Category Archives: Communications

Skype author visit

Gail Giles, a YA author that has appeal to guys, girls, high and low level readers, Skyped into Collins Hill HS a few weeks ago. I was a nervous wreck, anticipating the many things that could go wrong when you combine teenagers, technology, and the first attempt at something new. However, it was a resounding success! Gail Giles was witty and fun, and our students did a wonderful job asking questions and keeping the conversation going. If you want to see the highlights, see our short video here. If you want more details, keep reading…

Amy Golemme, my co-media specialist, and I brainstormed authors that would have mass appeal. Gail Giles was our first thought, so I took a shot in the dark and emailed her. She emailed back quickly and we got the details planned out – one test session a few days before, then 2 sessions during our 2nd and 3rd periods. We decided to use the media center to keep it cozy and inviting, rather than a larger space like the commons area or theater. I made signs for the hallways and classrooms and the media center. I went into all the 9th and 10th grade LA classes to promote it. Students that wanted to participate had to read at least one of her books, answer a few questions, and write a few questions they’d like to ask her. For those students, I gave them a pass out of class during 2nd or 3rd period and they were our VIPs. I also invited two language arts classes per session and any media specialists from the around the county that could come.

In Gwinnett, we aren’t allowed to use Skype, but we do have an alternative – Polycom and the Blue Jeans network. We use those tools and the author uses Skype. Kevin Tomlinson from the county was excellent technical support for us and helped put my technology fears to rest. On the day of the event, we set up about 80 chairs in the media center, created VIP seats, put out a breakfast spread, set up the technology, and hoped for the best! Gail came on, introduced herself, and then we had the students come up to the computer to ask questions. We had a webcam and external mic hooked up to my laptop. The students asked good questions, and Gail was entertaining, funny, and informative. When I polled the students after the event, they all said they had a positive experience and many expressed interest in doing it again. One student even turned in a top ten list of authors she’d like to Skype with!

If you have any questions or want templates for signs, the handout students filled out, or any other details, don’t hestitate to email me at or call at 770.682.4126. It was a lot of work, but a great experience for us and for the students.

Holly Frilot, Collins Hill High School

Update: GLMA Advocacy Report

We just completed a great GLMA Summer Institute at Callaway Gardens yesterday; thanks to Susan Grigsby for coordinating it all and to everyone who presented (or helped with the logistics).

During the Institute, Judy Serritella, Coordinator of Library Media Services for the Georgia DOE, gave an update on GALILEO funding. THANKS to your efforts (with those of the public and academic librarians in the state) not only was the funding maintained for this year, but some additional monies were added. ProQuest agreed to reinstate SIRS for the amount added, so all schools will have SIRS access again next year!

Again, THANKS for all the contacts you made in the “Save GALILEO” effort this winter. Now we need you to take just a moment and write another e-mail – to thank those legislators you contacted for their support of GALILEO and request their continued acknowledgment of the tremendous value of this resource. Please do contact your local legislator – who’s likely getting fewer e-mails since the General Assembly’s not in session – but also please send a similar note to the members of the House and Senate Education Committees. (I’ve listed their names and e-mail addresses at the end of this e-mail.)

The second update is on the State Education Finance Study Commission (established by HB 192), charged with evaluating education funding at the state level, which has potential for great impact on media centers. We will seek to have representation on ad hoc committees as provided in the law to provide input on funding needs for our programs. The first commission meeting will be held on June 30, 2011; the law calls for interim recommendations to be completed by September 30, 2011, and for completion of proposed legislation for interim recommendations by December 31, 2011. If you are interested and able to attend on Thursday, June 30th, please contact me or Michelle Crider ( so we can coordinate our efforts. Having a number of media specialists who make the effort during the summer to attend this initial meeting should help us in our effort to get a seat on one of the ad hoc committees, so please consider attending for some part of the day!


Nan Brown

Advocacy Chair, GLMA

Excerpts from HB 192:

20-2-331 (c) The commission may engage additional ad hoc nonvoting members as needed to address certain issues in subcommittee. This may include, but not be limited to, input from various personnel experienced in the Quality Basic Education Formula, such as counselors,? media specialists, ?.

