Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thing 20: Final Reflections & What's Next?

I learned so much from this class and am excited to take with me what I learned and share it with my colleagues. This class was a wealth of information and I know that I will be going back to all of the fantastic resources and use the ideas that were shared with me. I truly believe that using all of the resources that were shared with me will be so beneficial, and that if used the right way students will be learning new skills that they may not have been exposed to in the past. Lessons will become better than they ever have been and I am sure I will learn something new as well.

This was my second year taking this class and I am so happy that I decided to continue on with this class. I am a big fan of a class that is a self-paced class where I can do the work when it is convenient to me. The expectations are clearly laid out and it was easy for me to follow along.

There was so much to learn that I know I will definitely have to go back in the future and spend some more time researching the various resources that were shared with me. I have already shared so many of the resources with my colleagues and they could not be more grateful for me ideas that they can use in the classroom. I absolutely cannot wait to take Track 3 next year and am hoping that it is something I can take!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Track 19: Social Reading & Book Stuff

I am a big reader (shocker, right J) and I find that I read so much sometimes I can’t remember what I read or if I liked the book and if it was something I could recommend to someone else. I also found that I would be in the store browsing through book shelves and writing down books I would want to read only to not be able to find the paper where I wrote the titles down. I would also always get recommendations from people about books I should I read and would always forget them. I decided that I need to find a way to keep all of the books that I read, and wanted to read organized and that is when I signed up for Shelfari.

I used Shelfari for a year or two and found that it was easy enough to use but I was not that happy with what it had to offer. I did not want to get rid of my Shelfari account so I decided that I would use it to showcase the new books that we had in the library. I changed the name and a few things to reflect that it was now a school account and once I had all the new books loaded into it I put it on website. It was a great way for the students to see the new books and the covers and be able to choose what book they might want to read.

I knew I was going to have to find something to use to organize my reading and that is when I found Goodreads, and I have been a user and lover of that ever since! Goodreads has allowed me to not only organize what I read, and what I want to read but it also allows me to read reviews and will give me suggestions about what books I should read next. I really like the layout of it and like how it is so easy to use. There are a lot of options as far as how you want the book lists organized and you can make it custom to how you want it. There is an option to connect it to Facebook but I chose to not do that because it is something that I use for myself and not for the rest of the world to see.

Overdrive is something that is somewhat new to me and now that I know it exists I have no idea how I lived without it! I was never originally a fan of the kindle because I thought that there was something special about holding a book but once I gave in and bought a kindle I could not be happier with the decision I made. It is the best thing to have especially if I am going away somewhere because I now do not have to pack my suitcase with multiple books. Overdrive has made it so easy to borrow books for free and there are so many titles available through my local library that I rarely have to buy a book anymore. Overdrive is organized and extremely easy to use and I love that I can customize certain things like how many days I can borrow the book for. I have helped more students than I can count in my building borrow books from Overdrive and I am working on getting some kindles for the library.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Track 18: Online Learning & DIY PD

As a teacher I am very aware of current instructional “best practices”. I am always participating in various professional development that will help me to be the best teacher I can be and taking what I have learned and using it in my classroom. I believe that it is important to keep up with what is going on in the teaching world and staying up to date with best practices. I am on all four committees in my school, and I follow library blogs, and subscribe to various journals such as School Library Journal and VOYA.I am a believer in always trying something at least once and if it does not work to move on to the next thing. Working with teachers and other colleagues is also another way I keep up with best practices, and we work as a team to implement them into the curriculum.

Webinars have become one of my favorite ways to earn professional development credit, but also more importantly a great way for me to learn an abundance of new things. Webinars have allowed me the freedom to be able to take a professional development class while being in the comfort of my own home. I also like taking courses that allow me to work at my own pace and give me the freedom to work on it even if it is 11:00 at night. I have always taken webinar classes that are through my district but I am interested in looking at some of the podcast ones that I checked out. They seem like they would be great to listen to when in the car driving back and forth from work and I am sure I could learn some great things. I have also taken many online classes through NYCTD and would highly recommend them to anyone. The teachers are great, the classes are informative, and since it is a self-paced class it appeals to everyone!

This class has been the best professional development class that I have ever participated in, and I am not just saying that!! I have taken my fair share of classes that have been completely irrelevant to my job and I was either forced to take them or did it so I could get the hours. This is one of the few, if not only, classes that is made for librarians. I hope to take track 3 & 4 in the future and would love if more came along! I have shared multiple resources with teachers in my building that I learned from the class and have learned so many new ones that I can’t live without. I wish that I could say my district would give me time during the day to participate in this class however that is not happening so after school and on the weekends will have to continue to be my work time!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Track 17: DIY- You Pick!

