Friday, September 28, 2012


Good conversation matters. It changes everything.

Today I had the most amazing conversations with two teachers at my school.

The first conversation I had was with our International Baccalaureate coordinator.  This is my third year working in a school that offers IB courses and I decided it was past time to gain a better understanding of  exactly what International Baccalaureate is and what role the library can play in supporting this rigorous curriculum.  Mr. Thompson enthusiastically detailed the origin of the International Baccalaureate, the curricular areas included, and the methods of instruction and assessment.  I love the inquiry based model of learning associated with the IB program. This was of learning is very different than the way I was taught as a child and the way I was taught to teach as an adult.  In my experience as a student and teacher most concepts were taught in isolation through worksheets or endless pages in a textbook.  The inquiry based model for learning enables students to discover and learn within the context of a project.  I hear a great deal of talk in education circles about Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship as key components to learning.  The IB program in it's very nature meets these three learning components.  One component of the IB program that  would be valuable for every student to experience is the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.

The theory of knowledge (TOK) requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the Diploma Programme.
It offers students and their teachers the opportunity to:
  • reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge
  • consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture, in the cultures of others and in the wider world.
In addition, it prompts students to:
  • be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge
  • recognize the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world.
As a thoughtful and purposeful inquiry into different ways of knowing, and into different kinds of knowledge, TOK is composed almost entirely of questions. The most central of these is "How do we know?"
It is a stated aim of TOK that students should become aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases, regardless of whether, ultimately, these biases are retained, revised or rejected.
TOK also has an important role to play in providing coherence for the student as it transcends and links academic subject areas, thus demonstrating the ways in which they can apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.

The International Baccalaureate mission statement speaks volumes and other schools should take a serious look at their own mission statements in comparison.

"The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. 
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. 
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right."

The second conversation I had was with one of our social studies teachers while I was installing some software on his computer.  When working on computer issues in classrooms, I always make it a point to ask teachers how they are doing and how their classes are proceeding for the school year.  I was thrilled when I didn't get the standard obligatory remark, "Everything's good".  Instead, Mr. York proceeded to tell me about how he was stepping outside of his comfort zone and experimenting with using four different teaching styles to see which one(s) the students responded to best and performed at a higher level.

Let me stop here for just a moment and tell you a little about Mr. York.  First, he is an amazingly talented teacher.  He is just a few years away from retirement and his standard method of teaching is lecture based. While we all know that lecture is generally a big "no-no" in the education community there are exceptions to this rule.  Mr. York is one of them.  His lectures are intriguing and captivating. I would love the opportunity to record all of his lectures so that generations to come can learn from him long after he has retired.

With that said, I will now continue my story:  Mr. York then shared with me that he was influenced by what I had said during our mandatory "Develop Your PLN with Twitter" professional development session.  I had shared with the staff my experience as a teacher near retirement and how connecting and growing my PLN through twitter had completely transformed my professional and personal life.   He said it caused him to take a look at where he was and reflect on his teaching methods and he decided to try something new and different, including a version of the flipped classroom.  I am excited about his willingness to step out and do something new to reach students. I can't wait to hear the results of his experiment.

I am so grateful for these two conversations.  I challenge you today to start a real conversation with a co worker. You may be surprised what you find out!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt Winners

Library Orientation Season is now finished at AHS!  
Here are our wonderful winners:

School Improvement Plan 2012-2013

If you want to prosper for a year, grow rice. If you want to prosper for a decade, plant trees. If you want to prosper for a century, grow people.

This school year two of the three School Improvement Plan goals for my school weigh heavily on my shoulders as the school librarian and technology coordinator.

  • Build PLN (professional learning network) with Twitter
  • Fully integrate Moodle in classroom
We have slowly been working on Moodle over the past two years starting with large group, traditional professional development training.  This was followed up with small group, voluntary training.  This year, participation in using our learning management system, Moodle, is required.  I am making appointments with teachers who still need to "get on board" during their planning blocks working with teachers one on one to get the basics up on their Moodle pages.  This includes using the Moodle calendar, posting a syllabus, and posting class resources.  More advanced uses of Moodle I will be encouraging teachers to implement this year include setting up assignments to be turned in online.  

