Thing 20/2018: Resource guides

This couldn’t come at a more perfect time because I was chatting a few weeks ago with one of our ENL teachers who I was sharing a few new books that came in. I asked him how best to share that with the ENL teachers and the content teachers that teach ENLs in sheltered classrooms. I got a list of all of the teachers we’d like to reach, but didn’t know how best to share it other than (yet another) email. So, I dove in to creating a resource guide.

I am very familiar and capital L Love Padlet for everything from a resource guide to creating a snapshot of a group and/or their work (for example: Cool Tools’ introductions were done using Padlet in addition to other methods. I have embedded Padlet’s both in this blog but also my other when sharing resources for presentations and I find it more generic (in a good way) than Pinterest.

As an aside, does anyone else think that Pinterest is still viewed as a more female-centric tool? The minute I thought this, I did a little searching and found this article from January 1, 2018 that says that of the 75 million American users, 81% are female. And if my target audience for this resource guide is equally male and female educators, I’d rather use something less stigmatized as female. Though I’ll share that I love curating lists on Pinterest to share in conference specifically when it comes to booklists. You can see one such board here.

Therefore, I picked Listly because I hadn’t every used it like some of the tools I’ve tried and forgotten because they didn’t seem useful to me (Diigo because it just didn’t speak to me, Smore because their freemium has lost its glitter, and Libguides because of its cost-prohibitiveness). It was easy to create an account and even easier to move around. Literally within five minutes I had created the title, description, and was adding my resources onto the list. The tool is WYSIWIG and that is invaluable. The next piece that is useful is how the lists can be shared: embedding on a site, but also the social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn. Once I have curated a perfect first list to catch the ENL teachers’ attention (I have six right now and embedded below), I’ll share it via email. In addition, the end user can provide feedback because these lists and each item in the lists are social, there’s a comment feature, a share button, and emoji and “thumbs up” responses.

Ultimately, Listly is a source I will use for sharing information with teachers and librarian colleagues and students especially where it pertains to multimedia resources. This might be one of my new favorite tools!

Update: When I’m in my editing screen and use the HTML embed code for WordPress (not the plugin because I don’t have the business plan), I can see the embedded Listly, but once I publish, I lose it. Therefore, until I can figure it out, here is the link to the Listly!


Thing 26/2018: Note-taking

As much as I always want to be forward-thinking and know what note-taking tools exist digitally, I align with most of the research and several of the articles listed in the assignment including “Laptops are Great” and “Notetaking Tips for Different Learning Styles” in that I am a firm believer in handwritten notes. And the research is meting this out for sure. Here’s what I use and how I use it:

  • Evernote: I still maintain the free (albeit much-reduced) version on my phone and this is long-term notes like remembering things to pack for camping, ideas for gifts for others, or purchases I want to make.
  • Google Keep: I use this for short-term notes and have several shared grocery lists with my husband. I love the checkbox feature and the fairly seamless refresh that keeps it in real time. In a post several years back for productivity tools, I did mention the use of Avocado with my husband for keeping lists, but several things happened with the app that made it unreliable and not useful anymore.
  • Post-its: You’ll find a pad in my purse, one in my school bag, several in a bin on my end table, one next to my alarm clock, some in my car, and a stack sitting on my desk at work. And that’s in addition to my ever-present spiral notebook that I use at work. Again, like Keep, this is for short-term thoughts and to-do’s. And I use them just as frequently when reading a print book where I want to take a picture of the page/text or remember a quote.
  • For this assignment, I downloaded Adobe Draw and played around with it, but here’s the thing. I have lovely handwriting and an appreciation for others that have font-worthy handwriting, so to see my “handwriting” destroyed by trying to “write” on Draw did not work for me. Likewise, it’s too small of a space for me to do anything with in terms of note-taking.

2018-01-07 15.47.08

And I empower my students to find what works for them. Here is a picture of a slide I use in presentations to students about the importance of finding their note-taking style.


2018-01-07 16.05.08One thing I will do more of is sketch-noting. I did Matt Miller’s challenges on his Slideshare presentation and here is the result. I think for the kinesthetic and visual learners, sketchnoting should be praised. And after completing the challenge, it reminded me of a panel Nathan Hale (the graphic novelist) was on where he talked about turning his notes into sketches and obviously why he’s a popular nonfiction graphic novelist now– being able to deliver visual context to historical fact. I always put pen to paper when I’m at a conference because it does help me retain the information. In addition, I have great spacial awareness and even in previous spiral notebooks (the ones I referenced I use at work) where I need to go back to reference a previous notebook, I usually can remember the area and/or how it was written down so it makes it easier to flip through and look for the information I’m seeking.

