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I can’t speak loudly enough of the power of connected learning.  As Connected Educator month continues, I thought about what inspirational voices come from local flavor (the South Carolina variety.)  You will find these amidst all the other feeds I subscribe to in my current reader of choice, Feedly.  And actually I was asked by one of my connected voices to provide a list, which is how this came about.  In compiling it today, I realized there are some “Twitter” voices that impact my daily practice as well, though there is no blog RSS feed to show for them. I do have a Twitter List of SC Voices here as well.

So without further meandering, here are a few lists of voices from South Carolina I have inspiring me.  I’ve done this before a few years ago, but this is an update.  Yeah, wow, my blog, born October 1, 2006, is now seven years old.

South Carolina School Librarians

South Carolina Teachers/Educators Across the Curriculum

South Carolina School Administrators

South Carolina – Other/Interesting

Is an RSS reader still a new concept to you? Then check out Feedly, and add these feeds today!!

 

In the last ten days or so I’ve posted about DEN (Discovery Educator Network) and the valuable  resources that educators can access.  But there is even MORE available if an educator will apply.  It is known to DEN members as becoming a STAR DEN member. What’s the big deal?

 

Let’s look at what perks are available to STAR Discovery Educators:

  • Personal communications and support from the DEN including the DEN Weekly Update
  • A space on DE to blog, wheere members can collaborate and share with others 2.0 style
  • Access to instructional resources posted by other Discovery Educators–they are a sharing kind of group!
  • Opportunities to attend Discovery events; be the first to hear about meet-ups and opportunities, and best, most may qualify for recertification credits in my state (SC folks, be sure to talk to your district liaison for getting credits through these opportunities, what is acceptable varies from district to district.)
  • Access to exclusive STAR Discovery Educator promotions and contests–win all kinds of resources
  • STAR-only professional development opportunities such as the DEN Summer Institute

 

So if you want to be a STAR DEN, what should you do? 
 
Becoming a STAR Discovery Educator is easy. Educators just need to commit to sharing the power of Discovery Education and digital media with their colleagues, then do so. It’s a two step process.
 

Step 1 – Watch an informative video; apply

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 10.37.50 PMLog in to Discovery education (StreamlineSC for you SOUTH Carolinans!).  Click on Discovery Educator Network from the list of links just below your name.

 

At this point you can read specific details straight from Discovery Education about what a STAR is and what it means.  At the very bottom of this page filled with valuable information there is a link to apply.  Click on the link, and complete the application.

 

WHAT!? There’s a TEST!!??

Yeah, there’s an application quiz, but DE has provided all the answers in a quick video provided for you to watch, so don’t worry about that quiz. In all likelihood if you are exploring STAR DEN status, you already know all the answers. Don’t think of it as a quiz, instead think of it as a survey so DE can get to know you.
 

Part 2 of the Process:

Log/Report two events.  EASY.  I saw this acronym on Porter Palmer’s post on this DEN Blog (shared via Karen Ogen) so I’m reposting a screenshot of it here. This post really outlines WELL the process for becoming a STAR DEN, and so very much worth the click and time to visit and read.

Screenshot 2013-10-20 15.05.28

 

To maintain your STAR status, just annually report two events.  Many of you do this naturally, in formal settings (i.e. team meeting, department meeting, faculty meetings) but even those informal meetings count (i.e. over lunch with two or more colleagues.) Just share what you did.  Be sure to completely read Porter Palmer’s helpful DEN post about becoming a STAR. It has great screenshots and important information that will help.

172 Hours on the Moon172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay I freaking loved the book….until the very end. The suspense built naturally, and by the end of the book my family said I was lip reading during a wild football game here at the house (which was crazy I might add–I had to mouth the words to focus and concentrate during the game.) The book had a surprise ending which I like, but I’m not sure I liked how it ended. Wondering if there is a sequel planned….a quick search didn’t reveal much, but I wasn’t persistent. Somewhat violent towards the end. I will be able to get some of my high school readers to select it though, and that is key!! It’s on the YALSA 2013 Nominee list for 2013 TOP TEN. I can see why!  Those TOP TEN get announced THIS WEEK!  This one just might make the cut!

