Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My excitement and nervousness for ISTE17 is increasing each and every day.  Why?

I'm excited to attend the conference. I'm always excited to attend ISTE.  The chance to be among other educators who are enthusiastic about teaching and technology makes me smile.  I also look forward to reconnecting with people I met last year. By chatting and catching up with members of my virtual tribe, we have a chance to share and engage with others. This year, I will have the chance to learn about new resources and share some of my own teaching experiences with others.  This leads to why I am nervous..

I will present a session this year. My session is titled, How LMSs can Increase Engagement with PBLs.  Proposed as a poster session, I was ecstatic when I received a request to do a snapshot.  Once the excitement wore off (it really never did) I became nervous. How would I fit the three PBL experiences in thirty minutes?  Would people attend?  Would others be excited about this topic?

I welcome the chance to find out. If you are interested in learning a bit more about PBLs, or would like to gain some ideas for ways to engage the students in your library program, come and check-out the session. It will be on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Located in 225AB, the session will begin at 8:30 am.  Check out the ISTE app to sign-up.

I also have the opportunity to share the revamped style of PD in my school. In a session titled, Inside Out PD, my colleagues and I will discuss the premise for the teacher centered PDs at our school.  This session will be on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 and begins at 1:00 pm.  The session will be Ballroom 4.

For those who are unable to attend, I have a few hashtags that may be helpful:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Building a Foundation for Project Based Learning in the Library

For many public school librarians the quest to collaborate with teachers is full of questions.  When do you find time to collaborate?  How can library media specialists connect the varied standards to the lesson?  How do we maintain a balance of teaching, guiding, and assessing during a lesson?  What are the expectations of the library media specialist once the lesson is complete?  How do you promote the work you do inside and outside of the library’s walls?  For this library media specialist, finding the answers to these questions was ongoing.  It was once I learned about project based learning (PBL) that I was able to gain some insight. 

Last year, the idea of project based learning was introduced to me from my coursework.  It was once I was introduced to the philosophy of John Dewey (there’s more to him than just the Dewey Decimal system) I was intrigued by the idea of giving students a chance to work on tasks related to their interest, engage the community, and provide opportunities for learning in a fun way.  I was introduced to other ways of assessment once I viewed the documentary, Most Likely to Succeed: Project Based Learning in the 21st Century.

The documentary highlights the accomplishments of High Tech High.  A charter school in California, High Tech High is a school based on the premise that students learn by doing.  Letter grades are not given to students; instead, within each subject area, students receive information regarding selected units and topics of their teachers.  Based on these units, the students are given a problem to solve or a broad project idea.  After receiving the basic parameters for the project, students (usually in groups) create a project that can be shared to a panel of teachers and then in a public showcase to parents and members of the community.

After viewing the film and completing my research of John Dewey’s educational philosophy, the idea of creating PBL opportunities for my students at Windsor Mill Middle School became a focus for me. I began to ask myself a new set of questions. How could I create opportunities for PBL within the library program?  How could I involve teachers? What role would the community have in the PBL projects?  

I will share information regarding the collaboration and the engagement of students and teachers in another blog post titled, Using PBL to Create a Space for Art in the Library.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#EduMatch Tweet & Talk 84: Student Choice and Engagement

Great discussion tonight regarding Student Choice and Student Engagement.  This was a great way to share techniques that educators use with their students, as well as a way to learn from others.  I discovered a few new techniques and will work to incorporate them in my lessons, before the school year ends.  Check out the link to the talk on YouTube.  Thank you @Edu_Match for facilitating this dialogue and for bringing educators together.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Part Two: Influences on my Focus for the Library Program (2016-2017)

In a previous post, I shared information regarding the ways my course work and a summer institute helped to provide me with a new focus for the library program.  In part two, I would like to the ways a conference in Denver, Colorado was another catalyst for my revised vision of the library program.

The International Society for Technology (ISTE) conference is one of my favorites;  I compare it to Disneyland for Tech and Education Enthusiasts (Geeks).  Last summer, my joy was quadrupled by chance encounters, inspiring key note speeches, and connecting with other excited educators. Not only did I have a chance to have my picture taken with R2D2, I had a chance to interact with innovators and gurus within the edutech community. I also had a chance to meet Mr. Lavar Burton in an elevator and share with him the positive influence his work had on me and others.

