Taking a Risk with TouchCast

Teachers are constantly asking students to take risks in their learning. How often do students see us, their teachers, take risks, make mistakes, learn through play, (and sometimes look ridiculous) in our own learning? 

I have been wanting to learn TouchCast for a long time. It is an awesome tool for video creation that I learned about through Laura Gardner. I have been dabbling with the iPad app and bought a green screen and lights that I left in the bag for a good month before deciding just to jump in and start creating. 

I imagined creating the perfect tutorial video that I would share with teachers so teachers and students knew about it as a possible tool to use for presentations. I would  describe the app, showcase its features, and appear poised and confident the entire time. 

I had a lot of fun playing with it as I created my first TouchCast. It is far from poised, seamless and perfect. I could have done a lot more retakes and done a better job editing but I wanted students to see my rough cut, my willingness to take a risk and put myself out there to learn and teach them about a new technology. 

I am very excited that teachers and students have already reached out and want me to work with them to create TouchCasts for their own projects. There are so many ideas - student skits, newscasts, talk shows, teacher sub plans, interviews (mock or real), advertisements and more. Creating videos is also a great opportunity to incorporate media literacy. Students can analyze media messages and discuss about how and why certain media messages are created.

A big THANK YOU to Laura Gardner for generously sharing her knowledge about TouchCast!

September....phew it's almost over

I love the start of the school year - the energy, the excitement, the clean slate. But man does September exhaust me.

Getting back into the routine, preparing lessons, attending endless meetings, getting to know students, and open houses are just a few of the work related balls being juggled. Add to that a son starting kindergarten, his fall sports and activity schedule and moving back in to my home after a five month construction project has left me feeling exhausted and stressed.

Students feel the same way.  They have just as many, and sometimes even more, balls in the air and stressors in their lives. The students at my school recognize they need and want to learn techniques to manage anxiety and stress.  

Because of my yoga experience, the committee that plans the activities for our Advisory blocks, asked me to help with ideas and resources to discuss mindfulness with students.  The following doc is a list of resources I put together to help teachers discuss and work with students in their groups. I do choose my words carefully as meditation and yoga can have a spiritual connotation and some families may (and have expressed concern). When I do use those terms I am clear with students that I am not here to guide them spiritually, that religion and spirituality is something discussed at home.  I am just trying to teach them skills to manage stress, nerveousness and anxiety.  Here are my suggestions:


Refreshing the Library for the New School Year

Guest blog post by Anne Marie Doyle, a elementary school library media specialist in Westerly, Rhode Island. And also my sister!

I love the beginning of the school year, but this year I am particularly excited. I have been job sharing at my school for 8 years and this school year marks my return to full time!

I have been thinking about the layout of my library for few years but have been hesitant to change too much because I have been sharing the space with other librarians. Now, that I am the sole librarian at the school, I decided to re-organize the library to create an environment more conducive to learning, the supervision of students and ultimately more inviting to both students and staff.

I asked my sister who is also a school librarian to help out with the project. We decided to move every section of the library to create a layout that had a better flow and allowed more access to the children for supervision during book selection time.

I had several issues with the way the library was arranged:
  • My lessons were constantly being interrupted by teachers and students coming and going in to the offices and storage closets.  
  • I could not see the younger students who were checking out books from the circulation desk.
  • The Fiction section was smooshed into a very small area with series books pulled out and distributed randomly on the tops of the shelves. 
  • There were books on top of every single bookshelf, even the tallest that students could not reach.
  • The collection had not been weeded in years. 
    OLD LAYOUT

THE NEW AND IMPROVED SCHOOL LIBRARY!!!

The work was long, tedious and sweaty, but the effort was worth it in the end.
  • I added shelving from a school that closed in our district which gave me the privacy I was looking for from the offices. 
  • I moved the Everybody Picture books to these shelves and the adjacent shelves, so that I could better supervise our smaller students as they selected books.
  • The Nonfiction and Biography Books were relocated to the far side of the room. 
  • I spread out the Fiction books so students had room to spread out and browse. I also put the series book back in the Fiction section under the author's name to help students more easily locate them.
  • I also created a section of transitional chapter books for our younger students to access (and I can still see them from the circulation desk) but they are near the Fiction section so older, less skilled readers do not feel like they are in the "little kid section."
  • I weeded enough books that the tops of all shelves were now clear and could be used for display only.
  • We weeded so much that it looks like our shelves are filled with brand new books.    
    AWESOME NEW LAYOUT!!