View all my reviews

This is really part two of yesterday’s post, and I will now focus on Discovery Education’s Discovery Educator Network.  How fitting that Arne Duncan named October as “Connected Educator Month,” because connecting educators is what I think of when I think Discovery Educator Network (DEN).  Since South Carolinians have access to part of the most popular resource offered by Discovery Education, Discovery Streaming, known to educators in SC as StreamlineSC, it is only fitting for us to appreciate the opportunity to connect over these resources and join DEN. No, it’s not the only reason to be a “connected educator” but it is a means, especially for those looking for connections, and worried about online weirdos. DEN is a safe place to seriously look at becoming a connected educator.

 

My Story: How did I grow into a connected educator?

I attended my first ISTE conference, then known as NECC (National Education Computing Conference) in 2005. It was a surreal experience that introduced me to movers, shakers, and forward-minded thinkers in education. The big new ideas then centered around a concept known then only as Internet 2 (2.0 was not a buzzword yet), and specific popular platforms to experience “Internet 2″ were video conferencing, blogging, and podcasting. I remember attending a session by Joyce Valenza where she modeled connecting to a museum for a virtual research experience. She was so cutting edge and I was flabbergasted. The concept grew into what we now think of as web 2.0, and the term Internet 2 now means something totally different.

 

It changed me dramatically!

I left this conference in Philadelphia wanting to share the excitement that I had. It was contagious, and I wanted to continue learning from the many experts I’d heard at that conference, and more importantly, share my learning with my friends. Even better, I now had a way to continue learning from my new role models in education via their blogs and/or podcasts. The forward-minded thinkers introduced me to many new voices and had me rethinking everything about the way I taught.  I created a rss reader account (then Bloglines), and started aggregating their material via RSS feeds right into my laptop at home.  It was a daily fix and I was addicted.

 

Reading and or listening was enough…initially

rss-manAt first just reading their material was enough. Eventually I began to correspond via comments with them. Imagine my elation when one of them responded back or mentioned me in a post! Eventually it was not enough to just interact via blogs and podcasts. This is probably when my true “connected-ness” started. I decided to blog and then tweet. My blog, born October 1, 2006 over on the Google Blogger platform, then transitioned to Edublogs, and finally came to rest on my own domain has been a place for me to publicly share my thinking, interact with others, and most importantly extend my learning. It has afforded me plenty of opportunities to interact with my revered movers and shakers. My first blog post, I am happy to report, still resonates my true feelings too.

 

NECC Atlanta 2007

By the time NECC Atlanta in June 2007 came around, I felt I was “in the club” of bloggers, so joined up with the first ever EdubloggerCon, a free preconference/unconference day set up so that bloggers and those who followed them could come together to create conversations in an unconference-like atmosphere. Here I met face-to-face and more importantly, truly connected with my all-star bloglines rss list: allow me to name drop–Kathy Schrock, Lisa Thumann, Liz Davis, Steve Dembo, Joyce Valenza, Mark Wagner, Jeff Utecht, Chris Lehman, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach, Dean Shareski, Will Richardson, David Warlick, Vicki Davis, Julie Lindsey, Jennifer Wagner, Cheryl Oakes, Doug Johnson, and even from my own state, Chris Craft. I know I’m leaving plenty of names out, but I met and agreed or debated over education topics with what I considered to be the greatest thinkers in education. I cultivated a relationship face-to-face with people before who I’d only had virtual conversations with. There were no slides, no projectors, no handouts, just simply an informal circling or grouping of seats to share, discuss, debate, argue, and extend professional learning. I left suddenly realizing what it meant to be a “connected educator.” I cultivated a PLN, and worked to grow it from there. This group became a sounding board of sorts, physically and virtually. I had to pinch myself each time I interacted with them in virtual circles, like Skype, or in webinar programs, like Women of Web 2.0 or Classroom 2.0.

