Sunday, August 14, 2016

Laguna Beach EdTechTeam Google Summit

For a booster shot of of inspiration, use-tomorrow ideas and new skills, and great networking, check out the EdTechTeam's year round schedule of Google for Education Summits in your neighborhood and around the globe. Each of the summits last two days and include three keynote sessions and eight concurrent session slots.

I was delighted to attend and present at the Orange County Summit in Laguna Beach last week (August 9 - 10). Roni Habib, our opening keynoter, kicked off the summit reminding us to always, always put our students' well-being first. He shared how people learn in a much deeper way when they are happy and that relationships are biggest predictor of happiness as well as longevity. He urged us to take the time for some play with our students and to attend to each of them individually. We even all took a few minutes to play during his talk, and went away in upbeat moods, more ready to learn during the rest of the day.

I presented two sessions on Tuesday. The first was to get attendees up and running with Twitter as a must-use part of a personal learning network. Here are the slides:



The second was on all things Google images - how to use Google to find, enhance, and create images, and guidelines on copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use to let you know what you can and can't use in classroom and published works. Here are the slides:



My slides are never intended to be self-explanatory, so do contact me with any questions.

I also enjoyed learning about WeVideo, a great cloud-based video editing tool, from Greg Gardner. And, Kevin Fairchild helped me learn what I can do with simple scripting in Google Sheets.

We began Wednesday with a keynote by Jeff Heil, who asked us to consider what if every child believed s/he had the power to change the world? Like Roni Habib, he stressed the importance of building relationships. He urged us to go for moonshot thinking, not allow failure as an option for our students, and to help give the voiceless a voice to tell their stories and thereby transform their learning.

I presented three sessions on Wednesday. The first was about Google Forms, including all the amazing ways they can be used to gather data and go paperless, how to create them, and how to take advantage of special features and add-ons. Here are my slides. Even if you weren't at the summit, you can see an example of using Forms with the great Publisher add-on if you fill out the form on Slide 2; you'll get an automatically-generated Google Doc back.



My next session was about Google Slides, with a focus on its Research Tool feature and how to use it to easily introduce the concepts of Copyright, Creative Commons, giving credit, and respect for intellectual property with students:



I also shared several innovative ways to use Google Slides beyond their traditional role of supporting presentations.

In my last presentation, I shared some of the ways to take advantage of Google Hangouts and Hangouts on Air tools and the mechanics of setting them up:



During my one free concurrent session time, I went to one by Tracy Poelzer on a wide variety of great ways to connect our students with the world. Many of her suggestions could be handled through Google Hangouts, and I urged attendees at my Hangouts session to visit her slides and resources for more help taking advantage of Hangouts.

The summit wrapped up with a keynote by Tracy on how to overcome the imposter syndrome most of us teachers feel. She urged us to stop comparing our insides to other people's outsides, to still the voice inside us that puts ourselves down, and to be aware how contagious emotions are. We as teachers need to realize and celebrate that we are NOT "just" teachers; we are really big deals! A book she recommended as a followup, which is now on my "to read list," is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown.

What a super way to spend two days, learning and networking with other enthusiastic educators! It's also always great fun reconnecting with old friends. Here's me with Kevin Fairchild, one of my Mountain View Google Teacher Academy (#GTAMTV14) cohort members:



And, here I am with my teacher librarian friend, Kat Tacea.


And, of course, I met so many new friends! Here's a tweet from one of them, Shannon Bray:





Thanks, Shannon! I should have had the camera out more often to document so many new friends!

Many thanks to the EdTechTeam and Master of Ceremonies Kate Petty for a terrific summit!, to see more about what the EdTechTeam is up to, follow the #gafesummit hashtag on Twitter.


Monday, August 8, 2016

My recent trip and other adventures


Yikes! I've now been officially "retired" for seven weeks. It sure doesn't seem like that much time could have passed! So ... what have I been up to?

Well, definitely my most significant activity was my husband's and my two-week trip to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. It was an incredible experience, enjoying the rich culture, history, and people of each country; witnessing how these countries support high quality, free education, social welfare, and health care for all their people; and enjoying some of the world's most magnificent scenery. Since we were on a Stanford Travel/Study tour, we also benefited from great lectures and discussions with Professor Ed Steidle and we enjoyed making friends with the other three dozen members of our group.

