Thing 15/2016: Scanning the Horizon

Feeling overwhelmed almost seems like a natural extension of our jobs as librarians because as much as we are providing services in the present, we must always be looking to the future to move with the changing tides and interests of the community. And that is a daunting task simply because there are so many directions to go and few that people en masse gravitate toward. What to invest in? What to ditch?

That’s why I was particularly interested in the infographic embedded on the Thing 15 page about 10 things to know about student’s digital learning and number 1 & 8 particularly resonated because of a recent visit by a Renaissance man/author/scholar who came to our school. He has encyclopedic knowledge on a variety of topics and seamlessly transitions between the information, but his theme in all his talks with students was to harness the power at their fingertips– the internet and in particular Youtube. He showed no less than five videos of cool things to incorporate into his talks but even in private conversation with him, he continued to marvel at videos as instructional tools. His theory is that there has never been a time where information can so succinctly be delivered via video to stuff our brains with knowledge. And clearly this infographic demonstrates that kids appreciate this kind of succinct learning as well. I always learned better by being shown what to do, not being told. If you pair that with the Future Ready article  and you’ve got a recipe to begin re-thinking the library. I’m actually *shocking* printing out that two-page document to use to shape future initiatives.

I also emailed myself the 2015 and 2016 articles by Carolyn Foote that I found extremely useful and actually the 2015 article that discusses fusing and personalization (while seemingly dichotomous) are actually what our library is already doing and doing well. I have valued both of these as we have shaped the library over 10 years. For our school library every activity we plan is about cross-pollinating. How can we connect F to R when they don’t seem to have anything in common? And then personalization. Every four years we have a different feel in the library because the students change. Last year we couldn’t keep buying puzzles fast enough, this year, not one has been completed. What do your users need and want and listen to them (see exhibit 1 with the infographic– ask the kids!)

This “thing” has been eye-opening. I want to keep looking forward while honing skills from the past and present and knowing that there are people whose job it is to forecast new technologies and societal needs lets me focus on the present better.


Thing 3/2016: Twitter Part II

I revisited Twitter in my first post for the 2016-17 school year and wanted to do a second exploration both recommended by Polly but also my colleague and the article on Free Twitter Tools from the Cool Tools site.

I downloaded Hootsuite to my phone and began to play around with it’s features. I revisited the app several times over and first found it not to be intuitive. For the amount I use Twitter, my settings on Twitter and my phone essentially do what I need it to do because Hootsuite is another app that I need to visit in the hopes of organizing the information better.I want to limit my interaction with multiple apps, so I decided to delete this app after about a month. Instead, I use a banner notification on my phone when I’m mentioned in a tweet and Twitter sends me an email to my phone if I miss the banner notification. For the rare times I am mentioned, this works for me.

Now, for the library Twitter account, my colleague had set up IFTTT and I appreciate this app, though again, because you can have multiple accounts on the Twitter app (just like Instagram and Facebook to toggle back and forth with), I get these notifications as well as banner notifications that when I’m ready to use my phone, I can see. Though for the library Twitter account this add-on is useful, especially when we were hit with two questionable mentions from non-followers and we immediately took action. This has as much to do with the fact that both of us are monitoring it as having the notification send it directly in an email. This may be “old school”, but I’d rather have this. Plus, Twitter stacks tweets and if you’re a serial tweeter, then your tweets are lost chronologically, so when I’m mentioned or am connecting with an author or friend, I like having the email to revisit if it’s congratulatory or kind. Plus, IFTTT does not need to be logged in to and/or monitored, you set it and go.

This is also why I like Buffer which we use for the library because we have Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook connected. The one drawback is that Instagram obviously needs visual content and sometimes it just doesn’t work with what we need to share, but when we’re coming up on an event, I like scheduling the content and forgetting about it. The only limitation I found was that in the spring of last year, I was doing a question a day countdown and found that it does limit the amount you can schedule to under ten.

Ultimately, when I’m engaged with Twitter which may be several times a day for several days and then a drought of several after that, I am content with the tools I use personally and the two (IFTTT and Buffer) we use as a school library, especially for a busy librarian!

Thing 11/2016: DIY with Canva

After attending the 1/2 day PD session with Polly for public librarians on creating gifs and social media for libraries, I was excited to begin using Canva.While there is a learning curve to creating the different fliers, social media posts, and invitations, I am getting the hang of it and it is taking less time than the first one initially did. Plus, because I’m creating them for our library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, I’m also digging the share feature to share with my colleague.

