Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Making of an Incurably Curious Educator

My journey as an educator started in 1992 when I became a 5th and 6th grade teacher and continued as I became a school librarian in 1997.  The making, however, of an Incurably Curious Educator didn't happen until 2010 when I became disillusioned with the professional development I passively waited for my school district to spoon feed to me.  It was then that, what I truly believe to have been divine intervention, lead me to Shelly Terrell and her Teacher ReBoot Camp 30 Goals Challenge.  My life since then has been a whirlwind of change because, as the magnificient Maya Angelou said, 

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Now, as an Incurably Curious Educator, I have made it my mission in life to do as Shelly did for me, EMPOWER others around me, whether they be students, other educators, parents or community members, to be MASTERS OF THEIR OWN LEARNING.  

This insatiable curiousity has lead what I liken to a butterfly breaking free of it's cocoon, leaving confining, restrictive school districts behind as I spread my wings and head in the direction of new adventures.  These changes have been anything but comfortable or easy.  It reminds me of the Butterfly Struggle story:

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

            But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.

As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.

And now I find myself once again, like many in my PLN, changing courses and flying in a new direction.  Even though I hate leaving the most amazing school I have ever worked in and am "leaving" the library, I am excited about the possibilities my new position as an Instructional Technology Facilitator holds.  One thing I am not feeling, however, is fear because I know that I have the love and support of my PLN.  A PLN of amazing educators who truly understand the gift of empowering others on their journey.

If you are ready to spread your wings and venture into new, yet unexplored territory, please join me on my adventure.  I will be working with 3rd and 4th graders to help deploy a 1:1 initiative with MacBook Airs. We are looking for amazing, out of the box, higher level SAMR, opportunities for learning, collaborating and connecting with a global community.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

This Week in The Library@HHS May 5-9, 2014

Hollis & Vann:

This week Mrs. Crystal Camp read The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli to Ms. Hollis & Ms. Vann's students.  The kids thought it was hilarious how worried the alligator was about swallowing a watermelon seed.  After reading the book, Mrs. Camp took the kids outside to our Outdoor Patio Classroom to enjoy delicious, ice cold watermelon in the sunshine. 

Next week will be the last week we have a visit from Ms. Hollis & Ms. Vann's students. We will miss them so much over the summer.




The big switch from iPads to Chrombooks started Wednesday as Chromebooks were issued to all teachers with students in the 9th grade.  Keith Fulmer, HHS IT Superhero, lead Chromebook orientation sessions during periods 1-7, answering questions and soothing fears.  

Senior iPad Returns:

This week seniors had to part with their iPads so that they can proceed to graduation.  Mrs. Ronna Michaels is the genius behind the return procedure and so far the process has run remarkably well.  Mrs. Michaels' amazing organizational skills are just one of the reasons we love her so much in The Library@HHS!

Technology Club Planning for 2014-15:

Even with the whirlwind of activity involved with wrapping up the library for the end of the year Ms. Amy Tew, English teacher and technology enthusiast, and I got together this week to brainstorm and create a syllabus for the HHS Tech Club for the 2014-15 school year.  We are already lining up great speakers and activities for next school year. 

Below is a slideshow of our week in The Library@HHS

Saturday, May 3, 2014

This Week in The Library@HHS April 28-May 2, 2014

Testing, testing, testing.

Weather, weather, weather.

This week The Library@HHS has been bogged down with the challenge of providing space and computers for testing while shuffling and making every effort possible to accommodate the needs of teachers who are being booted from their pre-planned and registered computer arrangements.

Severe weather and tornado watches added to the shuffling as school was released around noon on both Monday and Tuesday.  Fortunately everyone in my school was fine other than a few power outages.  It was great to have my online community through Twitter to keep me company as I sought refuge in my bathtub.

Even with these logistical challenges, The Library@HHS was still quite an active place.