    I removed 15-20 year old signage that was was caked with dust. I created new visual signage and added vinyl stickers to spruce up the cinder block walls. The art teacher helped me create movable signage for sections.



 I made the signage on Canva and the frames came from Ikea.
I purchased a cloth wardrobe closet to use as a Fligrid space so students can have privacy while creating video responses.

The best part was seeing the kids reactions when they walked in. 
It is going to be a great year in our fresh new library space!





Tech PD for Teachers

I have been asked to run part of the technology professional development for teachers before school starts.  The group I am going to work with will be the "high fliers" or the "fish grou" (I have no idea where that name came from). I immediately made a list of the apps and tools I have been most excited to learn this summer but was struggling with how to present it. I wanted to use the new Google Sites but I still find the interface cumbersome.  

Then I remembered Tracy Enos's playlist. Tracy is an 8th grade ELA teacher in the West Warwick Public Schools who I meet at the Digital Literacy Institute this summer. Tracy granted me permission to use some of her examples as I think it is much more meaningful for teachers to SEE how other teachers are using tools successfully with student.  I also loved how Tracy checked how the app could be used.

I did still put it in a Google Site so I could present it as a tool but the meat of the playlist is in a Google Doc.  

Weekly #DigitalTip Inspired by Social LEADia

As a middle school and high school school library media specialist,I do not see students on a regular basis. I try to find ways to communicate with them and teach them through social media. I create informational graphics for Instagram and Twitter. This summer I was inspired to create weekly #DigitalTips based on Jennifer Casa-Todd's Social LEADia.  

Casa-Todd based the tips on Mike Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship
  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Communication
  3. Digital Law
  4. Digital Security
  5. Digital Commerce
  6. Digital Health & Wellness
  7. Digital Literacy
  8. Digital Etiquette
  9. Digital Rights & Responsibilities
I have shared them with my principals who want to include the tips in the morning announcements, print them and post them throughout the school and discuss them in their advisory meetings. I continue to add to them and will keep the drive updated.

I created a #DigitalTip Google Drive of the graphics and you are welcome to personalize them as I did with my school logo and contact info.  They will also be available on the Social LEADia website




Work cited
Casa-Todd, Jennifer. Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership. 
     San Diego, Dave Burgess Consulting, 2017. 

Library Promotion with Adobe Spark


Just learning some "new to me" tools while working on our freshman library orientation and wanted to share. Adobe Spark is my new favorite!





Social LEADia: A Facebook Discussion

updated 8/9/2017



Two years ago George Couros came to our school district gave an powerful talk about the importance of using social media as a tool in the classroom.  As he was speaking, I began following Couros on Twitter and through him discovered and followed Jennifer Casa-Todd.  

Jennifer's blog, Endless Possibilities is a candid reflection of her journey as an educator and parent. She shares ideas and thoughts about a variety of topics including the use of technology and social media. I love learning from her blog posts and was excited when I heard she published the book Social LEADia, which I have now read multiple times.  

Social LEADia challenges its readers to move out of their comfort zone, to overcome challenges and to work with students to find opportunities to use social media in authentic and meaningful ways. It is one of the best professional books I have read in a long time. 

I reached out to Jennifer Casa-Todd through Twitter and her Social LEADia Facebook group (yes I love the book so much I follow her everywhere). I was interested in joining an online book discussion although I admit Twitter chats make my head spin. Jennifer offered me the opportunity to host a book discussion in her Social LEADia Facebook group. I was honored and suddenly panicked. I have never run an online book discussion and the AUTHOR was going to be a part of it!

