Monday, April 24, 2017

Announcing #calibchat Live Twitter Chat


A couple of weeks ago my friend Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and I co-wrote a blog posting about all the wonderful state and region school library live Twitter chats cropping up around the country. You may have noticed, though, that my own state of California wasn't represented in the list.😓  I am 😊  happy, though, to now report that the Golden State is about to have one!

My friend Katie McNamara (@KatieJMcNamara) and I, in fact, started talking about a California live Twitter chat when we saw each other at the California School Library Association (CSLA) Annual Conference in February. Katie was a true "star student" in the first Twitter class I taught for CSLA, and she has since become my guru and go-to person for chats. I have primarily focused just on #TLChat chats, and I can't begin to keep up with all the chats she participates in! Each time I have done a new Twitter presentation or class, she's the one I consult for advice on the best chats to share with the attendees.

So, here's the plan, subject to change as we see how things go:

We will have our very first #calibchat this Thursday, April 27 from 6:00pm - 6:30pm, and follow it each 2nd and 4th Thursday until the end of June. We are going with just a half hour in hopes that a short time slot will be more doable for everyone.

We are starting this as a California chat, but we definitely welcome and encourage our school library friends from across the country (and even the globe) to join us.

One of the other "hats" I'm wearing right now is chair of AASL's Social Media Task Force, and our task force is busy working right now on the announcements of the AASL Social Media Superstars at 4pm on Thursday. With that announcement going out just two hours before our #calibchat live chat, I took the liberty of proposing a social media topic for our first chat. (I obliged Katie with the purple color theme, so figured I was entitled to select the first topic. 😉) We will be discussing why social media important and how you use it.

So, whether you live in California or not, whether you are a school librarian or school library supporter, whether you attend a lot of chats or this will be the first, please join us! And, if you are new to chats, please check back here for some tips on live chats, which I will have added to this post by Thursday morning.

Hope to see you on Twitter Thursday at 6pm Pacific Time for our inaugural #calibchat!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Great Tips from JLG's Deborah Ford


Last week, thanks to Junior Library Guild (JLG) and the Long Beach Unified School District Library Department as host, I got to spend Tuesday morning in a session with the awesome Deborah Ford. I have known Deborah since I entered the school library profession in 2002. As a district librarian in California, she presented regularly at California School Library Association (CSLA) conferences and workshops. Her sessions were always full of great ideas I could implement in my own library AND were entertaining as well. When I learned several years ago that she was leaving California to become Junior Library Guild's Director of Library Outreach, I thought, what a gain for Junior Library Guild, but a great loss for us in California. Well, happily, that proved not to be the case; Deborah continues to present at CSLA conferences and other events in California and around the country, and she does lots of recorded webinars we can watch as well.

Last week's session focused on two topics, "Revitalizing Research in a Google-Driven-Fake-News World" and "Keeping Up in an Ever-Changing World." Here are just a very small handful of the many great tips she shared with us:

Research

Deborah shared a number of tips on how to help students evaluate information for accuracy. The process of determining accuracy has become increasingly more complex as misinformation proliferates online and there is clearly no easy, completely foolproof technique. At the same time, we librarians are best equipped and need to take the lead in teaching students the skills to evaluate sources. A new-to-me site she shared that can help with this is the News Literacy Project (www.thenewsliteracyproject.org/), a nonpartisan national education nonprofit that, according to its site, "works with educators and journalists to teach middle school and high school students how to sort fact from fiction in the digital age." One of its offerings is Checkology, a virtual classroom of 12 customizable online news literacy lessons. Teachers and librarians can sign up for either a free or premium version, and right now the premium version is being offered without charge. I just signed up and am liking what I see so far. The site also has a good handout with 10 questions for fake news detection you may want to use during lessons or share on your website.