A good chunk of the rest of these seven weeks has also involved the trip. I spent much of the two weeks after school was out getting ready for the trip. You know, deciding what to take, packing, and so on. Actually, I spent quite a lot more than two weeks, since I did a lot of both fiction and nonfiction reading over the last few months related to our destinations. The two books I think I enjoyed the most were The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth, and The Redbreast by JoNesbø, translated by Dan Bartlett. In a very tongue-and-cheek style, Booth shares lots of insight into these countries and what is unique about their people. (It also made me want to go back and visit Iceland and Finland sometime soon!) Redbreast is a crime novel set partly in contemporary Oslo and partly during World War II, with the later focusing on the Norwegians who volunteered to fight with the Nazis against the Soviets and later tried as traitors. I was actually reading The Redbreast during the trip, and loved the coincidence of visiting the Akershus Fortress and its Norwegian World War II Resistance Museum on the same day that one of the book's characters goes to that same locale.

And, what about after the trip? We all know it takes longer to recover from a long trip than to take it, right? But I have also been occupied making a Shutterfly scrapbook. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I completed it last week, curating from over 600 photos I took with my iPhone. I can't wait to get the printed copy in the mail next week. I appreciate how rich, enjoyable, and educational the trip was all the more after reliving it in scrapbook-making mode. Here is a small selection of the photos I added to a Google Photo Album.


If you want to see the full scrapbook, send me an email.

I've also been busy preparing to present sessions for an EdTechTeam Google Summit in Laguna Beach, CA, starting tomorrow (August 9). I'm looking forward to sharing five different sessions tomorrow and Wednesday, on Twitter, Google Images, Google Forms, Google Slides, and Google Hangouts. I'll post my slides links in another blog entry right after I get back.

And, finally, I've spent some time pondering my next steps: how I want to refocus this blog, what my new priorities will be with my new retirement adventure, and how to "rebrand" myself. Clearly, I need a bit more time for all this. With the summit coming up tomorrow, I did order new business cards, and decided, for now anyway, to go with Teacher Librarian now "in the wild" as my "title." I really don't think of myself as being retired; rather, I'm moving on to new ways of supporting school libraries, education, and educational technology. Here's what the cards look like:


I guess I'll see over time if that new "title" works for me.

I also made what was for me, a big, probably very overdue, change. I finally let my beloved avatar go on my Twitter account, changing over to a photo. I set up my Twitter account in 2007, and I really, really love the manga avatar I chose to represent me. Back then, I was still a bit wary of having my photo online. And, I was working at the middle school level, and I wanted to model to my students how having an avatar is a fun way to have an online personality while still protecting their identities. And, to be honest, I love my avatar because her hair is a much brighter red than my own, her eyes always stay wide open, and she has no wrinkles. But ... I've been teaching a number of classes and leading sessions on Twitter recently, and I always give the advice that it is best to use a photo so that, when you meet members of your PLN in person, they will easily recognize you. At long last, I've decided to practice what I preach, and am now represented by a photo on Twitter:


As for the rest of my rebranding and refocusing, please bear with me as I take some time to work this "new adventure" all out.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Not at #ALAAC16 and #NOTATISTE16


Every year in June it's a dilemma for teacher librarians: whether to go to the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference or to the International Society for Technical Education (ISTE) Conference. Those of us who thrive on conferences and all the wonderful new information, inspiration, networking, energy, and camaraderie they offer, can't help but feel torn between the two events. Some overachievers actually split their time between the two. I did that only once, when ALA was in Anaheim and ISTE was in San Diego. This year, I was saved the dilemma; instead, I had to make the hard decision to forgo both of them, since my husband and I are leaving on a trip to Scandinavia this weekend. 

So, my focus this week is really supposed to be on getting ready for the trip, but, being me, I can't resist taking advantage of at least some of the opportunities to benefit from both these conferences from afar. Luckily, for anyone unable to attend either event, there are so many wonderful ways to take advantage of these conferences remotely. This posting is just a small selection of what I've enjoyed so far this week and that you, as a reader, can take advantage of as well, either live or after the fact.

One of the exciting events at the ALA conference each year is the announcement of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and the 25 Best Apps for Teaching and Learning. It's always a great summer activity to work through these sites and apps and consider how to apply them to enrich our students' learning and, frequently, our own productivity. I've had the pleasure of serving on the Best Websites Committee for the least three years and enjoyed having a roll in the selection. You can learn about and start to explore the best websites here. And, be sure to also visit this page on the AASL site for link to the presentation, and Symbaloo and Pinterest collections of the sites. For the best apps, visit this link. Also, visit this great interactive infographic for the best apps created by the amazing Joyce Valenza. A good summer activity would be simply to get familiar with the 25 websites and 25 apps and decide which ones will work for you and your students.

