Feed on

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.)

Old School

As I sit and reflect on the coming end of school, I have to wonder am I old school? Let’s face it. I have two sons, one a college graduate, and one a college senior with just one course to go. I’ve been around. I do consider myself  “up” on most tools, and I feel I work pretty well at using methods and tools to bring relevancy to what I teach. I share continuously within my  networks, and really make an effort to bring it home to my own school and students. I have plenty of connections and I do interact with my PLN  using Twitter and even Facebook. But I have heard some say this is old school now. WHAT!?  Well guess what? If these are old school, I guess I am too. And not only that, but I still very much devour my RSS feeds, if not daily, then by every weekend. My learning and staying relevant with my students is deeply embedded in using the tools of professional learning networks, be it Twitter, Facebook, forums, listservs, digital communities, webinars, reading and reacting to blogs, and more. I find immense value in these.

I don’t want to downplay the very important value of face-to-face and what it provides. I am attending several opportunities this summer, including the Upstate Technology Conference, TASL’s Summer 2014 PD, ISTE 2014 Atlanta, and a few other select events that haven’t been confirmed yet. These opportunities help me to build on my learning and yes, even flesh out my PLN a little more. Old school or no, I’m still learning daily. Nothing wrong with that.

I am sharing  my GTA 2014 Application Video. I so want to attend one of these summer opportunities.



I’ll close with this picture, a tweet by my college senior youngest son. He had a revelation over the weekend when he checked me out on Twitter. I think I just scored some street cred from him! Thanks for those who find value in my contributions in my Twitter PLN. I did tell him how this came to be.


We’ve never done this before, but we heavily weeded our fiction section midwinter, and had plenty of books to do something with, books that are really in good shape. See, we have a lot of duplicate copies, so our first wave of weeding was to reduce duplicate copies for books that no longer have good circulation stats. We had some ideas of what to do with them, but we asked if we could perhaps sponsor a book sale.  All other options don’t generate any funds.  Happily our principal said yes. We just started it and have already sold around 25 books.

What will we do with the funds?

Well, our requirement is to buy more books. So we are planning a shopping spree with the cash made here, and we are going to let our students help pick out the titles. We won’t generate a lot of funding here, but every little bit helps, especially at the end of the school year which is upon us, when we have no remaining funds in our account.

As we are midway through April with our Poetry Month celebrations, I am pleasantly surprised at the participation and response from our students. I’m also reflecting over some of the benefits I have seen. Let me share some surprising perks from our Spine Poetry Activity.

Candid photos by myself and my collaborating teacher

Perk 1: Growing stock of student created spine poems for display
At the beginning of the month I shared our planned activities. As expected our English department took a keen interest in the Poetry Month plans. A couple of classes have actually scheduled to come in and build poems. What has been helpful is offering to print the poems using the library’s laser color printer for display purposes, and providing the teacher and the student with a copy to keep. Even my collaborating teacher from this class made one. We are ALL happy. I have poems to add to my growing display, the teacher has a set to share in the classroom, and the students like having a crisp colorful printout too. (A few have asked for a digital pic to keep as well, so I hope they are sharing in their virtual spaces like me.) Seeing the growing displays and I’m sure having my English department who eats lunch together daily share about the activity has brought in more classes. Seeing the growing display has made visiting individual students want to create too.
Perk 2: Using the Destiny catalog for a different purpose
Lisa Richie, one of my collaborating teachers, decided to get in on the fun and set out to make one for herself. After collecting a few books, she asked about finding books with titles that began with certain words. She wanted to use the word “teach” in her teacher-created spine poem. I showed her how to use the catalog to search by title. We input just the word “teach” in the search box, set the parameters to search by title, and then used the link “browse by titles” to get an alphabetical listing of all the titles that began with the word “teach.” Happily Lisa went off in search of her title. And immediately students began looking up words in the catalog to build their prefect poem that reflected literary theory and criticism, which was the goal of the class. They learned catalog skills and strategy. Here is my collaborating teacher Lisa Richie’s spine poem.

Created by Lisa Richie, English Department Teacher at Dorman High

Perk 3: Discovering books!
If you’ve ever done this you know that one of the results is a ton of books pulled off the shelves. It makes for a load of work reshelving. I initially took the idea from Andy Plemmons in his post and considered his directions to keep from having too many books pulled off shelves. Tiffany Whitehead took a totally different approach, and instead made pictures of tantalizing titles from spines, even going to a bookstore to find really interesting titles to use. She printed them out and provided these printouts for her students to use instead of actual books. Both of these approaches effectively get students thinking out of the box and creating. In the end I decided the reshelving was worth the work. Our instructions to students were to take to the stacks and find book titles that could be used. I pulled out four empty book carts, and simply asked that once a poem was completed, students place the books on the carts.

We had fun while creating a wonderful mess.

Perk 4: Increased circulation
If you look at the photo above, you’ll see that we had a big pile of books that were going to need to be shelved. But the kids were having a great time working and being creative. My collaborating teacher from this particularl class saw the work it was going to take, as by the time she brought this class in, we had four carts full. She pulled me aside and told me the group was savvy enough that if she told them to shelve their books they could do it right, and it would save us some work. I told her no, absolutely not! I told her to let the students use their time for making spine poems (and Gami’s using Tellagami) and we’d worry about the books later. The perk from allowing so many books to be pulled and handled were enormous! Students were constantly exclaiming “I did not know our library had this book!” or “I really want to read this one!” And of course, a lot of books were checked out as each class came to create spine poems. I never turned down a request.
Perk 5: Weeding
During fourth block, when the library staff and student workers tackled the reshelving project, once again it gave us an opportunity to really evaluate titles. I found a couple that had obviously been wet (no, we don’t always catch the titles that are turned in damaged.) I weeded those, as well as a few copies that were ratty and unattractive.
Perk 6: Getting to know the collection
Handling so many books really helps get to know what IS on the shelves. Every year after weeding, we have to shift books. I always make sure I do not pass this off to student helpers. Handling books is a nice way to really know what is on your shelves. Most of the time our library assistant shelves books. We also engage our high school student workers who have shown the capability to shelve. With this project and over four carts of books, I took the time to shuffle the carts’ books in order, making the reshelving an easier task. By handling each book individually, not only was I able to weed a few books before we actually shelved them, it helped me get to know our books just a little better. When you inherit an established collection of over 24,000 books, it’s not so easy to know what you have on the shelf. This exposure is priceless and SO beneficial to me.
The classes that visited to participate in the activity were very excited to not only share their creations, but also discover good books to read. Let me just suffice to say we had a lot of books checked out. And THAT was maybe the best perk of the day. The perks of allowing students to pull and handle the books for this activity far outweighed the disadvantages. What say you?

As part of our month long celebration of School Library Month, we are sponsoring a wheel of prizes. We set up in the cafeteria (across from the library) and lure students over with our colorful wheel and prizes to be won! The most popular prizes were free books and mystery QR Codes that students had to “discover” and then bring the image of their prize back to us. Two more Tuesdays in this month, but kids visit the library everyday to give our wheel a “practice” spin!

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