Co Teaching with Mr. Cofield:

Monday before the weather caused an early end to our school day, English teacher, Bob Cofield and I got together to plan out the use of Doctopus with his 1st period students.  Early Tuesday morning I set up a Google Hangout On Air so that we could record our co taught lesson so that Mr. Cofield could send the video to our assistant principal, Dr. Sutherland.  Dr. Sutherland has asked all teachers to record a lesson that shows how they are integrating technology into their classroom and where that integration ranks in the SAMR Model.

Celebrations & Thank You's:

This week was also filled with celebrations and Thank You's.  

Wednesday the Junior Class Officers thanked those teachers who helped out with the prom by providing a delicious Italian luncheon. Thank you Ms. Nowlin and the JCO for a memorable prom and an equally memorable luncheon!  

Thursday The Library@HHS celebrated our graduating Senior Student Library Aides with a pizza lunch.  We also made our Seniors nice luggage tags to take with them as they leave home and enter "the real world".  

Friday Ms. Crystal Camp and I (and all the school librarians from our school district), were treated to a special luncheon sponsored by the Hoover Public Library.  The Hoover City School District libraries work closely with our friends at the public library all year long.  It is a great relationship and we love all that the public library provides for our schools and students.  The Hoover Public Library spoiled us with a great taco buffet, GiGi's cupcakes and a pack of books to take back to our schools.

SlideShow from This Week in The Library@HHS

Friday, April 25, 2014

This Week in The Library@HHS April 14-24, 2014

In this post I will combine two weeks as we are limited to testing this week.

Hollis and Vann:

We missed Ms. Hollis and Vann's classes on Monday the 14th but were thrilled to see them again on Monday the 21st.  It was my turn to read to the kids and I picked out the book, A Boy and His Bunny by Sean Bryan.  This story is about a boy who wakes up with a bunny on his head. The bunny stays on his head and tells about all the things you can do with a bunny on your head.  At the end of the book (spoiler alert) his sister wakes up and has an alligator on her head.

To prepare for the class I scanned the pages of the book into a Google Presentation and then used my iPad, the big screen TV and Apple TV to mirror the presentation on the big screen, thus  making it easier for the whole class to see the pictures.

To follow up this story with a fun tech activity I downloaded the free PicturePerfect App to my school issued iPad. Students were then given the opportunity to choose an animal to have on their head.  The cool thing was that since my iPad was mirrored to the big screen TV, the kids could see the app in action as we picked the animals and took the pictures.  We were all laughing so hard!

Enjoy our slideshow below:


On Monday the 14th Ms. Isabeth Gannon dove head first into using Doctopus with her English classes as they prepared to write a major essay.  In advance, Ms. Gannon and I sent an MLA Template out to students via the Doctopus script. By using Doctopus and the MLA template, Ms. Gannon can see her students progress on their assignments anytime she wants from any Internet enabled device. She can view by thumbnail for a quick overall view of her class or click to open individual papers.  She can see and respond to students in real time.  There is also no worry with needing to upload or download assignments. Additionally, Ms. Gannon can run a "revision history" and see how much time students invested in the project.

My PD sessions on this (as well as others from this year) can be found HERE.

Small Group & One on One PD:

Due to testing taking up all of our lab space, our final Google 101 PD of the year is being taught as a Flipped PD with follow up in small group and one on one settings.  These two weeks have been filled with fun, spirited PD sessions about using Doctopus. I have also assisted teachers with a flurry of other quick tech questions ranging from uploading videos from their iPad to the making of Google Forms.

Flipped PD (April & May 2014)Doctopus and GoobricHave you ever had a student lose a paper, forget an assignment was due, leave their homework at home or any other rash of excuses for not turning in assignments? Tired of running after students trying to get them to turn in assignments? Hate the hassle of leafing through papers to find the worksheet/assignment for the student who was absent?  Worried about how to hand out modified assignments to students with an IEP without the other students knowing? Wish you could grade, comment and hand back papers with just the click of a button?Doctopus & Goobric through Google Drive are the answers to all your woes!

