Twitter Chats

What does a Sonoran Desert tortoise have to do with a twitter chat? Thanks to Aesop, tortoises have a reputation for being “slow but steady.” Online professional development (PD), particularly a “slow Twitter chat” may result in the slow and steady progress we all want to experience in our personal learning networks (PLNs).

Online PD is a trend that meets the test of aligning with library and my personal values. The Web allows near and distant colleagues to get together in real time or asynchronously. We can share our questions and challenges, successes and missteps. We can interact with others with particular areas of expertise. We can respond to shared readings and current events. In short, we collaborate to expand our knowledge and improve our individual and collective practice.

Twitter has become a go-to PD platform for many state-level, university-based, and independent groups of school librarians. Through regular contact with one another, participants in these chats “learn from one another, develop shared meanings through exchanging ideas and information, and enculturate one another into the ever-evolving profession of school librarianship” (65).

Developing a strong PLN is one important way to stay current in the field and freshly energized in our practice.

In the 2014-2015 school year, I had the pleasure of being a participant observer studying the #txlchat. This Twitter chat meets during the academic year on Tuesdays from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. Central Time. Members post using the hashtag throughout the week as well. I set out to learn about the #txlchat culture and the value participants place on this online PD experience.

The #txlchat cofounders and core group members have created a “democratic” context for the chat. They are committed to ensuring that participants’ voices are heard. Everyone I interviewed and those who responded to the survey noted the benefits they receive from learning from others and from sharing their knowledge and experience with the group. “@debramarshall summed up her experience this way: ‘I am a better librarian because of Twitter’” (68).

Chats can also be an excellent way to get out a message and share resources. The AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation is currently exploring the use of Twitter chats to promote school-public library collaboration and the toolkit we created.

Currently, I am participating in the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Supervisors Section (SPVS) book discussion. We are using the #aaslspvschat to discuss the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. SPVS Chair Lori Donovan (@LoriDonovan14) is posting questions for our consideration over a five-week period.

This is my first experience with an intentional “Twitter slow chat” and my first experience with a total focus on a shared book reading. I think the slow chat format will help us take time respond to the moderator’s questions, savor each other’s tweets, reply to one another, and reflect on our discussion throughout the course of the slow chat.

Whether or not you’re a school librarian supervisor, check out the hashtag and check in to note how the discussion is progressing. This “slow chat” may be a model for a book study or other conversations with your PLN.

Work Cited

Moreillon, Judi. “Building Your Personal Learning Network (PLN): 21st-Century School Librarians Seek Self-Regulated Professional Development Online.” Knowledge Quest, vol. 44, no. 3, 2016, pp. 64–69.

Image credit: From the personal collection of Judi Moreillon

Diving into the Pool

DSCN0102Perhaps instead of a pool as the operative metaphor for jumping into blogging, the image should be a rocket launching into the blogosphere. Take your pick. Either way, joining the blog parade is an adventure, and according to our favorite love/hate resource, Wikipedia, “a new blog is being created every second of every minute of every hour of every day.” (Keen, 2008) There are many kinds of blogs populating the airwaves-or electromagnetic waves, and communication and interaction through digital writing, illustration, and reading have expanded our vision of publishing.  We all have the means to be producers of information in a Web 3.0 world.

For school librarians, blogs have dual purposes in our practice, as Judi and Karla have already shown.  Judi shared examples of award winning blogs created by school librarians to showcase and promote learning in their physical and virtual library spaces.  The combination of creative design, vivid images, and engaging text are the hallmarks of an opportunity to deliver information to school communities and beyond, in a personal way. We all can learn from these models for effective communication that highlight evidence of an active, engaged school library program.

Karla shared how blogs, and other social media are an important contribution to her professional learning as part of her PLN.  She recommended ways to get started following bloggers who are writing and sharing information about topics and issues that are critical for professional school librarianship.

School librarians depend on multiple sources of information to remain current. Along with the standard print publications, many publishers are featuring blogs on their websites to increase exposure to ideas and information in an immediate way.  School Library Journal, Knowledge Quest, Booklist Reader, VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) have bloggers who are on top of current trends.

