Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Put Your Twitter Glasses On and Bring Professional Learning Into Focus

One of my clearest childhood memories is when I got my first pair of glasses.  Back in those days there was no LensCrafters who could make your glasses while you wait.  As my mother drove me to the ophthalmologist to have my new glasses fitted I remember looking out the window wondering why I even needed glasses.  I could see just fine.  Once in the doctor's office I was asked to close my eyes as my new glasses were placed on me.  When I opened my eyes I was overwhelmed with emotions.  I saw things I had never seen before.  There were beautiful details that up until that moment I had been missing.  I spent the entire drive home mesmerized by everything I saw.

In a similar way, Twitter has been the glasses through which a whole world of professional learning has come into focus.  

From 1992 until 2008 I had been fairly confident that I knew what I was doing professionally.  I attended school district professional development sessions after all.  Certainly my district would keep me abreast of anything I really needed to know to be effective in my field…right?  Then in 2008 I attended my first technology conference.  As I looked over the concurrent session offerings I began to realize that there was quite a bit my district had not been sharing.  My curiosity was peaked.  I couldn't wait for the next technology conference to roll around again the next summer so I could learn more.  

By 2010 I was growing impatient for new information. How did the presenters at these conferences know what they knew? Did their school district provide better professional development than my school district? 

Then I started seeing QR Codes popping up in magazines.  I did a search to find out what they were and immediately thought, "This would be awesome to use in the classroom!"  I queried, "QR Codes in Education" and was incensed to find that LOTS of educators were not only using QR Codes in their classrooms but had been for several years.  Why had I never heard of them?  Why had my school district not offered any PD sessions about this?  Why had the last technology conference I attended not even mention QR Codes?  

Now I was angry.  What else was going on in education that I didn't know about?  I began searching for alternative means of professional development and came across Shelly Terrell's Teacher ReBoot Camp 30 Goals Challenge.  I printed out the entire free ebook and began going through the goals.  The "Make A Connection" goal was my Aha! moment. That pivotal moment that you look back on as significant and life changing.  This is the goal that introduced me to Twitter. Introduced me to the Twitter Chat, #edchat.  This is the goal that introduced me to Jerry Blumengarten, aka: @cybraryman1.   This is the goal that has propelled me to be the educator I am today.

This is the goal that also intimidated and overwhelmed me. As I connected with more and more educators from all around the nation it became glaringly apparent just how little I really knew about my profession.  I went from feeling confident in my abilities as an educator to feeling woefully inadequate. How would I ever be able to even get started doing the things Gwyneth Jones, Joyce Valenza, Doug Johnson, Kathy Schrock and so many others were doing?  One evening I sat crying and thinking that perhaps it would be best to just "collect a paycheck" and slide into retirement.  My school district wasn't offering PD in any of the new things I was learning about on Twitter so how was I supposed to learn all this new information anyway?  At 10:30 that evening I sent emails to several people I highly respected and had connected with on Twitter expressing my anxiety and fear from all of this new information and whether I should just stop trying.  I really never expected to hear back from any of them, after all, they were super star educators.  I woke up at 5:00 the next morning to get ready for work and on a hunch I checked my email.  Not expecting to find any responses I was floored to find that EVERY person I had emailed had emailed me back.  Every person gave words of encouragement and employed me to keep moving forward one step at a time but to never stop moving forward.  

THIS is why I am so loyal to building a 
professional learning network (PLN) with Twitter.  

Since that day I have kept moving forward and have never looked back.   I still feel inadequate at times, but that doesn't get me down because I know that I can always turn to my Twitter PLN for the best ideas. My PLN is enthusiastic, entertaining, engaging, informative, and more than anything…supportive.  They also make me look incredibly smart…"How does she know so much?!"

Many Twitter chats exist now because of people like Shelly and Jerry who have stepped out of their comfort zones and started Twitter chats to support their specific areas of education.  Joyce Valenza, Gwyneth Jones, and the dynamic TL Virtual Cafe Team created #tlchat specifically for school librarians to share ideas, get encouragement and to find avenues of collaboration.  