For more ALA information and inspiration, follow the #ALAAC16 hashtag on Twitter and the conference site.

For those regretting being unable to attend ISTE, there are probably more resources than you will ever have time to explore! Jennifer Wagner has been doing an incredible job spearheading a Google+ "NotatISTE" community with  lots of lively discussion, fun challenges, resource sharing, and badge making and posting. (I'm even going to get points in the challenge for doing this posting. :-) ) As a part of the community, the phenomenal Peggy George has been curating useful resources in a LiveBinder. To follow ISTE on Twitter, check the #ISTE2016 hashtag. To follow the NotatISTE, community search both #NOTATISTE and #NOTATISTE16. And, did you know -- I just found out yesterday, during Tony Vincent's Periscope session (see below) -- that you can search for more than one hashtag in Twitter? Just include OR (and be sure to use full caps) between your search terms. I can't believe I've been missing that easy option all this time! You can do that both in Twitter and Tweetdeck. Here's my busy Tweetdeck, trying to track both conferences: 



Here are a few of the #NOTATISTE activities I've most enjoyed: 

Tony Vincent (@TonyVincent on Twitter and Periscope) has been Periscoping poster sessions and more around ISTE. Periscope is an iOS and Android app that allows you to create and watch very informal live streams of events. The connections can be unstable, but it has been worth the effort getting to follow Tony around sessions and hear him chat with poster presenters and more. In the course of watching, I've been learning how the Periscope app works, and I know I will want to try broadcasts of my own the next time I attend a conference live. The app allows viewers to send "hearts," indicating they like what they are watching, make comments, and share the stream to Twitter for others to view. And, the broadcasts are all recorded so people can view them later. Visit the link to Tony Vincent's ISTE page to view recordings of all his sessions. You will also see links to notes that various volunteers took during each session. You can follow people on Periscope to get notifications when they broadcast. Another person to follow whose been generously Periscoping the conference is #CraigYen. 

The EdTechTeam has been an active group during ISTE, and has been having a whole series of lively, informative 20-minute presentations at the group's booth. Yesterday, all the sessions were streamed live and you can view the entire recording on YouTube. For example, I got to see Katy Perry share about how to create an unGoogleable question. Here's one of her slides with things to have students do rather than simply answering questions: 

The EdTechTeam hosts summits all over the world, and I have heard Katy present on this same topic at a Google for Education Summit in Coronado, CA last fall. Some topics, though, benefit from hearing them and working through the concepts and ideas more than once, so I was delighted to view her session yesterday. To find out about the EdTechTeam GAFE summits, visit this page. I hope to present at the one coming up in Laguna Beach in August. 

One of the challenge options for the #NOTATISTE group is to use Do Ink's Green Screen app, available for iOS on iPhones and iPads, to photograph ourselves at an ISTE location or event. I have been incredibly jazzed by how many students at my school have taken advantage of the green screen kit and the Green Screen app I installed on the library iPad for class projects. They have made films for Government, Chemistry, and English Language support classes, and more. Here at home, though, I don't have access to the green screen kit. So, to participate in the #NOTATISTE challenge, I went to the 99 Cent store, and bought a green tablecloth. Here's how I created the #NOTATISTE photo with me in the forefront you see up near the top of this posting: 

  1. I have Do Ink’s $2.99 Green Screen app on my iPad. (I could also have used my iPhone.)
  2. I downloaded the photo from the ISTE conference site home page.
  3. I used Picmonkey.com to add the “#NOTAT” text.
  4. I made that photo the second layer image in the Green Screen app.
  5. I hung my 99 Cent store green tablecloth over my couch.
  6. I sat on the couch and held the iPad as far away from me as I could. I made the camera the top layer in the Green Screen app, switched it to selfie mode, and adjusted the color and sensitivity as best I could, then shot the image.

So … you can see that I’m too big and it’s not exactly “professional,” but for made all by myself without a camera person or a proper green screen, I think it will do :-) I tried setting up a tripod for the iPad, but couldn't get the angle right. Maybe I'll enlist my husband as a camera person for a second try today. Or, maybe I better just focus on getting ready for my trip, huh?

Check out some of the other green screen photos from members of the #NOTATISTE16 community in this group slideshow.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Time for the Next Adventure!