I have a lot of experience using social media in my personal life but not as much in the classroom so I wanted to explore ways that I could use various social media outlets in my library. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat are just a few that I use. Since I teach elementary school I don’t always incorporate the social media into the classroom with the younger children but I try and incorporate into my lessons for the older students. It is challenging sometimes since our technology for the building is on carts and our class sizes this year are so big that there is not enough pieces of technology for every students. Yes we have brand new amazing pieces of technology but sometimes it is more of a pain. I do have a Twitter account for my Library and update that regularly so parents can see what is going on in my room.

I absolutely agree with the use of social media in the classroom and believe that when used in the proper manner can be an effective tool. I find that I have great relationships with my students because I try and stay up to date with what is going on so that I can relate to them on a different level. I use Twitter in the classroom to showcase what is going in my room and the kids love that I share information that way. I also think that parents appreciate the use of social media in the classroom and for many of them they like to be able to stay up to date with what is going on, and using social media helps that.

Students are without a doubt better engaged in the classroom as well when they are allowed to use social media. It is what they know and many of them are better at using it then most adults. To them it may not seem like homework for them to have to write a blog post, or have to tweet something out. All children express themselves in different ways and for some being able to do that in a different way is beneficial for them. I do not think that social media is going anywhere and we as educators need to somehow find a spot for it in our classrooms even if we do not personally like it.  I do understand that there are some cons like students taking advantage, students becoming distracted, and privacy being compromised but if these problems can be addressed head on and in the beginning I think it will be a good thing for both teacher and students alike.

Some lesson ideas that I think I could use in my classroom would be a Pinterest lesson where my 5th grade students would learn about historical and current figures. They would each create a board about an individual that they chose and would have the option to pin anything from articles, images, and quotes. I would have the students follow one another so that they could generate ideas from one another and see what their classmates are all working on. They would be able to work on this project from home as well since the only thing they would need is Internet access. After doing the research part of it on Pinterest they could take all of that information that they collected to write a report or do a project on that person. When they present the project they will have their Pinterest boards up on the Smartboard to show their classmates. I think that my students would love this project and would enjoy using a social media website in school for a project.

I could also have students use Twitter to create a profile for their favorite story book character. They would have to do some research beforehand to figure out different traits about their characters. If they did not know some information like birthdays and such I would allow them to make that information up. Once the profiles were set and ready to go they would have to tweet once a day things that they think their characters from the book might tweet. I would teach them what a # is and how they can follow different ones on Twitter. I would choose the #storybookcharacters for them to follow. They would be able to generate some ideas for their character profiles that they created.  They can also dress up like their characters and post things. They would have the freedom to do whatever they would like as long as they were following and using the #storybookcharacters. This would be an assignment that they could also work on at home and tweet more than once a day if they felt necessary. I would of course teach internet safety as well and what would be appropriate to post and what is not appropriate to post. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Track 16: Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship

When I was in my sophomore year of college Facebook was introduced to the world and since I was a college student I was one of the lucky ones who were able to get a Facebook account. The Facebook that I knew back then was completely different from the Facebook that I know now and as all things do it has evolved and gone through many changes throughout the years. Over the last few years I have joined more social media websites and I am sure my digital footprint has tripled in size.

I have always been very careful of what information I put out into the universe because I know that once it is out there it never really goes away. I have two younger sisters, one who is still in college and I always stress to her how important it is to be careful of what she puts out into the world. Many times young kids do not understand how damaging one inappropriate picture can be or what it can do to their futures. I know I probably sound like a mom to her and repeat myself over and over but I never want to see her in a position where something that she posted can damage her future.

I always teach a lesson to my students on Internet safety and what a digital tattoo is. Students today are using technology younger and younger and are sometimes they are better at using it then an adult is. I believe that as an educator it is our job to do whatever we can to make sure that students are safe. Many of my students have access to the Internet at sometimes they are not being watched by an adult. I want to instill in each and every one of them how important it is to be safe and make good choices when using the internet.