Keeping Up

While they are not new to me, I loved that she shared the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning as go-to resources for finding good sites and applications for media sharing, digital storytelling, organizing, books, curriculum content, social networking, and more. Each year both of these groups identify 25 new sites and apps both for our students and our own work. As Deborah suggested, when you need a tool for teaching or learning, start with the current and backlist of tools. Here's a link to all the current and past websites, and here's a link for the apps. I am a former member of the Best Websites Committee, and I know both committees put many hours in to identifying the best of the best options! Another source to check for good tool ideas is Deborah's own LiveBinder of mostly-free online resources: bit.ly/101mostlyfree

One of AASL Best Websites Deborah shared is Wonderopolis. Each day, the site shares an intriguing question that will get kids --- and adults! --- wondering and wanting to dig deeper to learn more. The site offers an embeddable widget with the day's wonder. I had this embedded in my library website. I just checked the site and learned that it is offering a Camp Wonderopolis this summer, with a maker theme, that would be great to share with your students, parents, and teachers. According to the site, "This year's Camp lets Campers build their own version of Wonderocity as they explore their way through 42 lessons about engineering, construction, and city planning." Check it out!

Keeping up with Books


And, of course, with Deborah's wealth of knowledge of the best books, the session would have been worth it for her book recommendations alone. Be sure to get and read her number one recommendation at this session: Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. I listened to the audiobook after she recommended the title at a recent webinar. Here's my Goodreads review. It deals with very current issues of race and violence in an authentic, sensitive way, and is a book every high school library should have.

Deborah maintains a wonderful set of LiveBinders with "Booktalks to Go" for many of the JLG offerings, as well as links to information about the author, publisher, interviews, etc. You can access her Booktalks to Go LiveBinders at bit.ly/jlglivebinders. Here, for example, is a link to the Booktalk to Go and resources for The Hate U Give, which also includes links to author information, Thomas's Twitter account, and several interviews.

Deborah is a superstar for good book ideas. You can also follow her updates on Pinterest and Twitter.

And, next time you have a chance to hear her present live or online, do! But, before that, you can take advantage of her webinars. There are a number of archived ones sharing about new books posted on the Junior Library Guild blog, Shelf Life.


Monday, April 10, 2017

School library chats are cropping up all over!




by Nikki Robertson (@NikkiDRobertson) and Jane Lofton (@jane_librarian)
cross-posted on both of our blogs
(see Nikki's at The True Adventures of a High School Librarian)

School librarians are incredible networkers, and many have discovered that Twitter is one of the very best tools for building and benefiting from a personal learning network (PLN). Those of us taking advantage of Twitter for our PLNs never go a single day without learning some new ideas from our colleagues and those in related fields. And, Twitter live chats offer a kind of “booster shot” of Twitter goodness in a short amount of time, typically an hour.

If you aren’t familiar with what a live Twitter chat is, here’s are the basics:

A live Twitter chat happens at an appointed/announced time. There is always a specific hashtag used to identify the chat. So, you can follow a chat by going to Twitter, searching for the hashtag, selecting Latest, and watching the tweets with that hashtag as people post. You join in by adding that hashtag to each of your own tweets.





Most live Twitter chats take place the same time each month or week. Each session will have a new theme or topic to discuss. Live chats typically have two moderators who prepare questions in advance and send the questions out during the chat. They start by asking everyone to introduce themselves. Then, they use Q1 for question #1, Q2 for question #2, and so on as a preface as they post the questions. The questions go out every few minutes. Participants start their responses with A1, A2, and so on. The participants can also interact directly with each other by responding to their posts. At the end, the moderators typically create an archive transcript of the chat so that people who missed the event or want to review it can visit a link and see the conversation.

We can't pretend that live chats are relaxing. They aren't! They are definitely a bit stressful, since you are going to see lots of tweets flying by at once while you are simultaneously trying to think and compose your own answers and comments. At the same time, they are amazingly stimulating, informative, and a great chance to interact in real time with your peers and discuss a topic of interest. We have connected with many new Twitter friends and gotten countless wonderful new ideas through chats. Just be prepared in advance that you can't read all the tweets in an active chat; you are bound to miss stuff, and that's okay. You aren’t even obliged to answer all the questions. And, feel free to lurk if you like until you are comfortable.