To know that everything is layered and the top tool bar really is what moves and shapes images is what I need to understand more of, just like all of the kinds of advertisements it can create. I might even get up the courage to buy a Facebook ad if they’re looking as lovely as they can using Canva.

Check out the two that I’ve already created viewing our library’s Instagram account @AlbanyHighLibrary. One was for our author visit and the other is in promotion of our READ day this coming Friday.

Between the crispness of the fonts, images, and details, we have also began to use it to share out a quick image of a book we want to highlight to teachers featuring the book cover and a short promotion of why it could be useful in the colors of our school. When we talk about a professional image, one of the things we’re working toward is creating an image much in the way that Albany Public Library has their neon green and their owl. Regardless of season or platform, you recognize it’s APL because of these details. It may be a book recommendation or a program advertisement.

So the next question is, what should our logo be? What should our colors be? Does everyone’s color scheme align with their building/district or did they create one all their own because they wanted the library to be just a bit different than the building/school?

Thing 3/2016: Twitter

I wanted to revisit Twitter as I have grown exponentially comfortable with this technology both personally/professional as well as forming a presence for our high school library as well (the ability to toggle between two accounts has been amazing, though sometimes with a few hiccups when you forgot what entity you are! Luckily these worlds frequently collide so it’s never shocking in any capacity.

I wanted to address a few of the points in the first video “Social Media Revolution #socialnomics” and I’m wondering out loud– some say that Facebook died a little with the advent of so many adults and older adults joining that teens and twenty-somethings left en masse to use Twitter and Snapchat and with the video stating that Twitter is now being overtaken by older adults, will the same happen again? Is what is cool/used/acceptable where the younger crowd is?

I digress, but I did about a month ago participate in my first Twitter chat. I had creeped for a while, following the tweets afterward but finally was up and ready to participate in a topic I felt confident about. Two things: With bringing more people together, sometimes it is difficult for everyone to participate- I am an early to bed/early to rise person so when Twitter chats are taking place at 9pm and 10pm, I’m not able to participate in real time, but obviously following hashtags is so helpful. And while this Twitter chat about YA books was in my wheelhouse, I would have preferred more than the topic ahead of time (but as my colleague shared) the questions as well to better form my participating tweets and allow myself to relax a bit. The constant refreshing and hyper-awareness drained me! I wonder what other professionals’ experiences have been running and/or participating in a Twitter chat. My questions are: are you relaxed and feel fully engaged in the chat? Does that only come with constant participation in them to feel at ease? Is is a short burst of adrenaline? Do you take notes? With so many titles coming back at me, I actually wrote them down– counter intuitive to the digital world, but I rarely go back and revisit my tweets and prefer to keep my running record in my notebook. Is this an odd practice? I think not, especially when I read this Life Hack article that writing something down is equivalent to reading it seven times.

So yes, I love the Twittersphere for when I find an article and want to share or someone shares an article that I enjoy, but when it’s something really important. I still need to write it down myself to revisit.



Thing 40: Reflection

Addressing a few of the points that were brought up in the prompt to finish out this awesome course (at least the fourth time over?!) is where we’re heading.

  • I’m excited to begin the Common Sense Media digital citizenship certificate course with my colleague to explore and use the learning from there to teach and empower our teachers but also to find new, fun, innovative, and realistic lessons to demonstrate digital citizenship and tattooing to the high school students who need this more than ever.
    • Our TA is finishing up the Edutopia inspired bulletin board about the 9 P’s of digital citizenry, so I’ll post a picture when she’s finished. This may even become a permanent display because of its importance but also to point to whenever we’re doing lessons. (Plus it’ll remind the adults that they should always be reflecting on them themselves.
  • I’ve learned that it’s always nice to go back. As I mentioned in the photo fun post and another that so many tools are churned out (or replace once free ones that force educators to continue to learn new ones because free is always better). So what you think you know about a topic becomes obsolete and how are we to be on the cutting edge? There will always be something new to explore on an “old” topic. Tried and true doesn’t exist in the digital world as much as we’d like to think.
  • This coursework is empowering me to take a more active role in instruction with our teachers. Librarians have a specific lens, which is different than our awesome instructional technologist. I want to take more advantage of this and it takes adventurous teachers and a leap of faith from me.
  • I would absolutely continue this course for the exact bullet points, this is the best kind of recycling and refresher for those that have repeated and a great introduction for those that need it whether it be because they’re entering the field or getting over their fears. The self-paced activities are a double-edged sword for many, but for me, it’s a Goldilocks just right. I stop and start but always have this in the back of my head and apply as needed to lessons I’m doing in school as I’m learning myself. Showing and telling the students that I’m learning along with them is the best kind of modeling.