This is my first experience with using Facebook for book discussion and I realize some people may be completely new to Facebook so I thought I would give you some tips and the plan for the evening.
  • The conversations in the Social LEADia Facebook group are only accessible to the approved members of the group.  Please request to join the group to participate.
  • Discussion questions will be posted approximately every 10 minutes. 
  • Please "Comment" to the posted question to discuss.  This will keep the conversations organized. 
  • Some questions are in a Flipgrid format, you maybe record your answer using Flipgrid or type your answer.  You may also respond to each other through Flipgrid.
  • It has become common practice that if someone is interested in a thread but has nothing to offer they comment "following" so they receive notifications when future comments are made. You do not need to do this. Instead, click on the arrow in the right hand corner of the post and select "Turn on notifications for this post."
  • If you are not able to make it for the live chat, please pop in any time with your comments or sharing.

Our hope is that our two evenings of discussion are just the beginning of continuing conversations and sharing so that we can all help our students use social media for learning & sharing their learning, standing up for causes that are important to them, and to be a more positive influence on others: ultimately social media leaders.

I want to thank Jennifer Casa-Todd for her assistance, responding to my questions as we worked together to plan this event. Jennifer also assisted with this blog post and allowed me to use her graphics.


Update 8/9/2017 - Reflections after first Facebook chat
What worked well:

  • conversations easy to follow
  • replies were not limited to 140 characters
  • more in-depth sharing 
  • smaller group - more meaningful connections
  • easy to refer back to conversations
  • easy to jump in after the fact to see what discussed and add to conversations


Challenges:

  • too many questions - the ability to have longer responses made it hard to keep up
  • limited number of people - not open to public (both a pro and con)
  • forgot to have people introduce self
  • people seemed to like to type more than Flipgrid for this type of limited time sharing 





How Can I Help You and Our Students?


I left the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy with a few questions:
What will I do next?  
How will I implement what I have learned?
How can I help teachers with digital media in their curricula?

I began composing an email to the teachers at my school discussing the ways in which I can help them. Thank goodness I did not send it because the reality of sending a wordy to teachers at the beginning of the school year, let alone in the summer, was that it would be read by a handful. 
I decided to create a graphic and shared it with the awesome School Librarian's Workshop Facebook tribe.  I received a lot of positive feedback and constructive ideas which resulted in the final graphic which I will be emailing teachers to grab their attention and get them thinking about ways I can maybe help them when school starts next month!  

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy - Day 6


Project Day 
Digital tools and resources can be amazing but they need to be used in a purposeful way to provide meaningful learning opportunities. That was why the Personal Digital Inquiry Plan (aka Dyad Project) was an important piece of our work of the week.   

Day 6, our final day, was project day.  We worked on our projects and prepared to share them with others. 

My Dyad partner, Bill, and I focused on using the inquiry process to teach students to find, evaluate and select digital resources.  As I mentioned in a previous post, there was a lot of paperwork through this process. I am sharing our work on this blog but please know this was a starting point for both of us that does need fine tuning We focused our work in the PLAN pages (see 1 below). We began creating a Blendspace, a tool that I have used in the past but was new to Bill. The Blendspace we created (see 2 below) features a variety of skills and information important for research.  e also planned opportunities for student reflection give us feedback by teaching students formal email writing skills (with proper greets and not text-speak spelling). We also planned to use Screencasting for student reflection, allowing them to explain their  thought process as they searched for and selected resources.  

I attended several sessions with Kristin Hokansen and I liked her style of allowing students to notice and discover on their own instead of talking at students.  I began outlining how I would do this with my students within this project.  I began outlining and sketching out ideas in this Intro to Research Eng 9 Google Doc (see 3 below). I am very interested in teaching life skills and the "whole child" so I would like students to be able to identify how what they are learning will help them with what I call the 3 secrets to success in life:
1.Organized
2. Effort
3. Kind 

Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 attendees shared their topics at the end of the work session.
All of our projects and resources are available for members of the Institute to access through our class Wiki.  (Side note: This was my first experience really utilizing Wikispaces and, like any new tool, it drove me a little crazy for the first few days but by the end of the week I was comfortable with it and saw what a powerful tool it was for sharing information).  

As I was walking around, talking to people, I thought of ways their school librarian might support them. I decided that this weekend I will be emailing my fellow teachers at school and invite them to share some of their current student projects with me and allow me to co-teach with them and help them implement digital tools in a meaningful way.

The week was a great experience and I am very lucky I was given the opportunity to attend.  
For now, I am goig to return to summer and my #30bookssummer reading challenge before EdCamp next week!



