#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 5 Ensuring Equitable Access & Advocating for Student Privacy

25 Apr

FB_IMG_1490238380831I have a colleague whose college-aged daughter managed to type an entire research paper on her cell phone from the back seat of their family vehicle while on a road trip. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Yet, I think educators can do students a disservice by assuming that a cell phone in one’s pocket is all that is needed to ensure equitable access to digital resources.

Because I do not have wifi at home, I know from first-hand experience how limiting it can be to try to accomplish some academic tasks from a mobile device. While there are many things I can do with my phone, I find a lot things have to wait until I can get to work. I also run into issues with data limits and how much storage space I have available on my cell phone. I find I often have to delete a couple of apps in order to make room download a new one.

Even when we allow students to take home 1:1 devices such as Chromebooks or iPads, we cannot assume that wifi is easily accessible for the student. There may not be wifi access within safe walking distance for the student, and/or they may not have an adult available to take them somewhere to use the device.

Another related issue is that educators sometimes assume that their students being “tech savvy” means that they can apply that tech savvy to academic settings.

In a 2014 article from the New York Times, Academic Skills on Web Are Tied to Income Level, the author finds disparities based on income level, but also makes the point that in general “teachers often assumed that because adolescents seemed so comfortable with technology that they actually knew how to use it in an academic context…But we can’t confuse that kind of savviness with critical evaluative skills.”

I have found we need to be much more explicit in teaching information literacy, digital citizenship and safety/privacy issues. For a great resource on teaching these issues, check out Shannon Miller’s webinar from earlier this month.

For a thoughtful examination of student privacy issues, check out Susan Hefley’s blog post on Advocating for Student Privacy, which is one of the roles of a Future Ready Librarian.

How does your district support the library program to ensure students have access to the resources, human and physical, they need to optimize their learning? Does your program utilize digital tools to support and promote equitable access to information and resources through your library media program? What student privacy policies are currently in place in your district? Is everyone in the district current on those policies? Are there opportunities for you to provide leadership in building broader understanding and awareness of those policies? How does the librarian and the library program promote and support digital citizenship?

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions and more.

Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has almost 6,000 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.

#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 4 Students as Creators #stuchoice

19 Apr

FB_IMG_1490238380831I want my students to be creators of digital content, not just consumers. Empowering Students as Creators is an important tenet of the Future Ready Librarians framework.

Unfortunately, according to “What a Decade of Education Research Tells Us About Technology in the Hands of Underserved Students” too often schools are placing digital devices in the hands of poor students for remediation rather than creation.

Some key findings in the article:

“Students who are black, Hispanic, or low-income are more likely to use computers for drill-and-practice… [white] students are more likely to use computers for simulations or authentic applications.”

“When we only use edtech for basic skills with underserved students—but use it in much more meaningful ways with more privileged students—we are driving the boundaries of the digital divide even farther apart, not closing it.”

“Using digital tools solely for drill-and-practice activities and remediation can and often does negatively affect student achievement, not to mention engagement, motivation, and self-esteem.”

So, what’s a Future Ready Librarian to do? Check out Linda Doughtery’s blog post for some great ideas. To me, the key is giving students voice and choice when it comes to how they show their learning. Teachers can be somewhat reticent about giving up control like this sometimes, especially if they are afraid they won’t be able to help students who struggle to master the digital tools. But, that is the beauty of giving lots of options; if one creation tool is not working for a particular student, they are empowered to figure it out for themselves or choose something else. The tools students use are going to change over time anyway. Being able to use resources such as help, tutorials, how-to videos on Youtube or just tinkering until you figure it out are important skills that will serve students well in the long run.

My go-to resource for learning about new digital creation tools is Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers. Check out this great podcast Vicki Davis did with him recently: RICHARD BYRNE’S MOST EXCITING EDTECH TOOLS.

So, how will you get your students creating? Do you have spaces for students to create digital products documenting their learning? What types of library instruction do you use to promote critical thinking? How does your program support connections to the community? What do you include in your program to support real-world problem solving by students?