20-2-332 (1) (d) (D) Review other areas within the QBE Act that relate to or impact school funding, such as maximum class sizes and expenditure controls, and whether local school systems should continue to be given flexibility in these areas (expenditure controls include our media materials allotments…)

Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee Members:

Sen. Bill Heath, Chair

Sen. Tommie Williams, Vice Chair

Sen. John Bulloch

Sen. Jack Murphy

Sen. Chip Rogers

Sen. Horacena Tate

Sen. Jack Hill, Senate Appropriations Chair

Sen. Fran Millar, Senate Education Committee Chair

House Appropriations Education Subcommittee Members:

Rep. Tom Dickson, Chair

Rep. Rick Austin, Secretary

Rep. Amos Amerson

Rep. Kathy Ashe

Rep. Amy Carter

Rep. David Casas

Rep. Brooks Coleman

Rep. Jan Jones

Rep. Margaret Kaiser

Rep. Howard Maxwell

Rep. Jay Neal

Rep. Terry England, House Appropriations Chair

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Pogo said it well, didn’t he?  But what did he really mean? Allow me to muse on this since it’s been on my mind as I look at the continuing dismal picture that is Georgia’s K-12 public education.
It is this writer’s humble opinion that Pogo was commenting on the fact that we are all personally responsible for the polluted waters in which we live. It reminds me of a concept in Zen Buddhism that says (and I’m paraphrasing) if you meet an obstacle in your path that does not yield in spite of your every effort to overcome, then you need to understand that you put it there yourself.
Every single day I see emails and hear stories from teacher-librarians about how things don’t work in their schools. The culprits range from uncaring administrators to micro-managing central offices to incompetent clerks to not enough money to… You get the picture. Yet in nearly every one I yearn to hear the suggestion of a solution. Take a look around this state at the teacher-librarians that are making their programs work and are making a difference in their schools and the one thing you will NOT find is an absence of any problems like those mentioned above. They work in spite of those things, folks. So what makes the difference in programs/teacher-librarians that work and those that don’t? I belive it is a kind of divergent thinking exhibited by those who are successful.
Do you have an uncaring administrator? Okay…maybe you’ve talked until you’re blue in the face but nothing has changed. Have you thought of a different approach? Maybe that administrator needs to be shown what you do, not asked if you can do it. Maybe that’s a person who will be impressed with results and turned off by complaints. Maybe you should take a moment and re-examine how you’ve dealt with this person in the past and get suggestions from your successful colleagues about how they’ve overcome this issue. It IS possible but the possibilities begin with YOU.
Do you have a micro-managing central office? How have you approached your building level staff for ideas and suggestions on implementing successful programs? Is there a colleague at your school that is able to get innovative lessons/ideas into practice that you could collaborate with? Sometimes approaching successful staff members with an attitude that includes admiration, respect, and “how can I help you make it even better” will go a long way to changing the status quo.
Do you have a clerk that has no training or experience in a media center? First and foremost, ask yourself what you have really done to bring that person up to speed. Maybe you’re working with someone who needs their duties spelled out in a list format prioritized by daily, weekly, or monthly tasks. Is it extra work? Yes, but isn’t it better than simply complaining that the assistant isn’t assisting? Working with someone who carries a bad attitude with them is probably the most difficult thing in the world and will bring you down quicker than almost anything else. Does that mean you throw up your hands and give up? Well, you could but how does that make YOU look? Find a spot in your school or your media center where you can go and center yourself. Take some deep breaths and repeat “I can handle this. I can rise above this. I can smile and do my job.” I’m not a Pollyanna, folks. I’ve been there. It’s hard. It’ll make you question if you’re really doing what you were meant to do and it’ll make you question whether you even want to get out of your bed and show up every day. But keep one thing in mind – you serve a purpose that is more global and far-reaching than just about anyone else in the building. Allowing one person with a bad attitude to subvert that purpose is ultimately on you. And, who knows, if you can find a way to shift your focus from problems to solutions you may find an administrator willing to entertain suggestions on solving the issue. Show that administrator how your program works, how it affects every single stakeholder in your school community, and how appropriate personnel makes a difference and you just might get some relief from an untenable situation.
These are difficult times made more trying by the economy and a social climate that places public education and public school teachers somewhere in the spectrum of used car salesmen. What are WE doing to change that? Look critically at your situation and determine where your realm of influence ends – then work backwards. Change your world and change the world of a student. That’s why we’re here, after all, isn’t it? To improve student achievement? To help them navigate the tangled overload of information thrown at them every day? To help them think critically about what they see or hear or read? Yes, there are problems – deep problems – but look at them in terms of solutions and you will soon find your focus in a different place. You do indeed have the power to move the obstacles, my friends. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you and don’t be afraid to tackle it head-on. You make a difference when you choose to do so. What will you do differently today?