 

From lurker to virtual friend to full blown PLN Member

As I grew in these online circles, both in friendships and learnings, I began to dabble in other online circles. I began getting invited to work at leading professional development opportunities. Through my interactions with my PLN, I began getting asked to make contributions.  I developed a Twitter account so I could network with my PLN in a microblogging atmostphere. My Twitter account was born on April 28, 2007 at the encouragement of Vicki Davis for the sole purpose of trying it out like the rest of my PLN. I discovered the beauty of Twitter at home during the summer of 2007′s Building Learning Communities conference sponsored by Alan November, where I was able to follow along really well with everything going on at the conference, simply by reading blogs, twitter posts, where those in attendance shared video streams and pictures just to name a few things. it was almost like being there.

 

Discovery Educator Network – another facet of my PLN

Back to DEN. I like to think of it as a GLOBAL group of educators who come together periodically, some more often than others, to learn from each other or learn together about best practice in education. Often times it is centered on educational technology, though not always Discovery Education resources.  More often than not it is a virtual group meeting via social networking resources, but there are state level, national, and even international opportunities to come together as a group.

SC DEN Group

There is a South Carolina Group. We generally meet face to face at conferences, but on occasion, the SC Den group will gather in Columbia. At this time our Leadership Council for the SC group is lead by Karen Ogen, a Technology Integration Specialist in Lexington/Richland 5.  Typically we have gotten together for SC Edtech and the summer Upstate Technology Conference, but last week, I never heard about a DEN event. This may be because we had a DEN event in Rock Hill in September after the SC EdCamp.  Never the less, DEN events happen at the state level and beyond. Below is a screen shot showing a calendar of events. There is also a SC DEN Blog to follow.

 

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 8.51.57 PM

Screenshot of DEN Events; etc.

 

Here is a video sharing what it means to be a connected educator.

 

Here is an infographic that shares the perks and benefits of being in the Discovery Educator Network:

 

And last, here is a video promoting the joining of DEN. Here real people tell you how much value it brings the professional educator:

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 10.37.50 PM

Since this became much longer than I had anticipated, I’ll share STAR DEN later. But you can access the DEN network with your login to Discovery Streaming.  Just login and drop down the menu under “My DE Services” to find your link to DEN.

Last week our state had our annual SC Edtech Conference in Greenville, SC, just up the road from me.  It’s a great conference that is timely, as it’s still close enough to the beginning of school to actually “try out” anything new you get from the conference. I had take-aways from every session and/or event, so Im sharing them here!

 

Tuesday, October 8
It was a regular school day for me, but after school, I drove over to Greenville to meet up with Keynote Speaker Doug Johnson and friends Kitty Trippe, Anne Lemieux, and Valerie Byrd. We had a blast having dinner together at Smoke on the Water. Some of you also know Doug from his blog, The Blue Skunk Blog.

 

Wednesday, October 9 – Day 1 of SC Edtech
Day one was exciting and wonderful, with just one session before Doug’s keynote, then the rest of the day to follow Doug to his breakout sessions. Since I was a part time volunteer, my volunteer conference “work” would be to scan badges at the Keynote, which I’d already planned with front-row seating.  I will list my sessions, along with a reflection to share new learnings, take-aways, and ah-ha moments:

 


Title: Affordable and Simple Enhancements for Screencasting in a Flipped Classroom; Presenter: Benjamin Daniel
Wow, despite a downed Internet Connection convention-center wide, Ben was able to wow my socks off with many examples of screencasting tools and video editing apps he has used as he has explored some “flipped classroom” implementation. My favorite take aways:

 

Keynote with Doug JohnsonNext Up was the Keynote with Doug Johnson.  Of course you KNOW I sat in the front row, which I sometimes jokingly refer to as either the “suck-up” row or the “heckler” row.  The name all depends on how well (or bad it goes.)  I had several friends join me there!!

dougfans

From my Twitter feed October 9, 2013: Me, KItty Trippe, Fran Mauney, and Pat Hensley sit in the “suck-up” row for Doug!