Interactivity in Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, has generated a fire hose of  information, and that includes bloggers of all descriptions.  When you want just a sip of the information waters, you can control your own PLN.  Try setting up an RSS feed through sites like Feedly, and Feedspot, or a number of others.  You can link your favorite blogs, websites, or other social media sites to the account, and you will have only one spot to visit to catch up on your reading.  Most blogs allow readers to subscribe to the blog through email, so that you can get notices from the blogger when a new post has been published. That works well, unless there are multiple posts each day, then you may find your email overflowing!

 For those of you who would like to venture into starting a blog for your school library, or to set up a forum to connect with other professionals to discuss contemporary issues, take some time to establish your own criteria and purpose for publishing your own work.  View multiple blogs to see which ones are exemplars that you would want to emulate. Both Judi and Karla suggested a few places to begin your search.  This should not be an impulse decision, but one for consideration and reflection.  Commitment to ongoing and timely publishing is a key to successful blogging, along with nurturing and tending the links and topics.
Explore several blog platforms before you choose one to jump into.  Blog platforms have tutorials, and templates that will help you get going, but the primary focus should be on the clarity of the purpose for your work.  Why is a blog important to your school library program? Who is your audience? Why do you want to connect with other interested professionals?  How will you maintain the content of the blog?  How will you use the blog as a bridge to other social media sites?

Jump start to blogging: Dear Blogger-a blog about blogging…

Do you have a favorite platform to share? Talk to us….

Take the plunge!

 

Links to websites:

School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/

Knowledge Quest: http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/

Booklist Reader:http://www.booklistreader.com/

VOYA: http://www.voyamagazine.com/topics/evoya/

Feedly: https://feedly.com/i/welcome

Feedspot: http://www.feedspot.com/

Dear Blogger: http://www.dearblogger.org/blogger-or-wordpress-better

 References:

Keen, Andrew (2008). The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture. New York: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Web. 24 Jan. 2016 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog>

 Image:

Judy Kaplan Collection

 

 

Online Professional Development: A Key to Adult Learning

mouse_keyThis month the Building a Culture of Collaboration bloggers will share their ideas and experiences related to innovation. This week, I will be sharing two examples of virtual professional development.

Library 2.014 was the 4th-annual virtual conference hosted by the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information; this year it was held in real time on October 8th and 9th. Presenters from around the world shared their work in this free global forum. Attendees could have participated on the actual conference days or view recordings and YouTube video archives after the event.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Library Journal webcast  entitled “Participatory, Continuous, Connected: Top Trends from Library 2.014,” moderated by Michael Stephens, SJSU assistant professor. I was most interested in learning about the top trends identified during this year’s conference. In the webcast, Samantha Adams Becker talked about emerging digital communication formats; Ayyoub Ajmi described one academic library’s experiences using Google Glass; and Susan Hildreth shared do-it-yourself (DIY) learning opportunities that are taking hold in libraries and museums.

Dr. Stephens framed the 3-part webcast with this concept: “Library of Classroom.” He and the speakers challenged librarians to conceive or reconceive of the libraries as physical and virtual continuous experiential learning spaces. This concept aligns perfectly with my philosophy and experience of school libraries.

Ms. Becker shared highlights from the NMC (New Media Consortium) Horizon Report – Library Edition 2014. (These reports are targeted to different constituencies; you may be interested in the K-12 Edition as well.) Ms. Becker talked about removing books to make space in libraries for face-to-face social gatherings and group learning. The Texas Woman’s University Pioneer Center, located in the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus, is a great example of that concept.

Ms. Becker shared a collaboration between Wikipedia and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which librarians may be especially interested in exploring further. She also talked about embeddable technologies—planted under the skin. An implantable GPS is already being tested. The youth in my community will be delighted to learn that implantable ear buds are not a pipedream!!!

These were just some of the innovations and trends Ms. Becker shared from the Horizon Report. Check it out!

On Thursday, I will share some of the innovations Susan Hildreth, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services, talked about and what Texas school librarians are doing with the concept of badging. Please tune in again.