If you have been reading my school library blog, you will already know that I made a big life cycle change last Friday: I retired from my position as Teacher Librarian at Mira Costa High School. Here's a short summary of my "wrap up" at Mira Costa and my plans for the "next adventure."

Throughout my six years at Mira Costa, I never felt like I was able to accomplish all I wanted to, but I know that I do have some things to be proud of. It was always my top priority to help students, both through lessons and one-on-one, prepare for college and career, become good digital citizens, find and pursue their passions, and be positive contributors to our society. And, nothing has been more touching than receiving some validation of that work when I was recognized as one of three Sandacre Teachers of the Year by the Senior Class at their Awards Assembly on June 1. "The criteria for this recognition," according to the letter from Denise Anderson, Sandacre Teacher of the Year Facilitator:

is for senior students to nominate a Mira Costa teacher who has stimulated, inspired, and/or prepared his/her students for their future studies and/or other endeavors. You, as an educator, mentor, and friend have had a strong impact on your students.”

You can read more about the award and my open letter to seniors in this blog posting on my school library blog.

And, here is a short "report" of some of the highlights of this last year at the library I created to share with students, staff, and parents:,



Each year, I have tried to experiment with and demonstrate different tech tools for compiling an end-of-year report. This film was truly an "apps mashing" effort.  I created the graphic slides with Canva.com and the photo collage slides with Google Drawings. I used Animoto software and its built-in music to actually make the film. Then, I posted it to YouTube for easy embedding and linking. My Animoto "Plus" account limited me to three minutes. I had intended to use iMovie to make a longer film with variable-length slides, but that software has always defeated me! (It's on my "things I need to learn now that I have some time" list.)

The three-minute length had pros and cons. The good thing is that it is short enough that I hope people were/are willing to watch the entire film. The bad thing, of course, is that I had to be so concise and leave so much out. And, since every slide needs to be the same length, I know that some of the slides go by a bit fast, making it difficult to read them. So, I also uploaded all the photos I used in the video to a Flickr album. I also included a lot of other photos I wanted in the video but couldn’t fit in the time allotment. Here is the link.

So, what's next for me? I plan to enjoy more travel with my husband, more reading (of course!), more time with family and friends, and more exercise. I also plan to stay active in the school library and educational technology world both to learn and share. I already have the August Orange County EdTechTeam Google Summit, October School Library Journal Summit, and February CSLA (California School Library Association) Conference on my calendar. And, I am excited to have just been appointed co-chair of Social Media for the AASL 2017 Conference. That also means I will be at the next ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences for committee meetings. Of course, I will continue to be active on Twitter, and I hope to devote more time to this blog. I know the banner needs a facelift and I want to ponder some on its focus. Give me a bit of time to clear my head first. You probably won't see another posting until after the first stop on my next adventure, my Stanford Alumni Association trip next month to Scandinavia:



This photo was taken with the library’s green screen and the Do Ink Green Screen app. For the background, I used a CC0 photo I found on Pixabay. Then, I added the frame and labels with Picmonkey.

Wishing everyone a wonderful start of summer!




Monday, May 30, 2016

The #SWVBC: Connecting Library Clubs Across the Country


[Cross-posted from my May 23 posting on Transform Your School Library]

For five years now, my school library club at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA, and I have had the pleasure of participating in the “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” (#SWVBC) founded in Fall of 2011 by Joyce Valenza and Shannon Miller. Here’s a link to Joyce’s original post. So, what is the Somewhat Virtual Book Club? It’s a network of high school library clubs from around the country that participate in monthly book discussions using Google Hangouts on Air. For a while, we were even international with two schools in Japan, but, alas, the time differences proved too difficult from them to continue.


Each month, one of the schools volunteers to moderate, set up the hangout, and select the book to discuss. And, on occasion, we have been able to have the author of the book join us. Here, for example, is a recording of the amazing discussion with Elizabeth Wein in January when we read Code Name Verity:





Elizabeth Wein actually lives in Scotland, but was still willing to join us at 11 PM her time, and she couldn’t have been more generous, friendly, and open in discussing her craft as a writer.


The greatest feature of the club is how we are able to connect our students with other students in other places so they can both see what they have in common and learn about regional differences. It also means that, even if just a handful of students from one school show up, the presence of students from other schools together form a large enough group to generate a lively discussion. And, using Google Hangouts on Air, we are able to easily network in people from home and record our sessions so that those who can’t make the meeting can watch later.  At the same time, students are experiencing what it is like - with all the potential tech glitches - to participate in a virtual meeting. Finally, we librarians love it, too! Several of us have attended the meetings even when we didn’t have students able to participate. We’ve even had other teachers participate. I had an English teacher attend regularly last year, and Shoshannah Turgel’s group at James Caldwell High School in New Jersey has includes two regular teacher participants. We librarians also end up doing a lot of networking on all sorts of school library topics as a result of our meetings.