Much of Doug’s keynote, Rules of Engagement: Using Personal Technologies to Motivate Rather Than Distract  focused on ways to engage students! It was very relevant for our audience, and something I strongly believe in. He made us laugh quite a bit. I can happily report my seat choice was declared a “suck-up” row seat. I also attended his breakout session Developing Creativity in Every Learner, and his breakout session Change from the Radical Center.

Best Doug Johnson takeaways:

  • Kids aren’t demanding entertainment, they are demanding engagement.
  • Kids today are media consumers!
  • What’s the WIIFM factor? Kids will always want to know “what’s in it for me?” Factor it in with designing learning opportunities.
  • It’s the smart people who ask questions.
  • BYOD: Think uses, not rules; have kids describe how their device will make the a better student.
  • Doug’s mantra:  ”I don’t have all the answers but I can promise you’ll be confused at a higher level.”
  • As a part of district leadership, Doug sends a parent letter about purchasing at home for the intent of use as a BYOD item for school, and includes suggested guidelines to make the right purchase. (I love this proactive mindset from the district level!!)
  • The most important component of lesson design for teachers is to present problems that students WANT to solve. Let creativity happen. Why? In real life, routine work is going away, even in the white collar job market; complex and creative thinking jobs are replacing the routine jobs.
  • There is a movement or paradigm shift in pedagogical thinking, and now teachers shouldn’t entertain but instead let students entertain, with a tangible byproduct  being engagement & learning. It’s why the flipped classroom model is so widely popular right now.
  • Creativity is Blooms highest level, in NETS, and many other standards language today. Since this is true, why is creativity often overlooked? (Something he left us to think about!)
  • Doug says, “All good educators are subversive at heart.”  (Thanks Doug for endorsing why I sometimes make decisions in my teaching practice and then have to ask forgiveness later!)
  • Johnson’s “multiple creative abilities” rivals the widely accepted theory of  multiple intelligences.
  • All the resources from his keynote and breakout session can be found on Doug’s Wikispaces, which are linked above.
  • Lot’s of references to Referenced Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson and Daniel Pink. GREAT! (Sure wish my principal and more district leaders were here to hear it.)
  • Misconception: Creativity doesn’t mean throw out the parameters and limitations.

 

Thursday, October 10, 2013 – DAY 2
Liz plays a game!!

Liz plays a game!!

My second day at SC Edtech called for a two-hour volunteer stint in the “gaming” center inside the Exhibit hall. Since our SC Eftech theme was “Putting it Together” and all the logos, t-shirts, and decor featured the DOS look of the 80s video games (anyone remember Pacman or Asteroids?) my volunteer job was to be the “caretaker” of gaming equipment set up in the gaming center. I wasn’t alone–Liz Hood and I tagged teamed to be in the gaming center, offering a restful respite for attendees

Edtech Swag!

complete with a set up of gaming. We switched off, taking turns visiting vendors, getting our Exhibit Hall “Passport” stamped (for the closing doorprizes), and getting swag from booths. I needed swag as we have Teen Read Week this coming week, so that “swag” will serve as goofy prizes for various contests we will offer with our TRW festivities.” While this picture shows some cool gear (earbuds, a waterproof case, a cellphone-shaped stress toy and a football-shaped stress toy) I did manage to pick up some really good items including a rubics cube-shaped stress toy, a rubics cube-like pen, lots of other pens, pencils, highlighters, mini flashlights that look like flash drives, and more!

