Archive by Author

#FutureReadyLibs #BlogChallenge Week 6 Building Instructional Partnerships

27 Apr

One of the “wedges” of the Future Ready Librarians framework that is probably already a part of most school librarians current practices is building instructional partnerships. When I was taking graduate classes for my library media certification back in the early 2000s, collaborating with teachers was a major focus for us. The “holy grail” of collaboration at that time seemed to be finding ways to co-plan, co-teach and even co-assess a research project. However, I don’t feel this is always practical or even desirable. While making sure students are taught information literacy skills is one of my roles….it is only one of many, and it is not really feasible for me to “push in” to a single class for weeks at a time.

Leveraging instructional partnerships is still very important in my work. In the five years I’ve been in my current library, getting staff “on board” has been key in building a culture of literacy at our school.

I have taken inspiration from Belleville West High School, who were the 2014 grand prize winners of the Follett Challenge. Their video, “Making literacy a school-wide effort” inspired me to pay them a visit. Although I did not adopt the million page challenge at the center of their program, I did come away with lots of ideas I have incorporated. I am really impressed with how they leveraged instructional partners in their building including teachers, administrators and even athletic coaches.

Of course yet another area of instructional partnerships for Future Ready Librarians is in the area of technology integration. Here are some questions to consider: How are you leveraging digital tools and resources to improve your instructional practice? Do you model effective integration across content areas? Do you encourage through collaboration the strategies for encouraging discovery, analysis, creation and presentation?

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

Check out this padlet for some great ideas on the many ways Future Ready Librarians are building instructional partnerships.

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 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?