1.  Draft of our PDI Plan




2.  Blendspace Lesson Plan - I know this is too big but resizing did not work.





3.  My work-in-progress outline to use this year.

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy 2017 - Day 5

Please know this is my personal learning and reflections.
KEYNOTE
Deepening Assessment Digitally 
Troy Hicks and Jill Castek discussed how students can use digital tools to assess their work and how teachers can use digital tools to assess student work. They showed us two examples 

As I mentioned yesterday, as I begin introducing more tools to students, I like the idea of using digital tools for students to highlight and reflect upon their learning.  I think students will take a risk and try something new when there is not a grade attached to it.  

Digital assessment tool as a final grade requires that the teacher has already built relationships with their students.  There must be a sense of community so that students are not afraid to approach a teacher and question digital feedback.  I do not think it should replace personal conferencing with students.  Personal conferencing I believe is the most meaningful way to provide assessment as the teacher knows that the student is receiving the feedback and there is little chance of misinterpretations as teachers can react to student facial reactions and possible body language in the discussion. It also teach student very important interpersonal communication skills. 

I also think that today's data driven teacher evaluation system needs to change before using digital tools as formative assessments will be "acceptable". 


Resources from the Session


BREAKOUT SESSIONS
There were no breakout sessions today which left me very sad as I love the hands on learning with smaller groups!
 
LEADERSHIP PANEL 
I confess I was disappointed I was not assigned to a panel that had a representative from West Warwick, the school with the amazing students from Day 2.  Our panel included 

1. William Yang, Assistant Principal, Edgewood Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY 
2. Erica DeVoe, ELA Teacher, Westerly High School, Westerly, RI 
3. Megan Jones, District Educational Technology Coach/TOSA, Citrus County Schools, FL
4. Frank Romanelli, Writing & Rhetoric Lecturer, University of Rhode Island 
5. Anne Kilkenny, Children’s Librarian, Providence Public Library, RI


They discussed their definitions of digital literacy and how to take on a leadership role moving your school toward more digital projects.  

DYAD Project
At the beginning of the week we were tasked with creating a Personal Inquiry Project for students.  What felt like a very concrete format was given to us and we worked on it each day.  I thought it interesting as we discussed personal and personalized learning we were being given a format.  I understand the why, however, I know as a veteran teacher, how I best approach creating lessons.  
Our PDI Planning Worksheets! I finally had to print...scrolling to connect information did not work for me. 


I am a very linear person (can't you tell from my blog?) I wanted to focus on my approach to a project which will be a collaboration between myself and freshman humanities teachers. My role is to provide Research Bootcamp. Thankfully, I found Bill, (or he found me in the lunch line) a high school English teacher who wanted to focus on teaching students how to research using digital tools.  Bill is an East and I am a West so he didn't mess with my attention to detail and I was cool with him looking for the big picture.  We balanced each other well and had similar ideas about teaching with the kids we were trying to reach with this project. We used the time to create an outline of instruction.  While I had the guiding plan provided at this conference, we found it more useful to create an outline for the lessons and think about how to deep understanding with the personal Digital Inquiry Tools.

We had an 18 page worksheet guide. Yes, 18 pages!! And I will confess it made my head spin. I did not feel like this format helped me maximize my use of time or understanding.  I found it to be repetitive and frustrating to work with as a single document. I toggle better than I scroll.  The pages we were to fill out included the initial planning, the Personal Digital Inquiry (PDI) Planning Guide, Your PDI Plan, Digital Products, Project Abstracts, Final PDI Summary, Project Reflection, and an "Other Resource" page.
 
I did have a great time working in the afternoon dyad sessions and sharing ideas and my favorite professional reading this summer.

ABOUT MY BLOG  A number of people approached me throughout the day asking about my blog and how I got started.  I really appreciate your enthusiasm for it.THANK YOU!   

I have wanted to blog for years (I love to write) but could not think of a name.  So for 3 years I thought about a name. Then one day after meeting and talking to George Couros, I decided to just start.  It wasn't going to be perfect. Nothing ever is.  