I am now obsessed with the first video where the amazing mind reader revealed his ‘gift’. Even though it was only 2 minutes it was an amazing example of what happens when you put everything out on the internet for anyone to see. The participants were shocked to see what kind of information could be found out about them and I am sure they never in a million years thought that could happen to them. The second video was also a great lesson on what your Digital Foortprint is, and I am going to show that to my 5th and 6th classes! I also really loved the article by Common Sense Education about having “The Talk” with students. The article listed five easy steps that educators can use before having “The Talk” and some great videos that can be used broken down by grade level.

There are so many different ways that we can teach our students to be safe when putting themselves out on the Internet and it is one of the most important things we can do for them. I would hate to have any of my students live with some kind of regret when they are older because of something silly that they did when they were younger. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Track 15: Web Presence

I am one of the lucky ones in that not only do I have control of my website that is offered through my district but I also have control of my schools website. My principal and I are the two people who have control of the website and because of that I am able to make sure that the library is front and center! I also have control of the schools Twitter account and Facebook pages which is great because I can post not only what is going on in the building but also what is happening in the library.

I believe that it is so important to have a web presence especially because there are still some individuals out there who do not understand how important a library and Library Media Specialist is! I do whatever I can to promote my library and all of the wonderful things that I am doing to show the world that we are needed! Many times the website is like the first impression of you so you want to make sure that it is filled with positive information about you, your program, and what you believe in.

Since I am happy with my platform for my webpage I decided to go in and make sure that it included all of the information that I would want to share with parents, students, administrators, and everyone and anyone who would want to take a look. Some of the things that I always make sure to include on my website are my rules and expectations that I have for my library, the online catalog where the students can find the resources that they are looking for, and the databases that we have for our school. I also have different reading activities and parents can do with their children and some book talk videos that I made showcasing some of the new books that we have in the library. I have library FAQ’s which answers anything and everything you need to know about my library. One thing that I never forget to include is a section about me. I think that the students and parents should be able to get to know me a little bit even if it is only through a computer screen since I do not get to see the parents all the time.

One thing that I explored this week that I LOVE is the online portfolio. I was so interested in this and think that it would be a really great way for not only parents and students to get to know you, but also for your colleagues to get to see a different side of you and see how valuable of a person you really are! I started to create this and even though I am not ready to share it with the world just yet I am excited for what it will hopefully become. I think that this could be a great way to network with others as well and be able to share ideas and other information with Library Media Specialist’s from all over the world.

At one of our committee meetings my principal mentioned creating a newsletter for next year and Smore seems like it would be an amazing tool to use! We were brainstorming ways that we could simplify creating a newsletter and I am so excited to share this with my colleagues. The cost is not bad and for all of the features that are included and would be a great way for parents to stay in the know! I like that it has a simple look and there is not a lot going on. It also seems to be easy to use but one concern that I have would be whether or not I could fit all of the information that our school wanted to share.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Track 14: Media Skills

Since my job title is Library MEDIA Specialist I figured that this topic which is all about media is one of the most important topics in this class! Media really is everywhere we turn and in my opinion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon! I have students who are better then I am at using technology and in order to keep up with my kidos I need to make sure I am on top of not only the new technology that comes along but also how to do simple tasks like scanning a document or taking a screenshot.

One of the ways that I learn new things is by playing around and exploring anything and everything about something so that I know all of the ins and outs! If there is something that I do not know how to do I will not stop until I accomplish what I set out to learn. Taking a screenshot on a computer, phone and iPad are something I know how to do, and it is something I actually do on my phone all the time. I use a PC at work and a Mac at home so sometimes I have to stop and think which device I am on so that I know what I need to do to take the screenshot. Being able to take a screenshot of something is very helpful to me when I am at home since I do not have a printer. By taking the screenshot I can then save it and email to myself so that I can print at a later time. This is one tool that I use all the time on all of the devices that I have.

Many of the tools and resources that were listed are ones that I am familiar with and have used in my classroom and also on my own time. One tool that I had never heard of was snaggy and I was intrigued and wanted to check it out. It seemed that it was an easy way to be able to share the snapshots of my screen with not only other people but it seemed like it could be an easy way for me to be able to save images so I could print them without having to email them. It is really very simple to use and I like that it is not blocked at my school so I can actually use it J I also LOVED the article on Free Range Scanning about how to scan something using your phone or table. I am always in need of a scanner and most of the time the one that I have at my job is terrible. The videos that she linked were great and I am planning on sharing this with everyone I know because I know my teacher friends will love as well!

I am a pro at Instagram and making videos but wanted to share one that I made of my dog Riley!