Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blogging + ePortfolios = Reflection & Growth

Obvious to you. Amazing to others. - by Derek Sivers

The end of a school year is the perfect time to spruce up your ePortfolio and catch up blogging about your successes and trials this school year.  Haven't started an ePortfolio or blog?  Use this summer to get started!

I first embarked on blogging as part of Shelly Terrell's Teacher ReBoot Camp 30 Goals Challenge.  I couldn't even begin to image why I needed to blog.  I thought, "Certainly no one will want to read anything I write".  Then I realized that I didn't need to blog for anyone but myself.  My blog was my own personal reflection tool where I could write about successes and trials and examine them "out loud".  

Think back to your student teaching experience or, if like me it's been too long to remember that far back, review what student teacher interns must do-REFLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS.  Student teachers must reflect on absolutely every aspect of their teaching experience so that they can learn from their time in the classroom.  Why then do we as educators stop this reflection as soon as we obtain our teaching certification and step foot in our classroom, closing the door behind us?  Isn't this when we should be reflecting even more?  

What I have discovered now almost four years into my blogging journey is that not only have I learned through reflecting while writing my blog posts but I have learned from others who have read and responded to my blog.  Other educators have offered ideas and suggestions for how to approach a lesson, presentation, etc in ways I would have never thought of on my own.  I am so grateful for the awesome PLN (professional learning network) that began with my timid steps into the world of blogging.

Professional ePortfolios add another layer of reflection to the mix.  ePortfolios provide educators an opportunity to demonstrate individuality that is as unique as a fingerprint. 

*The benefits of creating an ePortfolio include:
  • demonstrates effort, progress, and achievement
  • makes connections between theory and practice
  • documents your learning progress over time
  • provides evidence of meeting professional standards
  • enhances communication and organizational skills
  • greater awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  • encourages reflective self-inquiry
  • illustrates good teaching
  • supports professional growth
  • leads to goal planning
  • visible collection of skills to present to a prospective employer
  • celebrate accomplishments
  • improves teaching
  • often considered authentic assessment

This summer I am presenting a three hour hands on session at AETC (Alabama Educational Technology Conference) on ePortfolios for both students and teachers.  In preparation I have taken a closer look at my own ePortfolio.  While I like the areas I have chosen to highlight - Presentations, Publications, & Honors, I have overlooked one of the most important components in an ePortfolio; reflections.  That is, for each link included in my ePortfolio I should also have, even if brief,  a reflection about the presentation, publication, honor, event, etc.   Adding this component is one of my summer goals.  

Through blogging and maintaining an ePortfolio I am able to reflect, learn and grow and more importantly share and learn from others.  

Get your own blog and ePortfolio started TODAY! 

I'm a Pinterest freak! Check out my Pinterest board on ePortfolios.  I have also compiled a great list of library/book blogs.

Please share shamelessly! (Quote stolen form the amazing Gwyneth Jones aka: The Daring Librarian)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

EduVue: Talking Future of Libraries and Media/Tech Collaboration

"Librarians are information mountaineers, guiding us to high peaks, encouraging us to keep our gaze skyward."

Jaime Vandergrift, Co Founder of EduVue, invited me and fellow librarian and friend, Michelle Cooper (Founder of Texas Library Chat #txlchat), to discuss the future of libraries and media/tech collaboration.  

School librarians are the backbone of your school.  They are the "go to" resource for administrators, teachers, students, parents and your school district's technology department.  School Librarians are the leaders in all things technology and education related.  School librarians can and should be leading professional learning sessions on topics that range from Flipped Classroom to Common Core to the latest educational technologies and everything in between. Libraries are also perfect places for MakerSpaces.  Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, wrote a great blog about library spaces as makerspaces.  

We also discussed the TL Virtual Cafe.  This group presents teacher librarian related webinars the first Monday of each month at 8 pm ET. The founders of the TL Virtual Cafe are Rock Star Librarians that have been amazing mentors to me.  I am grateful to be a part of this organization.

Sever cuts in funding to school libraries is a tragedy currently affecting many school districts across the country.  In Alabama, all state funding for school library aides was eliminated this Spring.  This cut came after five years of ZERO funding for school libraries with no end to proration in sight.  For most Alabama school libraries this has meant NO new books or supplies.  Many other school districts have fired their certified librarians and replaced them with library aides.  Others have completely closed their school libraries.  This is a tragedy because studies like School Libraries Count have concluded that schools who fund and staff their libraries with certified librarians score higher on standardized tests. Similar to the times that PE and the Arts were cut in budget saving measures, we learned just how valuable and needed these areas were once we no longer had them in our schools.  The same with happen with libraries, eventually, but with what cost to our students in the meantime?

Click the image above to watch the conversation and fun as we struggle with the new changes made to Google Hangouts.

Have you overlooked the amazing resource that is right in your own school?  If so, RUN to your library today and start a conversation with your librarian.  If you have already discovered this great resource, please BRAG about your awesome librarian below!  We would love to spotlight your incredible resource!

Friday, May 3, 2013

PLN Super Powers Unite!

I need the assistace of my amazing PLN and their Super Powers.

I have recently changed jobs and am now charged with opening a brand new library in a brand new school.  I was able to walk the construction site yesterday (hard hat, boots & all) to view the skeletal library layout.

I have been charged with "branding" the library as it was built with the intention to be the focal point of the school.  There are two areas in particular that need to be "branded": the circular reading/technology nook in the center of the library currently labeled "Cyber-Cafe" (no cafe component just reading spots & laptops), and our large outdoor balcony area that overlooks the outdoor commons area, cafeteria & gym.  (the library is on the second floor)

So....  This is what I need from my PLN:

  • Branding ideas for the outdoor balcony area
  • Branding ideas for the circular reading/technology nook
  • Any other suggestions for any other part of the library

I do not yet have:
  • School Mascot
  • School Logo
  • School Colors
  • School Mission or Vison Statement

I will post those as soon as they become available.

Here is a picture of the library blueprints to help visualize the space:

Thank you in advance my wonderful PLN!  I can't wait to here your ideas!