Even our main website and library website have transitioned to Moodle:  

What really blew me away this year was the pronouncement by our principal that teachers would build their PLNs with Twitter.  I am acutely aware of the power of connecting and learning through Twitter, but am also painfully aware of the fact that many teachers are not "connected educators".  

Here is the presentation I did for our teachers this year to get them started connecting on Twitter.  My plan is to follow up during monthly "Coffee Chat" sessions to prescribe a Twitter Rx for each individual teacher.

Book Spine Poetry

Here is a slide show of the Book Spine Poetry students created during our 10th Grade Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt activity:

Student Library Aides

Big changes took place this year in the AHS Library.  Long time and well loved librarian and technology coordinator, Ellen Donaldson, retired and I stepped into her shoes.  A new librarian, Amanda Massey, was hired to take my place.  Even though I knew Ms. Massey had never been a librarian before, I just had a feeling she would be awesome; and she is!

One thing Ms. Massey has done is to help create an effective organizational structure for our student library aides.  First, she has created a daily tasks check off sheet so that aides know immediately what tasks need to be completed.

Tasks for our student library aides can range form deliveries, laminating, cutting out letters for bulletin boards,  updating magazines and newspapers in the periodical section, shelving books, checking out books, answering the phone, etc.

One thing we quickly found out is that students have no idea how to properly answer the phone!  Ms. Massey created a script for students to follow and has recruited teachers to call the library during their planning blocks to give our student library aides some practice.

I can't wait to see what other great changes Ms. Massey will bring to the AHS Library this year!

Ms. Amanda Massey in action.


The AHS Loo News

I finally sat down this weekend and created the AHS Loo News poster to post inside bathroom stalls all around the school.  I learned about this method of "advertising" your library and school during our inaugural Teacher-Librarian chat (#tlchat) on Monday, September 17, 2012.

Be sure to join the #tlchat the second Monday of each month at 8 pm ET to learn and share more great library ideas.

I also have similar QR codes posted in the library where patrons enter and exit the library.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

School Improvement Plan 2012-13

“Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other's fund of collective intelligence.” 

This school year our principal boldly stepped out on an "educational limb" and made the decision to include Building Your PLN with Twitter one of our three School Improvement Goals (SIP) for the school year.

As a self confessed Twitterholic or Twitvangelist I was thrilled to see this bold move.  I know first hand how connecting, collaborating, sharing and learning on Twitter can transform your professional life.  As the librarian and technology coordinator the task of teaching Twitter to our staff fell on my shoulders.

My principal called a mandatory professional development session (something he rarely does) for the purpose of learning Twitter to build your PLN.  Knowing that a "forced" professional development doesn't always create the best environment for learning but is sometimes a necessary evil, I tried to sweeten the deal by providing hot donuts and freshly brewed coffee for our staff to enjoy while learning how to use Twitter to build their PLN.

I started the PD session with a short 15-20 recap of my personal journey on Twitter and then we proceeded through the steps of creating an account, how to tweet, how to find and connect with other educators, how to use and connect using hashtags (#), and a review of best practices.  

Click image above to view PPT

Most of the teachers were polite, but wary.  Apparently, bad news headlines across the country and warnings from our district concerning the dangers of social media have our teachers a bit skittish.  Despite obvious set backs I considered it a good day of professional learning.  

The shocking aftermath has been learning of an underlying resistance to using Twitter that has nothing to do with being: 
  1.  "forced" to attend a PD session the day after staying at school late for Parent Night and during the crazy flurry of Club Day activities
  2. skittish about using social media
This sinister underlying resistance was verbalized by one of our teachers at lunch the other day and has been echoed in one way or another by several other teachers.  So what is this resistance?  Well, here is a paraphrased quote:
"I'm not sharing my lesson plans or activities with anyone.  

I worked to hard to make them to just give them away."

I was shocked and saddened when I heard this sentiment expressed, and continue to be dazed each time I hear it. 

