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:
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.
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

There were no breakout sessions today which left me very sad as I love the hands on learning with smaller groups!
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.  

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 do we fix this? 
  • Adopting a SLOW news approach to get the news CORRECT (social media has increased the velocity of information)

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

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

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy 2017 - Day 3

Day 3 began with a conversation about creating open and closed ended questions as we begin diving int o our Dyad project.  This is something I often do with students prior to research so I was able to share that experience with my Dyad partner.  

Emily Bailin Wells and Rhys Daunic spoke about Pathways to Media Literacy  from Media Spot work with teachers, administrators and student to develop activation of media literacy n curricula and teaching practice.  Wells and Daunic talked about Media Literacy as an extension of literacy practices.

I have a lot of thoughts about this keynote.  First, I love that media literacy is so important and that so many people are talking about it, wanting to learn more, wanting to teach. However, the idea that media literacy is new and that there is a separate speciality that requires that outside experts to come in to teach these skills is frustrating.  Asking questions about the messages that we receive is what school librarians do.  I understand that there are now media literacy degrees.  Before that time,  master's degree in library and information science with my certificate as a school library media specialist.  I have continued my education as media evolved, immersing myself in professional development opportunities. 

If there were full time certified school library media specialists in schools the need for special experts to come to schools to do a special "media literacy" units with students would not be necessary.  A certified school library media specialist would work to embed aspects of media literacy in classroom curriculum.  

While I am familiar with Screencastify as an instructional tool it was interesting to use as a student.  We watched a controversial video and read a web based text related to the video which we annotated as we answered the Key Question of Media Literacy.  


No offense to my Dyad Partner but I HATE group projects. However,  I did LOVE this activity.  We identified and developed an understanding of our group work preferences (North, South, East, or West). The activity is from the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF). There are lots of activity ideas including Compass Points for classroom use that can be found here.  I definitely think doing this with students would be beneficial to helping students work together and understanding each others different styles in an effort to better work together.  

During lunch time one of the instructors who I had reached out to help me become more SnapChat astute, came and found me.  I know how to Snap cute pics with filters but in 15 minutes with Kristin Hokansen I learned to edit photos, create stories and we discussed possible uses with students and within the school.  I can't wait to go home and practice!  Stay tuned for a blog post in the future about my experience.

I learned so much from Hokansen in 15 minutes I chose her Designing Multimodel Lessons for Inquiry Learning session.  We looked at TES Teach BlendSpace and EdPuzzle.  While I am familiar with both programs, I was interested to learn about how to integrate with Discovery Education and copyright issues.  

By far, the BEST PART OF THE CONFERENCE was been talking to students from the West Warwick Schools.  The session was titled Creating, Collaborating and Communicating and it was AWESOME!

There were 2-3 students at each table, prepared with laptops to teach us specific tools that they use in their class. The students were poised, well spoken and receptive to questions. I sadly only got to speak to 5 of the about 15 students.

Student Reading Blogs
The first two students shared their reading blogs and discussed how that has increased their enthusiasm for reading.  They are required to write a blog post a month, not just a book review, but anything inspired by the book they read.  Their teacher also provided them with prompts and ideas.  Students were also required to comment on two other student blogs. Each month, students would describe their current blog post in a Google form.  The results sheets are shared with students so they could choose a post that they were interested in reading.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!  Both students gave me permission to share their blogs. It is interesting to see their growth from the beginning.

Another student showed me how he used Coggle, a mind mapping tool to keep track of figurative language in a novel.  It was a note taking task, sharing examples of quotes and at the end the task was to explain the theme of the story.  Not only is this a fantastical organizational tool, you could tell the student was excited about it.  Learning made fun!

We also ventured in to LucidPress a bit and the online print and digital software. 

The student who showed me Storybird was enthusiastic about the visual storytelling tool and the creativity it sparks.  We talked about logistics in terms of editing and teacher input.  H

I also spoke with their teacher Tracy Enos, their teacher who shared her list of apps and programs she uses with her students and her list of favorite tools and resources she shares with fellow educators  What I Love to Use in my 8th Grade ELA Classroom. In this list she lists the tool, a description, examples of how to use, and notes whether it can be used for differentiation, communication, writing, reading, grammar, research, vocabulary, assessment, and/or presentation

I AM SO EXCITED TO GO HOME AND EXPLORE...maybe not tonight though.  These are the kinds of conferences when my head feels its about to explode each afternoon.

