Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020...A New Decade to Connect, Share, Learn, Grow Together!

Like many as we leave one year and move onto the next, the promise of new things to come is just around the corner. This year we don't just usher in a new year but a new decade making the reflection process common for this time of year especially poignant. 

In the last decade, I welcomed to the world three amazing grandchildren and four fur babies (I miss you Oliver kitty), met the love of my life and got married, made some of my best friends on social media and collaborated on some incredible projects, wrote a book, retired, turned fifty, relocated to a new state, served a year as the ISTE Librarians Network President, started a new career, became a Ph.D. student, and bought a house.

Being a school librarian is the very essence of who I have been but it is and has always been the technology part of being a school librarian that has sustained my interest and propelled me forward. This is why I fully support organizations like the Future Ready Librarians and the ISTE Librarians Network who understand the vital role school librarians wield when they work as and in unison with educational technology leaders. 

In 2019 my lifelong love of technology came to a crescendo with my new career as a leader in digital learning and the pursuit of a doctorate degree with an emphasis on educational technology. 

As 2020 dawns I dedicate this next decade to the integration of technology, learning, and school librarianship. 

Cheers to a new decade of opportunities to connect, share, learn and grow together!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Have You Heard About . . . ClassroomQ?

Recently while looking for a student response system I came across ClassroomQ and was blown away.

ClassroomQ is a powerful classroom management tool for a 1:1 environment that was created by two teachers. Students who have questions can ask them without interrupting the lesson or without bringing the attention of the whole class on them. Teachers can see who needs assistance and what questions students have in a compact easy to use format.

There are no fancy bells and whistles with ClassroomQ. Just a simple, streamlined, intuitive interface for both teachers and students.

Jess, a middle school math teacher wrote a great blog post about using ClassroomQ with her students and included student feedback about using this tool. Take a look below at Jess' ClassroomQ teacher dashboard to get a better idea of how this tool works.

The students' point of view is simple and easy to use.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Have You Heard About . . . Wakelet?

I began hearing buzz about Wakelet from my PLN (Professional Learning Network) at ISTE 2018 in Chicago but I didn't really pay much attention to Wakelet, as I thought it was just another bookmarking tool. Then it appeared on the prestigious AASLs 2019 Best Websites list and I had to take a closer look. 

Wakelet is so much more than a mere bookmarking tool! Wakelet goes so far beyond bookmarking websites integrating the ability to not only save and organize important URLs but also tweets, images, PDF documents, and so much more!

I have been using Wakelet at work to provide easily accessible resources for workshop attendees and personally as I gather resources for my doctoral courses. Sharing a Wakelet is easy as there are a variety of share options available including Google Classroom.

While preparing for an upcoming workshop I was looking for a collaborative online tool where attendees could respond to a prompt in realtime and see the responses of others. To my surprise, Wakelet turned up in my search results and makes it super easy to collaborate.

Want to learn more about how to harness the magic of Wakelet for your classroom or school library? Check out this incredible Wakelet presented at ISTE 2019 in Philadelphia by my friend Kristina Holzweiss and friends. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

When Lessons About Digital Citizenship, Online Safety, & Cyberbullying Fall Short

Recently I came across the following articles that made me stop and reflect on how we as school librarians and educators teach and address issues with digital citizenship, online safety, and cyberbullying with our students, yet fall short of the most insidious influences to which our children are increasingly falling prey.

Dvorak, Petula. “Perspective | White Supremacists Are Recruiting White Teens Online. Parents Must Stop Them.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Aug. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/local/white-supremacists-are-recruiting-white-teens-online-parents-must-stop-them/2019/08/15/5169c192-bf69-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html.