 

Sessions I attended Thursday:

 

Title: Stop, Collaborate and Listen – Classroom Videoconference Projects; Presenter: Tim Van Heule
I got a shout out in Tim’s session–it’s nice to have presenters call you by name in their sessions.  Big take way here was when I learned that a London Museum will do free Skype visits!! Tip–don’t expect these things to happen quickly. A good video conference/virtual field trip event takes about six weeks to organize/prepare. Lot’s of behind the scenes things to think about including coordinating schedules. Saying that, impromptu ones can happen. The room was packed and Tim gave plenty of good ideas for a variety of video conferencing, from ones that use the really expensive equipment to ones that just use Skype or Google Hangouts. I also learned that the Greenville Zoo will collaborate with schools via video conferencing, though at a cost. Home grown and available!

 

Title: Google: Harness the Tool for Learning; Presenter: Cathy Jo Nelson
My own session was a packed room! I was certainly surprised. I brought 80 postcard sized handout with the link to my resources. I had set up a TodaysMeet room for my session, but just as I started, the Internet connection died. I had to repeatedly share the link to resources (the session resources link, Edmodo code, and TodaysMeet link) at the beginning. I felt like I had a good response to the content. At least there was some applause and some twitter feedback provided that was positive. In the top photo, which is one I took of my audience, you can see my exhibit hall bag filled to the brim with SWAG!! The other photo was taken by a friend in the audience.
 
Title: You can use technology in the secondary social studies classroom; Presenter: Bob Perkins
After my session and my stint in the exhibit hall, I went to Bob Perkin’s session. I wanted to be there since I knew one of our Social Studies teachers was coming and I too feel often times specific content areas are overlooked so as to appeal to broader audiences.  I was not surprised to see a small group in this session’s attendees.  Even more pleasing, several were school librarians.  Go figure!! Takeways: Splashtop, Reflector–go paid version; plenty of online quiz builders like Quizlet, Quia, more.

 


Title: Easybib: An Online Research Resource Students Shouldn’t Be Without; Presenter: Russ Conrath
I went to this session as my school has considered purchasing a site license for EasyBib. Russ did a great job going over the highlights and features available to pro account users. EasyBib Pro is not all that expensive considering the size of my student population. Russ had a nice compilation of student and teacher testimonials in video format. He showed us his screencasts that he has made available to students to refresh/remind them how to use it if he is unavailable. NICE. Russ compared using this tool to math classes using scientific calc; we still teach concept, but the tool makes it less painful to apply the concept in citing a source. TRUE THAT! The site has plenty of perks as well, like searching the web right from EasyBib. EasyBib can do the web evaluation for a user, making that part of the research process easier as well. I don’t know if all my classes would use this, but I am thinking some would love it! We may take a more serious look into this purchase again.

 

Friday, October 11, 2013 – Final Day of SC Edtech

 

Title: Virtual Libraries “The end of libraries as you knew it”;  Presenters: Liz Hood & Randy Abbott

Liz talked about the four waves or types of librarians, walking us through history of libraries as repositories to libraries as information/maker places. She polled everyone to see where they were on this continuum and most ranged from Level 2 to Level 3. But after hearing Randy Abbott talk about Anderson 4′s use of MediaCast, many of us who really thought we were cutting edge had to re-evaluate where we were on this continuum. I really would like to visit Randy in Anderson 4 to get a better look at how their district is using MediaCast.  Liz will be adding this presentation’s resources to her website in the near future.

 

Title: Student Access to Streamline-PC, MAC, iPad, smart phone; Presenter: Debbie Jarrett