Rewindable Learning:
Creating a Google Form with Doctopus:
Creating a form and adding questions:
Uploading or Creating Assignments in Google Drive:
Converting files to Google Doc format:
Running the Doctopus Script:
The New Doctopus & Add-ons Gallery:

Using Goobric to grade assignments with a rubric:
Goobric: Assessing Student Work:
Final Tips for using Doctopus & Goobric:

Other videos that may be helpful:Doctopus: Creating Class Folders:

Webinar Presentation:

Mrs.Crystal Camp, my mentor and co librarian, presented a webinar for BookList entitled, How to Connect e-Books and Students: A Starter Kit for Educators.  Crystal did an awesome job talking about our journey to incorporating ebooks into our library using OverDrive and our 1:1 iPad program.

Author Visit:

Author John Mantooth came to Hoover High School to talk with IB students about the writing process. John is the author of Shoebox Train Wreck, The Year of the Storm, and the upcoming novel Tuskaloosa. He is generating some real buzz in the field of mystery and horror writing, and is up for a national award in the next month. Read more about John's visit HERE.

Co Teaching:

Several weeks ago I co taught with Ms. Virginia Young and helped her set up her big end of the year Event Planning project. We incorporated several tech tools into the project including Google Documents, Canva, and BlendSpace.  The project due date is April 25th. The project requirements are HERE.  Before collaborating with Ms. Robertson, most students turned this project in either by loading each of the A-K required parts through Edmodo one by one or turned everything in written on paper. 

Thursday, April 24th Ms. Robertson and Ms. Young worked together to help students put all parts of their project together in one place using BlendSpace.   Using Blendspace students were able to turn in all parts of their assignment (A-K) with just one link, making grading a much easier task for Ms. Young.

Here are just two example of student BlendSpace projects:

Ms. Young surprised me with a tray full of delicious freshly baked cookies and a sweet thank you card. What I am truly thankful for is that Ms. Young was willing to step outside of her comfort zone and trust me to help incorporate technology into her lesson and to co teach with her.  


Ms. Hannah Zarzour is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever worked with.  She is a first year teacher and is blazing a trail in her English classroom using technology.  One thing Hannah took the time to tutor me on this year was Doctopus and Goobric.  When it came time to apply to present at the Alabama Educational Technology Conference (AETC) this year I immediately thought of Ms. Zarzour and asked her if she would co present with me during the 3 hour hands on session about the Flipped Classroom and she agreed!  On Friday, April 25th we sat down to go over the session and plan out which parts we would each be in charge of presenting.  Of course, Hannah will show the attendees the wonders of Doctopus, Goobric and Add On in Google as well as telling of her own experiences working in a progressive school with a non traditional student schedule. I look forward to presenting with Hannah this June.

Tellagami Project:

During the month of April student library aides have been working on a three part assignment that culminates into the creation of a Tellagami.  Each aide was assigned a certain area of the library to make a brief tutorial about.  Sections included use of the copier, WEPA Print Kiosks, checking out laptops, books, charges and iPad cords, etc.  The Tellagami was created after key points and a script had been approved.  All Tellagamis were then combined into a ThingLink of The Library@HHS.  

Here is our completed ThingLink:

ID Pictures:

In preparation for Fall registration days, The Library@HHS has spent the month of April taking ID Pictures of every 9th through 11th grader in the school.  In August we will print these ID Cards and have them ready for pick up during registration.  It's been a long, tedious process bu the kids and their teachers have been wonderful to work with us in getting this task completed.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

School Librarian Rant

Seems that I became a bit impassioned during the April TL News Night broadcast and climbed on my soap box.  I've always had a problem keeping my mouth shut!

Original Google Presentation can be accessed HERE.

Here is the original "rant":

Here is the remade "rant":

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Author Visit with John Mantooth

This Friday Apr 18 Mr. Brad Coltrane will have another guest speaker, John Mantooth, to speak to the IB seniors about his writing.  John is the author of Shoebox Train Wreck, The Year of the Storm, and the upcoming novel Tuskaloosa.  He is generating some real buzz in the field of mystery and horror writing, and is up for a national award in the next month.