Gibson, Caitlin. “'Do You Have White Teenage Sons? Listen up.' How White Supremacists Are Recruiting Boys Online.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Sept. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/do-you-have-white-teenage-sons-listen-up-how-white-supremacists-are-recruiting-boys-online/2019/09/17/f081e806-d3d5-11e9-9343-40db57cf6abd_story.html.
Written by Anonymous | Published on May 5, 2. (2019, May 14). What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonian.com/2019/05/05/what-happened-after-my-13-year-old-son-joined-the-alt-right/

These three articles recount the ways in which extremist groups are targeting vulnerable kids, playing on their frustrations and feelings of isolation to gradually grooming them by providing online acceptance, building friendships based on common topics of anger, and desensitizing through gradually more and more exposure to extremist memes and other tactics. When the kid being groomed by these extremist groups, specifically white supremacists, is already dealing with emotional instability the end result can sadly continue to add to the staggering statistics of “white men (and boys) committing more mass shooting than any other group” (Kruzel, 2017).

One platform popular with extremist groups are sites like Reddit, specifically the use of memes, and multiplayer online games. The use of images to desensitize people to racist views is not new. Disney, Warner Brothers, and Dr. Seuss are among some of the most well-known creators of cringe-worthy examples of conditioning deep discrimination and hatred towards particular groups of people through images and film.

I don’t have the answers to how we start addressing these issues in our schools and libraries, but I do know that we need to start having some serious conversations. Our children's lives are literally at stake.


Anonymous | Published on May 5, 2. (2019, May 14). What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son    

Disney's Big Bad Wolf was dressed as a Jewish peddler stereotype (video). (n.d.). Retrieved from

Dvorak, Petula. “Perspective | White Supremacists Are Recruiting White Teens Online. Parents Must      Stop Them.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Aug. 2019,

Gibson, Caitlin. “'Do You Have White Teenage Sons? Listen up.' How White Supremacists Are    
     Recruiting Boys Online.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Sept. 2019,

Kamenetz, A. (2018, November 05). Right-Wing Hate Groups Are Recruiting Video Gamers.
     Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/11/05/660642531/right-wing-hate-groups-are-recruiting-

Kruzel, J. (2017, October 06). Do white males account for a majority of mass shootings? Newsweek
     Weekly. Retrieved from 

McCann, E. (n.d.). Horribly Racist Moments From Looney Tunes You Missed Growing Up.    

Seuss, Dr. (1941). Adolf the Wolf. PM Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.snopes.com/fact-
Strom, A. (2019, September 25). Understanding Dr. Seuss' Depictions of the 'Other' in his Political
     Cartoons - Re-imagining Migration. Retrieved from https://reimaginingmigration.org/dr-seuss-

Zara, C. (2019, April 20). Columbine 20 years later: This map shows every school shooting since.
     Retrieved from 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Follett Webinar Recap: Fighting Back: Making the Case for a Certified Librarian

*Cross-post with Follett

Recently I had the pleasure of partnering with Follett and John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, to present a timely and relevant webinar, Fighting Back: Making the Case for a Certified Librarian. In the weeks leading up to the webinar, Follett sent out a survey to registered participants to elicit questions they would like addressed in the overarching theme of library advocacy. Based on response data three main areas of focus were, Making the Case, Writing the Plan, and Annual Report, followed by some ProTips and Q&A.

Making the Case

An overwhelming hurdle for school librarians is being able to effectively disseminate the critically vital impact a full time certified library media specialist has on student outcomes. The American Association of School Librarians created a research-based, fact-filled, yet easily digestible infographic titled, Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students, that can be shared with your principals and superintendent as well as providing talking points when the worth of your position is called into question. For a deeper dive into the research, you can turn to the Phi Delta Kappan journal article, Why school libraries matter: What years of research tell us.

Data, however, doesn’t hold much water if there is no tangible action from the librarians within schools and districts backing it up. Often times we, certified librarians, shoot ourselves (and subsequently others) in the foot as one registered participant stated in the pre-webinar survey, “Past certified librarians became lackadaisical near retirement giving a bad name to the rest of us. Their replacements are all paraprofessionals. How do you suggest approaching key decisionmakers about this dilemma?”