School Library Journal Resource and Spending Survey Needs Your Participation

LMC Resource and Spending Survey via kwout

All school libraries are encouraged to participate in the annual School Library Journal Library Media Center Resource and Spending Survey.  Not only will your participation help provide a fuller data set, but you will also have an opportunity to win an iPad!

Here are the survey instructions (click here to access the survey):

This survey is designed to provide information about resources and expenditures in your school library media center (LMC). For some questions we have asked you to provide figures. If you do not have exact figures, approximations may be substituted. All questions are to be answered only in terms of one school (the largest school you work in, if you work in more than one). All information should be from last year, the 2009-2010 school year. Private schools should note N/A wherever relevant. All individual responses are confidential. A complete report will be published in an upcoming issue of School Library Journal.

Please respond by December 23, 2010 and encourage your colleagues to participate.

Buffy Hamilton
GLMA Communications Coordinator


Edmodo – A Social Networking Site for Education

Hello everyone, my name is Stephen Rahn and this is my first posting on this blog. I work as an information technology specialist at Kennesaw State University, and I am in my 22nd year as an educator. I was very honored to be asked to post here, and I hope you will enjoy this first entry.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Edmodo, but you should be! Edmodo provides a free and easy way to create a private (if you want) social network for educators.

The major features of Edmodo are the following:

  • Messaging: You can post messages to your entire group or only to individuals in the group. This makes it great for group announcements or individual feedback
  • Assignments: Creating assignments is quite simple. You can include the title, description, due date, and even supporting files for the assignment. Group members can submit assignments by uploading their files and leaving a message to the group leader.
  • Polls: You can conduct polls or surveys within your group and get instant results. All submissions are private, so group members can feel secure when answering honestly.
  • File and Link Sharing: You can share files up to 100 megabytes in size with your group. You can also share an unlimited number of Internet links.
  • An Online Storage Locker: Your group members can upload their own files (up to 100 megabytes in size) to Edmodo.  They can then access those files on a home computer or any other computer that can access the Internet. This can virtually eliminate the need to E-Mail files to oneself or carry around a portable memory drive.
  • Public announcements: You can designate certain message to be viewed by anyone. This way even non-members of your group (like parents or other educators) could get an idea of what is going on. By default all messages are private, so you would have to manually make anything public.

Sound intriguing? Here’s all you need to do.

  1. Head over to and sign up for a teacher account.
  2. Once you’ve created your teacher account and logged in, you will want to create a group. Edmodo automatically generates a code that your potential group members will need to gain access to the group. The code is a one-time password that enrolls the person in your group. Give this code only to those you want to join the group. If you feel that the code has been compromised, you can go to the group settings and have Edmodo create a new code. If you do that, the original code won’t work.
  3. After you’ve created your group and given out the code, your group members will need their own Edmodo account. Have them sign up at and tell them to enter the group code once they get logged in.

Note: If you are having students sign up, Edmodo does NOT require them to provide an E-Mail address. This is very important for some school districts.

Once you’ve got your group going, you’ll want to check out the Edmodo User Guide, which is very informative and user-friendly.

In addition, Edmodo has a FREE app that will allow group members to access their Edmodo accounts on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. They can also access the site on any web-enabled phone by going to this url –

One last thing…you’ll notice that I’ve mostly used the term “group members” instead of students. My reason for this is that Edmodo would also serve as a very good choice for building a Professional Learning Community of educators.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me at, or you can follow me on Twitter @stephenksu.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy Edmodo!