Educators of all kinds have started live Twitter chats in the last several years, for different subject areas, grade levels, states, regions, and much more. To find out about more chats you can participate in than you ever dreamed of, check Participate’s Chat site or Cybraryman's Educational Hashtags. Until recently, though, there was just one live chat specifically for school librarians: #TLChat. The #TLChat hashtag is used by school librarians all the time as one of the main hashtags for targeting school library tweets, but, once a month, it becomes a live chat, now on the first Monday of the month at 8pm ET. And, joining it as a live chat platform recently are at least 10 state- or regionally-based school library chats. Here are the ones we know about:



And, ever generous as librarians are, we believe that all these chats welcome anyone. For example, you don’t have to be from New Jersey to participate in #NJLIBCHAT.

Also, notice that we listed the chats above in an embedded Google spreadsheet, since we are hoping we can add to it as we learn about more of them. Recently, Nikki created and sent out a Google Form in which she asked school librarians to share state school library Twitter chat sessions and hashtags. We got the information about the chats listed above from the responses to that form. If your state or region has a chat, and you don’t see it in the table, please complete the form and we’ll add it. And, if your state or region doesn’t have one, perhaps this will motivate you to start one!

We hope to see you at a chat soon!



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

AASL's Social Media Superstars!

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of serving as Chair of AASL's Task Force to establish new "Social Media Superstars" recognitions. And, yesterday, our task force had the excitement of announcing the inaugural group of superstar finalists. We developed seven different categories for the recognitions (in no particular order), and there are three finalists in each category:



We shared the details about what each category represents on the AASL website. Here are the descriptions and the finalists for each category:






In every case, the finalists are, of course, exemplary in what they do in their teaching and programs, but they take it a step further by generously amplifying their ideas and messages using social media to model practice and reach more of their peers. I'm not linking to the individual categories, here, only because I REALLY want you to go to through the overall posting, then link to each category from there, to read all the wonderful things about each finalist.

Why is this new superstars program important? In my mind, anyway, I love that the AASL Board chose to create a new recognition for our members, appreciating the value of social media to amplify our voices for advocacy, leadership, and social justice; exchange of great program, curriculum, and technology integration ideas; and empower our students' voices. And, equally important, I believe, is the opportunity this gives all of us - librarians, other educators, and education and library supporters, alike - to learn about 21 amazing people (7 categories x 3) you may not yet be following and add them to your Personal Learning Network for new inspiration and networking.

Then, once you explore all seven categories, please add endorsements for your favorites. The task force will consider all the endorsements as part of the selection of the seven top superstars. Please add your endorsements by April 14, then stand by for a webinar announcing the winners on Thursday, April 27, at 6pm Central Time.

And, finally, share this information far and wide so that more people in the school library and education community can benefit from learning about and following the 21 AASL Social Media Superstar finalists.

I'd like to thank the task force members, all of whom worked very hard on this and are definitely also great people to follow on social media!: Marifran DeMaine (@abookforfrances), Liz Dodds (@lizdodds), Elissa Malespina (@elissamalespina), and Cathy Jo Nelson (@cathyjo). Many thanks, too, to our amazing staff liaison, Jennifer Habley, and our Board liaison, Pam Harland @pamlibrarian).

In January, I signed up for the #Edublogsclub to help motivate me to blog each week. I'm afraid I'm not keeping up, but I am tagging this as part of the club, because I am confident that all the other educational bloggers participating will benefit from learning about and following these 21 AASL Social Media Superstar finalists!

Monday, February 13, 2017

#CSLA17 Conference


I've been back a week from the California School Library Association annual conference, and it seems that it has taken me that long just to catch my breath! I'm going to go off topic from this week's #EdublogsClub prompt again this week to share some of my conference experience.