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy 2017 - Days 1 & 2

This week I am fortunate to be attending the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy at the University of Rhode Island Media Education Lab.  I have already met so many passionate K-12 educators, librarians, and higher education faculty from around the world. The official description of the six-day institute states,  

This six-day institute focuses on how literacy is changing as a result of emerging media and technologies. We'll consider the implications of this cultural and technological shift for teaching and learning. Join us in exploring innovative approaches now being used by K-12 educators, librarians, and college and university faculty. You will learn how to conduct project-based inquiry using a variety of digital texts, tools and technologies, which will help create challenging and engaging learning opportunities for you and your students.  

Truth be told, it was not that description that convinced me to ask my district to support my attendance, it was my neighbor.  Amanda Murphy was walking her dog one day and we started talking about school.  Amanda is a high school teacher in Westerly, She didn't just mention this program, she raved about it - who raves about 6 summer days at school?   I walked back in to my house and immediately looked up the program.  

So here I am on days 1 & 2 and I hope to post a little each day about what we are learning.

Sunday afternoon, we met at the Hotel Providence for a meet & greet and an overview of the program.  

I thought my first post here would be very savvy definitions of media literacy, information literacy and digital literacy.  I learned in the first 5 minutes there would be no specific definition handed to us.  Literacy refers to competencies - the ability to understand, use dna create.  The list below shows the different types of literacies how literacies have evolved as

Print Literacy
Visual Literacy
Information Literacy
Media Literacy
Computer Literacy
Critical Literacy
News Literacy
Digital Literacy 

There are many components to Digital Literacy which I am excited to learn about this week.

We  also discussed our Digital Literacy Motivation Profile which is an interesting quiz you can take.  I was a DeMystifier, which even without taking the quiz I knew as soon as I saw critical thinking skills in the description. 

Monday morning began with a welcome from Dr. Anthony Rolle the Dean of the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Rhode Island.  

Commissioner Ken Wagner from the Rhode Island Department of Education spoke about the need to update our education system, to preserve best practices but to find new ways to provide rigor in challenge both related to technology and not.  The biggest challenge is equity.   Teaching students about information, what is information, educational content, resources students are learning from and how to manage information.  He received a round of applause when he stated there is "No such thing as alternative facts."  He stated the need for ambassadors, people with wisdom to help navigate and guide fellow educators, students and families through chartered and unchartered waters of what is real, not real and how to identify perspectives.  

Julie Coiro from the University of Rhode Island and Jill Castek from the University of Arizona provided the keynote with Personal Inquiry and Online Research: Connecting Learners in Ways That Matter.  They made the distinction between Personalized Learning vs Personal Learning.  

Personalized Learning is a top down design tailored or tailored approach, customized for each student but controlled by teacher or system restaurant.  For example, choose from a menu when you got to a restaurant but you cannot choose a menu item from another restaurant.  pick from THAT menu, not from the restaurant next door.  Based on what we think children name.  

Personal Learning is something human where the learner initialed and controls parts or all of the learning process, often emerges from engagement with others about one's personal wonderings and building relationships in the process.

Curiosity & Relationships As educators design inquiry experiences we were reminded that digital literacy sits at core of everything.  The driving questions when creating these learning experiences should include:
  • What will my students know understand and be able to do?
  • How will my students be actively engaged and to what end?
  • Which digital tools work and in what ways?
Coiro described classroom cultures that value curiosity and honors student voices while encouraging choice, collaboration, problem solving, risk taking and reflection as a key to success.

In the presentation, they provided student examples.  One of the practices that I found intriguing was the use of a webcam and Screencasity for students to record their thought process in chooseing keywords and selecting search results.  This may be an interesting way to show growth in lessons about hwo to search, evaluating resources and using databases, recording student before and after lessons.

The breakout sessions were the most useful part of the day for me.  We were given a variedy of choices to learn more about a specif topic.