Writing the Plan

Advocating for your school library goes beyond just vocalizing your concerns, needs, wants, and “should be”. A thoughtful and thorough plan needs to be written up that includes a specific cause or goal supported with data that clearly connects the dots back to student outcomes. The “who” needs to be clearly defined as well so that your message will resonate with the critical needs of the stakeholder your advocacy is addressing. If designing this message for the administration, focus on how your cause or goal supports the school mission, vision, and values, how it ties to student outcomes and addresses those issues that keep your administrators up at night. Additionally, have a viable action plan for implementation.

Annual Reports

Annual reports are a bit different from your written plan but can and should draw from it. An annual report tells the story of the library, specifically how the work you do makes a difference and is connected to positive student outcomes with data to back it up. Jennifer LaGarde’s post, It’s Annual Report Season! Here Are Some Tips To Help You Effectively Tell Your Story, provides a detailed framework on how best to approach the creation and delivery of an Annual Report. Key components of Jennifer’s post include identifying your target audience, including student data as opposed to circulation data, tell a story, share both qualitative and quantitative data to diversify the information shared, start early gathering information throughout the school year, ensure that the Annual Plan is easily digestible and respects the time of your target audience, let the Annual Report be a mirror on the work you do, and learn from others. Jennifer has also included an open-source Google Doc where you can view a wide variety of Annual Reports created by school librarians across the country.

Don’t wait until the end of the year and Annual Report time to share the story of your library. It is also helpful to harness the power of social media to share the story of how the school library is impacting student learning and teacher effectiveness each day throughout the year. Social media is also convenient storage of the stories you will later share in your Annual Report. In my book, Connected Librarians: Tap Social Media to Enhance Professional Development and Student Learning, my own personal journey and concrete examples of how social media can tell your story, build connections, provide rich professional development, and connect your school with the world for global collaboration and real-world connections. It also helps make the case for social media if your administration is hesitant.


Dr. Laura Sheneman, founder of the Librarian Influencers website and the Librarians Influencers Podcast, provides a free How-to Guide Elevator Talk Worksheet to accompany the blog post, Create an Elevator Speech You Can Recycle Many Ways. A ready to use elevator speech helps let others who inquire what you do as a librarian and why what you do matters. Laura guides you through examining the Common Beliefs of the AASL Standards, your school and district vision and mission statements, digging deep into core values, and development of a memorable tagline. Laura even provides example elevator talks for situations such as a school open house, a school board meeting, or being interviewed by a local radio or television station. I often find myself in need of an elevator pitch when meeting new people just in general social situations in my private life who often espouse they are surprised there is a need for librarians now that schools have computers.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to advocate for school libraries is to conduct your library services in such a way that administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community members can’t possibly imagine the school functioning effectively without you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

UPDATED! 5 Tips for New School Librarians (and those who aren't so new)

Congratulations on your new job as a school librarian! It is hands down the absolutely best job...EVER! Below are 5 tips to help you as you enter this new chapter of your life.


Being a school librarian can be a shockingly isolating profession, especially after having formed tight, supportive networks while you were a classroom teacher. As a school librarian you are in a sort of no man’s land. You aren’t part of the teacher peer group, you aren’t part of the administrative peer group. Often, you are the only person in your school that works in and understands what it takes to run an active, engaging, supportive library. Many school districts, unfortunately, often perpetuate this isolation by not allowing time for district librarians to meet and plan collaboratively which only exacerbates the isolation.

Find Your People

Don’t wait around for your district to connect you. Reach out to the other librarians in your district and find out what you have in common. Maybe your children both play softball, go to gymnastics, or dance class. Perhaps you could set up play dates, or other social interactions to get together outside the school day. My favorite since my children are grown and out of the house is to set up weekend brunch/lunch meetings or after school dinner meetings. Talk, have fun, swap ideas and plan. Plus, it’s fun to have time away with friends who really get each other. Don’t stop there. Connecting with librarians outside of your school, district, state, and country brings a unique worldview into your library program and enriches student learning.

Where To Find Your People


Twitter is one of the best places you can go to connect, share, learn and grow with other school librarians and connected educators. Twitter is how I went from being a burned out educator to feeling like I never want to do anything else but teach. Teaching before Twitter was lonely, frustrating, and boring. Teaching with Twitter is energizing, invigorating, fun, creative, and I never want to get off this ride of bringing awesome learning opportunities to my students and teachers.

