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If you missed AASL 2011…there’s still time to learn and take action!

I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference.  I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world.  The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.

Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis.  In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole.  It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”.  From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.

The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition.  Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond.  We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators.  We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content.  We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.

What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:

1.  Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come? which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors.  I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district.  I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text.  This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries.  However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work.  Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.

School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?

“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie

“The only constant is change.  More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape.  Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley

“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore.  We cannot wait for people to see our worth.  Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey

“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer

“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read.  What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp

“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan

“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts.  People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us.  They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese

2.  Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar.  Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets.  Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.

3.  View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons.  Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.

Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

4.  Register for the virtual conference.  For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions.  You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions.  Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.

5.  Join the conference Ning.  Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.

In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years.  How will you get connected and take action?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Jump-starting Teacher Technology Use

Over the past 3 years, I’ve built some incredible collaborative relationships with teachers at my school incorporating technology, information literacy, and great literature.  However, when I look at the school as a whole, there are still many teachers who are hesitant or unsure of how to dip their feet into the waters of using technology for student product creation.  I wanted to support the teachers by offering them a whirlwind tour of what I felt were the most likely technologies that they might explore with students during the year:  Photo Story, Glogster, Animoto, Wordle, Tagxedo, and Audacity.  I invited some of the teachers who I have collaborated with to be the leaders of 4 different sessions that all teachers rotated through.

Before the professional learning session, the lead teachers and I sat down to plan.  We each voiced our preferences about which technology we would share and what format we would use.  In the end, we decided that at each of our sessions we would show a final product so that teachers saw one possibility upfront before being bogged down by how the technology worked.  Then, we would walk through some of the basics of the technology and give teachers time to explore.  Finally, we wanted teachers to have a chance to brainstorm how the technology might be used in their units of instruction during the year.  I created a simple handout that was emailed to all teachers in advance of the professional learning session so that they could easily access the links we would use as well as have electronic notes that they could refer back to after the session or add-to during the session.

My principal allotted a 90-minute afterschool professional learning block, and we held the sessions in adjacent teacher classrooms for minimal transitions.  Each session was a fast and furious 20-minute block.  We grouped teachers by grade levels:  k-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, and resource teachers.  All teachers brought their own laptops and we provided any other technology needed such as digital microphones and webcams for the exploration phase.

As usual, some surprising things happened:

  • Most teachers were unfamiliar with the technologies that we explored
  • Teachers voiced their worries about clicking on the wrong thing or not knowing how to answer a student’s question, which surfaced a great conversation about how we don’t need to have all the answers.  We need to provide the space and tools for students to create and then we work as a community of collaborators to support one another.  I’ve had other students answer many questions for other students rather than all of the answers coming from me.
  • Even though teachers were overwhelmed with the beginning of school, they were buzzing with ideas and energy during the sessions
  • Several teachers approached me as soon as the sessions were over to talk about collaborating on projects
  • People found ways to use the technologies in their everyday tasks.  For example, my own paraprofessional has to do our daily email announcements.  She is going to highlight all of the announcements and paste them into either Wordle or Tagxedo and use that as an image at the top of the announcement to serve as a preview of some of the words people will see in the announcements.

I am so thankful to the supportive group of teacher leaders who helped me jump-start technology this year.  I feel like this session was a starting point for thinking about how technology can and should become a part of each grade level’s instruction.  Now as I talk with teachers about projects they will have a base of information to think about final products that students might create.  How have you been proactive in jump-starting technology use and collaboration in your school?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

GaETC: School Change and Technology

When an organization wants to change, there will be growing pains.  Technology change moves forward with early adopters communicating success and developing instructional practices to improve student achievement.  One way to look at the dynamics of change is to use the concept of disruptive innovations.  Dr. Scott McLeod created a presentation for the K12 Online Conference to apply the concepts from Dr. Clayton Christensen‘s business model to education.  What is good enough for our students?  What is more than needed?  At School Library Journal, David Loertscher discusses the concept of a learning commons to “Flip This Library” because school libraries need a revolution.

The 2008 Georgia Educational Technology Conference last week addressed this need for change when it comes to technology.  The theme this year was why effective use of technology is so important to student learning and achievement emphasizing the process of change.  According to David Warlick, we need leaders “who can tell a compelling new story.”  We need teachers to be master learners to help prepare children for a future we cannot describe.  The media specialist can facilitate the information overload that currently exists to guide students in minimizing “the extraneous cognitive load” that our students are bombarded with to access not too much information but also not too little.  (Our Students, Our Worlds)  One way we can accomplish this objective is to think of educational technology as a “Cognitive Art.”  Patrick Crispen reminds us of integrating technology into the educational pedagogy involving connections to prior knowledge, schema, and opportunities for active learning. 

Educators can utilize technology to reach higher Levels of Technology Innovation (LoTI) per Dr. Chris Moersch.  A leader can enable innovative instructional practices by cultivating a culture of high expectations, demonstrating courage, creating solutions to potential barriers, ensuring commitment to research-based best practices, and communicating with all stakeholders.  The media program can act as the hub as the media specialist assesses data, plans staff professional development, implements educational technology through instructional strategies, and sustains growth through coaching of the new skills teachers need to help our students succeed in a 21st century world.  While we can encourage technology use in our schools and model Web 2.0 technologies for our teachers and students, according to Bernajean Porter, we need to use strategies to move toward pervasive uses of technology.  All Technology Uses are Not Equal.  She makes a distinction between technology change, planning, implementation, and accountability as being “doable,” “optional,” or “essential.”  Where do you fall in the scale?  Where does your media program?  Where does your school?  Looking through three lenses of tools, kids, and learning, we can use technology as tools only (literacy), act as consumers of information (adapting), or act as producers of new knowledge (transforming).  How can your school and media program work to address the effective use of technology to improve student learning and achievement?  How do you facilitate change to lead students to meet the Standards for the 21st Century Learner?

Kris Woods

Media Specialist

GLMA Communications Chair

 

References:

Crispen, Patrick. (2008, November). The cognitive art of educational technology.. Presentation at the 2008 Georgia Educational Technology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Moersch, Chrostopher. (2008, November). 21st Century leadership. Presentation at the 2008 Georgia Educational Technology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Porter, Bernajean. (2008, November). All technology uses are not equal. Presentation at the 2008 Georgia Educational Technology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Warlick, David. (2008, November). Our students, our worlds. Presentation at the 2008 Georgia Educational Technology Conference, Atlanta, GA.