mind you have two types to consider. There is the standard concurrent, which typically lasts as hour, and then the Idea Exchange, which are less formal and happen on Wednesday during the opening of the exhibit hall. If you feel nervous presenting, consider a co-presenter or a panel session, which takes the heat off. Crowd sourcing topics is an excellent way to get in on a presentation too. Last spring my “Don’t Worry, Get ‘Appy” session came together because I knew people would sign-up to share if they knew they only had to talk for 3-5 minutes. We had a great session that day last year at SCASL14.

So, get busy. Submit your presentation proposal now! Visit SCASL.net and using the navigation menu on the left, click Conference, then Application to Present. If you need an idea, I can give you some!

My official GTA Badge, pin, and certificate.

I haven’t mentioned too much about my Google Teacher Academy experience in Atlanta this summer. I am just having difficulty putting it into words. The pictures alone still do not effectively relay my experience. Maybe it’s because I had the GCTATL event, followed by ISTE’s precon event Hack Edu. and finally the ISTE conference, so the term overwhelmed is an absolute understatement. So much is swimming in my head STILL weeks later!! I did try to share a few of my favorite sessions at ISTE a few times previously on this blog.

Some of my friends are beginning to share their experiences for GTA, and I want to share AND feature some of their content, especially since they really capture the essence of the experience. Maybe some of my pictures will take care of this for me. We were cautioned about taking too many photos, and to be sure not to capture actual working “Googlers” while in their office. Factor in my AWE, and I didn’t take as many as I thought. I tried to capture the workspaces we were in and the GCT attendees hard at work.

Take a moment to read through these two GCT’s reflections that REALLY resonate with me!!


Of course I have to give a shout out to Chelsi Eminger, who’s five minute pres has inspired me to work with a class or two using this exact project.  Prior to GTA, I’d never even heard of Eric Curts. Chelsi, thanks for sharing this, enlightening me, and giving me a real project to work into my teaching context immediately!!

There is much more to process. Hopefully I will eventually pull it into a few posts. I complimented Andy and Chelsi via twitter about their reflections, admitting I had difficulty trying to put any of the experience in writing.  So this is my attempt to begin doing just that, as encouraged by Andy. I’m really encouraged to realize I’m not the only one struggling with a sufficient reflection.

This was a repeated theme through sessions I attended and conversations I had while in Atlanta last week.  Glad I snapped this photo from the 2nd ISTE Ignite session.  I’m going to find a way to replicate this and display it in our Dorman Library. Stay tuned.


I attended this session at ISTE, and I cannot lie, I was floored. The session wasn’t near long enough to cover everything in it, so presenter Steve Dembo encouraged us to return and process what we could on our own time. Summertime TV is the perfect opportunity for me to do that. I say so because summer TV is so bad, I don’t mind sitting in my living room and viewing, interacting, reading and reflecting over my ISTE notes while the guys watch any programming with a ball and scores! I spent a full evening just processing through the wealth of content in Steve’s Prezi. Steve Dembo created a path to highlight content with in the Prezi, but I quickly realized i wasn’t getting to view all the embedded content. I started over to ensure I viewed each and every part of, which took me probably 2 hours if not more. It was time well spent and left my head spinning with ideas and more. Now I’ve challenged myself to take sometime to really learn WeVideo, since I loved the examples shared in this session.

There were three key concepts that were emphasized during this session.

  1. The elements that make viral videos great are replicable by educators and students.
  2. Complex digital storytelling techniques can be accessed by educators using free technologies
  3. Simple storytelling can be used to demonstrate knowledge in every subject, and nearly every grade level.

Youtube is blocked where you are? Dembo made sure we understood that this should not dissuade you as a teacher from embracing digital storytelling. There are plenty of tools out there on the Internet where you can apply the takeaways from the session. Instead of thinking of YT as something out of reach due to your school’s filter, implement the YT style of video making. What does that mean? Let kids make videos to demonstrate learning through a variety of sources for a variety of reasons. Students are not intimidated by this because generally video making for this generation is already very much YT-like; short, creative, looking for an audience, wishing to be the next YT viral sensation. Educators need to harness this energy for learning!


At the ISTE2014 Discovery edcucation Birthday Bash, I met up with friends Sue Levine and Steve Dembo.


Just in case his Prezi is not showing through your digital portal, here is the direct link: http://prezi.com/sefzj_jpnupp/storytelling-for-the-youtube-generation/#


My last morning of ISTE may very well have been my favorite. I attended the ISTE Librarian Network Breakfast Keynote featuring Jennifer Lagarde, aka Library Girl. I’ve followed her Zombie Librarian posts from her blog for a while now, but to hear the actual story and how it grew into now a keynote was well worth getting over to the convention center early. The ISTE Librarian’s Network leadership team captured the keynote via Google Hangout, and I for one plan to use it—not only here on my own blog, but also hopefully as a “librarian specific” district staff development near the beginning of school.

