October Connections…

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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

Swiss Army Knives: Teacher Librarians

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Looking for some cool tools in your classroom?  Think about the utilitarian roles of the teacher librarian-think Swiss army knife.  That’s how one teacher describes the impact of the teacher librarian in schools.  In a recent blog post on Edutopia, Josh Work, a middle school teacher from Maryland, shares his take on collaboration that is at the heart of his daily practice in his school.  That collaboration in teaching and learning is with the teacher librarian. This blog is a must read for all of us who strive every day to become embedded in the educational fabric of schools as teacher librarians/media specialists.

From Josh’s experience, he sees the teacher librarian as a leader in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and technology integration.

“I have found the most valuable school-based resource for brainstorming, discussing, planning and implementing anything to do with technology has been my school’s media specialist.”

“…Media specialists are an amazing building-level resource for anyone that takes the time to collaborate with them.”

 

As in many cases, the collaboration began in simple ways, with a quick face to face conversation that grew over time to brief meetings, and then later to include co-planning and co-teaching curriculum. He also goes on to give some advice to other teachers about enlisting help from the building media specialist/teacher librarian.

Whether or not the Swiss army knife is an image you have of yourself, it’s great to learn about successful collaborations with teachers from another perspective. In fact, the metaphor does represent the multiple facets of our morphing role, so let’s embrace it.

Hearing from colleagues such as Josh who understand and appreciate the expertise and knowledge that we provide, is refreshing, and affirms the work that we do. It also gives us incentive to try harder, even in the face of budget cuts and increasing demands on teachers’ time.  Together, we all can make the shift in instructional design and practice if we continue to embrace partnerships to meet the challenges of teaching and learning in today’s world.

Thank you, Josh, from the bottom of our hearts.  We think you are sharp, too!

 

References:

Work, Josh. (2014)  “The Shift: Media Specialists and the Common Core.” Edutopia  (weblog) March 18, 2014. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/media-specialists-and-common-core-josh-work

Image: Clkr.com: Swiss army knife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Toolbox

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What’s in your assessment toolbox?  As a collaborating co-teacher, or instructor in your own library classroom, you need a variety of assessment tools that measure critical thinking and comprehension, as well as knowledge and performance.  So many assessments, so many choices-how do you pick the right one? Formative and summative assessments range from simple to complex, and depend on the goals for the activity or unit and the age/level of the student.  Good assessment tools inform the teacher and the student about progress.  Teaching and learning can be adjusted according to results of assessments. They are  essential elements for effective instruction.  So with that said, do you have some favorite ways to evaluate learning?  Would you like to find new ideas that are quick and easy?  What are some technology apps that bring a creative twist to the tried and true?

Here are a few links to explore that might give you some new tools for your toolbox:

Jennifer LaGarde’s  “Adventures of Library Girl” blog (Dec. 3, 2012) has a compendium of digital tools for using for assessment: http://www.librarygirl.net/2012/12/library-girls-picks-best-digital-tools.html

Kathy Schrock’s website-not to be missed-many examples of rubric and assessments: http://www.schrockguide.net/assessment-and-rubrics.html

West Virginia Department of Education website, page on formative assessment: http://wvde.state.wv.us/teach21/ExamplesofFormativeAssessment.html

Do you have other suggestions to add to the list?  Share them here!

(Image: clkr.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformation vs. Reform

For the past two decades, there has been a movement across the nation to “reform” education. The drumbeat of standards and accountability has dominated discussions about improving educational experiences for all children.  The term reform itself has a value laden connotation.  Think “reform” school…  Reform from the top down-identify the problem and fix it.  Instead, think about the term “transformation.”  It has a more positive connotation-a movement from one status to another through innovation.  Transformation comes from the inside out, in response to situations and experiences.

 

Meanwhile, as a culture, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift from an industrial to a technological age, and the transformation continues to redefine everything we have known. New norms are evolving in the business, political, cultural, and educational worlds.  We are a work in progress, as usual-exciting times!

 

What does this have to do with collaboration?

 

Collaboration skills are the key for transformation to an educational system for personalized learning, not only for students, but for educators, administrators, and other community stakeholders.  How do we learn and use those skills, and how do we teach our students to value and incorporate the contributions of all? How do we create environments and spaces that encourage creativity and collaboration for all learners? How does technology enhance the learning experience?

 

These big ideas were explored by the keynote speakers at the Dynamic Landscapes Conference at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont on May 16-17, 2013.  Jointly sponsored by Vita-Learn and the Vermont School Library Association, the annual conference showcases exemplary practices of statewide educators and invites national experts to address contemporary issues in education.   Last week Ira David Socol, Pam Moran, and Steve Hargadorn spent several days visiting Vermont and sharing their expertise with attendees at the conference.  Ira, an educational consultant and historian is currently working in the Albemarle County School District in Virginia where Pam is the superintendent.  They are leading transformation through a collaborative model with educators in the local schools, and they shared their ideas and progress in encouraging innovation that focuses on personalized learning.  Digital technology tools are integrated across the curriculum to enhance deep learning, collaboration, and engagement.  Take a look at the videos for the Iridescent Classroom on Ira’s web site to get a glimpse of their work together. He also has a terrific overview of the history of education that contextualizes where we are today.  Lots of resources there to explore, so take a look!

Steve Hargadorn, of Classroom 2.0, and Library 2.0, presented an overview of the process of how technology is changing our culture, and how that change will impact education in the future.  Real educational transformation will come about with the evolution of the culture, so stay tuned.    He shared many examples of how the cultural shift is happening due to the impact of social media and technology applications. Here is a link to his slides DynamicLandscapes2013Hargadon that demonstrate the shifting sands of the 21st Century. As I said before-exciting times ahead…

Once again, I was struck by aha moments, as I listened and learned.  As educational leaders in our schools, teacher librarians are pivotal in the transformation process embedded in collaboration.  As Steve Hargadorn said, “Be ready to unleash energy and potential through participation, creation, sharing, and engagement.”

Are you ready?

References:

Dynamic Landscapes Conference 2013. Web site.  Retrieved from  https://sites.google.com/a/vita-learn.org/dynamiclandscapes2013/home/th-keynote

Classroom 2.0. (2013). Web site. Retrieved from http://www.classroom20.com/

Hargadon, Steve. (2013).  Education,Technology, Social Media, and You.  Web log. Retrieved from http://www.stevehargadon.com/

Hargadon, Steve. (2013). Educational Network is the Learning Revolution: Future of Education. Dynamic Landscapes Keynote address, May 17, 2013. (PDF).

Library 2.0 (2013). Website. Retrieved from http://www.library20.com/

Moran, Pam. (2013). Superintendent’s Blog: Albemarle County Schools. Web log. Retrieved from http://superintendent.k12albemarle.org/

Socal, Ira David. (2013). Challenging the Systems. Web site. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/

Microsoft Clipart: Crystal ball.