Not sure where to find your Twitter group?  Jerry Blumengarten can help.  Click HERE to access Jerry's Google Doc listing Twitter chats by day and time.

Don't see a chat that suits your niche? Step out! Be bold! Create one! (Goal 7: Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone)

Not sure how to use Twitter?  Your district doesn't offer PD on Twitter? Your district blocks Twitter so why try?  

Stop making excuses! 

Stop waiting for someone to teach you how to do new things (Hello…there are YouTube Tutorials for almost anything) 

Stop waiting for permission!   

Don't let anything or anyone (even you) stop you from connecting, sharing, learning, and growing and bringing that information and enthusiasm back to your students!  


Sunday, December 22, 2013

11 Random Facts or I Blame Shelly Terrell

This post is different from my usual ones, because I’m participating in a blogging meme, in which you get to find out 11 facts about me, thanks to Shelly Terrell.  I shake my fist at her because I avoid these types of posts at all costs but will do anything Shelly asks because she is that important to me.  If you don't know Shelly and her Teacher Reboot Camp you are missing out.

The mission:
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s).
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Bloggers I Tag To Take The Challenge
(Please don't kill me for choosing you.Shelly started this.blame her.LOL!)

  1. Hannah Zarzour because she is an amazingly talented first year teacher.
  2. Cathy Jo Nelson because she inspires me.
  3. Laura Fleming because she has blown the doors of New Milford High School and inspired so many with her World of Learning flipped PD badge site.
  4. Jane Lofton because she is adorable and I think she is awesome.
  5. Sue Levine because her energy is contagious.
  6. Dhaivyd Hilgendorf because I met him at AASL 2013 and love his creativity.
  7. Rodney Turner because I can feel his enthusiasm through just a 140 characters.
  8. Elizabeth Hester because she is a "new" blogger and needs to share more of her brilliance with the rest of us.
  9. Linda Lindsay who freely shares great information with her PLN. I find some of my best ideas from her posts.
  10. Carmen Buchanan because she is a rock star administrator and EdCamp enthusiast.
  11. Melinda Sears because she makes me laugh.

11 Questions For Those Listed Above Who Are Brave Enough To Accept The Challenge

  1. What is a goal you hope to accomplish from your bucket list?
  2. What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2014?
  3. If you could host a reality TV show, what would it be about?
  4. What is your favorite quote?
  5. What is one of your personal theme songs?
  6. What are you incredibly proud of accomplishing?
  7. What was one of your favorite gifts?
  8. How have you dealt with a past failure?
  9. What is one piece of advice that has helped you throughout life?
  10. What is your happiest childhood memory?
  11. If you were to get a tattoo what would it be and why?
11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. My best ideas come to me around 2:00-3:00 in the morning.  
  2. Long naps especially when it's raining make me happy.
  3. I give to food banks and organizations that give toys to kids because I've had to rely on their services in the past.
  4. I once got vertigo while riding down a long, steep escalator in Atlanta and had to sit down and put my head between my legs so I wouldn't pass out.
  5. Watching my daughter be a mom to her son makes my heart swell.
  6. My sense of humor is dry, raw, uncouth and similar to that of a 7th grade boy.
  7. Questioning, examining, learning, exploring are some of my favorite things.
  8. I was a single teen welfare mom with twins.
  9. Quotes help me express how I feel.
  10. Reading books or watching movies about animals is something I avoid.  I can deal with people getting hurt or killed but if anything remotely comes close to hurting an animal I feel broken inside.
  11. Meeting Shelly Terrell was one of the highlights of my life.