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions and more.

Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has over 4,500 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.

#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 3: Designing Collaborative Spaces

6 Apr

Image courtesy of futureready.org & Samantha Mendenhall

A lot of libraries are adding Makerspaces. In my library, I’ve started acquiring “maker” materials, but “space” is an issue. I can’t do anything but cram the stuff into already crowded/limited storage and drag it out for activities. There’s no place for works-in-progress/iterations. However, if our academy’s capital campaign is successful, I may be gaining additional space. The Future Ready Librarians framework asks us to consider how we provide flexible spaces “that promote inquiry, creativity, collaboration and community.”

Hare & Dillon’s book will help you redesign your learning space.

For anyone who has the opportunity to redesign their learning spaces, I recommend The Space: A Guide For Educators (EdTechTeam Press, 2016) by Rebecca Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon, two educators who are part of my local ed tech community.
The book leads you through the process of designing learning spaces that amplify learning. One of the key tenets of the book is that student voice should play an important role in the planning of the learning space.

As I’ve been thinking about library expansion, I’ve asked my students to complete the sentence starter “I wish my library had…” on a Do Now, and I’ve also surveyed them about specific things they might like, such as comfortable seating, places to work on group projects, and a green screen. While the info I’ve gathered is useful, Hare & Dillon suggest actually taking it a step farther by making the activity more visual/collaborative, such as this illustration from the book.

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Have you asked your students to collaborate on their wishes at your library?

Have you thought about the following:
How does your library space promote inquiry? How does your library space promote collaboration? What is available in your library space to encourage creativity? Is your space accessible for the school community?

I’d love to see your answers to these questions and more!

Check out this padlet created by Linda Dougherty, who recently redesigned her library on a shoe string budget.

Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has over 4,500 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.

#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 2: Curation/Strategic investment in Digital Resources

31 Mar
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image courtesy of futureready.org & Samantha Mendenhall

According to the Future Ready Librarians Framework, the librarian “leads in the selection, integration, organization, and sharing of digital resources and tools to support transformational teaching and learning and develop the digital creation skills of others [and] leverages an understanding of school and community needs to identify and invest in digital resources to support student learning.”

To me, our role as librarians is as “Curator-in-Chief.” I want to the person in my building who is most knowledgeable about what resources are out there to support students learning. I may not “know everything,” but like references librarians before me, I want to be the go-to person who can help you find the resources you need.

As much of the content shifts from print to digital resources, this role as Curator-in-Chief becomes more challenging and the need for good curation becomes even more vital. As the #GoOpen movement has gained traction, openly licensed educational resources (OER) may begin to replace pay content, and schools want to be positioned to make the best decisions possible in terms of investing in digital content. If you want to learn more about OER and how librarians can lead the way with this movement, you should check out Shannon McClintock Miller’s blog post, Future Ready Librarians Hold The Key To #GoOpen & OER…Here’s One Idea For Curating and Sharing These Too!

For more info about this wedge of the Future Ready Librarians framework, also check out this padlet created by Linda Dougherty, who has been a mentor to me in the area of curation.

One of the most interesting aspects of having so much information at our fingertips is that students have the opportunity to work with real data and make observations in real time from across the globe. Crowd-sourcing of scientific discovery is fascinating to me. I love listening to the BBC World Service podcast Crowd Science each week, where they “take your questions about life, Earth and the universe to researchers hunting for answers at the frontiers of knowledge.” You should definitely give it a listen!

So,  are Open Education Resources included in your collection development plan? How are you as the  librarian involved in the district planning for digital resources? Does your selection and reconsideration policy include collection development information and processes addressing digital resources and tools?

I’d love to see your answers to these questions and more!

Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has over 4,500 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.

Kicking Off the #FutureReadyLibs 10-Week #BlogChallenge

22 Mar

image courtesy of futureready.org & Samantha Mendenhall

“This sounds awesome—I took the Pledge!” was the enthusiastic reply I received from our Deputy Director last week. With that email, I had the go ahead I needed to begin leading my academy on our Future Ready Schools journey. As Technology Committee Chair, I will serve as the project manager for the 5-step evaluation process outlined in the initiative.