What I use my blog for: 
  • reflecting on my lessons and teaching practices
  • recording personal learning
  • connecting with school librarians, educators, families & community and students 
  • advocating for school librarians
  • keeping track for EOY teacher evaluation - I keep track of my professional development & Domain IV 
  • sharing, I don't believe any of us need to create our own wheels (lessons)
  • fun - I LOVE creating - it both the writing piece and learning how to do a bit of coding and embedding digital items
  • so stakeholders in my school district can see the work that I do
So for those of you who said, I have always wanted to blog...just DIVE IN and get started!  You won't regret it!

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy 2017 - Day 4

Thank you for bearing with me as I blog my learning this week.  I know there are typos but this week is so whirlwind that if I try to wordsmith each day I will never post.  

KEYNOTE
I have a new idol.  Dan Gillmor from Arizona State University and author of the free ebook Mediactive spoke about News Literacy Using Media in a Networked Age.  Gillmor's talk was recorded on Periscope here but below I have highlighted my takeaways. 

Why is he my idol?  Because in the first five minutes he said "Do not use the words 'fake news'".  He reinforced what I have been telling my students all year, that there is no such thing.  Gillmor stated this is an emergency in our world...the onslaught and velocity of variations of news and so called news.  

Gillmor began with a brief history of the Media Shift.  He discussed progress from cave drawings, handwritten books, printed books, political print, the telegraph, radio, and television to the Internet.  Access and distribution were 

With our new technologies (smartphones, etc) allows the consumers of news (all of us) to become creators of news using collaborative tools in real time.  

Journalism is very much alive and he cited The New York Times.  He also stated that news can be found through bloggers and/NOT or jounalists.  However, re

There is a demand problem because so much information coming at us and so much is garbage.  Pictures can be altered with a variety of tools but Gillmor also discussed the ability for videos to be faked, literally putting words in someone's mouth.  NPR recently had an article about this technology.

Gillmor is passionate about news literacy which he sees as a subset of media literacy.  He discussed the principals of media literacy:
Skepticism - be skeptical of everything
Judgement - but don't be equally skeptical of everything
Research - ask questions!

Gillmor address CONTROL of the media. Who controls our technology and communication? Who is making the key decisions about free speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to innovate and more?  NOT US!

Government and big business are increasingly controlling and attempting to control information.   Net Neutrality is a huge concern and was an important policy decision during the Obama Administration that is being debated with the possibility of reversing. 

With regards to social media Who decides social media news feeds? How can it be improved?

A few quick highlights from the keynote:
  • Wikipedia good place to start, worst place to stop (unless looking for updates on your favorite TV show)
  • Confirmation Bias - when facts don't change our minds...how do we fix this? 
  • Adopting a SLOW news approach to get the news CORRECT (social media has increased the velocity of information)

BREAKOUT SESSIONS
Best Practices in Media Literacy in the Classroom 
Kristin Hokansen shared best practices using Twitter.  While I am an avid Twitter user, I teach Twitter to fellow teachers so I loved learning how she presented Twitter 101. 

Two of my favorite quotes she used (which I believe are attributed to others):
"Quit doing to and for and start doing by and with." 

'Quit answering questions with answers and start answering with questions."

Digital Literacy Across the College Curriculum 
Frank Romanelli
My hope from attending this session was to learn what was happening at the collegiate level to hopefully generate ideas to help prepare my high school students. 

What I loved was the idea that after students created the project/paper that was to be graded, asking them to take a risk, to learn a new digital tool to reflect upon their learning and the process.  The Media Education Lab offers a great list of digital tools to use for multimedia authorship.

I thought about the idea of blogging about books with students and perhaps asking them to learn a new digital tool to embed in that blog related to the book they are reading. 

Tools discussed that I would like to check out:
Explain Everything
VideoScribe
Etherpad

GooseChase - scavenger hunts 
KnightLab Projects - "The Lab develops prototypes, projects and services that help make information meaningful and promote quality journalism, storytelling and content on the internet."
PHET Interactive Simulations - science & math - use screencastify so students can demonstrate understanding


Frank's 2011 video promoting Digital Literacy

Taking a Risk with TouchCast

Teachers are constantly asking students to take risks in their learning. How often do students see us, their teachers, take risks, make mist...