There are a few secrets to truly harnessing the power of Twitter. 

  • Hashtags: By following, commenting, sharing, and connecting using hashtags you will maximize your own professional learning. 
    • Three hashtags I’d recommend for school librarians are:
      • #TxLChat
      • #TLChat
      • #FutureReadyLibs
      • #ISTELib
Don’t limit yourself to just these hashtags. Make sure to connect using state education hashtags, makerspace hashtags, and educational technology hashtags as well.

  • Twitter Chats: Twitter chats are the scheduled conversations, usually in a Q/A format lead by a moderator or moderators that take place on a weekly or monthly basis. My go-to source for finding the dates and times of educational Twitter Chats is Cybraryman’s Educational Hashtags.


Facebook is a great place to join groups. A few of my favorite Facebook Groups include:

Professional Development Resources for School Librarians

Below are a few professional development resources where you can find your people and have official professional development at the same time.


When I first started becoming a connected educator I thought it was going to be great. Little did I understand the feelings of inadequacy that would envelop me as I connected with and learned about all the amazing things other educators around the country (and the world) were doing in their schools. I became overwhelmed and felt as if there was no way I could possibly even come close to being as good as the rock star educators I was learning from.

Be your own rock star

Early in my career as a school librarian I attended a BER seminar featuring Judy Freeman. Judy played an instrument, sang songs, and shared lesson ideas. Instead of focusing on the lesson ideas I got taken away in the need to play an instrument and sing! This is absolutely insane because I have never played an instrument and can’t carry a tune to save my life. I also have no rhythm and can completely relate to Steve Martin’s character in the movie, The Jerk, when he has no rhythm. Eventually, Steve’s character finds his own personal rhythm and is ready to take on the world.

The first lesson I had to learn was to deeply reflect and find what it was that I could bring to my profession that was uniquely me, my passion, the thing that made my feet tap, my fingers snap and my heart sing. I had to learn to stop comparing myself to this rock star librarian or that superstar teacher. Rather, I should absorb all I could from those I connected with and then see how I could tweak what I had learned to fit my own personal beat.

What makes a rockstar or superstar educator isn’t their ability to sing, play an instrument, be a graphic design genius, the ability to build their own apps, or anything else. It is their willingness to completely step outside of their comfort zone and try something new (without being forced by a school initiative), and their willingness to connect, share, learn and grow with others.

It’s Not About YOU

So many times when I talk with other school librarians or educators about new ideas I hear, “But I don’t like ______”. My question in response is, “Have you asked your students what they want”?

As educators, it is easy to get set in our ways. It’s nice to feel like an expert in your space and anything that might change that paradigm can throw our whole world spinning into chaos, or at least that’s how it can feel.

The library is a service industry. You are there to serve the needs of your administration, teachers, and students, not your own agenda. Whether you are an elementary, middle or high school librarian, whether you work with a fixed or flex schedule, setting the right tone for the library in which all voices are heard is crucial to a successful, happy library.

Empower Teacher Voice

I’ll never forget when Jennifer LaGarde, Elissa Malespina, (both mentors to me), and I had all started new jobs the same year. We connected each morning and afternoon via Voxer to offer emotional support on tough days and to celebrate great days. One idea Jennifer shared with us was a quick, easy, low tech, beginning of the year activity to set the tone for the school year as to what she could bring to the table at her new school. She asked one question to which teachers responded on post it notes: What would it take to make you see bringing students to the library as a good use of your instructional time?

Jennifer didn’t stop there. Those notes weren’t put in file 13 (trash can) after the teachers left. Rather, Jennifer reviewed each response thoughtfully and then set a plan into motion for the school year that would let her staff know that she not only heard but valued their input.

