Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Still to Go...

Every summer I get in a frenzy about this time of year. There are only a few days left before back -to-school PD begins. Panic! The summer sales are on, many of the jobs around the house are as yet undone, I haven't gotten to visit with all my friends & family as much as I want, and I haven't read all the books I meant to! Whew!

Here's what's still on my "to read" pile! I've started 2 of them already, so I might have a fighting what am I doing here! Gotta go read!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Advocacy is Advocacy...Wherever It Comes From

The Twitterverse was all ....atwitter....this week when the Old Spice guy mentioned libraries! Love the campaign, love the message, love the Fresno County Public Library's pouncing on this opportunity to snag a little cool publicity for libraries!

As for the critics mentioned in this post by Gwyneth Jones, I so totally agree with her! Why not just chill out? This is clever, funny and current! The Fresno Library couldn't have bought publicity this effective! Sometimes the point is just to have a little laugh when we can--and if it benefits libraries, that's even cooler!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Laming it Up For the Kids

July is one of my favorite times of year! This is usually the month that I catch up on the reading--professional and otherwise--that I just don't get around to during the school year. I usually have various home improvement projects going during the month--this year, it's tiling the house, which necessitates painting walls, replacing and painting baseboards, napping frequently to avoid all of the above... I spend a lot of time on Twitter with my PLN there as we attempt to recharge our batteries for the coming year.

I also spend a lot of time viewing & thinking about professional conferences & presentations that I've missed during the year, or those that I need to see and think about again! ISTEvision is always a treasure trove of ideas and I love, love, LOVE the openness with which the ISTE approaches their annual conference. Almost everything is online--much of it streamed in real time. It really is phenomenal.

This morning, I was catching up with the amazing Teacher Librarian Smackdown, and got no further than the first round, when I had to stop and go use one of the tools that I learned about! I created this Google Search Story to promote our library and it's theme for this year:

Cute, eh? And they've made it wildly easy to do on Youtube with the Google Search Story Video Creator!

After I created it though, I realized that it will be problematic for me to post on the library web site to share with my students--anything that I want to embed on my page is always a pain, but I can usually figure out a way to make it work in our arcane program!

No, the problem will come with the curriculum department, which has intermittently supported blocking Google over the years, and still maintains an anti-google stance, for the most part. They purchase Nettrekker yearly for student use, and it is a good tool, I admit! I find that it feels "artificial" to me however. While students can use it from home, and some do, the go-to tool for most people is still Google!

As a librarian, of course I encourage my students to use authoritative sources such as our online databases for their research. I want them--and their teachers--to go to these sources first when searching for reliable information! Additionally, I want them to consider using Creative Commons images and music whenever possible, and perhaps even use Nettrekker first, to see if a "safe" web site can be found using those tools. However, I also know that Google is the first place that most
students, parents AND teachers go when they need to know something "on the fly." I want my kids to have the information literacy skills to discern which is reliable information--a daunting task these days! And it's a vital one as well. How can they do that if we create an artificial, thoroughly blocked experience for them at school? That certainly won't be the case for most of them when they go home to use technology!

So. Back to my really cute video.
I guess I won't put it on my web site. I may use it with kids later on to make the point that Google is a great tool to find certain types of information. Brings me to the point that my husband, a non-educator, is fond of making. He says that the education machine has an amazing ability to take a great idea and lame it up to the point that it's unappealing to everyone involved. I think he hit the nail on the head.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I've read Jeff Utecht's blog, The Thinking Stick, for a long time. I follow him on twitter. He's one of the many amazing people that I think of as my Personal Learning Network. SO, I'm very proud to have his new (and first, I think) book on my shelf! I bought a copy of Reach: Building Communities and Networks for Professional Development, even though he very graciously allowed free downloads for the first few days of publication. I did that too, but thought that it was only right to support the effort of a member of my PLN. I'm glad I did, too!

Although I was familiar with many of the tools and techniques for creating a PLN that Utecht focuses on, I found that his book provides the basis for a great "how and why to start" discussion. Reach is a book that I definitely plan to share this year with faculty members. Utecht explains how to find people to follow on sites like Twitter and Facebook, how to use RSS to make it easier to connect to your "tribe," and more! It's the why and the how of building a professional learning network or community online--and it's a very hands-on, practical approach. I think that it will be helpful to many of my colleagues who might be just about ready to begin reaching out for professional support, and building a unique community of learners for themselves. It could form the basis for a great PD series too, if I can find some teachers in my world that are ready!

Thanks Jeff for your work in writing this book, and for so freely sharing with your network!