I chose  has Love Language - The Power of Creativity Under Constraints by Yonty Friesem.
You may purchase these for your students.
I appreciated being on the student side of this conversation as after watching the Love Language video and trying to answer key questions of media literacy.  As a student I found the questions difficult as I did not have them prior to watching.  It reminded me of the importance of providing the students the questions before watching OR watching twice, prior to and after having the questions to look for.  Friesem really dug into this seemingly very simple video as we discussed target audience and unintended audiences and the cultural understandings. 

I appreciate that in Friesem's media creation class he GAVE students the storyboard as students were learning the media creation process based on this video.  This reminded me that while inquiry and personal learning is important, it is critical that we teach students basic skills with a guided process before expecting them to personalize their learning.  

Padlet - More than Just an Online Bulletin Board by Jennifer Robinson.  While I have some experience with Padlet, this gave me ideas about how to include media as well.  I had hoped to incorporate Padlet in to my lessons this year but had focused on the GAFE suite as that was new to us.  I also chose to use PearDeck as an alternative to PearDeck because of its ability to use with Google Slides.  I do plan to utilize Padlet in the year ahead. 

The rest of the afternoon we discussed the Design Studio and our Dyad Projects.  Today we partnered with an educator who wanted to create a similar inquiry based project.  
My hope for tomorrow for more ideas to use with my students.  I also plan to get a SnapChat watch out SnapChatters!

Made For Each Other: Media Literacy and the School Library Media Specialist

"Media Literacy" has become as popular as the term "fake news."  

Bills are being proposed in state legislatures across the nation regarding media literacy in schools. I am concerned that school librarians are being left out of these conversations.    

Media literacy is not new. Twenty years ago I earned my Connecticut Certification is 062 School Library Media Specialist and began my career. Media is constantly changing and, like all school library media specialists, my career changes with it. School library media specialists are constantly learning new media, social media, etc. School library media specialists seek out and create best practices as they develop learning opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking skills needed to use the media effectively and responsibly. School library media specialists have been doing this for a long time.  

The new interest and demand for media literacy is a result of the current political state and the rise of varying types of information (I despise the term "fake news"). As a member of the National Association for Media Literacy Educators (NAMLE), I learned about Media Literacy Now, an organization that is behind much of the state legislation.

However, today's need for media literacy curriculum can be traced back to budget cuts and districts not valuing the role of the school library media specialist.  The gutting of school libraries has been happening for decades as a result of national, state and local budget cuts. I can only guess that decision-makers see school librarians as a mousy keeper of books.

Don't believe me?  
Check out this video from the 2017 Sacred Heart University Media Exchange.  The Fake News Real Problems Forum was moderated by accomplished journalist Faith Daniels. Toward the end of the segment, at 1:07:00, Ms. Daniels asked the panel members "Where do you go to check your facts?" One of the panelists quickly answers "librarians." To which Ms. Daniels laughs "Keepers of the Dewey Decimal System?" Thank you to Belinha DeAbreu for curbing the laughter and defending the work of school librarians. Please take a minute to listen to her response.   

While I know Ms Daniels is not a direct decision maker in education. The fact that she mocked the idea that librarians are of value in the digital world of information, makes me wonder how many others think as she does.

On their website, Media Literacy Now states they "provide policy and advocacy information, expertise, and resources to develop state laws to implement media literacy education in schools."  Again, I found no mention of school library media specialists.

School library media specialists, we need to insist on being included in the media literacy conversations locally and nationally. We need to make sure decision makers understand the critical role a school librarian plays in the education system. I hope that if you are not already, you will follow what is happening with regards to media literacy in your own state legislatures.  Attend conferences.  Speak up. Don't be afraid to tell people how valuable you are!  You can find the letter I wrote regarding Connecticut's Raised Bill regarding media literacy here.  
@NAMLE and @MediaLitNow on both on Twitter. I know NAMLE is just one organization.  What other professional organizations that are not intended solely for school librarians do you recommend to promote our profession and role in education? 

Badges Are Not An Alternative to Library Media Specialist Certification!

I love to learn!!  As a school librarian there is ALWAYS something new. Professional opportunities abound on the Internet with online classe...