In the past, we have tried different software for our meeting platform. We settled on Google Hangouts a couple of years ago since it allows us to easily see each other while people are talking, and is a practical tool to introduce our students to with the possibility that they will use it on their own for other activities in which they want to connect. We wanted to empower them to be able to “run the show” themselves. I have been especially proud when I’ve been away at conferences a couple of times and my students still were able to get together and login to the hangout.


One of the potential drawbacks of Google Hangouts is that there are only 10 participation spots. (GAFE accounts allow for more, but haven’t worked for us since we are not in the same domain.) We have sometimes thought we would exceed the 10 available spots, but that has never actually happened. If we should, our “backup” plan is having the extra people watch via the live stream link and submit questions to the Q & A.


The club also has experimented with various social media. Here are some of our connections:





There’s always more to do than time in which to do it, and all these social media platforms could use some more attention. Perhaps next year!


The Somewhat Virtual Book Club welcomes new members. If you are a high school librarian, consider having your school join the group!

I write this with some nostalgia, since I will be retiring next month, and will thus become a group “alum.” I will really miss this network of students and librarians. Feel free, though to contact me with questions. You can also contact Shoshannah Turgel, who has volunteered to coordinate the group next year, and Michelle Luhtala from New Canaan High School in Connecticut, and Cathy Jo Nelson from Dorman High School in South Carolina, two regular participants who have been with the group since we began in 2011.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Projecting your iPhone Through Your Mac

Just recently, I needed to do a demo for a class on how to use several apps on an iPhone. While there are some other ways to display your iPhone screen on a projector, here's a really easy solution that worked for me. It does require that you have a Mac with the Yosemite, or version 10.10, operating system or later.

Here's what you do:
  1. Attach your Mac to a projector. 

  2. Attach your iPhone to your computer with your lightning-to-USB cable.

  3. Open QuickTime Player. You can find it through Finder in your Applications Folder.

  4. If Photos or other applications open that want to sync your iPhone with your computer, just close them.

  5. With QuickTime Player open, select File -> New Movie Recording.


  6. From the QuickTime Player Movie display that opens, click the small down arrow to the right of the red recording button. You will see your iPhone listed as an option. Select it. 


  7. Your iPhone will now display on your Mac screen so it can be displayed on your projector screen:


And, of course, if you want to actually record what is displayed, just press the red record button.

You can use this same method to display any iOS device with a Lightning port and iOS 8 or later.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Free Summer Audiobooks from SYNC



One of the things I love about summer is Sync's free program of audiobooks for teens. And, summer starts early at Sync: this week. From now through August 17, you and your teens can download two free audiobooks per week. For example, until May 11, you can download Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle (Dreamscape Media) and L.A. Theatre Works productions of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial by Peter Goodchild. Each of the weekly selections pair a YA (young adult) title with a classic title on a related theme.

You can download the titles either to your computer or to a mobile device. There are instructions on how to do both on the site. The important thing to note is that you must download and install the titles during the designated week or you will miss the opportunity for those titles. You don't need to listen to them right away - they are yours forever once you install them. Here's a link to the complete list. I take advantage of the site's text service to be reminded of the weekly titles available and try to download them right away for later listening. I prefer the listening interface when I download directly to my phone, but the computer download option is best if you want to keep the books long-term. Just know that if you download to your computer and then transfer to a mobile device, it will come through as a music file, so won't have chapter bookmarks for easy navigation. 

I'm afraid I'm posting this late for Week one, so go to the site TODAY to get the first two books. They will be available until 4am PT on May 12. Then, the selection will switch to Week 2 books, which are The Sin Eater's Daughter  by Melinda Salisbury (Scholastic Audio) and Divine Collision: An African Boy, an American Lawyer, and Their Remarkable Battle for Freedom  by Jim Gash (Oasis Audio).

Please note that your downloads cannot be shared or added to your collection. I download copies for myself because, of course, I frequently decide to purchase the books (if I don't already have them) and promote them at my library, but they are intended for individual listening by teens. The site includes a whole toolkit of promotional materials to share at your library with your students. 

Happy listening!