Tiffany Whitehead's Keynote


 It was an amazing conference, filled with inspiration. We were honored with an opening keynote and several additional sessions by the vibrant young "Mighty Little Librarian," Tiffany Whitehead. She generously shared the slides for all her sessions here.  Her keynote address on "Visible, Vibrant Libraries" was a powerful call to action to be connected librarians, leaders in our schools, make the library the students' space, support our teachers and administrators, and constantly promote what we have to offer.

My Honorary Membership

I was also incredibly honored to be installed as a new Honorary, Life Member along with Deborah Stanley and Sandy Patton. This is a recognition the association can bestow on members who have retired and who have made a significant contribution to our association and profession over a sustained period of time. Please know that all I did for CSLA and for California school libraries has been a group effort, supported by my wonderful personal learning network. And, while I am now retired, I have no intension of stopping being an active volunteer for CSLA and AASL, and advocating for the need for effective, properly-staffed school libraries. Here are two touching speeches about me by Jeanne Nelson and Pam Oehlman (that made me cry!) and my speech:



The UnConference

One of the highlights of the conference for me in the last several years has been coordinating our "Unconference," which gives participants a chance to share ideas in an informal setting. First, we broke into groups to discuss hot topics. The topic of government websites and new challenges in assessing credibility was such a hot topic that we had two different groups for it. Next, we had a "Smackdown," in which individuals share good ideas and we capture them in a slideshow. And, just for fun, we ended the evening with a trivia contest. You can see notes from the breakout sessions and the Smackdown slides on the UnConference wiki. While our numbers shrunk a bit as we passed some of our attendees' bedtimes, here are our lively die hards at the end of the evening:


Conference Slides/Digital Handouts


CSLA makes those slides and digital handouts shared by presenters available to everyone for a limited time. Be sure to visit the conference page on the CSLA website to access them. You will find my slides for my two workshops (on images and on copyright) and my two concurrent sessions, both about Twitter there.

ESSA and Advocacy 

We had a number of sessions on advocacy. Be sure to respond to Glen Warren's request for volunteers and to check out the slides from the session on ESSA, how school libraries fit into it, and how we can advocate for ESSA funds.  We also shared our brand new "Beta" version of the new Standup4students.org advocacy campaign website:


You will be hearing more about this as we work to make this campaign and site grow.

The Conference on Twitter

I know I missed sharing all sorts of wonderful conference activities. You can get a hint of them from my "Storify" compilation of the conference on Twitter:


Monday, January 30, 2017

At ALA Midwinter


with librarian friends Deborah Ford, Andy Plemmons, & Pam Harland in the ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall
If you've been following me lately, you will know that I am participating in the #EdublogsClub, sponsored by the amazing Edublogs blogging software organization. This week's prompt asks us to post a photo, with the reasoning behind that prompt, being to have us consider and respect issues of Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use. I am actually doing two presentations that will explore these concepts and issues later this week at the California School Library Association Conference. So, I'm going to defer this discussion until next week, and I will post my presentation slides then. For this week, I'm going to share, instead, a little bit about my experiences and adventures last week attending the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Atlanta.

The American Library Association is a huge organization, with multiple divisions. I belong to two of the divisions, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). ALA has an annual conference each year in June, and a somewhat smaller "Midwinter" conference each January. The primary participants at Midwinter are people involved on the ALA or division boards or committees. I went this year to attend a meeting of the planning committee for the next AASL Conference this coming November in Phoenix. I am serving on the committee as social media chair. Yeah, I know that sounds like a whole lot of conferences, but those of us who attend these events benefit from them in so many ways. We get amazing professional development, networking opportunities, chances to meet with book and other library product vendors, and so much more.