All I know is that I’m going back in to add sketchnoting to my slides for students. I know I will keep using each app or physical note-taking tool because they work for me in various capacities. I never want to loose the ability to hand-write anything– case in point The College Board’s change in allowing students to write the proclamation in whatever handwriting style they have versus cursive because so many kids didn’t know how to write in cursive and it was unduly stressful.


Thing 16/2018: #booksnaps & Bitmoji

Woah, something else to fall down the rabbit hole of addiction with! I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with Bitmoji but after reading several blog posts by fellow Cool Toolers as well as those linked on the assignment page I went ahead and did a few things.

  1. Add the bitmoji app extension to my Chrome browser (I didn’t have to worry about creating a Bitmoji since I had done it about a year ago as a joke because my husband started sending them to me BECAUSE I hate emojis. Well, I still hate emojis in general, but I’ve taken a liking to Bitmojis).
  2. Watched several of Tara Martin’s video tutorials on using Bitmoji’s for Booksnaps. I’m a bookish person so I was instantly drawn to how I could use Bitmoji in the library classroom.
    1. Since I will likely never re-download Snapchat to my phone because I see no use for it for me personally, I watched the other videos on creating a #booksnap and discovered I’ve never used Google Drawing so that was going to be my assignment.
  3. Created some Bitmoji/booksnaps using Google Draw
    1. This was somewhat easy after watching the tutorials and because I regularly take pictures of pages from books I read to re-read them or go back to draw inspiration from them. While these are not perfect, I realized I could spend A LOT of time making them look “just right”. But because I know this is a tool I’ll use more in the future, I’m okay with these trial runs. I actually went so far as to create the Padlet like they used in one example to pull all the examples together (which I can see me showing a class to do especially in this poetry unit the 10th graders are working on now), but I’m going to embed the images here for ease.


How will I use this going forward? I know my librarian colleague has a Bitmoji created and I want to start sharing our #booksnaps (hers and mine) using our own Bitmojis. We already do a “Falcon Finds” using Canva to showcase a book title, but this is a more personal snapshot that kids could start sharing too.

PaigebyPage (1)


Thing 23/2018: RSSes & email subscriptions

Let’s start with the fact that I’m STILL mourning the death of iGoogle. Yes, it’s been forever and yes, I still miss it. But I wanted to go back to RSS feeds and see if there was anything new and interesting to discover or use but alas, I still see the same names and nothing quite new enough for me to change my ways. Then I went out and found a few articles that bolster my viewpoint on RSS versus email subscriptions because I LOVE to follow content via email rather than an RSS feed where I have to use a secondary site.

Since I sit down every morning and every evening to check email, that’s where I want to find my content and I always get annoyed when a blog or site doesn’t allow me to subscribe via email. Seriously folks and here are two articles that help shape the things I want as an end-user of content: This article shares the basic differences between RSS and an email subscription. So, yes, I’m the girl answering yes, I want an email, not an RSS feed but he does share the pros and cons. I get it. But this one was fascinating because it demonstrates why anyone with a site should be maintaining an email subscription: this one shows that people do prefer the email subscription and get more people engaged. And this bolsters the conversation my librarian colleague and I are having– Smore as a tool to share information in a newsletter is starting to get stingy on their “free-meium” content and we were trying to find another route. One thing I shared was using Mailchimp that I experimented with at the last Tech Retreat I attended and have people follow. We already have a good following on our social media platforms so let’s share widely using that service. People can choose to see our excellent content and we won’t let them down.

But I’ll also say that I was scared of RSS because I didn’t remember how to “do it” when I wanted, so I did actually put some effort into realizing that my no-brainer, hands-off approach that is discussed in the first article I shared is the way I prefer it. To finish up this “thing”, I decided to put together an RSS widget for this blog liked in the drop down at the top right-hand corner here, but it was hard to think of the content I would truly want to follow (because I already follow it via email and that’s where I like it!)

So thanks RSS, but no thanks. And to anyone who doesn’t share their content with an email subscription, you’ll have one less person reading it because I always want to have that option!

Thing 01/2017: Blogging

I’m going to go back to square one with the first thing because I just finished an epic journey over the course of 2017 that I wanted to share as it relates to blogging.

For some reason, I like signing up for things and rarely do I forget that I did, like #edublogs club until I got the first email about a week into January 2017. I had signed up for a year-long blogging challenge through one of the most well-known education blogging entities, Edublogs. The introduction is here and the point was that they would provide a weekly prompt for educators to respond to on their personal blogs, both to get the creative juices flowing for new or seasoned bloggers and connect educators. The best thing to come out of this was a personal connection to a library in Texas. She high school librarian there has school initials that match the high school library that I work for and we share the same first name.