Being able to hear Ruha Benjamin's powerful discussion about the ways educators can "set phasers to love" and create a learning environment that helps students and teachers thrive was another inspiring moment for me.  Listening to her speak, I thought about the ways I could extend my love of reading and learning outside the library's walls.  I wondered, what if I give students more independence?  What if I shared various ways of reading with the students?  What if the library wasn't seen as just a place to store books but a fun environment where kids could be kids? What if did all of those things and more and was able to see the library as place for the students to gain what they needed rather than what I thought they needed?  These questions were a bit scary to consider but they led me to think of different ways to promote the library and forgo the prescribed book talks and library check-out system.

As a result, I developed a book matching service for my reluctant readers.  I also strived to create a variety of lessons that met the related to the needs and requests of collaborating teachers, as well as lessons that would show students the various resources (print, e-books, etc.) that were available to them inside and outside of the library.  More students were also given Lunch Bunch Crew (LBC) privileges.  LBC members were given a chance to play games, enjoy Salsa Tuesday/Wednesday (a time to dance and listen to Salsa music), and time where they could just hang-out with their friends.  The results were unexpected.

The number of students who checked out e-books increased.  In the previous year, only 3 e-books were checked out. This school year, over one hundred e-books have been checked-out.  More and more students wanted to become part of the LBC.  The number of independent users increased and students were asking for opinions a variety of things (books, magnet schools, etc.).  By relaxing the reigns a bit more and being a bit more creative with my idea of a library and a librarian,  I was able to have different conversations with students.  I saw myself as a guide on the side for more things than just books (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Being at ISTE and participating in various environments where seeking knowledge was revered and sharing ideas for success was encouraged, I was motivated to try a few techniques and place my primary focus on building relationships with my students in a new way. I see this paradigm shift as a catalyst for the continued growth in the library program at Windsor Mill Middle School.  A shift I hope to continue as I grow as a library media specialist.

*Take a moment to view a segment regarding the work of the S.T.A.R.S. Book Club with author, Ronald L. Smith.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Part One: Influences on my Focus for the Library Program (2016-2017)

This year, I have tried to focus on creating opportunities for my students to learn. Whether, it is through student inquiry or the soft skills associated with burgeoning relationships with their peers and/or teachers, I want my students to have the opportunity to grow.  The idea of growth was especially highlighted in my mind when I completed a philosophy course last summer, as well as my experience with a sustainability project, and my time at the ISTE Conference.

Through a philosophy course, I gained insight about various educational philosophies of Socrates, Horace Mann and John Dewey (to name a few).  It was once I reacquainted with the educational philosophy of John Dewey that I made a few realizations of the changes I wanted to make in my school library program.  The idea that young people should be given the chance to learn through hands-on activities, as well as the prospect that students who have a voice in their education have a deeper level of understanding for lessons in school resonated with me. I was able to see the moments when students truly blossomed before my eyes and I wanted to make sure I gave my students more opportunities to grow.

The idea of growth was also sustained (pardon the pun) when I took part in the Teacher Sustainability Project at Arizona State University.  A wonderful opportunity, my time in Phoenix, Arizona allowed me the chance to experience the hands-on opportunities that I wanted to create for my students. By receiving information from various experts about sustainability and its connection to the economy, community and environment, I was able to acquire knowledge that made me more excited to learn more and eager to create a project with my project partner, Mrs. Bajpai.  By the time we completed the week long course, we had devised a project that would enhance our school environment and give our students a chance to learn through action.

The Sustainabilit Project went well.  A local Home Depot was able to donate plants and flowers that teachers could place in the classrooms.  Teachers who elected to take part in the project were given a plant/flower with the knoweldge that students from our project would water the plants every other day.  At one point,, we had more helpers than plants.  Based on the unexpected amout of student interest, students were placed on a schedule.  When we experiencd a few issues with wilting or dryness, helpers elected to research and gain knowledge about various ways to revive the plants.  The project was a eye-opener for the ways the information skills learned in the library could be used to help our students gain independence while helping the school environment but the project based learning opportunities didn't end there.

Working with Ms. Adams and her students, we were able to complete a series of lessons from muralist, McKinley Wallace.  The students were able to conduct interviews of their peers regaridng bullying.  With their insights from the interviews and basic information related to art techniques, the students, the artist, and the classroom teacher member were able to work on a series of panels for murals that could be displayed in the library.  Watching the students work together to create the art, as well as witnessing the amount of teamwork necessary for such a creation was wonderful.  I truly enjoyed having th library soace used as a place for creating a piece of art that could be enjoyed by others.

I'll share Part Two of this post tomorrow.