Watch the session via an archived Google Hangout

The keynote begins around the 7:15 mark and is so worth watching!  While this breakfast keynote was targeted to an audience of librarians or those who work with them, I believe those who work with or as teachers might see some “teacher” zombie symptoms as well. This keynote will turn most everyone who watches it instantly into a “zombie fighter.” Special thanks goes out to the Librarian Network and Jennifer Lagarde for allowing us to share this video.

At the end of the session, Jennifer Lagarde invited audience members to be in her group selfie, charging us to beat Ellen Degeneres’ recent group selfie. I think we did it thanks to the long arms of Matthew Winner.



ISTE Expo Google Booth in action

A tweeted picture from Robert Pronovost, an ISTE 2014 Attendee. https://pbs.twimg.com/medi

I very much enjoyed a fellow Google Certified Teacher Tinashe Blanchet’s Exhibit Hall session at the Google Booth during ISTE 2014.  Titled “7 Ways Rock Star Teachers Use Youtube!“, it allowed me to walk away rethinking my own use of Youtube. Even from the library, I should step up my presence there, and add more student centered or better, student generated content. She was amazing in her less than 25 minute session. She did not play through all her videos embedded in the Google Pres, but she left me wanting more, so of course my first attempt at processing my ISTE 2014 experience had me revisiting the material from her mini session.

Here is an outline including the videos she shared to emphasize each point. They are definitely worth watching!

  1. Document Your Work! Use videos to showcase your digital footprint. Create a channel in Youtube and store your resources there.  Make video digital portfolio! See hers here:

  2. Teach – create videos; or better, have students create videos to teach your content. What better way to have students demonstrate a concept than to assign a video project.

  3. Connect with other educators by searching for educational videos in Youtube. You’ll find some that are really good (though you’ll have to take the time to sift through what’s there.) Not everything will be right for your class due to content or quality. But once you find ones that you know work for you or better, work for your students, add those creators to your PLN and interact with them.

  4. Engage your students!  Letting students create videos to demonstrate a concept can be quite engaging, especially when you free them up to use their own style and creative juices. Notice how the students in this video are accurately using the vocabulary associated with the topic. How can they not develop a better understanding when they use it for making videos like this?

  5. Set yourself apart! Creating videos allows you as the teacher and your students too be different from everyone else. Students will remember especially how you made them feel, and letting them create in a manner that matches their personality, style, attitude, and more will really speak to them.  THis video features Tinasha’s Google Teacher Academy application video.

  6. Make videos to put in your channel that invovle real life problem solving. Tanisha missed a week of school to attend the Google teacher Academy in London, and so she used details about here trip to engae her studnets while they had a substitute.

  7. Above all, inspire. Actively recruit other members in your teaching community to be a part of your adventures! Check out the principal, other teachers, and the students as they capture the essence of graphing in a higher level high school math class.



Tanisha closed with this quote from the recently passed Maya Angelou, and it certainly resonates:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  Maya Angelou

While I am unable to share her presentation slides embedded, I can share her youtube channel and a link to this presentation. Prepare to be floored. AND inspired.

UPDATE: Permission granted to embed!!


Spot on, Frank!!

And yet another reason I’m a huge Gamecock fan (other than my alumni status!) Sure wish our decision makers in congress got it.

Being in a school library with a trend to infuse technology in the k12 environment has forced me to think differently. More students bring their own device, and more classes in my teaching context are equipped one-to-one, making the library potentially an irrelevant space. Since students want to turn to computers or digital avenues for their research, I have stepped up the investments in digital portals for the library. I market them to teachers and students at orientations and during instructional units that call for research. I share continuously with my teachers, and advertise our services as resources that can supplement their instruction. I make sure to “take the library” to them, offering to visit classrooms as opposed to forcing classes to schedule the library. The library has grown from a physical space to include a conceptual/digital place as well.

How have you addressed ambiguity and irrelevancy as real threats to your library program?

A panoramic view from the circulation desk at Dorman High. Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson 28 August 2013.

Fruits of Labor

Our “Friends of the Library” book sale began Thursday, May 1, and has been available everyday all day, and will remain so until the last day of school. We have not seen huge numbers or sales, but we are having some. Since we are required to purchase books with the proceeds, and we can’t turn in anymore P.O.’s for this year, we opted to cash out over at the local book store. SQUEEE–can’t wait to get my hands on some of these! Can’t wait to show them off to our library regulars either! (And even though the last day to check out was Friday, we are still circulating to our very regular library readers.  Shhhhh, don’t tell. I trust them.)

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