Taking a Risk with TouchCast

Teachers are constantly asking students to take risks in their learning. How often do students see us, their teachers, take risks, make mistakes, learn through play, (and sometimes look ridiculous) in our own learning? 

I have been wanting to learn TouchCast for a long time. It is an awesome tool for video creation that I learned about through Laura Gardner. I have been dabbling with the iPad app and bought a green screen and lights that I left in the bag for a good month before deciding just to jump in and start creating. 

I imagined creating the perfect tutorial video that I would share with teachers so teachers and students knew about it as a possible tool to use for presentations. I would  describe the app, showcase its features, and appear poised and confident the entire time. 

I had a lot of fun playing with it as I created my first TouchCast. It is far from poised, seamless and perfect. I could have done a lot more retakes and done a better job editing but I wanted students to see my rough cut, my willingness to take a risk and put myself out there to learn and teach them about a new technology. 

I am very excited that teachers and students have already reached out and want me to work with them to create TouchCasts for their own projects. There are so many ideas - student skits, newscasts, talk shows, teacher sub plans, interviews (mock or real), advertisements and more. Creating videos is also a great opportunity to incorporate media literacy. Students can analyze media messages and discuss about how and why certain media messages are created.

A big THANK YOU to Laura Gardner for generously sharing her knowledge about TouchCast!

September....phew it's almost over

I love the start of the school year - the energy, the excitement, the clean slate. But man does September exhaust me.

Getting back into the routine, preparing lessons, attending endless meetings, getting to know students, and open houses are just a few of the work related balls being juggled. Add to that a son starting kindergarten, his fall sports and activity schedule and moving back in to my home after a five month construction project has left me feeling exhausted and stressed.

Students feel the same way.  They have just as many, and sometimes even more, balls in the air and stressors in their lives. The students at my school recognize they need and want to learn techniques to manage anxiety and stress.  

Because of my yoga experience, the committee that plans the activities for our Advisory blocks, asked me to help with ideas and resources to discuss mindfulness with students.  The following doc is a list of resources I put together to help teachers discuss and work with students in their groups. I do choose my words carefully as meditation and yoga can have a spiritual connotation and some families may (and have expressed concern). When I do use those terms I am clear with students that I am not here to guide them spiritually, that religion and spirituality is something discussed at home.  I am just trying to teach them skills to manage stress, nerveousness and anxiety.  Here are my suggestions:


Refreshing the Library for the New School Year

Guest blog post by Anne Marie Doyle, a elementary school library media specialist in Westerly, Rhode Island. And also my sister!

I love the beginning of the school year, but this year I am particularly excited. I have been job sharing at my school for 8 years and this school year marks my return to full time!

I have been thinking about the layout of my library for few years but have been hesitant to change too much because I have been sharing the space with other librarians. Now, that I am the sole librarian at the school, I decided to re-organize the library to create an environment more conducive to learning, the supervision of students and ultimately more inviting to both students and staff.

I asked my sister who is also a school librarian to help out with the project. We decided to move every section of the library to create a layout that had a better flow and allowed more access to the children for supervision during book selection time.

I had several issues with the way the library was arranged:
  • My lessons were constantly being interrupted by teachers and students coming and going in to the offices and storage closets.  
  • I could not see the younger students who were checking out books from the circulation desk.
  • The Fiction section was smooshed into a very small area with series books pulled out and distributed randomly on the tops of the shelves. 
  • There were books on top of every single bookshelf, even the tallest that students could not reach.
  • The collection had not been weeded in years. 
    OLD LAYOUT

THE NEW AND IMPROVED SCHOOL LIBRARY!!!

The work was long, tedious and sweaty, but the effort was worth it in the end.
  • I added shelving from a school that closed in our district which gave me the privacy I was looking for from the offices. 
  • I moved the Everybody Picture books to these shelves and the adjacent shelves, so that I could better supervise our smaller students as they selected books.
  • The Nonfiction and Biography Books were relocated to the far side of the room. 
  • I spread out the Fiction books so students had room to spread out and browse. I also put the series book back in the Fiction section under the author's name to help students more easily locate them.
  • I also created a section of transitional chapter books for our younger students to access (and I can still see them from the circulation desk) but they are near the Fiction section so older, less skilled readers do not feel like they are in the "little kid section."
  • I weeded enough books that the tops of all shelves were now clear and could be used for display only.
  • We weeded so much that it looks like our shelves are filled with brand new books.    
    AWESOME NEW LAYOUT!!


    I removed 15-20 year old signage that was was caked with dust. I created new visual signage and added vinyl stickers to spruce up the cinder block walls. The art teacher helped me create movable signage for sections.



 I made the signage on Canva and the frames came from Ikea.
I purchased a cloth wardrobe closet to use as a Fligrid space so students can have privacy while creating video responses.

The best part was seeing the kids reactions when they walked in. 
It is going to be a great year in our fresh new library space!