So, while my reason for flying to Atlanta was, theoretically, a two-hour planning meeting, it was actually a great opportunity to also attend wonderful sessions, catch up with old friends and colleagues, and make new connections. A big bonus of being at "Midwinter" is that this is when all the Youth Media Awards for children's and young adult books of the year are announced. You can see all of the awards on ALA website. I've watched the live stream of these announcements many times, but never been there in person before. The energy in the auditorium with attendees awaiting to learn the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and other youth book awards was amazing.

The biggest excitement for me was that March, Book 3, the third in the graphic novel series by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell won four awards! I actually already wrote about getting to hear and meet Lewis in my October posting  about the School Library Journal Summit. I also included the book in my posting of personal favorites of 2016. The series relates Lewis's own experiences as one of the prominent leaders and heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. He traces events from 1964 to 1965, his role as chair of the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the sacrifices so many people made to fight segregation. It won the YALSA Printz Award, recognizing the best book written for teens; the YALSA Nonfiction Award, for the best nonfiction book for teens; the Association for Library Service to Children's Sibert Award, for the most distinguished informational book for children and young adults; and the Coretta Scott King Award, recognizing the "outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values." And, how especially fitting that the award was announced in Lewis's home congressional district in Atlanta, where he serves a U.S. Representative. Lewis is a true American hero, and I couldn't have been more excited to see his book win all these awards.

Here is my Tweet after the fourth award:

I also attended the YALSA Morris and Nonfiction Awards brunch following the announcements event, and got to hear Lewis and all the winners and finalists for these two awards speak. Here is my recording of Lewis's speech. Please forgive the poor visual quality of my impromptu recording; the important part is the audio:



The texts of all the speeches will be posted soon on the YALSA website.

Along with all the conference events, I also managed to get out and see a little bit of Atlanta. Here I am at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum and Library with two librarian friends, Jessica Gillis and Katie Williams:


And here I am participating in the March for Social Justice and Women with friends:



I feel so lucky to be a part of a profession of so many wonderful, dedicated librarians. They are an incredibly dedicated group, who all work to support students and make their lives better through their library programs. Here I am with several more of my awesome librarian friends, Sue Heraper, Joy Millam, and Heather Gruenthal:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Leadership in Information Literacy




I am writing this post as part of the weekly #EdublogsClub. This week's prompt asks that we write about leadership.

Numerous recent events have demonstrated the inability of many Americans to distinguish real from fake news, demonstrating a serious gap in information literacy skills (1) among our citizens. And, equally disturbing, this problem is not being adequately addressed at school. A recent research study by the Stanford University History Education Group concluded that “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak. Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.”


Clearly, if these students graduate without more preparation in information literacy skills, the problems adults are having interpreting information sources will only get worse. So, what is needed? In my view, our schools need to take leadership in making information literacy a priority. And, while such instruction should be the shared responsibility of teachers in all subject areas, the logical leaders of this curriculum are teacher librarians. (2) Why? Teacher librarians, through their training and academic preparation, have special expertise in information literacy. They are also natural curricular leaders in their schools, since they are aware of and work with classroom teachers in every subject area. They know which classes are the most effective places in which to include information literacy instruction and to collaborate with classroom teachers in delivering it. They are also leaders within their communities on educational technology, so savvy in how to leverage it for such instruction. They facilitate multiple aspects of the future ready schools movement. Rather than list those here, I'd like to urge you to visit Future Ready Schools: Preparing Students for Success for details.


So ….


If you are a teacher librarian, make sure that you are being that leader, championing efforts in your school or district to assure that information literacy is taught to all students.


If you are a classroom teacher in a school with a teacher librarian, please be sure to contact him/her and ask for support teaching information literacy to your students.


And, finally, if your school lacks a certified teacher librarian, please advocate to have your school hire one! In addition to the desperate need for instruction in information literacy, your students - all students - need and deserve access to a quality school library program with a teacher librarian for lots of other reasons, including providing quality, curated print and digital collections; promoting reading; teaching digital literacy and digital citizenship skills; connecting students with the world; and championing equity.