You have to understand something about our school.  We have the "best of the best" teachers working at our school.  Getting a job in our school district a monumental professional accomplishment.  Although we are a public school we have managed to be listed among the top 100 schools in the nation despite competing against private schools who can pick and choose what students they serve.  Our teachers have a wealth of experience and knowledge that would be a well spring to other teachers around the state, country and world.    

I'm at a loss as to how to deal with this sentiment.  

But, alas, we continue to move forward with our School Improvement Plan.  Next week I am offering a voluntary professional development session for our teachers to follow up on their progress with using Twitter to build their PLN.

Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#TLChat Kicks Off It's Inaugural Session

For the last two years I have worked with the Alabama School Library Association to moderate their Twitter Chat sessions once a month.  #ASLAChat is a special twitter chat designed to be a place to discuss the unique needs of Alabama school librarians.  It became apparent that the need for this type of chat for school librarians was desired throughout the world; not just among Alabama librarians: 20 Twitter Chats Every Librarian Should Know About & 20 Essential Twitter Chats for the Library Crowd  It was exciting each month to have librarians from a variety of states and countries joining the conversation.  Additionally, we loved that teachers, parents, principals and superintendents also joined in the conversations each month.  

Joyce Valenza (teacher-librarian, learner, blogger find me on rebelmouse Abington, PA · got the ball rolling to bring a teacher-librarian twitter chat to all librarians, not just those in Alabama, in her August 26, 2012 blog post in the School Library Journal: #tlchat live & get ready for more CafĂ©  I immediately jumped on board to help bring this great idea to fruition. Moderators besides Joyce Valenza and myself included Shannon Miller, Gwyneth Jones, Jennifer LaGarde, Tamara Cox and Tiffany Whitehead.

The announcement of the first #TLChat session was announced at the Back To School Special via the TL Virtual Cafe on Monday, September 10, 2012. Word of the chat spread like wildfire and the turnout was phenomenal.  996 tweets went out during the one hour inaugural  #tlchat session!  

Joyce Valenza condensed the tweets into a great Google Doc for all to review:

What I hope to do next in this blog is organize the tweets in an easier to digest format...fingers crossed!

@pageintraining, a 5th-6th grade teacher librarian who enjoys spreading book love, experimenting with technology and sharing resources ( helped advertise #tlchat with this tweet: The first live #tlchat is in less than an hour.

Other tweets began to flow as excitement about the chat ensued:

@jenniferlagarde, aka: Library Girl Library junkie & tech addict. 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker. ALA/NYT I Love My Librarian Winner. Co-founder of #levelupbc. Teacher, learner, rabble rouser. ( tweeted:  Tonight's LIVE #tlchat is gonna be AWEsome! Tonight... it's all about collaboration!  Woot!

@MatthewWinner, Elementary library media specialist and busy librarian. Co-founder of #levelupbc from  Maryland · ( tweeted: Looking forward to the kickoff of the first ever #TLChat ! Tonight's topic: collaboration

Matthew also added: Or better yet... STOP. Collaborate and listen. #TLChat 's back with a brand new edition. ...anybody? ...anybody?

@meg_allison: Teacher Librarian & Tech Specialist: Digs Books, Inquiry, Divergent Thinking & Digital Learning. Sometimes eats dessert first. Always on the run. Mad River Valley, Vermont · ( tweeted: 1 minute until our first #TLChat.  Got my ice cold coke & tweetdeck.  Ready to rock and roll!

The chat officially started with a welcome tweet from @NikkiDRobertson, EdCampATL CoFounder, school librarian, seeks collaboration w/other librarians & educators ASLA Twitter Chat moderator #aslachat Georgia/Alabama Border ( Hello everyone, welcome to #TLChat. If it's your first time in a Twtchat, a special hello! Don't forget to use the hashtag #TLChat

Tonight’s TL Twitter Chat Topic: Collaboration: how to get it going and keep it going  #tlchat #libchat #edchat

After that the conversation took off at a maddening pace!  