Tech PD for Teachers

I have been asked to run part of the technology professional development for teachers before school starts.  The group I am going to work with will be the "high fliers" or the "fish grou" (I have no idea where that name came from). I immediately made a list of the apps and tools I have been most excited to learn this summer but was struggling with how to present it. I wanted to use the new Google Sites but I still find the interface cumbersome.  

Then I remembered Tracy Enos's playlist. Tracy is an 8th grade ELA teacher in the West Warwick Public Schools who I meet at the Digital Literacy Institute this summer. Tracy granted me permission to use some of her examples as I think it is much more meaningful for teachers to SEE how other teachers are using tools successfully with student.  I also loved how Tracy checked how the app could be used.

I did still put it in a Google Site so I could present it as a tool but the meat of the playlist is in a Google Doc.  

Weekly #DigitalTip Inspired by Social LEADia

As a middle school and high school school library media specialist,I do not see students on a regular basis. I try to find ways to communicate with them and teach them through social media. I create informational graphics for Instagram and Twitter. This summer I was inspired to create weekly #DigitalTips based on Jennifer Casa-Todd's Social LEADia.  

Casa-Todd based the tips on Mike Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship
  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Communication
  3. Digital Law
  4. Digital Security
  5. Digital Commerce
  6. Digital Health & Wellness
  7. Digital Literacy
  8. Digital Etiquette
  9. Digital Rights & Responsibilities
I have shared them with my principals who want to include the tips in the morning announcements, print them and post them throughout the school and discuss them in their advisory meetings. I continue to add to them and will keep the drive updated.

I created a #DigitalTip Google Drive of the graphics and you are welcome to personalize them as I did with my school logo and contact info.  They will also be available on the Social LEADia website




Work cited
Casa-Todd, Jennifer. Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership. 
     San Diego, Dave Burgess Consulting, 2017. 

Library Promotion with Adobe Spark


Just learning some "new to me" tools while working on our freshman library orientation and wanted to share. Adobe Spark is my new favorite!





Social LEADia: A Facebook Discussion

updated 8/9/2017



Two years ago George Couros came to our school district gave an powerful talk about the importance of using social media as a tool in the classroom.  As he was speaking, I began following Couros on Twitter and through him discovered and followed Jennifer Casa-Todd.  

Jennifer's blog, Endless Possibilities is a candid reflection of her journey as an educator and parent. She shares ideas and thoughts about a variety of topics including the use of technology and social media. I love learning from her blog posts and was excited when I heard she published the book Social LEADia, which I have now read multiple times.  

Social LEADia challenges its readers to move out of their comfort zone, to overcome challenges and to work with students to find opportunities to use social media in authentic and meaningful ways. It is one of the best professional books I have read in a long time. 

I reached out to Jennifer Casa-Todd through Twitter and her Social LEADia Facebook group (yes I love the book so much I follow her everywhere). I was interested in joining an online book discussion although I admit Twitter chats make my head spin. Jennifer offered me the opportunity to host a book discussion in her Social LEADia Facebook group. I was honored and suddenly panicked. I have never run an online book discussion and the AUTHOR was going to be a part of it!

This is my first experience with using Facebook for book discussion and I realize some people may be completely new to Facebook so I thought I would give you some tips and the plan for the evening.
  • The conversations in the Social LEADia Facebook group are only accessible to the approved members of the group.  Please request to join the group to participate.
  • Discussion questions will be posted approximately every 10 minutes. 
  • Please "Comment" to the posted question to discuss.  This will keep the conversations organized. 
  • Some questions are in a Flipgrid format, you maybe record your answer using Flipgrid or type your answer.  You may also respond to each other through Flipgrid.
  • It has become common practice that if someone is interested in a thread but has nothing to offer they comment "following" so they receive notifications when future comments are made. You do not need to do this. Instead, click on the arrow in the right hand corner of the post and select "Turn on notifications for this post."
  • If you are not able to make it for the live chat, please pop in any time with your comments or sharing.

Our hope is that our two evenings of discussion are just the beginning of continuing conversations and sharing so that we can all help our students use social media for learning & sharing their learning, standing up for causes that are important to them, and to be a more positive influence on others: ultimately social media leaders.

I want to thank Jennifer Casa-Todd for her assistance, responding to my questions as we worked together to plan this event. Jennifer also assisted with this blog post and allowed me to use her graphics.


Update 8/9/2017 - Reflections after first Facebook chat
What worked well:

  • conversations easy to follow
  • replies were not limited to 140 characters
  • more in-depth sharing 
  • smaller group - more meaningful connections
  • easy to refer back to conversations
  • easy to jump in after the fact to see what discussed and add to conversations


Challenges:

  • too many questions - the ability to have longer responses made it hard to keep up
  • limited number of people - not open to public (both a pro and con)
  • forgot to have people introduce self
  • people seemed to like to type more than Flipgrid for this type of limited time sharing 





Taking a Risk with TouchCast

Teachers are constantly asking students to take risks in their learning. How often do students see us, their teachers, take risks, make mist...