Notes:
1. The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.”
2. Teacher librarian is the terminology used in California to identify certified school librarians who possess a teacher credential and an additional credential in library services. In other states and countries, the terminology may vary, including school librarians and library media specialists.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Retirement Life - So Far


This week's prompt for the #edublogsclub asks that we write about our classroom or place of work.

A year ago, of course, I would have posted photos of my school library, and you can still see a lot of those on my library blog. Since I retired last June, I don't yet have a regular workspace. I find that I do most of my work moving my laptop around my house. I actually spend most of my time at the kitchen table, some in the living room, and a lot less than I should in my "sitting room," the name my daughter and I came up with for my home office/guest room. Alas, while cleaning out and making the sitting room more efficient is on my retirement "to do" list, it hasn't gotten much priority yet. A lot of people have been asking me what, indeed, I've been doing in retirement. One thing I am sure of is that all my time is full! So, I'm going to use this post to share both with myself and my readers a bit about how all my time is getting filled, along with some my goals.

Supporting School Libraries and Educational Technology


While I retired from my "day job," I'm as busy as ever with all the related, unpaid work I used to do as a school librarian. I volunteer for California School Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians, and I'm an advocate for MackinTYSL. For CSLA, I'm co-webmaster and co-chair of our new ESSA task force. I'm also presenting several sessions at our conference in February. For AASL, I am serving as social media chair for the National Conference in Phoenix in November, I was just appointed to the brand new Social Media Editorial Board, I am chairing a task force to implement new social media recognitions the association will be rolling out very soon, and I am teaching an online Twitter class in March. (You may notice a strong social media theme here!) To keep my skills up, I continue to spend a lot of time on Twitter, reading blogs, attending webinars, and so on. I just completed the recertification exam for Google for Education Trainers, and am fulfilling the tasks to keep my Google for Education Innovator status active as well. During the summer and fall, I presented at two EdTechTeam Google Summits, and hope to do more of those this year.


Travel


I have been vey fortunate to get to travel. My husband and I took two wonderful trips last year: a Stanford Travel/Study tour of Scandinavia in July, and a cruise from Montreal to New York in October. I love meeting people from all over the world and trying to understand their cultures and what is unique about where they live. This month through March, my time is jam-packed with travel to a conference each month. I'm especially excited to be heading to Atlanta for the ALA Midwinter Conference late this week, where I'll be meeting with other members of AASL Conference planning committee live for the first time. Along with all the conference meetings, sessions, and speakers, I plan to take some personal time to visit Jimmy Carter's Presidential Library and to participate in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women on Saturday.

My husband and I haven't made any definite plans travel plans for this year yet, but we are talking about visiting some of the National Parks in the Spring and heading to Europe in the Fall.

Exercise


I'm proud to say that I have been getting to my gym four + days each week, and walking almost every day I'm not there. I started taking a group swim class at the gym in July, and I swim on my own one or two days between classes. I am loving learning new swim skills for fun, relaxation, and exercise. I am also a regular at weekly barre burn and pilates classes. I love the feel of slightly soar legs as a permanent condition and the energy boost I get from more exercise.


Catching up with Friends and Family


I'm terrible about making phone calls, but I am trying harder to keep in touch with family and friends and get together with those who are local. I have always enjoyed cooking and entertaining and am doing quite a lot more cooking and some more entertaining now.

Reading 


It goes without saying that I love to read. I've been trying to make it a priority to devote more time to reading for pleasure and lifelong learning. I continue to have two books going at a time, one an audiobook and the other print or ebook. Right now, I am listening to All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and reading Demelza: A Novel of Cornwall, the second book in Winston Graham's engaging series about late 18th Century Cornwall. I plan to continue to read YA books along with with adult fiction and some nonfiction.