I was worried that our administration had seemed a little skeptical when I first broached the idea. It’s been a school year filled with both successes and setbacks when it comes to technology at our independent, nonprofit charter school.  Over the summer, our technology infrastructure had gotten a major boost, thanks to upgrades made possible by E-Rate and with fiber internet finally becoming available in our area. We’ve also been able to improve our student-to-computer ratio in the last couple of years since switching from laptop carts to less expensive Chromebooks. So, the challenge is to leverage these improvements to impact student learning opportunities. Technology committee work has stalled a bit this year, though. A change from full Academy pd days to separate early release times for middle school and high school has been great overall for our staff as they have more time for professional development and collaboration, but it has not afforded much time for the technology committee, which includes members from both staffs, to meet and plan together. And, our Technology Coordinator, who is also a full-time teacher, had to step back from her role earlier this year. This school year also marked the end of our current 3-year technology plan (which is no longer required by the State of Missouri).

Taking the Future Ready Pledge gives our academy direction and a new sense of purpose to continue to strive to meet the needs of our 21st century learners. My next step as project manager will be to gather stakeholders—students, parent, staff and community—to begin this process of defining for ourselves what it means to be a “Future Ready” School.

I hope to reflect upon this process in the coming year through blogging. This post also kicks off the start of a 10-week #FutureReadyLibs #blog challenge, where librarians are invited to reflect upon the different cogs of the Future Ready Librarians Framework. Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.

Started by  Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has over 4,500 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.

So, how did you get involved in the Future Ready Schools/Future Ready Librarians initiative? Are you involved in the district strategic planning process? What is your vision for a future ready school? What makes you a Future Ready Librarian?

I’ve begun to pull my ideas together about “Leading Beyond the Library” and Future Ready Schools here in this padlet.

I’d love to see your answers to these questions and more!

20 #BYOD Apps to Empower Students @etaofstl #edtech

23 Oct

Put your students in the driver’s seat of managing their learning with these free or inexpensive apps.

When we talk about BYOD, we often focus on apps/tools to use with our students in class. That was the focus of the October meeting of the Educational Technology Association of St. Louis (@etaofstl). However, another great benefit of BYOD is harnessing the educational power of the cell phones in their pockets. So, instead of banning cell phones in the classroom, empower your students to use the technology to make them better students with these great apps.

Taking Notes & Staying Organized for Class

1: My Study Life Digital planner Android iOS

2: myHomework Digital planner Android iOS

3: Notability Note-taking iOS (Anyone know of a great Android app for this?)

4: Cam Scanner Capture PDFs and more Android iOS

5: Keep To do, note-taking, audio & visual notes Android iOS

Group Projects Made Easy

6: Trello Stay organized with this app to keep track of progress & who is doing what on group projects Android iOS

7: GroupMe Group chat for your group projects & more Android iOS

Test Prep & Study Tools

8: RealCalc Scientific Calculator Android (Anyone have a good alternative for this on iOS?)

9: Wolfram Alpha Expert-level algorithms to automatically answer questions for STEM & more Android iOS

10: Study Blue flashcards and quizzes Android iOS

11. Khan Academy Practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning for STEM & more Android iOS

12: GoConqr Create and access crowd-sourced mind maps, flashcards, notes, and quizzes Android iOS

13: Gojimo 150,000 quiz questions covering SAT, ACT and AP, and others Android iOS

14: Vocabulary Builder  Expand your vocabulary with this 1200-word game. Android iOS

15: DuoLingo Learn a language Android iOS

16: Open Study Find a study group online iOS (no Android app, try the Web version)

17. Forest Leave your cell phone alone while you study. Whenever you want to concentrate, you can plant a seed in Forest. In the next 30 minutes, this small seed will gradually grow into a big tree, but if you use your phone it will wither.  Android iOS

Reading

18: Overdrive Borrow books from the library Android iOS

19: Scribd The Netflix of books Android iOS

Other

20: Scholly Scholarship search (curated list) and tips Android iOS

What apps do you recommend for students?