Debbie Jarrett showed us Board Builder

I had a very hard time trying to decide which session to attend last. I really wanted to attend Monica Roveri’s Text to Talk session, as I know Monica is a “think outside the box” kind of teacher-librarian with great ideas that can work at any level. But with the influx of BYOD at my school, something made me decide last minute to attend our SCETV contact/liaison/trainer Debbie Jarrett’s session. I was NOT disappointed. I read quite a bit, and had heard of Board Builder before, but I hadn’t taken the time to truly explore it. Debbie modeled it, and suddenly I have a perfect solution for a project dilemma a collaborating teacher and I have. I will be blogging about this project later, but suffice it to say I need our students to be able to add a media player for their narrations into a website with their picture, and Board Builder will now be our vehicle. We saw many tools from the Discovery Education site besides Board Builder, and talked about the difference between Discovery Streaming and Streamline SC, which I blogged about yesterday. Favorite takeaways: managing classes through StreamlineSC (aka Discovery Streaming); InfuseLearning as a nice site that caters to BYOD and teachers can use the video embedded quiz builder!; Learning about how teachers can download StreamlineSC Videos or clips and add them to their Edmodo libraries for making available to students (and being reminded teachers might want to snag both types as not all students with BYOD can use the same types.)  My favorite take-way was learning about a new mobile web browser: iCab Mobile.

The Learning Continued into the afternoon–After SC Edech

After leaving the convention center, a group from my district went to lunch (Smoke on the Water again!!) and then down into the River Falls park to debrief, share our experiences, and talk about a favorite session or learning. I shared with the group about discovering plenty of BYOD resources, especailly backchanneling, which in my thinking can add a whole new level of participation, interactivity, and learning in the classroom. We are sharing all our takeways with our district liaison when we get back to school. I’m planning to share this blog post.

I’d love to hear about all the other sessions I did not get to attend. I hope some of my readers who were there will share too!

SC Edtech was last week, and I’m still trying to process all my thoughts. Eventually those thoughts will make their way here, but at the request of librarian friend Kristine Anderson, I’m going to tell about Discovery Education Network.  I can’t really do that without first talking about SCETV and StreamlineSC.  So this is going to be a two parter.  Part one will focus on our access to Discovery Education streaming videos.  Then part two will talk about the Discovery Education Network and being a STAR Discovery Education Network member.

Thank you SC Legislators!

In South Carolina, SC educators are the recipient of generous funding (and support!!) for Discovery Education resources. Known to most of you outside our state as Discovery Streaming, with our SCDOE partnership with SCETV, our portal is known as StreamlineSC.  Here is an explanation directly from their “about” page:

ETV, partnering with the SC State Department of Education and the K-12 Technology Initiative, created StreamlineSC to improve and manage learning resources in South Carolina schools. ETV’s StreamlineSC a standards-based video-on-demand service utilizing Discovery Streaming offers classroom teachers much!

  • Now available to every school in South Carolina—free.

  • The content includes over 1500 educational programs created by the State Department of Education (ITV) and ETV, and 4000 titles from Discovery Education streaming.

  • Discovery Education’s digital library content has more than 40,000 video clips;

  • Videos are correlated to South Carolina’s state K-12 curriculum standards;

  • In addition to video, schools have access to a high-resolution image library which has over20,000 pictures, an interactive quiz builder, pre-produced blackline masters, tests, interactive world atlas, and teachers’ guides.

  • New Professional Development > Online Training:

  • New Interactive Training Lessons and Modules covering topics such as: Getting Started, Searching the Video Library, Using the Learning Resources, Extending Your Use, and more!

 

Not Cheap!

cost

Screenshot from Discovery Education pdf info flier

Annually our legislators fund this resource for us. (NOTE to SC readers–MAKE SURE you thank your legislators for ensuring our access to this valuable resource each year!!) If it were not funded, there are many schools in our state who would not have access, as it is really expensive. I know many school librarians whose annual budget wouldn’t cover the cost of this resource. And many school administrators would also struggle to fund it annually. No, we do not get the full package, but what we get is truly resourceful.

Why call it StreamlineSC?

