Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Join the Virtual March for Libraries

Although I wasn't able to make it to Washington, D.C. for this year's American Library Association conference, I am there in spirit! Please join me as a virtual member of National Library Advocacy Day by going to this link and contacting your legislators to support school and public libraries. Our children's futures depend upon it. As I write, the live March for Libraries is going on, but you can contact your legislators any day this week.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some Year-End Reflections

I am finally beginning to wind down from all the end-of-school-year grading and other chores. What a relief to have some time to regroup! Having summer off is a tremendous blessing I truly appreciate. And, regrouping is a big item on my list for the break. I want to rethink almost everything I did in the classroom this year, from what kind of writing assignments I give, to what we read as a class, to how I handle the students' blogs, to classroom management. To start the process, I just read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, and am determined to do all I can to carve out more independent reading time for my students next year. If you haven't read her account of how she successfully challenges her students to read approximately 40 books each year, do add it to your summer reading list for inspiration. She also has a blog I am now following. Her book is just the first in a long list of materials I want to get through and work I need to do to improve my teaching next year. But, rather than share my "to do" list in this posting, in the spirit of Peggy Klaus's Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, I am going to try first to review some successes I feel proud of accomplishing this year. Here goes:

  • Reading: I felt sad that I didn't succeed in turning every student into a book lover. Still, I am confident that my enthusiasm for reading, book talks, read alouds, and personal suggestions got almost all of them reading more and with more engagement. For next year, I am making it a goal to build even more enthusiasm for reading in my students.
  • Blogging: When my students completed their final blog posting assignment, many of them wrote with great enthusiasm about the blogging experience. Some of them even enjoyed the excitement of having their blogs read and commented on by readers from around the world. I am hoping that a number of them will keep blogging. While I was disappointed by the quality of some of their writing, there are a lot of blogs and postings in which both they and I can take pride. 
  • Technology: My students all became very skilled in using a wide variety of software applications, especially Web 2.0 tools, this year, and I got lots of feedback indicating that they enjoyed that opportunity. The technology engaged them and helped them get more from their assignments.
  • Digital Citizenship: Our emphasis on blogging and communicating in a public environment gave me many opportunities to discuss digital citizenship. The students developed a sound understanding of copyright and how it applies both online and in print and a strong sense of what is and isn't appropriate to share about themselves in public and how to practice good online etiquette.
  • My Own New Knowledge: As for me, I learned a lot about teaching, grading, and classroom management. I also learned new classroom technology skills myself, including how to use responders and interactive whiteboard hardware and software, and how to administer more than 200 student blogs. So, while moving to the classroom was never in my plans, it was a year of great growth for me. 
  • Remaining a Teacher Librarian in the Classroom: And, finally, I think I am most proud that I feel like I never stopped being a teacher librarian to the students in my classes. While I had a lot to learn about classroom teaching, being a teacher librarian also meant that I had something special to offer my students. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Updated My Booktalk Blog

Well, I should be embarrassed how long it took me to accomplish this task, but I just finally finished adding 45 VoiceThread booktalks to my booktalk blog, Lindero Loves Books. It's been on my "to do" list for several months. I started Lindero Loves Books a while back when I was still in the library in my teacher librarian role. I wanted to develop a collection of booktalks for students at my school. I started recording a number myself, all using VoiceThread, one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools, and then encouraged any students I could to contribute. Those who participated came in and recorded them using my account. When I began working in the classroom this year, I decided to make a VoiceThread booktalk a class assignment and to have students set up and use their own accounts for the project. They all embedded them in their personal blogs and their classmates saw them there, but I wanted to also add them to the booktalk blog as another way of sharing them. From about 125 different booktalks, I chose the 45 best to add to the booktalk blog. I plan now to promote the blog in class to encourage my students to use it for summer reading ideas. I am also hoping that it will be a good source of ideas for the next school year.

Do visit some of the booktalks and feel free to leave comments. The student booktalkers will enjoy comments on the VoiceThreads themselves. You need to have a VoiceThread account to comment, but accounts are free and just take a couple of minutes to set up.