Shelly's 11 Questions for me to answer:
  1. What is a goal you hope to accomplish from your bucket list?                                                                          I'd love to explore the Mediterranean on a Windjammer.      
  2. What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2014?                                                                         One goal I hope to accomplish in 2014 is saving enough money to visit my daughter in Kansas when she gives birth to my first granddaughter. 
  3. If you could host a reality TV show, what would it be about?                                                         If I could host a reality TV show I would like for it to focus on super librarians like Joyce Valenza, Sherry Gick, Matthew Winner, Andy Plemmons, Cathy Jo NelsonShannon Miller, Jennifer Lagarde, Gwyneth Jones, and so many others to help shine a light on the critical importance of school librarians to student success.    
  4. How do you blow off steam?                                                                                                           I don't really have a need to blow off steam.  I have learned that getting to the point where you need to blow off steam isn't good.  I prefer to deal with issues head on and then leave it there.  Caring around negative energy is exhausting and I don't have time for anything that is not positive.   
  5. What is one of your personal theme songs?                                                                                     I have my weekday alarm set to wake me up to the song, I Hope by the Dixie Chicks.  I love that I wake up to a message of hope.    
  6. What are you incredibly proud of accomplishing?                                                                           I am incredibly proud of building an amazingly supportive, intelligent, energetic professional learning network (PLN).    
  7. What was one of your favorite gifts?                                                                                               One of my favorite gifts to receive or give is the gift of kindness.  Kind words. Kind acts.  The sharing of positive energy.    
  8. How have you dealt with a past failure?                                                                                            Failure is a perception.  I choose to look for opportunities in what others may see as failure.  I have learned that failing as one thing simply opens up a door to a new opportunity you would have never known of if you had succeeded elsewhere.       

  9. What is one piece of advice that has helped you throughout life?                                                         It's not about you (me).  In other words, when someone treats you poorly it is often because of negative energy they are carrying around that has nothing to do with you but is unfortunately spewed in your direction.  Be kind. but not a doormat.    
  10. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?                                                                       My favorite toy when I was a child was books.  Lots and lots of books.  It was my safe place in a not safe home.
  11. What’s your favorite piece of art?                                                                                                           My favorite piece of art is a piece created by my friend Ed Hose for me and my fiancee. She conducted an interview over several hours and then created a unique piece that includes aspects unique to our life together.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This Week In The Library@HHS December 9-13, 2013


Hour of Code:

Hoover High School challenged students to join thousands of other students around the nation to join in The Hour of Code.  The Library@HHS assigned The Hour of Code Challenge to our student library aides for extra credit points.  Using Edmodo we sent our student aides instructions and the link to get started with their Hour of Code.  

Here is an example of a student's completed Hour of Code assignment:

117 Air Refueling Wing Mentors:

The 117th Air Refueling Wing/Hoover High School Mentor Program was developed by Dr. DebbieGrant to meet the needs of those 9th graders who are considered to be high-risk academically, socially and emotionally. The program pairs a mentor with a student and provides the student with a “fresh” adult perspective on their school and home life. The mentors keep in touch with students via email and see them two times each month during their advisory period.  The Library@HHS is proud to provide a place for this program to meet. 

Free Library:

Mrs. Crystal Camp found an old discarded box and had the great idea to re purpose it as a Free Library. Stay tuned to see the transformation.

Vann & Hollis:

The Library@HHS loves Mondays because that is the day we get to see Ms. Hollis & Ms. Vann's classes. This Monday we made hot chocolate for the students to enjoy as they watch the reading of The Polar Express via Barnes & Noble Online Storytime and using our iPad and Apple TV.  After the reading we discussed the various elements of the story and how the story related to the students personally.


Final Exams:

Final exams at Hoover High School are December 17-20, 2013.  The Library@HHS has been filled with students studying for their exams.  We are so proud of all our students and know they will do great on their exams next week!




Exam Cram Survival Kit:

The librarians at The Library@HHS love their student library aides!  Because we know how stressful final exam time can be we put together a little Exam Cram Survival Kit for our students.  

For The Holidays:

Two big boxes of new books arrived this week just in time for the holidays!  The Library@HHS quickly set up a great holiday display and used Canva to create a sign encouraging students to take a book home for the holidays.


Professional Learning:

Spurred on by Ms. Isabeth Gannon, English Teacher extraordinaire, the 3rd period English PLC meet in the library to learn about Google Drive, Doctopus and Goobric.  It was exciting to have Ms. Hannah Zarzour, 1st year teacher and Hoover High School graduate, teach this PD session.