Copyright-free Image from Morguefile.com

October Connections…

012

Segueing from Melissa’s recent post about tips for becoming a connected teacher librarian, I have a few examples of collaboration that demonstrate a shift from the individual (library) classroom to the global stage.  This shift is possible due to the willingness for educators to share best practices for effective teaching and learning through social media, as we have continued to highlight in this blog.

According to Tom Whitby, in a post on Edutopia in early October 2014, connectedness begins with collaboration. “The idea of collaboration requires a mindset of believing there is room to learn and grow. It is also a belief that we are smarter collectively than individually.”  Technology has made collaboration much easier than in the past, and “a teacher who benefits from collaboration tends to appreciate its effect, and will use it in his or her own methodology.”

One of the core beliefs that Whitby uses to describe the connected educator, really resonates with me.  “A relevant educator is willing to explore, question, elaborate, and advance ideas through connections with other educators.”  Every day, when I check my Twitter, Feedly, or Google+ feeds, I am amazed at the exchange of ideas in the global and local school library network.  It is like a fire hose, so I have to sort through and choose that which I need, and save others for future reference in my Diigo files-with just a click of the mouse, or a tap on the smartphone or tablet.

Here are just a few of the many “relevant” opportunities to explore, question,and elaborate ideas that I have appreciated in October through my social media/real world:

  • Connected Librarian Day, October 7: Hosted by the Library 2.0 website, an international gathering of librarians, educators, and library supporters took place in a virtual environment.  If you did not have time to tune in, not to fear, recordings of all the sessions are available, along with links to other resources.  Many speakers are shining stars in the school library field, so have a listen, learn, and leave a comment.
  • AASL Fall Forum Oct. 17-18:  School Librarians in the Anywhere, Anytime Landscape. To get an idea of how ideas were explored, take a look at the AASL Blog and the SLM Blog for several posts from different points of view.  It was an ambitious task to collaborate via teleconferencing between sites around the United States. Lots of great reviews for Best Websites 2014. Read the blogs and follow the links to see some of the unique ways ideas were shared, both face to face and virtually.  Twitter Hashtag #aasl14.
  • Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, has been sharing her collaborative journey with a co-teacher in her blog.   Throughout the month of October, she has been posting the step by step lessons that she and her colleague are using with high school students to introduce them to the inquiry and research process. Photos, videos, and sample strategies for self selecting and narrowing topics are explored. Buffy’s honest reflection of the successes and challenges of  each day’s tasks are well developed and we can all learn from their collaborative expertise.  Each time she posts, I am excited to see what happens next-sort of like being a fly on the wall!

I know that there have been many other events that get the brain juices flowing in October, and I’d like to hear from you about an event or a learning opportunity that you have enjoyed recently-in any dimension.  How about sharing some ideas here?  Leave a comment, I‘d love to learn more!

Resources:

AASL Fall Forum, American Library Association, Oct 17, 2014.  (Website) http://www.ala.org/aasl/conferences/fall-forum (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014.” American Association of School Librarians. (Website) http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/best-websites/2014#media (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Brennan, Lindsay. “AASL Fall Forum-First-time Attendee Reports,” AASL Blog. (Web log) October 17, 2014.  http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=5114 (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“Connected Librarian Day, Oct. 7, 2014.” Library 2.0 (Website) http://www.library20.com/page/connected-librarian-day (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Diaz, Shelley. Scenes and Resources From the Summit,” School Library Journal. (Website) http://www.slj.com/2014/10/resources/scenes-and-resources-from-the-summit-slj-summit-2014/  (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Hamilton, Buffy. “Inquiring with Students: What Do or Can ‘Good’ Research Projects Look Like?” Unquiet Librarian. (Weblog) Sept. 29, 2014. http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/inquiring-with-students-what-do-or-can-good-research-projects-look-like/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Morris, Rebecca. “AASL Fall Forum,” School Library Monthly Blog. (Web log) Oct. 18, 2014. http://blog.schoollibrarymedia.com/index.php/2014/10/18/aasl-fall-forum/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“SLJ Leadership Summit Fire it Up: Sparking Creativity and Motivating Students, Oct. 25 & 26,  2014.“ School Library Journal. (Website)  http://www.slj.com/leadership-summit/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Valenza, Joyce. “Live From the Summit,” The Neverending Search. (Web log) Oct. 25, 2014. http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2014/10/25/live-from-the-summit/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Whitby, Tom.  “The Connected Educator: It Begins with Collaboration,” Edutopia. (Weblog) October 1, 2014. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/connected-educator-begins-with-collaboration-tom-whitby (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Image: Judith Kaplan Collection