20+ Google Hacks for the Busy Educator

12 Oct

If you are looking to save time, stay organized and learn new, efficient ways to use the Google Apps you already love, Read On! At the Missouri Summit Featuring Google for Education this weekend, my colleague, Alicia Brand (@BrandsArtClass) and I shared 20+ Google Hacks for the Busy Educator. The link to our presentation slides can be found here.

Gmail

  1. Filter on the fly.

Labels and filters can be a great way to declutter your inbox, but taking the time to set them up can be a pain. With “Filter messages like these” in the More menu you can quickly create a filter/new label for a sender. Select “Apply filter to matching conversations” to include messages you’ve already received and don’t forget to check “Skip the inbox” for maximum decluttering.

  1. Create a quick alias (username +alias @ GAFE domain) to filter by.

In a GAFE account, you can use a symbol plus text between your username and domain to create a quick alias. For instance, I use ssteimel+sub@liftforlifeacademy.org when I use my email address to subscribe to a newsletter or when signing up for free products. Then, I can filter messages To that alias to a Subscriptions label.

Another alias I use is ssteimel+reply@liftforlifeacademy.org . This allows me a quick way to keep track of emails I send that need follow up. When sending the message, I bcc ssteimel+reply@liftforlifeacademy.org and have it set to filter to a Need Reply label.

  1. Set an email as a Task or go “turbo task” with Boomerang.

Another helpful option in the More menu is “Add to Tasks.” Select this option to help yourself remember to follow up on an email.  You can simply add it to your Google Tasks list or set a specific due date.  For even more options for managing your email, consider the Boomerang Chrome Add On. You can Boomerang 10 messages per month for free, or it’s $4.99 per month for unlimited.

  1. Label email distribution groups with a Subject Prefix.

This one is for the administrators of your Google Apps, so you could ask them to do this if they aren’t already. By adding a subject prefix, such as [HS Staff], in front of group emails, you can easily see to whom the message was directed. To do this, in the Admin panel for each group go to Settings: Email options: Subject Prefix.

I would also suggest asking your GAFE admin to set up a Non-school related distribution group [Non-School] if you don’t have one already, so that it’s easier to ignore unimportant emails when you have a limited amount of time to deal with your inbox.

  1. Mute conversations you don’t care about.

Select “Mute” from the More menu, and you won’t receive further replies in your inbox unless they are directed specifically to you.

  1. Turn on Preview Pane in Labs.

If you want to see a preview of your inbox messages similar to Outlook, enable Preview Pane in Labs. It allows you to reply right in the preview (this works better with the horizontal split). You can toggle the Preview Pane on and off as needed.

  1. Turn on Canned Responses in Labs.

Another time-saving option in Labs is Canned Responses. Once you’ve enabled it, you select the icon in the bottom right corner of any message to create and insert canned messages from there.

  1. Gamify clearing your inbox with the Email Game.

Boomerang created this fun game that awards points for beating the timer. Just sign in with your Gmail at emailga.me to get started.

Calendar

  1. Use Calendar as your plan book.

My colleague Alicia has ditched a paper plan book in favor of Google Calendar.  She includes an overview of the day’s lesson plans in the Description field. Share the calendar with students and parents for a quick way to communicate expectations and catch up absent students. You can even attach copies of handouts.

*If you’re a Google Classroom user this option may soon become even more powerful. With the recent addition of a calendar in Classroom, assignment due dates are automatically added to a calendar for each class, which also appears in your Google Calendar. Google just needs to add a fix so that manual Calendar entries sync back to Classroom.

  1. Hide morning and night in Labs.

Limit your calendar view to your work hours by enabling Hide Morning and Night. If you do have an after-hours event, such as parent-teacher conferences, it will show you at the bottom of that day’s view, and you can always expand it to see the details.