As with blogging, it’s a slog and unless you’re dedicated and enjoy what you do it becomes a burden that many drop. And many that began the journey, did drop off. They stopped sharing their blog prompts each week and it was down to just a few of us. Ultimately, Edublogs put a halt but shared the rest of the year’s worth of topics for those that were dedicated to finishing. Yep, I’m one of them because I liked what the prompts got me thinking about, though I still had my own content that I was sharing alongside of it too. The full fifty prompts are posted here. I’ve got my last three scheduled within the next three weeks as I’ve already written them.

For me, it was still engaging, interesting, and reflective of my work. Plus, I’m a stickler for seeing things through. You can check out my forward-facing blog called ReadersBeAdvised here (and a variation @ReadersBAdvised is my Twitter handle). I keep this blog for my exploration of technology and library-specific work for Cool Tools because the audience is different though I will translate some topics to the other as necessary.

It’s worth exploring activities like weekly, monthly, or year-long challenges to get creative and draw inspiration. I regularly participate in Book Riot’s #riotgram challenges that focus on bookstagramming on Instagram. So, I guess you can say I really do like a good challenge. Isn’t life about that? Individual and group challenges? This one is definitely solidly an individual challenge with a crowd sourcing or crowd sharing if you’d like. Consider that when you encourage more of your fellow educators to blog and our students.

Thing 12/2017: Final Reflection

Another Cool Tools has come to a close and our reflection is no small piece to completing the puzzle each year because it allows me to reflect back on what I accomplished through the tools I did explore, what I chose not to explore, and what I look forward to returning to.

And returning is key and why Cool Tools is an invaluable curated resource for all resources for librarians and educators. It’s forward-thinking but also allows the most novice of learners to the ability to start at zero, if necessary. For me, I went backward for several of the things this year and dived deeper into Twitter with some tries and fails. I realize I’m not a big fan of Twitter chats, mostly because I’m in bed before many of them happen to ensure the most amount of participants can participate, but also for ones where the questions are not available ahead of time, that I’m focused on responding rather than enjoying the sharing that is taking place. I also went back to blogging too (the very essence of the Cool Tools experience) because I’m doing more with my own blogging and blogging for others including joining the #edublogsclub community. Which if you haven’t already joined the challenge, do it! Each week you get a prompt to respond to and they’re fun, informative, and also collaborative as you have a whole community reading yours and you reading theirs.

Then oppositely, I looked ahead. I “scanned the horizon”, learned about global connectivity, news literacy (selfishly I was also doing a presentation and wanted to gather as many resources and articles as possible!), and media skills which came in handy literally days after I practiced it with this course.

To be able to visit over and over again and know that the resources are updated and run the gamut of articles to videos provides extensive reach for each topic. It’s always worth the time and effort to put into creating something or reflecting on other things. As always…

Thank you, Polly!

make action GIFs like this at MakeaGif

Thing 21/2017: Taking the Lead

This topic is worth coming back to though I don’t believe I’ve necessarily done the Cool Tools “thing”, instead, I’ve attended webinars and completed classes on the topic in order to continually improve and reflect on my practice. Though it’s specific to developing an action plan for the library, tweaking our vision, and being #futureready and how to share it with others.

I enjoyed reading through several of the articles that solidified that we’re on the right track, but also provided nuggets for improvement. Specifically in Sarah Kelly Johns’ thirty-minute webinar, there was an image of Jill Hurst-Wahl’s that talking about incorporating technology and that the outcomes are NOT that they use a Prezi, but rather use the tool of a Prezi to be able to do something like: 1) raise awareness, 2) start conversations, 3) find answers, 4) take action, 5) drive change, 6) change minds, or 7) join parnters. Beside the basic message that reiterates that technology is a tool, not the outcome, it resonated with work that our library is starting to engage in with the public libraries in our area around teen voice, as in how to cultivate it, how to provide them with one on topics that are important to them, and more. So to address what SKJ leaves listeners with in the webinar was two things we’re proud of in our library, two things that have an impact on student learning, and two things that are important to your program and I want to highlight the importance of student voice.

We create programs and activities based on student input. When a student asked if we can get origami paper and another asked about materials for friendship bracelets, we obliged. Last year when we couldn’t put out new puzzles fast enough, we capitalized on making the library what they wanted it to be. And then we shared it with others through our newsletter and on our social media. Nothing gives us greater joy than when others re-tweet or share things that we’re doing when it comes to the students.

The next step is to also share it out as widely as possible and that’s what we’re going to do. Join us in April as my colleague and I share the programming we do at our high school library at Capital Region BOCES!