Building a National Culture of Collaboration

Social_Media_MarketingThank you to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) blog for putting the Building a Culture of Collaboration blog (BaCoC) in the spotlight last week.  All of the BaCoC co-bloggers are card-carrying active AASL members who promote and model getting involved in our national association for school librarians. As evidenced in Melissa Johnston’s recent post about AASL’s new mission statement and leading through technology, we also promote the work of the association. This is one way to promote a national culture of collaboration.

AASL’s new mission statement is: The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

Yes! To the importance of keeping our focus on teaching and learning! One way to do that is for school librarians to engage in collaborative planning and coteaching with classroom teachers and specialists. Since the publication of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (1998), AASL has promoted the school librarian’s role as an instructional partner: “The school library media specialist can provide strong and creative leadership in building and nurturing this culture of learning, both as a teacher and as an instructional partner… As an instructional partner, the school library media specialist offers a unique expertise in learning theory, information literacy, and information technology to promote learning” (60).

AASL recently released the executive summary from the Senior/Capstone Project’s Task Force.  The task force surveyed high school librarians about their involvement in students’ senior/capstone projects. The graphs provided in the summary show areas of potential growth in terms of school librarians’ involvement in guiding, teaching, and assessing these projects. The task force identified six exemplars from high schools of varying sizes and geographic locations across the U.S. to serve as models for best practices. The report includes at table with contact information and links to four of the six schools’ projects.

Check it out!

Works Cited

American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998. Print.

AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force. Executive Summary. American Association of School Librarians. May 2014. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/advocacy/AASL_ExecSummary_SeniorCapstoneProjectTF_2014.pdf>.

Peralta, Paola. Social Media Marketing. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Social_Media_Marketing.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Social_Media_Marketing.jpg>.

Collaboration and Mentoring-Take 2

Be the change you wish to see in the world…

Mohandas Gandhi

Barbara Stripling, President Elect of ALA, was the keynote speaker at a recent Massachusetts School Library Association Conference (March 2- 4, 2013). As a mentor, she encouraged those attending to “be the change,”  to make a difference by changing  one life at a time, and helping students raise their own dreams, skills, and dispositions of inquiry. Weaving the themes of collaborative relationships, decision making, and problem solving, she shared a vision of a vibrant model for student centered learning in 21st Century schools.  Her passion and commitment to the field of librarianship and education is both inspirational and challenging. How can we live up to this ideal?  I guess we just have to work harder at what we do best, so that we can be the change, too.

Two colleagues and I traveled from Vermont to Sturbridge, Massachusetts to participate in a three day event that allowed us to rub shoulders with Barbara Stripling, Richard Byrne, Pam Berger, and a host of authors, including Jack Gantos.  We were excited to meet and talk to our compatriots from another New England state to compare notes about school library issues.  We were also meeting some of our Twitter friends for the first time face to face.  Sitting in a large conference room, it was amusing to overhear people saying, “So there you are!  It’s so wonderful to meet you in person after getting to know you through your blog or Twitter.”  Having a chance to sit down and chat with the presenters between sessions, or during lunch and dinner provided a personal experience that you don’t have every day.

As in other sections of the country, in New England and the Northeast, there are opportunities within reasonable driving distances for collaboration and mentoring at regional/state school library conferences and meetings.  Many teacher librarians can’t afford to go to national conferences very often, or at all.  Some have no financial support from their districts for professional development other that what is provided at the local level.  State professional organizations play an important role in bringing national speakers and showcasing best practices within the field to a gathering of folks who come to share ideas, connections, and to make or renew friendships.   PLNs now put practitioners in touch with others throughout the nation, and also provide connections within a geographical area, too.  Social media and Twitter feeds allow everyone to communicate and collaborate across time and space.  There are so many different ways to mentor and be mentored, in our fast paced world, but face to face collaboration is still a very powerful way to connect the dots.