Watch the Google Hangout Recording of this PD session below:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Google Drive, Doctopus, & Goobric PD Session

The 3rd period English PLC had the wonderful opportunity of learning about Google Drive, Doctopus, and Goobric from one of their very own, Hannah Zarzour.  Hannah is a first year teacher at Hoover High School and a Hoover High graduate.  She is an amazing new teacher and we are fortunate that she is willing to share all of her great teaching tricks with the rest of us.

Have 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 haggle 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!

Watch this Google Hangout tutorial by Hannah Zarzour or click HERE to access written directions to learn more.  I have also pinned more great tutorials for this on my "All Things Google" Pinterest Board HERE.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

EduBlog Awards Finalist

I am excited to share some great news with my PLN.  My blog and three TL collaborative projects have made the short list of nominee finalists in six categories for the EduBlog Awards (http://edublogawards.com). I would greatly appreciate your support and votes. Even if you don't vote for me, please checkout the amazing educators in each EduBlog category and vote for your favorites. Voting ends this Wednesday, December 11, 2013.

Here is a list of the categories I am part of:

Best Library/Librarian Blog: The True Adventures of a High School Librarian 

Best Twitter Hashtag: #tlchat

Best podcast or Google Hangout for Educators: TL Virtual Cafe- TL News Night

Best Use of Videos and Media in Education in 2013: TL Virtual Cafe- TL News Night

Best Open PD / Webinar/ Unconference Series: TL Virtual Cafe- home 

Best Use of Wikis in Education: (vote for both)

TL Chat - home (TL News Night)

TL Virtual Cafe - home

Thank you & happy voting!

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Week in The Library@HHS December 2-5, 2013

Monthly Report:

Each month Mrs. Crystal Camp sends the administration an update of the happenings in The Library@HHS.   Here is the run down from November created on December 2, 2013:

·         Mrs. Latta printed 75 color posters for faculty and staff, and she created a several books displays throughout the library.
·         Mrs. Robertson presented at three conferences:  The AEA Minority Leadership Conference, The Georgia Educational Technology Conference, and the AASL National Conference.
·         Mrs. Robertson created an interactive bulletin board that allowed students and teachers to post comments in response to the question, “What are You Thankful for?
·         Mrs. Robertson collaborated with Ms. Zarzour (Doctopus & Goobric) and Mrs. Ort (Google Maps).
·         Mrs. Camp examined the library’s AV collection to remove VHS tapes that had not circulated within the past 5 years.  Approximately 1140 VHS tapes were removed.
·         Mrs. Camp worked with parent volunteers to start inventorying sections of the library.
·         Mrs. Michaels entered 46 work orders for broken iPads and helped set up 31 new devices.
·         117 calendar reservations were made in November.
·         Approximately 3150 students visited the library with individual hall passes in November.


There are lots of methods librarians use to encourage reading.  One of my favorite is creating book displays. Mrs. Dana Latta is an expert when it comes to designing displays and making the library look beautiful and inviting.

Thanks to Joyce Valenza and the TL Virtual Cafe SmackDown this past Monday night, I learned about Canva and made some great posters for The Library@HHS.

Electronic Signage:

We are so thrilled about our new electronic signage.  This week I added a quote of the day into the calendar rotation.


Vann & Hollis
Each Monday during 6th period Ms. Vann & Ms. Hollis' students come to the library for story time.  Mrs. Camp read The Night Before Christmas and students made reindeer.

Ms. Robertson taught Ms. Gannon's classes how to use Google Drive for writing their research papers.  By using Google Drive, Ms. Gannon can watch students write their papers in real time as well as access their documents anytime to see their progress.  One thing I like to do when teaching classes is to record my presentation with Google Hangouts.  I then email the link to the recording to the teacher so they can post the link to their learning management system (Edmodo, Moodle, website, etc.) so that student who are absent don't miss the lesson.  It is also great for those students who might have forgot an step or two in the process.  They can watch the lesson again and get right back on track.


Our wonderful and generous PTSO provided the library with outdoor furniture for our outdoor learning space.  Now we can actually use this space for classes.  Teachers are already talking of using the space to grade papers and work on lesson plans.  Everyone is excited about this new space.

Inventory & Parent Volunteers:

The Library@HHS has the BEST parent volunteers EVER!  This week our parent volunteers helped us with inventory.  Thank you!