Following the News 


My father always read the Los Angeles Times from cover to cover every morning, along with several news magazines. I have always felt guilty that, as a slow reader, I couldn't keep up with the news as well as he did. So, the good and bad thing about retirement, is that I have more time to follow the news. I also read the Los Angeles Times, these days digitally during the week and in print on Sunday, but I get most of my news from Google's News links and Twitter links that come up in my feed. It's become more and more stressful in the last months. I also do my best to be an activist and contact elected officials about important social justice and equality issues. I am trying to find a proper balance between the stress of reading constantly upsetting news and being well enough informed to be a good, activist citizen.

And, yes, cleaning up and organizing the house!

... I've done a little bit of that!

So, am I enjoying my retirement? Absolutely. What are my goals to enjoy it more?

Goals

  • Learn to not over-book myself and allow myself to relax a little more
  • Resist this new obsession I have to be constantly following the News and upsetting myself
  • Find more ways to be a change agent and political activist. I fervently believe in the value of advocating for school libraries. Why? The critical thinking skills required to distinguish fact from fiction is something that teacher librarians teach, and that both students and adults clearly need. Far too many schools do a disservice to their students by failing to employ teacher librarians and failing to teach these skills. I intend to do all I can to advocate for strong school libraries and equitable access to them for all students. I also want to explore and find the most effective ways to advocate for other social justice, civil liberties, and equity causes.



Monday, January 9, 2017

My Blog Story


Edublogs, a great educational blogging platform and organization, recently announced a new "Blogging Club (#EdublogsClub)" to challenge educators to write a blog posting each week this year. I have been wanting to write in my blog more regularly, so I signed up for the club to help inspire me do that. Each week, the club will send me a prompt, and I will do my best to participate with a posting. If you are interested in the club, you can get more information here and sign up here. This week's assignment asks that I share something about my history as a blogger, so here goes ....

I set up my first blog and wrote my first posting way back in 2007. CSLA (California School Library Association) was offering an online tutorial, School Library Learning 2.0, about Web 2.0, as we called it then. As a participant, I learned about different Web 2.0 tools, and wrote a posting about each one. After I completed the tutorials, I continued the blog with commentary about my work as a school librarian.

A little while later, CSLA came out with a teen version of the tutorial, and I promoted it to students in my middle school library. Then, in Fall, 2009, my library position was eliminated and I spent a year teaching 7th grade language arts and a computer exploratory rotation class. I had all my students blogging. I used the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial as the curriculum for the computer exploratory class. For my language arts students, I maintained a daily class blog sharing all the class activities and assignments, and my students' blogging assignments often drew on that same tutorial. Frankly, blogging was the most rewarding part of that year. All the students benefited from the chance to practice informal writing in their blogs and to exchange comments with each other and sometimes outside our school. And some really found their writing voices through this process. I especially loved how I was able to work with the students on every aspect of digital citizenship as part of the blogging process. Another nice part of it for the computer exploratory students was that my friend Sheryl Grabow Weiss had a similar class at another middle school in our district, and we were able to get the students together online and via Skype visits to share their blogging expertise and experiences. And, based on those experiences, Sheryl and I updated the Teen Learning 2.0 tutorial for CSLA that summer.

The next year, in Fall 2010, I moved back to a librarian position, this time at a high school. I immediately set up a library blog to report about and promote library activities. I also immediately began promoting the value of student blogging to my teachers, and I've been doing that every since. I have enjoyed working with a number of different classes in a variety of subject areas, helping them get started with blogging. Typically, I handle teaching the technical and digital citizenship aspects, and the teachers, with my help if they want it, handle the prompts.

As part of my Google Teacher Academy innovation project, I set up a website to support teachers who want to have their students blog and don't have a teacher librarian like me at hand to help them.  I've given some conference presentations promoting blogging as well.

All along, I have maintained this personal blog to share thoughts and insights on school libraries, education, and technology. I never seem to find time to contribute to it as often as I would like, but, now that I retired last June, I am hoping to change that. So, I'm not sure that I'm going to respond to every single prompt during the year, but I'll do my best! And, I look forward to connecting with some of the other participants in this challenge.