Empower Student Voice

When I think of the words, empower student voice, it immediately brings to mind Andy Plemmons, elementary school librarian at Barrow Elementary School in Georgia. Andy continuously celebrates student voice with his use of FlipGrid, and connecting his library and teacher’s classes with other schools through video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype and Google Meet. One particular project where Andy empowers student voice is in the selection of books for the school library. A student book budget committee was formed under Andy’s guidance. This group “created a survey, surveyed the school, analyzed the results, set goals, met with vendors, compiled wish lists, cut lists to match the budget, and helped order the books”. The empowerment didn’t end with the ordering of the books. The learning and involvement continued once the books arrived with students “applying the barcode, spine labels, and label protectors, checking books off of the packing slip, and stamp them with the library stamp”. You can read more about Andy Plemmons and the Book Budget Committee here: https://expectmiraculous.com/2016/01/12/the-student-book-budget-books-have-arrived/

What I loved most about this particular activity from Andy were the real life connections that students saw in relation to their futures and future employment opportunities. Andy Plemmons always does an excellent job of helping students make real life, authentic learning connections.

Tell Your Story

Budget and personnel for school libraries are continuously targeted as schools grapple with declining budgets. In 2010 Shonda Brisco created a collaborative Google Map, A Nation Without School Libraries, so that librarians around the globe could document cuts to school libraries.

We as school librarians need to change this narrative. Instead of simply documenting the decline of school libraries our efforts would be better spent through celebrating the incredible learning that takes place in our libraries every single day. In fact, it is imperative to our very survival that we tell our stories so that when budget crunches come, and they will, the very thought of not having a school library with at least one certified school librarian would be unthinkable.

Social Media

Harnessing the power of social media is one very important medium we as school librarians can use to tell our stories. Personally, I use the following social media sites in this way:
  • Facebook = Parents & Grandparents
  • Twitter = Professional/Educational Connections
  • Instagram = Tweens, Teens, some parents
  • SnapChat = Tweens & Teens
Posting information to this many different sites can seem taxing but can be simplified and streamlined with a few helpful social media tools. Instagram gives you a choice to also post to Facebook and Twitter. Thus, you have killed three birds with one stone.

SnapChat is a beast all its own, but I usually take all of my pictures and short (10 second or less) videos using SnapChat. I then share each picture and/or video in the form of a daily “story”. Additionally, I save each picture and/or video to my phone’s camera roll so that I can then share this information out via other social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I like to think of SnapChat (and other social media sites) as a way to not only advertise new books or library events, but a place to celebrate students, teachers, and all the wonderful things that are happening in and around the library.

Here are a few ways to use SnapChat in your library:
  • Promote new books
  • Advertise library promotions
    • Poem In Your Pocket
    • Banned Books
  • Spotlight new robots, art supplies, Legos, etc in the MakerSpace
  • Showcase student talent
    • music mixing in the MakerSpace
    • impromptu singing
  • Celebrate great co teaching lessons
    • Breakout EDU
    • Digital Portfolios
  • Let followers know what is printing today on the 3D Printer
  • Selfies, groupies, and SnapChat filters!

Really, taking Snaps of everything from a welcome message in the morning, "We are open and ready for business" to and evening snap, "Thanks for the most amazing day!" with pictures of the day throughout lets the world (and your admin) see just how busy and vitale the school library is to the whole school.

While the number of social media options can seem to be too many, overwhelming and cumbersome, we as school librarians need to make the time to celebrate our libraries, students, and teachers and all the great library connects made. Using the various forms of social media meets viewers where they are, not where we necessarily want to be. Remember….it’s not about you.

Virtual Hallway

When I left the library and became an Instructional Technology Facilitator/Coach in an elementary school my teachers were concerned that they couldn’t hang student work out in the hallway as the work they were doing was in a digital format.

To solve this problem I used the website builder, Weebly, to create a virtual hallway where student work like iMovies, Google Slide presentations, Scratch coding games, student created ebooks, and more could be displayed for parents to view.

I actually think we need to be doing something like this not just for student work in digital format but all student work. I see a virtual hallway as the first introductions to building individual student digital portfolios.

Daniel Whitt, the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Madison City Schools, has created a wonderful video detailing the importance of student digital portfolios (see below) and has also made all of his resources open source via Google Drive.


