Friday, September 26, 2014

Why TLs should apply to attend the next #GTA

I just saw that applications are open for the next U.S. Google Teacher Academy (#GTA). It will be in Austin December 2-3, and the applications are due October 13. Back in August, I wrote about my experience at the #GTA in Mountain View in July. If anything, I am more energized and inspired now than when I left there, as I begin to process and apply ideas I got there. It has also enriched my PLN (personal learning network) with more than 70 wonderful new connections, between the attendees and the organizers. I am, frankly, focusing this post on my Teacher Librarian friends as the audience; I want those of you who haven't yet had this experience to apply and attend. Here's a few reasons why I think you will find it valuable, followed by a few reasons why, if I had my way, the cohort would be flooded with TLs!

Here are just five of what could be many reasons why you'll find attending a Google Teacher Academy valuable:
  • You will see great examples of new and better ways to engage students, and help them explore their passions, learn to solve problems, and prepare for their futures
  • You will become part of a cohort of enthusiastic people you can network with and share ideas with, and, yes, be intimidated, but in a good way, by all their talents
  • You will be infected with Google's "can do" attitudes and teamwork models 
  • You will be inspired to share your new ideas and expertise with your colleagues, PLN, and the world
  • You'll be pushed to be a Moonshot thinker!
The Googlers and other organizers at my academy told us what they are looking for in Google Certified Teachers. They are: 
  • Outstanding educators with a passion for using innovative technologies and approaches to improve teaching and learning, 
  • Creative leaders who understand opportunities and challenges, and have a desire to help empower others in their local community and beyond, 
  • Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity, and innovation. 
And, here's why we should have lots of teacher librarians in this next and every cohort:
  • Don't those three characteristics above sound exactly like every good teacher librarian you know? Teacher librarians are naturals for this!
  • We need Googlers, the other cohort members, and all our fellow educators to see what we TLs do and how much our expertise contributes to positive change.
  • A big theme of the academy was the value of team work. We teacher librarians are not just leaders, we are also excellent collaborators and team players. 
  • We are experts at spreading the word, both right at home and far and wide, about any new ideas and tools we find valuable. If you love Google like I do, you will learn more about what you love and then share that with the rest of of your TL and educator PLN.
  • You'll love the experience! 
And, don't worry if you don't have a lot of expertise in filmmaking. (A one-minute film is one of the requirements.) I made mine with GoAnimate and just background music, for audio so I didn't have to speak or act. :-)

So, do consider applying to the Austin Google Teacher Academy. Okay? 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Join Our #SWVBC!

Just about three years ago, Joyce Valenza shared in her Neverending Search blog the idea that she and Shannon Miller came up with to connect their school library book clubs into a “somewhat virtual book club” for joint discussions. And, she generously invited other TLs to participate. I was one of the readers who responded asking to participate. And, in October 2011, we had our first virtual event. You can read my reflection on our early meetings in my December 2011 blog posting.

We’ve experienced a variety of bumps in the road keeping this going, but I am so proud of my students and of all the students who have participated and shared their insights on reading with other students across the country. It was also especially exciting for all of us to have authors accept our invitations to talk with us. Many thanks to Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, and Ellen Hopkins for joining us! Regular TL and student participants over the last three years have included Joyce Valenza’s Springfield Township High School in Springfield Township, PA;  Shannon Miller’s Van Meter Community Schools in Van Meter, IA; Michelle Luhtala’s New Canaan HS in New Canaan, CT; Colette Cassinelli’s La Salle Catholic College Prep in Milwaukee, OR; Cathy Jo Nelson’s Dorman HS in Roebuck, SC; and Debbie Bobolin’s James Caldwell HS in West Caldwell, NJ.

And, this year, the “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” (#SWVBC) is ready to expand, and we invite YOU to join us.

Here’s the plan so far:

  • Each monthly meeting will be hosted by a different school, and the students at that school will take ownership of both running the technology and serving as moderators. We TLs all love running things, but we want to empower our students with those skills.

  • The books selected will be for a high school audience, but middle schools are, of course, more than welcome to join discussions for any of the books that interest them.

  • As with regularly-scheduled webinars like TL Virtual Cafe, you and your students are welcome to be regular, occasional, or even just one-time participants.

  • We plan to use Google+ Hangouts as our meeting platform. For the last couple of years and a lot of experimentation, we have been on Blackboard Collaborate, and have really appreciated the stability of that platform. This year, though, we want to try software that we know students will have access to on their own. That, way they can leverage what they learn about using the software during our meetings to lead virtual meetings in other contexts. We are aware that Google+ Hangouts is limited to 10 participants. Should we exceed that number at meeting, those unable to join the Hangout can still participate by viewing the live stream and contributing to the chat. And, we are, of course, flexible, and can modify our plans if circumstances call for doing so.

  • The tentative schedule for the year thus far includes:

    • September 17, 3:30 PM PT/6:30 PM ET: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, hosted by New Canaan HS, New Canaan, CT
    • October 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, hosted by Mira Costa HS, Manhattan Beach, CA
    • November 5, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, hosted by Cambridge HS, Cambridge , MA
    • December 3, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: considering Butter by Erin Jade Lange or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy, hosted by Dorman High School, Roebuck, SC
    • January 7, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • February 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book TBA & hosted by La Salle Prep, Milwaukie, OR
    • March 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • April 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • May 6, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
    • June 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD

  • If you are another librarian or club member out there reading this, please contact me if your school would like to grab one of the open sessions. Also, feel free to invite the author to join us if you can.

  • Also contact me if you simply want to join in; we’ll set you up with the links for the sessions.

  • In addition to this monthly schedule of book discussions, we have several social media platforms we hope to “grow” this year for “any time book” discussions, news, and announcements:

  • And, please don’t worry if your club, or “club trying to happen” is small. That’s the benefit of connecting virtually; it gives our students the opportunity to connect with other readers even when you only have a small group at their own school.

Hope to see you online!

MCHS Library Orientations Underway!

If you know me, you know that I am a HUGE believer in the value of blogging. I promote blogging to both teachers and students, and I have two blogs: this one, and my library blog. My Google Teacher Academy is about blogging, so you will be hearing a lot more about that from me soon.

I have two blogging problems:

  • I never seem to be able to get to posting as often as I want, and I often end up "skipping" topics because I didn't get to them in a timely fashion and then decide it's too late. :-(
  • I regularly have the dilemma of not being able to decide which of my two blogs to post to. 
So, this posting isn't about how I solved either problem, although I wish I could! It is simply to tell you that I just did a posting this morning on my library blog I hope you'll read if you are interested in how I redesigned Day 2 of my library orientation this year to go completely paperless and to include several of the concepts I came away from the Google Teacher Academy with: 
  • have students work in teams (I had been doing that part already)
  • don't over-explain how to do things, 
  • make it fast-paced by limiting the time to accomplish tasks, 
  • and have students share out what they learned or did at the end
And, yeah, it also incorporates some great Google tools, including Google's latest, Google Classroom. 

And, standby for my next posting about the Somewhat Virtual Book Club. I'm going to do that one on this blog. Thanks for reading!