Sunday, December 30, 2007


I am multitasking tonight, watching The Sound of Music (for the thousandth time, but this time in high definition - incredible!) and reading some of the blogs that I follow.

I read the most recent post in Cathy Nelson's Techno - Tuesday blog and I am overwhelmed at how far behind I feel I am when it comes to the blogoshpere. Many of the blogs that I have been following have been part of the 2.0 world for a couple of years or more!

Anyway, I followed her links to David Jakes' blog. In his most recent post, he wrote about professional learning communities. He blogs about the current impermeability of classrooms today, but writes:

That certainly can be changed, and the tools (blogs, wikis, social networking, RSS, etc.) we have now at our disposal make it doable and achievable, but many things have to fall into place. Teachers have to be willing, the technology must be available, administrators must understand the need, and the school’s climate and culture, which is greatly influenced by the community that the school serves, must be supportive.

Where do we start?

Jakes continues:

Teachers have to learn the tools, learn how to connect and contribute (typically through a blog), learn how to manage time and feeds, learn how to adjust the membership of their learning community, and learn how to accept being criticized when their ideas oppose those of others. Teachers need to see firsthand the benefits of a learning community, and what it means to their personal learning, before it can ever translate successfully to students. To get learning communities to develop and stick, start with teachers.

So this is a start. To all of you with whom I have shared this blog, let's start learning and begin our first steps together. That way, perhaps we won't feel so overwhelmed (or else we'll be overwhelmed together!).

Happy New Year!

photo: we're just a wee bit overwhelmed by being AT CINDERELLA'S CASTLE,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Have You Shifted?

It's December 24 and I have just put my cabbage rolls in the oven. I'll be a slave to my kitchen for the next couple of hours so I thought I'd do some reading and blogging while I babysit my cabbage rolls.

I remembered reading a post from Joyce Valenza's Never Ending Search blog called Shift happened. The librarian divide about the shift that is happening in respect to the teacher librarian role. The integration of technology is becoming more and more important and as a result, teacher librarians need to become more tech savy. And we have to know and be able to teach kids how and when each technology is appropriate to the needs of the task.
Joyce stated in her blog:

"If our librarians are not viewed as leaders in information and communication technologies, we will lose the opportunity to teach information fluency skills and effect thoughtful change in these new landscapes. But, if our librarians wait for formal training and do not opt to train themselves, we will find ourselves irrelevant and optional. More important, learners will lose. Shift happened. Our response is not optional."

What is the shift? It's the change from just being a keeper of books, a finder of resources and a collection developer. It's still valuing all of this PLUS knowing how to use the many Internet 2.0 tools that are now available to us: blogs, wikis and RSS to develop collections of current resources, wikis for group projects, blogs for metacognitive processing of the research process, collaboration of students not only in their own school but with students around the world using Skype, student and teacher librarian created podcasts, web pages, video, and other digital media. Using the lingo, it's shifting from a 1.0 TL to a 2.0 TL.

And we can't wait for formal training. While we have lots of opportunities to develop our tech and research development skills through after school sessions (see Book It), that alone cannot suffice. Much of our professional learning needs to be self-directed.

I'm linking here to a site that I found this past summer that opened my eyes to what had been passing me by for the last couple of years. This site, called School Library Learning 2.0(developed by the Californian School Library Association), is a self-paced tutorial that introduces teacher librarians to the Internet 2.0 world. I started working through this site last summer, completing the 'things'. I have to tell you that after completing these 'things' I was quite knowledgeable when I participated in the hands-on session with Will Richardson. Through the School Library Learning tutorial I had already set up a blog, RSS feeds, made an iGoogle page and started to set up a wiki (stay tuned for this - I'll let you in on it as soon as I have it developed a bit more).

Doug Johnson in his Blue Skunk blog wrote:

Why librarians should be in charge of educational technology
"If you want well and appropriately used educational technology in your school, turn its planning and implementation over to your library media specialists..."
He lists a variety of reasons why he thinks that TLs should be in charge of ed tech. The blog itself is an interesting and motivational read. But I found the comments just as important. Craig left this comment:

"... Media Specialists [TLs] are taught to collaborate with instructors so they can utilize technology in their curriculum, not just use it to meet state standards. I’ll be the first to admit there are some media specialists who aren’t willing to put in the effort or still have the idea their sole responsibility is cataloging and shelving books, but many others can greatly improve wh[at] students learn and how educators teach. And for those of you out there who have a Media Specialist who’s stuck in the last decade I feel sorry for you, but in the same respect stay positive, they’ll probably retire soon. "

I have fears and that is our position is slowly being eroded by other agendas. If we do not take the initiative to innovate and collaborate in a 2.0 way, we'll be left behind and deemed irrelevant. We have tremendous skills in information literacy and researching and now we need to mashup those skills with 2.0 technology.
So what is my advice? Take as many computer/technology sessions as you can through our board's professional learning sessions. Start working your way through School Library Learning 2.0. By the time that you have done a couple of the 'things' you'll have your own blog and RSS feeds. Read blogs. Get comfortable in this world. Then you can start thinking about how you can appropriately begin to use these tools with students and their teachers.