To learn more about John Mantooth click the links below:

Watch LIVE at 8:15 am CT:

Watch LIVE at 9:11 am CT:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

This Week in The Library@HHS April 7-11, 2014

HHS Prom:

While not an "official" part of this week in The Library@HHS, we did represent at the HHS Prom this past weekend.  Nikki D Robertson arrived at the beginning of the prom to helped steer arriving students up the stairs to the prom entrance and stayed until the prom was completely taken down and cleaned up.  A big THANK YOU to the amazing Jamey Nowlin for putting together such a beautiful prom!  I made sure to "torture" our student library aides by making them do selfies with me! LOL!


This week in The Library@HHS started with flooding.  Solid, hard rain all weekend resulted in flooding that delayed the start of school by two hours.  Mr. Woodruff provided us with this water level graph:

Ms. Ort, Environmental Science Teacher at Hoover High School, gave directions to interested faculty how to see the effects of the flooding on the river near the school, 

"The best trails start down near the football and baseball fields. Follow the little road between the stadium and the big pond. There is a trail dead ahead. It ends at the river and you then turn left or right to follow the river."

Vietnam Veteran Speaks to IB Students:

Mr. Coltrane's father, a Vietnam Veteran, was scheduled to speak with IB students who had read The Things They Carried about his personal experience in the Vietnam War.  The flooding Monday morning caused a late start but we were still able to spend some time with him.  We broadcast his conversation about the Vietnam War via  Hangouts On Air and I have blogged about it here.

Perhaps the most chilling quote of the day came when Mr. Coltrane told students of his experience when he came under fire and had to hide behind a very low wall not more than a few inches from the ground, 

"I learned you could dig a hole in asphalt with your fingernails"

Hollis & Vann:

Crystal Camp read two books to Ms. Hollis & Ms. Vann's students.  We love our self contained special education classes and want to make sure that they are included in the activities going on in The Library@HHS.  We love seeing them every Monday!

Library Visitor:

Shannon Petty, English Teacher in a nearby school district and Library Media student, came to spend the day at The Library@HHS to observe Crystal Camp and Nikki Robertson in their natural habitat (LOL!). It was bitter sweet to hear Shannon marvel as to the beehive of activity she found in The Library@HHS. Bitter because an active, engaged library should be the case in every school. I hope that we provided her with lots of good information she can take back and share with the other Library Media students in her class and will hopefully be able to implement some of the ideas into her own library in the future.

Teacher and Staff Member of the Quarter:

The Hoover High School PTSO spoils us.  This week in The Library@HHS the HHS PTSO hosted the Teacher and Staff Member of the Quarter Luncheon in our beautiful Community Room.  Our very own library aide, Ronna Michaels, was honored as Staff Member of the Quarter. Ronna has been a miracle worker this year with her organizational skills as The Library@HHS was tasked with spearheading all things iPad in the 1:1 iPad Initiative this school year.

Outdoor Library Classroom:

Thanks again to our fabulous HHS PTSO we now have two more benches and cushions for the chairs in our Outdoor Library Classroom.  Teachers have begun reserving this space now that the weather has turned nice.  When teachers don't have this space reserved it is available for anyone wishing to enjoy this beautiful space.

One to One PD:

Ms. Robertson assisted a few teachers this week with various technology related questions that ranged from setting up a computer for a college class distance learning lesson using Big Blue Button to reviewing Google Hangouts On Air to assisting teachers for the upcoming Google PD on Doctopus and Goobric.  We love it when teachers come into The Library@HHS and say, "I have a great lesson idea! How can we incorporate technology into it?"

Electronic Signage:

We are still loving our electronic signage in The Library@HHS.  With six spaces available for classes to reserve we rely on the electronic signage to direct students to where their classes are meeting and as to what spaces are "free" areas.  The Library@HHS also likes finding great quotes to post along with the class locations.

Here are a few of the quotes form this week: