Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking Back & Forward

It seems that each year goes by faster than the last. In looking back on 2010, I count myself very lucky that, despite how quickly the year went, I have a lot of positive memories:

  • Classroom Teaching and Blogging: Although it wasn't the position I chose, I truly enjoyed my year in the classroom with my 7th grade Language Arts and 6th Grade Computer Exploratory students during the 2009-2010 school year. The highlights for me, and, I think, for my students, were 1) my read alouds and booktalks and 2) my class blog and all the students' individual blogs. I learned so much and enjoyed meeting (both online and live) new blogging friends around the world. It was bitter-sweet for me to leave my classroom, school, and my class blog target="_blank" this fall.
  • CSLA: While I take advantage of all the professional development opportunities I can find, CSLA has always been my #1 source of professional guidance. I know that I couldn't be the teacher librarian I am without what I learn from CSLA conferences, workshops, publications, networking, and the friendships I have gained through this organization. I feel so fortunate that I was able to serve as CSLA Southern Section President during 2009-2010, and am now continuing on the Southern Section and State Board as 2010-2011 Southern Section Past President. Some highlights of the Southern Section year were our first-ever webinar target="_blank" on Web 2.0 Tools for Learning with Super TL Joyce Valenza, coordinated by our own tech guru Marie Slim, and our March Workshop at Palms MS, which featured keynote speaker Stephen Krashen and our first-ever Smackdown. And, thanks to lots and lots of hard work by many, many CSLA folks, the California State Board of Education passed the Model School Library Standards in September. This is wonderful news, and I know all of us need to work to promote and implement these standards in every way we can.
  • Teen Learning 2.0: This self-paced tutorial authored by Connie Williams and the CSLA 2.0 Team, served as the curriculum for my 6th Grade Computer Exploratory Class last school year, and I also wove each of the activities into the various blogging assignments I gave to my 7th grade Language Arts students. Along the way, it was helpful and fun to compare notes with Sheryl Weiss, who was also teaching a 6th Grade Computer Rotation class at her school. The students especially enjoyed when we held Skype/Elluminate sessions to share with each other. After using the tutorial throughout the school year, Sheryl and I offered to do an updated version based on our experiences. CSLA is now promoting the new tutorial. Please give it a try with students and promote it to others! 
  • New Job: After submitting lots of resumes and getting more than my share of interview practice, in August I was offered the position as TL at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. My "to do" list gets longer every day, but I love my new job! I feel so lucky to have joined a very supportive staff and a great school and district. 
  • CSLA 2010 Conference: As always, the annual conference in November was incredibly energizing for me. I came away with lots of great new tools, knowledge, and ideas. I also had the pleasure of participating on a Smackdown panel with the super team of Marie Slim, Deb Stanley, and Janet HasBrouck, and in a session on Teen Learning 2.0 with Sheryl Weiss. On my own, I also did a session on VoiceThread

I'm a nut for new web tools, so I am constantly bookmarking new discoveries I hear about through Twitter, blogs I follow, and leads from groups. All too often, though, I don't really have the time to try them all out. A few tools I did get to play with and have worked to incorporate into my "repertoire" this year include:
  • - many of my students enjoyed using this for an assignment after they read The Giver. There were some issues distinguishing the free and paid content, but it's definitely a fun site for both students and adults.
  • - I made an online library orientation with this fun movie-maker, and plan to use it for more.
  • - After experimenting with a wiki as my library website, I changed gears in November and built a new website using Weebly for the first time. While it won't let me do everything that a full html tool does, I'm quite happy with it and enjoy how easy it is to use.
  • - I saw my first Prezi while being a remote attendee at NECC in 2009 and sitting in on Steve Dembo's Top 10 Web Tools presentation. I was blown away by how engaging and flexible it is, but didn't really get to play with it until my fellow teacher Jani Nelson and I used it for a wrap-up review of our school's EETT grant activities last June. Since then, I have used it whenever I can for presentations. I like how it frees me from the sequential nature of PowerPoint, helps me avoid getting caught up in long bullet lists of texts, and allows for very effective zooming in and out of layers of content. 
Just as there's always something new to try, a few tools I have used and loved disappeared this year. I had become a big fan of, and was very disappointed to learn that it was purchased by Facebook and would be discontinuing. Although I had tried Google Reader a few years ago, I was devotee of Bloglines, and was crushed when I read it was discontinuing. Fortunately, that decision was reversed, and Bloglines is still available, but by the time I learned that, I had made the transition to Google Reader and decided to stick with it for the time being. I was also very sad to see Delicious announce it was discontinuing, although I've been a fan for some time. I guess the lesson here is to always back up content and never become too dependent on any one tool.

Some plans and goals for 2011:
  • Build my new library website, especially the reading and pathfinder areas. Please help me with suggestions!
  • QR Codes and Signs: I currently have one QR code on my library website that takes users to my mobile site, but I plan to create a lot of new, engaging signage for my library this coming year and to include QR codes with these signs. 
  • Build video skills. I would like to add a lot of videos to my library website, and want to experiment with a variety of different types of video.
  • Get students at my school doing the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial. 
  • Present at CUE 2011 in Palms Springs in March. I am looking forward to working with Sheryl Weiss on a Teen Learning 2.0 session and with Jani Nelson on a Prezi session.
  • Present professional development sessions for my school and district staff. I've volunteered to do after-school sessions on Classroom Learning 2.0, Copyright and Creative Commons, Prezi, VoiceThread, and Google Docs and iGoogle.
(Avatar from with thanks for Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian, for the idea.)

Wishing everyone out there a happy, healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Greetings

I first learned about last summer and was immediately taken with it. It's (as you can see below) an online pop-up book creator with lots of fun options. I think it is a great choice for digital storytelling I would like to take more advantage of and share with teachers and students. Here's the holiday card I just made for my school library:

Be sure to the click each of the ! bubbles and use your mouse to rotate the book around to enjoy the entire message.

I created the card to extend warm holiday greetings to the Mira Costa family - and to you, but also in hopes that it will inspire some of the teachers to use with their students.

While readers of this blog probably won't be visiting the Mira Costa library to borrow a winter break book, I bet you will be reading. Do share what your winter reading plans are.:)

Library Featured in Student Newspaper

I feel like I have soooo much to do to begin making the Mira Costa High School Library program do all I think it should. Each day my "must do" list gets longer and progress seems all too slow. It was very exciting and heartening, though, to have a reporter from La Vista, our student newspaper, come by recently to interview me about the library and write a complimentary article about the changes I have made so far. Here's a link to the article on the paper's online site. It is wonderful to feel like what I am trying to do is appreciated by the students! I couldn't be luckier being in an environment with such supportive stackholders.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trying Out for Flickr Creative Commons Images

Creative Commons BBBphoto © 2008 Steren Giannini | more info (via: Wylio)

I just saw a tweet from Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian and an awesome teacher librarian, blogger, and tweeter, about All too often, I bookmark good ideas to diigo to try later, but then forget about them. I decided to try Wylio out right away. Here's what it does: It searches for Creative Commons images, and then lets you size the image and get embed code to include it in a website or blog. There are a number of sites out there that will search for Creative Commons for you - I've used a lot - but this has the added advantage of automatically capturing the image, adding the credit and link back to Flickr, sizing, and preparing the image for the web. Pretty cool! This could become part of my regular toolkit. Thank you for letting me know about Wylio, Gwyneth. One thing I don't understand, though, is why the image has photo ©, since the Flickr page shows that it is definitely Creative Commons-licensed. I thought © meant a traditional copyright. Any thoughts? I also need to experiment a bit more with the sizing and placement of the image options -- they aren't coming out in my blog exactly as they appear in edit mode.

This little experiment is also reminding me that I need to put the use of Creative Commons high on the list of what I teach and in the library. I have been seeing when I mention it to teachers and classes that both students and teachers are unaware of how important this concept is as they all move towards becoming publishers of websites, etc. I've also seen when I worked with students at Lindero blogging and completing the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial that the lesson of not using copyrighted material in published works without permission needs to be reinforced over and over again with most of them before they really incorporate it into their regular practices. We are so fortunate to have great resources like Flickr and tools like Wylio to make these lessons fun and easy.