@Librarian_Tiff jumped into a conversation with @madamewells; Mother | Teacher | Jr High- High School Librarian | Tech GEEK | Colts fan | Reader of YA books | French Teacher | I am always looking to learn new things Indiana ( suggesting the following:
To start collaborating, it just takes a teacher or two on board, then make everyone else jealous w/ your collab skills! #tlchat

@srobinsonlms, Library Media Specialist at The Morgan School in Clinton, CT and Faculty advisory board for the ACESARCLMS alternative route to LMS certification.
Clinton, Ct  shares how a little subtle “peer pressure” works with teachers too: Display successful collab projects on your website.  When teachers see what their peers are doing they will want in too. #tlchat

Many suggestions of bribery with chocolates, donuts, etc were shared.  Here is one suggestion by @ReadKennedyRead, School Librarian at Kennedy Elementary School. On a quest to create a transformative school library program. Norman, Oklahoma ·(
#tlchat To start the year I create a google form that is SHORT and entice teachers to fill it out: Cookies, Cokes and Collaboration.

I offer monthly Coffee Chat sessions to introduce new technologies.  I brew fresh coffee and pick up hot donuts from the bakery down the street from my house. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed and is more like a social gathering than a professional development:

Others joined in with methods to get collaboration started in subtle ways.  

@stylinlibrarian, Teacher Librarian, Mom, Open-Minded Reader, yoga enthusiast, passionate IB/PYP educator... Styling Librarian: “In my opinion, books are the best accessory.”United States · (  tweeted: New school= collaboration by sneaking into planning meetings and then sliding a book/emailing a websource the team's way... #tlchat

I love what @MaureenSchlosse ‘s  school is doing: Our admin built in an Integrated Arts time so specialists could work with teachers. Loving it! #TLChat

@harbeckc, Teacher/Librarian, SEE , DEN Star, NETS-T Cert., Tech Addict, iphone photographer, Reader, Dog lover, Goofball etc. Maryland ( tweets: Don't forget to eat lunch in teachers lounge!  #tlchat Definitely! A diff period each day if possible!

@mluhtala, New Canaan High School Library Department Chair. PLN facilitator at Presenter. Blogger. Fierce advocate for free-range media and BYOD.New Canaan, CT ·( tweeted: Helpful strategy: Get stus 2 advocate 4 collab. When they benft fm lib serv., they pressure teachs 2 collab. #tlchat

I love @jenniferlagarde’s method for getting the word out to her teachers:  My most successful "advertising" has been flyers in the faculty bathroom. #tlchat

@gwynethjones cracked me up with this tweet: "Loo Reviews" My best advert idea has been QR Code links to book reviews for guys & gals, laminated & put on back of bathroom door #TLChat

@wyotigger, Academic Learning Center Coordinator (aka HS Librarian), book junkie, tech addict, info distributor, School Improvement Leader, volunteer and a mom. Wyoming · (, gave a shout out about infographs: “Share your stats in easy to read infographics! Best practice Ex. from @jenniferlagarde #TLChat” Did it w/great results

In addition to the bathroom advertising, I also want to do as @ljdougherty, High School Teacher Librarian-District Library Chair-ISTE-SIGMS-AASL- ASCD-DEN Star-MASL-MSTA-Geek Tribe-METC Spotlight Educator 2013! Missouri · ( suggested: Set up collaboration space in place of library office-Keurig coffee, tea, and laptops. #TLCHAT

I have followed @shannonmiller’s (Teacher Librarian & Tech Integrationist who loves connecting, creating, change, advocacy & NOISE. Presenter & Blogger. Connecting People Shorty Award Recipient. Van Meter, Iowa · lead tweeted here: Yes, definitely!  I do tons of little short sessions after school, lunch, even at nighttime on Skype.:)  #tlchat  and have given my cell phone number to teachers this year so they can contact me anytime they need to, not just at school.

More direct ways of collaboration were also shared.