Start shifting.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note about a site that I found through one of the blogs that I follow. Since it is the Christmas season - the season of giving - I thought that this was a neat way of donating food to developing countries AND developing vocabulary as well!
Free Rice is sponsored by the United Nations World Food Program. I did check if this site was legit by looking at who owns the domain (I learned this from using the Reality Check program from Media Awareness Network - all secondary teacher librarians were sent a copy of this resource cd in the fall). Anyway, the Free Rice game is levelled based on your responses so if you keep getting the word meaning right, you get bumped up to a higher level. In any event, for every word you get right you earn free rice for the hungry.
This could be used with students as part of a community building exercise for your class. Students could be put into teams and challenged to play as part of a weekly assignment - there is an option for the game to accumulate scores. Weekly tallies keep track of the amount of rice each team earns (the more words correct, the more rice earned) - who cares if they cheat by using a dictionary? Perhaps teams/individuals could follow up by choosing one of the words that they didn't know and using it in a journal or blog post. They are working as a team toward a goal, working with vocabulary words and feeding the hungry.
I thought that I would share this with you as we make our way into the holiday break. Have a great holiday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More on Blogging and RSS

Here's a picture from yesterday's session with Will Richardson.

My head was spinning after a whole day of RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, podcasts (I'm going to need a couple of hours to figure out Audacity), making videos and screen casting. Here's Will's reflection from his blog Weblogg-ed about his experiences yesterday. In any case, I'm feeling more confident and ready to share this stuff with my teachers.

So here's a suggestion for all of you who attended the symposium on Thursday. Over the holidays, come in and read my blog. Leave comments. Will Richardson suggested that that is the best way to start - by reading other people's blogs and responding to what they have written. Another thing that he said yesterday is that you need to have a blogging experience before you use it with students, just so you get a feel for blogging and know what it entails. Lastly, he said that if you are going to use blogging with your students, that you have a goal and a purpose (you know, those expectations) and just don't do it because its cool (but it is!).

I'd also like you to consider starting your own personal blog. It is really easy! Using this blog hosting site (it's run by Google), you can have a blog up and running in minutes. Here's the link on how to do it (you need an email account but I suggest that you use your personal one rather than the board account. I use my gmail account).

Don't have anything to write about? Here's another Richardson tip - write about what you have read in other blogs or news reports. In fact, to start you out, check out my Blog Roll on this blog where I have added a number of links to some cutting edge teacher librarian bloggers. You can read what they have to say and write about it in your blog. Or you can make a personal blog. That's what my daughter did when she lived out of the county for 2 years and wanted to keep her friends and family up-to-date on her life.

The idea here is to just start. Be selfish and play around for just for you. Once you have gotten comfortable, then you can start looking at ways that we can use this with kids so that they can make connections with others - at their school, with other schools and ultimately with the world!

Friday, December 14, 2007

September TL Workshop

Here's a picture of Margret Snow's Blue Spruce session at our Teacher Librarian workshop last September. I am a little late in posting some of these pictures but since I am at a workshop learning how to use Internet 2.0 tool given by Will Richardson, one of the things I am learning is how to put in pictures and video.

Here's a video of our session that you can view:

Canada's Current Copyright Issues

I have been following the latest news about the government's plans to revise the Canadian Copyright Act. The revisions have caused an unprecedented outcry from the Canadian public. I've attached an article from the Globe and Mail outlining recent events. These revisions would make many of the things we do illegal and subject to fines and penalties. An example of this would be buying a cd and then downloaded the cd to your ipod.
The interesting thing about this is that the public outcry was started by a Facebook account posted by a university law professor when he saw that the revisions would practically copy a US law that has caused a granny to be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for making a tape for her grand daughter.
Its pretty frightening that our government seems to just follow in the footsteps of the Americans. Here's a link to the question period regarding this issue.