I tweeted that we had been asked in one of the SC Edtech sessions to point our visitors to StreamlineSC.org as the link from our school sites rather than to Discovery Streaming.  When asked why, we were told it’s sheerly political. When one visits Discovery Streaming directly, our logins and passwords do indeed work, but we miss a lot of material that our SCETV friends make available for us. We also miss seeing the SCETV logo, and if folks don’t know this, SCETV is a valuable support system to all SC Educators. By NOT using the StreamlineSC.org portal, visitors tend to forget the whole reason we have access to this resource is because of the partnership between SCETV, the K-12 Technology Initiative, and our SC DOE.  Seeing both the StreamlineSC logo and the SCETV logo helps remind us that these organizations are making a commitment to SC Educators through resources that are used in our schools everyday.

Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 3.58.19 PM

Even though this year it didn’t happen (SCETV was SAFE!!) annually as legislators work on the budget to fund public education in our state, they consider cutting this resource. Educators and SCETV supporters have to rally to remind those legislators how valuable the resource is in classrooms across the state.  Each year I hear of cuts (jobs and resources) and I have to make sure I contact my legislators and remind them of our need to KEEP this one (and especially keep the staff as SCETV.)  I am very thankful to have access to the digital and human resources available from SCETV.

It’s just that important!
So long story short, seeing these two logos just reminds me I can utilize these resources because our legislators know we value them. It doesn’t happen automatically. We have to educate congress on what resources bring value to our classrooms.  At the StreamlineSC site, educators have PLENTY to keep them informed of just what SCETV and our SCDOE are doing to make our jobs easier or to keep us informed.  Just look at a few of the resources found on that home page. Visiting Discovery Streaming directly instead of using this portal causes SC educators to miss information pulled together just for them.

scetvstreamlinesc

IMAGES:

My own screenshots

Training Photo.  scetv.org

I just love Jennifer’s series on zombie librarians vs. connected librarians!!

I’ve been following friends and acquaintances all day at the School Library Journal Summit in Austin, Texas.  I wanted to go so badly. I even asked my friend Rocco Staino about possible funding sources. He and Samantha McManus (Sullivan Middle, Rock Hill) both told me to apply for a  state library travel grant.

 

Great Advice–Thanks!
When I finally did follow their advice, though, I applied for travel funds to attend AASL’s 16th Annual Conference planned for November 14-17 in Hartford, CT.  It really was a tough decision.  I am happy to report my travel plans are in the works. I did get the grant.  But I will be using this funding to attend AASL’s conference.

 

Twitter to the Rescue; I’m inspired
So now I follow the SLJ Summit from home.  So glad many attending are quite generous with their tweeting. It’s the next best thing, and it inspires me to be sure I tweet as much as possible from Hartford next month!

Our kids participating!

We have begun brainstorming for Teen Read Week, which is October 13-19, 2013.  We just wrapped up our Banned Books Week with a great contest in which the top ten challenged books of 2012 were strategically displayed with a hand covering the titles.  I had around 110 participants take a chance to win our contest.

TRW Contest – It’s very Twitter-like
Teen Read Week will also have a contest, and it is almost ready to go up, even though we won’t begin for two weeks. Our Banned Books Week Display/Contest stirred a lot of commentary, and I hope our Teen Read Week Contest will too.  It is going to be very “Twitter” like!

Our TRW13 display and contest–under construction!

We (my co-librarian and I) have brainstormed together some “tweets” that would come from the perspective of YA Characters.  The YA Characters had to be given very teen friendly “Twitter-like” names and their pictures if possible, came from some small portion of a book cover (either the actual book cover or a book in the series.)  We choose the “tweets” from our top 25 circulating books over the last two years. We wanted the books to be current and represent our student body, which covers grades 10-12.  Here are the “tweets” though we may still tweak them. 12 in all.  And maybe more to come.

What else?
There are other planned activities on the drawing board as well.  They include a surprise one day fine forgiveness bonanza, a daily trivia contest with scratch-off cards to reward students, a bookmark yourself activity (students can help create a personalized set of bookmarks the library will print), daily voting in the YALSA Top Ten, and finally a donut drop-in breakfast for our Top 25 circulating students (who will get a donut and a free YA book of their choice.)