  1. Create calendars for items, rooms, computer carts, field trips, etc.

Creating calendars for shared assets and giving permissions to your staff to schedule them is an organizational boon! Be sure to remind staff to select the correct calendar from the drop down menu when scheduling since the default is their own calendar.

  1. Add attachments to your calendar events.

Add meeting agendas, handouts, directions, field trip rosters, etc. to your events. I love that you can attach Drive docs not just traditional attachments.

  1. Appointment slots are a quick and easy way to offer meeting times.

When you create a new event, you have the option of offering Appointment slots.  You can set the duration of the appointments. You can also choose to invite people by email address or give out a URL to the calendar’s appointment page. This is a great way to schedule parent/student conferences, observations and more.

  1. Use Suggested times to find a time to meet with others.

This only works if the other person or people you are trying to meet with also use their Google calendars for their daily schedule.  Create an event, select Edit event, add your guest(s)  and then click on Suggested times to see times when everyone is free.

  1. Create a new event right from the Google search bar.

If I type “Meet with Brand 2pm” in the search bar, the first result that pops up is a Google calendar event with the details I’ve typed. What could be faster?

Drive

  1. Create comment shortcuts in Docs.

Do you get tired of typing the same comments over and over again (“add more details” or “check your citation”) when giving your students’ feedback? In Preferences, you can create a shorthand system for yourself. Then,  all you need to do is turn on Suggesting mode, so that your comments appear in a different color. Greg Lawrence (@greglawrence) has a 30 Seconds of Google video to get you started.

  1. “Flip” your Comments.

Use the concept of flipping lessons with short videos when giving students comments on their documents. URLS in Comments become hotlinks, so all you have to do is paste the URL into the Comment box. You can use your own videos or do a quick video search. For instance, I found this video on How to Write a Conclusion on the first page of results.

  1. Give yourself the option to “Save to Google Drive” when surfing the web.

With the Save to Google Drive Chrome extension, all you have to do to save an image you find on the web is right click on it, and select Save to Google Drive. It will also allow you to rename the file and specify where in your Drive you save it.

  1. Make Form responses more readable.

I love using Google Forms for a myriad of purposes. The only thing I don’t love is how unreadable the answers are in the Spreadsheet format. With the Add On formMule, you can automate sending yourself an email with the responses in an easy-to-read format that works similarly to a mail merge. At the Summit, I also learned from Drew McCallister (@drewmca) about another Add on called autoCrat that allows you to automatically create both emails and documents from form responses at the same time.

  1. Use the Research tool to add images to your Slides and Documents fast.

Go to Tools: Research and search for an image. When you find the one you want, simply drag it to your slide or doc. It will include the URL automatically.

  1. Create flyers and handouts easily in Slides.

Creating a handout in Docs can be cumbersome and Draw can feel like you are working in Paint instead of a Doc. An easy compromise is Slides. Just go to Page setup and change the dimensions to 8.5 x 11 inches, and you are good to go.

Keep

  1. Get the Keep widget on your phone to quickly capture ideas.

I love Google Keep for my To Do list. If you add the widget, you can also use it to quickly capture not only your to do’s but also audio and images. If I click the camera icon in the Keep widget, it automatically opens my phone’s camera and saves the image to my Keep account.

  1. Get reminders by location.

I am always thinking of things I need to do at home while at school and vice versa. With Keep’s reminders by location, I can just input the addresses, and I’ll be reminded of my To Do’s for that location when I arrive.

  1. Easily share and send your notes to other people and programs.

I first started this list of hacks in Keep on my phone, adding to the list as I thought of new ideas. I was then able to easily copy the list to Google Docs to further develop and organize my ideas.  I can also share Keep items with individuals and with other programs such as Twitter, email, Pinterest, Facebook and more.

There you have it, 20+ Google Hacks to to make Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Keep work harder so you don’t have to.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to save time and stay organized with GAFE? Share your hacks in the comments.