@jane_librarian, Teacher-librarian at Mira Costa HS in Manhattan Beach, CA. Love the kids, the books, technology, & Web2.0. San Pedro, CA · ( suggested:
When teachers sign up 4 library time, I ask for lesson plan or objectives, then I say "just a suggestion, but how about we add ..." #tlchat

and @jenniferlagarde suggested: I use a google form to begin convos/track collaborative projects. At the end of the year, I have lots of data! #tlchat

@hhersey03, Teacher-librarian who loves learning, asking questions, YA Lit, inquiry, and literacy of all kinds Seattle, WA · found that just going ahead & creating things for classes knowing it might not get used is a great way to increase collaboration #tlchat

@candidlibrarian, Media Specialist. Techie. Book Diva. Aspiring Author.
North Carolina · ( suggests:  Be sure to demonstrate that you are an instructional leader. Participate in as many planning meetings as possible. #tlchat

@kingspaced, -5th Teacher of Technology Skills, at a Louisville, KY inner-city school. The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my employers.
Louisville, KY · (  tweeted: Often, teachers just forget about collaborating - If you suggest an idea, they are usually receptive #tlchat

@scsdmedia, Peripatetic Librarian. On the move throughout our school district as its only librarian. Iowa · ( shared: My most effective collabs are as embedded librarian, spending several days in one classroom, introducing, helping, consulting. #tlchat

@TKSlibrarian, Middle School Librarian and Technology Coordinator
Elizabethtown, Kentucky  (, tweeted something we should all take note of to remain “relevant” in our schools: #tlchat Toni Buzzeo says find gaps in test scores. Offer to help teachers in those deficit areas.

In the same vein, @susanrmyers,Librarian @ high school in Spartanburg, SC. Have quirky reading habits. Love my family, technology, Rush (the group), and our farm. Amateur photographer. Spartanburg, SC · (, tweeted: Be a leader & resource for #CommonCore implementation.  We've got inquiry in our corner!  #tlchat

Learn more about Common Core and Teacher-Librarians at the next TL Virtual Cafe Webinar series on October 1, 2012 at 8 pm ET:

I wholeheartedly agree with @ljdougherty ‘s tweet to: Plan ahead, schedule time to meet w/teachers-just as important on your calendar as class hours! #TLCHAT  I have started doing that this year so that I’m not pulled one way or another.  It is in the calendar for everyone in the school to see.

Connecting with parents and the community are important as well.

@dmcordell, Retired teacher/librarian, online facilitator, wife & mother, lifelong learner
upstate New York · (, suggested: I made my best contacts with parents during school sporting events

@coxtl, Mother, teacher librarian, wanna be edtech geek interested in books, integrating technology and pushing the limits of outdated school policies. South Carolina, USA ·, tweeted: I connect/collab with parents using Smore newsletters (  and @remind101 text notifications, easy and fun #tlchat

@MatthewWinner connects with parents this way: #tlchat I connect w my parents thru a quarterly book club for gr 3-5 and parents. Everyone reads book and we meet to discuss w/ snacks

@stylinlibrarian found out that each grade level team has weekly planner emails- I asked to be in on them. #tlchat

@meg_allison has organized technology nights for parents.  They come away with a real appreciation for what their kids can do! #tlchat

Both @gwynethjones , Teacher-Librarian, LJ Mover & Shaker, GCT, ISTE Board of Directors, Speaker, Blogger, SL Steampunk, Den★, Xtc Fan, Pop Culture Ho, Cinephile, Geek, & Goofball!
DC Metro · ( and @coxtl  suggested: Get parents on your side! Schedule time every month for positive phone calls home to compliment kid’s reading, projects or passion! #TLChat

Using the power of popular social media works well for collaborating with parents, teachers and students:

One response I often get when I talk to groups about using social media as a communication tool is that it is blocked in their district: Our district blocks blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. Hard to use those tools #tlchat

What I remind people of is the fact that social media may be blocked inside the school network but it is not blocked at home, work or on 3 or 4G enabled devices.  Do it anyway, even if it is blocked.  See my school’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages here (BTW: they are all blocked at my school):

Other Web Tools mentioned during the chat included:

@shannonmmiller shared her Smore newsletter with the group: Here is an example of Smore as the newsletter to parents, patrons from the library #tlchat

@congerjan, Elementary School Librarian, DEN Star, wanna be tech integrator, PSLA, PAECT
Pennsylvania · (, said: I'm starting to use Edmodo with 4th grade library classes, planning to invite parents. #tlchat

@scsdmedia: Whenever I share a good link to share via email, I also tag it in Diigo with a teacher or dept specific label. #tlchat

@TKSlibrarian: #tlchat Track down experts to connect with classes via Skype. Teachers like letting us handle the details.