Please Share!
As we firm up our plans and obtain prizes (to yield for the homemade scratch off tickets) and then actually implement the activities, I’ll be sure to share here or in my flickr account pictures. Please share your ideas too.

PS:  Scratch off tickets?
Yes!! Read about them here. I’m so excited to use the official Teen Read Week logo and our DHS colors on our scratch 0ff cards!!

28 by Leo Reynolds; http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/

Over the last few years in my thus far 28 year old teaching career I can distinctly recall a portion of our welcome back meetings by district leaders focusing our attention on data: test scores, attendance, graduation rate, etc.  It’s just part of the nature of the education climate today. I may or may not agree with the heavy emphasis on numbers and data like this (i often think Pearson and other testing vendor players are the proverbial tail that wags the dog in education); it is what it is.

 

Safe job?
In my own state, for as long as I have worked in schools and then school libraries, SC schools have had school librarians. It has been a “safe” position, as has been guidance, speech, special ed teachers, and even principals and assistant principals. Until now. I have read of numerous states that have taken drastic measures to balance budgets by cutting school librarians, among other positions I consider extremely important. Even states that have invested heavily in research studies to demonstrate how school libraries and librarians impact student learning (such as Pennsylvania) are having these very jobs cut. These links listed are very recent cuts to the very state that just released the findings of their study.

 

A Slippery Slope
As my own state school library organization ponders a school library impact study, recently news came out that potentially effects our school librarians. But it isn’t just us, the verbiage of South Carolina’s State Board of Education Proposed Amendments to Regulation 43-205 effects a number of what I’ve come to believe are standard positions in the school facility. All should read through it in full. The purpose of this proposed amendment is to apparently remove language that came as a direct result of federal regulations associated with the now defunct No Child Left Behind.  But the wording leads many to believe school librarians, guidance counselors, and even school administrators, are potential/eventual budget cuts. Their proposal essentially, as my friend puts it, makes for a slippery slope. Probably not what was intended, but certainly paves the way.

 

So what should we do?

My picture from the Outback Bowl January 2013; Michael Roth formerly of USC, now of the Anaheim Angels sat beside us and cheered a lot!

While my state organization is taking initiatives to make the right stakeholders aware with task forces, PR campaigns, position statements, and more, we cannot just sit back and expect them to do all the work. We cannot sit on the sidelines and observe quietly or even cheer from there. We must get into the game at a grassroots level. Start today by collecting and promoting your data. There are so many stats you can collect to show how you interact in your school; to tell the story of the library impacting students, faculty, and community as a whole.  Find a way to share the message in your teaching context in innovative ways.  Help showcase what your program offers and how it impacts student achievement.

 

What do I do?
For my teaching context, it is submitting a graphical monthly and annual report about what is happening in the library (and even outside the library.) This is what works with my administrator. Jennifer Lagarde shared earlier this month in the TL Cafe (again, as it wasn’t the first time!) about putting a data wall up in the school. This ensures all know how the library is part of the school as a whole.  Share anecdotes, pictures, student testimonies, and more to show you are a vital component of the school as a whole.

From Jennifer Lagarde’s August 2011 blogpost; the picture links to the original post.

 

Ways to show your impact your schools; collect data on:

  • books checked out
  • books used in the library
  • number of collaborative lessons taught
  • top titles
  • top students who check out
  • number of classes visiting the library
  • number of visitors on a pass
  • number of visitors before school, during lunch, or after school
  • hours open OUTSIDE the school day
  • number of classes YOU visited/taught outside the library
  • hours spent planning for a collaborative lesson
  • types of personalized PD you engaged in
  • types of PD you offered teachers
  • stewardship with budgets
  • number of new books added
  • number of new ebooks added
  • number of new digital resources
  • number of books weeded
  • number of book clubs
  • number of library advisory committee meetings

 

This list could go on and on.
Doing this could very well save your job. I’d love to see links or comments that extend this list and give us all some more ideas.

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