Having returned from the conference with many new ideas and new relationships, I am already putting plans into action that will affect my teaching and learning.  Coincidentally, once again, the current issue of Knowledge Quest : Mentoring Through Partnerships continues to look at collaboration, and the role of professional organizations is seen as a venue for mentoring.   Melissa Johnston shares her conclusions from some research about technology leadership in Knowledge Quest  (2013, 38), “Not only do professional organizations provide support for school librarians through relationships with other school librarians, but this research finds that professional growth opportunities from  professional organization activities such as conferences and publications serve as enablers as well.”  From my own experience, I can’t agree more!  And as a final note, when I was doing a school visit last week, I went into the school library, and there  inscribed on the wall was a familiar message: Be the change you wish to see in the world.  I felt as if I had come full circle.

 

Barbara Stripling elected ALA president (2011). School Library Journal (May 4, 2012) http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/894466-312/barbara_stripling_elected_ala_president.html.csp

Johnston, M.P. (2013). The importance of professional organizations and mentoring for leadership. Knowledge Quest 41(4). http://www.ala.org/aasl/knowledgequest

Massachusetts School Library Association Conference: Lead & Learn (2013).  http://maschoolibraries.org/content/view/1046/704/

PLNs=Connections=Collaboration=Happy Teacher Librarians

Once again, I am always amazed at coincidences that happen from day to day.  In the final module for the professional development course I am facilitating this semester at UVM, we are focusing on literacy leadership and advocacy.  Part of the required reading and discussion has centered on developing PLNs for professional practice.  For teacher librarians in the field, PLNs are critical for keeping current and for communication and collaboration, and they also provide opportunities for advocacy.

Personal Learning Networks are lifelines for staying connected in this wild Web 2.0 world.  Establishing a PLN enhances professional development, lifelong learning, and opportunities for collaboration, locally, nationally, and globally.  It’s especially important for those of us in the profession who are sole practitioners in a building, or even serving multiple schools in a whole district. A PLN has potential as a support system for anyone who wants to reach out and converse and collaborate with other folks who have similar interests and challenges, and may have different views to share.

Getting back to the coincidence I mentioned, as I was polishing off the module and preparing to post it to the Blackboard site, the mailman delivered the November/December 2012 issue of Knowledge Quest. To my very pleasant surprise, the theme for the issue was “Personal Learning Networks.”  I quickly added it as a resource for the module, and what a resource it is!

Not only does the print issue offer a range of articles that cover a variety of possible advantages of using PLNs in professional practice, but the links on the AASL website provide lots of other resources to explore.  If you are a member of AASL (another reason to join), you have access to the print and online editions of the publication, support materials, webinars, and social networking sites.  If you don’t belong, you can still have access to many of the resources online.

To get started here are some recommended highlights from the Knowledge Quest website: http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/archive/v41no2

  • Table of Contents: Check out the awesome articles in the print edition. There is a direct link for AASL members for the online edition, or if you have access to online databases through your school or public library, you can find KQ articles indexed in several of them.  They are a gold mine.
  • KQ Webinar-coming soon: “Making the Most of Professional Learning Communities” Tuesday December 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM EST.
  • 30 Second Thought Leadership: Jennifer LaGarde and Liza Perez. “What makes personal learning networks critical for professional development?”

And coincidentally, if you have not jumped in and set up a site for curating your favorite websites, blogs, nings, twitter and rss feeds, and so on, as Jennifer LaGarde says, “What are you waiting for?”

 

Resources:

“Personal Learning Networks”, American Library Association, November 14, 2012. http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/archive/v41no2 (Accessed November 25, 2012)

“30 Second Thought Leadership”, American Library Association, February 21, 2012. http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second (Accessed November 25, 2012)