I love reading other librarian and educator posts on social media about what they are doing in their libraries, but these quick images with a 140 character explanation often leave me wanting more information so that I can implement similar things in my school. Social media avenues like Facebook groups, Twitter posts, Instagram updates and SnapChat all get lost in the stream. Trying to go back and find that “great idea” is often an impossible task as searching on these sites isn’t the most intuitive or productive. Blogging in more detail about the thing you are sharing on social media helps out your fellow librarian community.

One of the most unselfish acts we can do for our students, teachers, parents and fellow educators is to tell our story beyond the social media sound bites. I can’t even begin to express the gratitude I feel towards educators like Andy Plemmons, Gwyneth Jones, Joyce Valenza, Tiffany Whitehead, Elissa Malespina, Jennifer Lagarde and so many more that take the time to blog and share their experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In addition to the assistance your blog posts bring to others, blogging is also a great way for you to continuously reflect on your own professional development and learning. For some reason, once we finish our student teaching or internship and get our own classroom or library we stop reflecting on our professional practice. Honest reflection of our own practice should be the driving factor behind writing a blog, not whether anyone will ever read your blog. It is also a great way to go back each year to remind yourself of what you did when with what teacher and or grade level.

One year I made it a point to write a blog post outlining what had happened in the library that week. Often I would sit down to write and think, “Geez. I don’t think we really did much to write about this week”. Then I would look back through the calendar and realize I had severely underestimated what we had accomplished. In fact, sometimes detailing everything simply became an overwhelming task and I would have to pick and choose what activities to bring to life with more detail. As in the video, Obvious To You Amazing To Others (see below) we are clearly bad judges of our own abilities.

Be Fearless

Be fearless even if you are trembling on the inside. Be the one who demonstrates that it is ok to not know something but be willing to learn, fail, and start again. Two years ago I finally found an innovative school that not only wanted but supported the innovative projects I wanted to bring to the school; specifically MakerSpaces and genrefication of the book collection.

Although I had never done either I threw myself into the work, relying heavily on blog posts my PLN had written on the topics and reaching out to my PLN for advice. I ordered a 3D Printer even though I knew nothing about them. When students asked me to get Raspberry Pi for the MakerSpace I said, “Sure! That sounds delicious! '' During one particular Hour of Code I was shaking in my boots when the CyberSecurity teacher signed her students up to participate. I had no idea what I could possibly show them about coding that these student experts didn’t already know, but I put on a brave face and went for it. I choose to use the activity where students built their own avatar using HTML, JAVA Script, and CSS. Guess what?! We all learned something new and had a great time learning together.

We need to model for both our students and our teachers the willingness to not know everything and the need to not control everything. My basic mode of operation was to let the students show me what to do with new MakerSpace equipment. This built a sense of pride and student ownership of the MakerSpace. It wasn’t my MakerSpace, it was theirs.

Genrefying the fiction collection in the library was also something I tasked my high school students to do. I let them decide the genres, separate the books into genre stacks, label the books, arrange the books on the shelves and make the necessary changes to the library automation system. Again, ownership was student centered.

I also like to think of our job as school librarians as matchmakers. Teachers are so busy with lesson planning, grading, wrangling kids, meeting, and their personal lives that there is little time for making valuable connections for collaboration. Since we as school librarians know all the teachers in the school and what they are teaching it is easy for us to connect teachers who are teaching similar content for in house collaborative opportunities.

We also need to assist our teachers with expanding collaboration beyond the school building to forge authentic real world learning opportunities with others across the country and around the world using video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, and Skype. Events like Read Across America, World Read Aloud Day, Andy Plemmons Picture Book Smackdown, Elissa Malespina’s virtual debates, Stony Evans’ #StonyStories empowering students to be in house PD and national presenters, National Poetry Month/Poem in Your Pocket Day, Mystery Skype, and so many more events can be made exponentially better by connecting with other schools celebrating or doing the same things.

Part of being fearless is stepping out and trying new things even if you have never tried them before. The willingness to learn and put yourself out there even if failure ensues (and it will) is the most fearless thing you can do!