Thank you, thank you, Polly for always engaging us librarians in this work. Being able to wing a DIY, go back to a “thing 1”, reflect, and check in on colleagues is invaluable. You are tireless and awesome in person and online!

Thing 39: News Literacy

This is an important topic that I can’t believe hadn’t been its own thing before! So kudos whoever recommended it be covered or to Polly for addressing it.

I spend a lot of time hovering over students and staff as they keep up to date on information and it’s a lesson in news literacy every time I see what they’re accessing and talk to them about what they’re taking away, but when I saw some of the tools on simplifying text as well as News ELA that I had started using recently after being shown it by one of our Reading teachers at a professional development session. I get the delivery of the news each day and like being able to recommend it to other teachers. Right now, differentiation is a fairly substantial portion of what administrators are looking for when observing classes.

Then I played around with Rewordify and Readability Score, both based on a project I recently worked on with a teacher. Students could choose a topic related to social justice (or injustice for that matter) that connected with a text they were reading and also made real-world connections. Not shocking, students chose issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, among drug trafficking and sexual slavery both here and abroad. But with the specific teacher I was working with, accessing the databases with her students was too complicated, so we decided to deliver a choice of articles about their topics to have them focus on the information and note-taking. Yet even with some of the “leveled” articles in the databases I was using, the vocabulary was still too high and left students unfocused and disinterested. Reading the articles helped, but only because it created a dialogue to ask what words they didn’t know. Having News ELA, Rewordify, and Readability Score could help, though Rewordify does limit the words and seems to provide a lot of information AROUND the text you select like providing word banks, cloze reading activities, and vocabulary lists with and without definitions. But the actual site itself leaves a lot to be desired visually. Readability Score seems more “with it” but still provides an overwhelming amount of information, breaking down the grade level reading equivalent of the text and counts related to syllables and words per sentence. I like that this one can include both URL, straight text, or uploaded files to complete the readability score.

Obviously all are needed to be used with common sense as well, but both can be extremely useful tools that I will use in the future to guide teachers to differentiation.

Thing 36: Flash Cards& Quiz Games

In honor of National Library Week last week, our library planned a different activity each day. It was capped off by my most exciting thing (that I’ve been waiting years to do and will definitely do again based on the response): READ day. We provided hot and cold beverages, the computers were covered with tablecloths and there was no talking, no homework, and no computers. Students sat and read. Teachers brought in students, staff came on their preps and lunch, and we sat at the door in our own comfortable chair and read. It was awesome.

But on Thursday, we had decided on the activity we called “In Kahoots”. Can you figure out what we did? We used Kahoot, which I had created an account for and never actually made one at another technology professional development, and created a library trivia game/survey for. So the most savvy of sixth period lunch students figured out “it’s a trick, it’s a trick”– in the end we were crowd-sourcing a bit as we were doing fun library trivia. During each lunch shifts, halfway through the period, we gathered the students who wanted to participate into our corner classroom area with their phones (or partnered up with someone who did have a phone) . Students in proximity at the computers also logged in, but what we found was that wasn’t as good because the screen only shows the color-coded/shapes, not the question nor the answers. So, students still had to be able to see the Smartboard and one of us repeated the question from the middle of the library. We learned that it definitely needs to be on the phones in the library because otherwise there isn’t a location for a presentation screen near enough to the computers to give the kids on the computers the same advantage. We lived and learned! So what we did was create a 19-question Kahoot quiz, though a few of the nineteen questions were no points questions that were more survey than question. We asked what they wished we had more of (the majority of them answered computers, but one said activities) and another about what was their biggest hurdle to getting in to the library. The restriction of only four answers made it difficult to choose the four to show, but we also listened in for their mumblings and utterings.

The fact that you can save the results is invaluable and I can see why it’s a nice choice for in class activities. The color scheme and ease in creating the questions on the interface is user-friendly and the fact that you can add images and video to the questions, is a bonus. The simplicity for the students of the game pin to get into the game is also an advantage but the need for a phone in some cases is restrictive.

So, without further adieu, here was our library trivia Kahoot!