@Em_RSwenson, I am a mom of three who is loving my life and my husband. Would really like some new flip flops and maybe less humidity.#DENStar educator  Louisiana                                              RT @NikkiDRobertson: Teachers at my school collaborate on our Library Pinterest Boards : ) #tlchat

@joycevalenza: Planning to use MentorMob for flipping & building collaborative learning playlists w/ teachers #tlchat

Google Docs/Drive/Apps were mentioned by several chat participants at a great collaboration tool:

@jenniferlagarde: Google docs/forms/etc make collaborating easy - AND - they help you collect data to wow your principal later! #tlchat

I use a google form to begin convos/track collaborative projects. At the end of the year, I have lots of data! #tlchat

@cathyjo, I'm a teacher librarian; STAR DEN; Edublogger; and fanatic about engaged learning. South Carolina!! South Carolina · ( Made my google form Banned Books Week Quiz today based on this Huffington Post article. Will share if asked. #tlchat

@bjansen, H.S. Librarian, Educational Technology and Library Services Dept. Chair
Austin, TX ·(  #tlchat #edchat Presenting 15 min. short courses to freshmen weekly in study hall. @dropbox @evernote GoogleApps OneNote and others.

Special “guests” sticking their heads in the #tlchat door included:

@millerg6, Principal of a Pre-K to grade 6 elementary school. Interested in positive school change and 21st century learning. Husband, father and risk taker.
Southern Alberta, Canada ·,  who tweeted: I'm not a librarian either; just a principal who sees the great value in a robust library program. #tlchat

I say, Don't limit collaboration 2 just ur school: Example of successful collaboration: #tlchat #aasl #aslachat

@WandaMcClure, President and Co-founder of EdCamp Atlanta, social media maven, owner of cape and tiara. I tweet on education, innovation, and leadership. #edcampatl #innochat
Atlanta, Georgia ·(  Waves @NikkiDRobertson! Congrats on inaugural #tlchat tonight :)

Before we knew it the hour had come to an end.  The inaugural #TLChat session was a great success due to all the wonderful participants!  Thank you to everyone who joined in the conversation.

@TeacherCast, was created by @jeffbradbury, a teacher, to help teachers better use technology in their classrooms. Philadelphia · ( retweeted: TL Chat is always going on 24/7 at #TLChat - Save the Hashtag, Share your ideas, & Pass on the positive!

@joycevalenza - First step: reread chat and process before stealing all of these great ideas.  :)  #tlchat

@Librarian_Tiff:  WOW, what an amazing first ever LIVE #tlchat session! So many great ideas from so many great peeps! Keep sharing, everyone!

@debschi, A Teacher-Librarian who loves what she does! Really!
Wyckoff, NJ tweeted:  My husband is singing again  "i'm proud to be a librarian" #tlchat

@SherrySaysSo, English & World Hist teacher at award-winning Robeson Early College HS. Promoting passion, tech, global studies, creativity, & student empowerment.
Lumberton, NC ·  Geeking out in my pjs. Watching "How the Universe Works" & lurking #tlchat. U should too! Picked up some great stuff! Thanks y'all! :)

@ginahulseI, Mom, #Artist, Certified #Paverpol Instructor, #ArtEducator/Advocate, #Author/Prevention Through the Arts Program/Street smARTs, #blackbelt,#gardener, #recycle.
Melbourne, Florida · ( tweeted: I love the "Geek Tribe" stickers idea! #tlchat Our librarian is always rewarding others.  High time she gets recognition.  I will do that.

Be sure to connect with again next month on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 8pm ET.  

Read more about our first #TLChat session in these great blogs:

@joycevalenza: #tlchat launches intensely (and archiving tweets)

@dmcordell: TL Chat

You can also read about #TLChat on the #TLCHAT!tag-tlchat

*Stay tuned for updates as more blog posts are published : )