Other resources for new librarians:

Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019 ISTE Reflection: Amplifying Learning

The deluge of stimuli at ISTE is overwhelming even for a veteran like myself. There isn’t a minute of the day (or night) when there isn’t something in which to immerse yourself. For me, ISTE is the ultimate professional development conference to catch up on the latest in EdTech, collaborate with old and new friends, and to spend time with my people.

ISTE is a conference from which you will emerge seeped in a wealth of knowledge even if you never make it to even one of the 1811 sessions. My favorite learning opportunity every year is the Librarians Network Playground. The Playground provides learners with 44 different walk up sessions in the span of just 3.5 hours. The thing I love most about the Playground is the ability to access information in an informal way that lends itself to a more personalized experience.

One session that blew my mind was, Cellverse: Virtual Reality for Cellular Biology. MIT Step Labs introduced their new virtual reality learning projects through CLEVR: Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality. CLEVR allows students to examine a cell from the inside with a 360 degree view. Along their journey in the cell assignments and guides pop up on clipboards. Taking this learning experience one step further, CLEVR also pairs these journey in the cell with lessons based around specific diseases like cystic fibrosis so that students can see the variations in cells from one disease to the other. This experience brings a much deeper and longer lasting understanding of cells than a labeled cell cake!

If you have never attended a session presented by the Justice League of EdTech Superheroes, Adam Bellow, Colleen Graves, Sherry Gick, Steve Dembo, Nicholas Provenzano, Michael Medvinsky, and friends set up a Google alert now on where to find their next presentation. Last year they presented their favorite new edtech through a Let’s Make a Deal style presentation. This year attendees were treated to a Battle of the EdTech Stars. Audience member participation determined whether the edtech presented by the Red Team or the Blue Team won each battle round. Attendees were also treated to free subscriptions or the actual product for playing the game.

The ISTE Librarians Network Breakfast Keynote was perhaps the highlight of my learning experience at ISTE this year, as it always is. The ISTE Librarians Network has a strong history of securing dynamic Keynote speakers and this year was particularly amazing. As an ardent advocate for student voice I knew that, as ISTE Librarians Network President, I had to get Olivia Van Ledtje (@TheLivBits) and her mother Cynthia Merrill to be the 2019 Keynote speakers. Liv and her mother shared their personal experiences and journey through harnessing the power of social media for empowering students to claim and share their stories. To learn more about their message and how you can start empowering student voice in your school be sure to check out Liv and Cynthia’s new book, Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World.

These are just four sessions I was able to participate in while at ISTE this year. I have spent a good portion of the two days since returning from ISTE going through the program and collecting resources from sessions I attended as well as those I was interested in attending but simply couldn’t fit in my schedule. So far I have curated 32 resources that I want to go back and examine closer.

The best thing about ISTE is that the learning continues all year long through the webinars and interactive communities provided by each of the ISTE Networks. I’d encourage you to check out the ISTE Librarians Network website for news, updates, and upcoming webinars as well as checking out past webinars. Be sure to also connect with the ISTE Librarians Network on Facebook and Twitter.

Works Cited

3:16, Everything Fondant! “Making an Animal Cell Model Using Cake & Fondant! Great for
     School Science Projects!” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Feb. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?

“CLEVR: Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality.” MIT Scheller Teacher Education 
     Program, 26 June 2019, education.mit.edu/project/clevr/.

“EdTech Conference | Philadelphia, June 23-26.” ISTE19, 

“EdTech Conference | Philadelphia, June 23-26.” ISTE19, 

“ISTE 2019 Digital Toolbox Links.” Google Sheets, Google, 

“ISTE Librarians Network.” ISTE Librarians Network, librariansnetwork.weebly.com/.

“ISTE Librarians Network.” ISTE Librarians Network Public Group, 

“Librarians Network.” Librarians Network - ISTE Connect, 

“The LivBits.” The LivBits, www.thelivbits.com/.

PLN, ISTE Librarians. “ISTE Librarians PLN (@Istelib).” Twitter, Twitter, 13 June 2019, 

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