Day 1 Reflections

Monday, June 29, 2009 | | 6 comments »

Day 1 of NECC. It's just about dinner time and I'm taking a break in the Blogger's Cafe. We just wrapped up a fun little meetup with the owners of Common Craft. I'm sure most of you have seen their videos at one point or another, but it was really nice to chat briefly with the couple behind the creativity. I got to the convention center a little after 8:00 today, just in time for my first session, which began at 8:30. I was going on a lot less sleep than I had hoped, but was ready for the chaos of the convention.

My first session was dealt with reading and 21st Century Skills. The presenters talked about how they were using iPods and other digital audio devices with students. I came away with a few new ideas, which was good. I was a little unhappy that the session seemed to turn into a sales pitch for a website they use at the school. Due to this feeling, I walked out a little early.

I also attended the Library Tools Smackdown. This was pretty fun and I had a seat in the front row. The CoverItLive can be found here. I was uStreaming the event and trying to follow along with that and the CoverItLive, so I had a trouble actually paying attention to the tools being discussed. I certainly will be heading back to the wiki and taking a peek at the text from the session.

Hall Davidson presented some new ways to use video. He showed some pretty interesting possibilities, some of which I hope to use at some point down the road. If you've never heard Hall give a presentation, I'd recommend it, it's pretty entertaining.

Always in Amazement

Sunday, June 28, 2009 | | 3 comments »

For me, attending conferences is always a lot of fun. The sessions are usually very good, the venue is often a beautiful building, and the location is usually in a big city. Whether it's WEMTA in Madison, NECC in San Antonio last year, the DEN LC Institute in Silver Spring, or NECC this year, the thing that amazes me most is the people.

The DEN LC this year was set up to discuss ways to improve our Leadership Councils. There was lots of great discussion, but some interesting tools were shared as well. While the tools will be helpful, I was amazed at the people who know so much about so many new tools. I thought I am fairly knowledgeable about a lot of the tools and sites that are out there - both tools that can benefit my students and myself, but boy, was I wrong. One person from the DEN LC in particular, Steve Dembo, amazes me every time I listen to him. He always has great stuff to share. What I really think is important, is his ability to share how the sites can be used effectively with students and teachers. That's the important part.

This week at NECC, I know I'm going witness more greatness. I can't wait.

1 DP

Thursday, June 25, 2009 | | 0 comments »



Today marks the first day of the DEN Leadership Council Symposium where Rachel Yurk and I will be representing Wisconsin. We will be discussing ways to improve the each state’s DEN, learn more about roles various people can play within the DEN, and how to get more people involved. It’s going to be a long day, but should be a pretty interesting one here at 1 Discovery Place.

Pre-Conference Plan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | | 2 comments »

With NECC right around the corner, getting ready for this massive conference is certainly not an easy task. Besides packing and figuring out your conference planner, there's the endless task of participating in the nightly functions. There's so much to do during the day and night that it could make your head spin. Most of these are already filled up, but the choices for evening collaboration are plenty. There's a Twitter Meetup, the NetTrekker Tour, the EduBloggerCon post party, the NECC golf outing, and probably plenty of others I'm not aware of or either forgot about. Regardless, preparing for a conferences can be a little stressful.

Here's a great link to a post written back in March. Chris Brogan writes about 27 things to do before a conference.

Take a peek at this article. Have you already completed some of the items listed? I have. Do you think there are more that should be added?

Finally, part 3 of my recent chat with 5th graders about Facebook and MySpace. If you want, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

It's always interesting to find out how much parents know about what their kids are doing online. My children are young enough that they aren't really into social networking yet. However, in the next couple of years, however, that will probably change for my daughter. I'm prepared to help my son and daughter navigate through these networks as they grow, but I don't think a lot of parents are in the same boat as me.

Below is the transcript of a conversation I had with my 5th graders.

ME:
Do your parents know you have a MySpace or Facebook page?

JOHNNY:
yes
KAILEY:
yes
SHAWN:
yes
HMN Generic Grade K:
no
ZOE:
yes
HAYDEN:
yes
DANIELLE:
yes so do my aunts and uncles
HMN Generic Grade K:
yes
DAMIAN:
yes
LYRIC:
NO
KENNETH:
deffenetly
BRIAN:
yes until i forgot the username
MARC:
yes yes they do
KOBY:
yes but she dose not go on




ME:
Have your parents ever seen your page?

JOHNNY:
yes
KAILEY:
no
SERENA:
no
HAYDEN:
no
LYRIC:
NO
KOBY:
yes
SHAWN:
yes
HMN Generic Grade K:
yep
ZOE:
no
DAMIAN:
yes
BRIAN:
no but its not bad
KENNETH:
NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DANIELLE:
yep they wont let me have 1 if they dont
KOBY:
all the time
MARIA:
no
SERENA:
no
MARC:
yes yes they have i think


There ya go, some insight into some of the 5th graders I work with and their thoughts on Facebook and MySpace.

This is Part 2 of my discussion with 5th graders about MySpace and Facebook. Part 3, coming soon, will focus on questions related to what their parents know about their online networking. Here's Part 1. In this part of the discussion, I get into asking students about their online friends.

Here's the transcript from a chat I had with the studnets - I do think the answers are rather interesting.

ME:
Do you have "friends" on MySpace or Facebook that you've NEVER met in person?

CASSIDY:
no!
HAYDEN:
yes
ZOE:
yes
JOSHUA:
no
HMN Generic Grade K:
yes
KAILEY:
yes
DANIEL:
no
CASSIDY:
NO
CHACE:
no
MARC:
yes
LYRIC:
yes
DANIELLE:
no i only put people on if i know them
KOBY:
yes
BRIAN:
only 1 person
KENNETH:
No way!

The answers here surprised me a little. I didn't really have to time to ask deep questions about these friends, but I did follow up with a couple of questions and I was pretty surprised at the answers.

ME:
Okay, for those of you who just answered yes - how do you know who they are?

BRIAN:
thare pictures
MARC:
i dont
DANIELLE:
from school
KAILEY:
idk
KOBY:
there my family and friends
HMN Generic Grade K:
because of there pic
SHAWN:
i know them

ME:
So you believe the pictures they have posted are real?

BRIAN:
idk
DANIELLE:
idk
DAMIAN:
yes
ME:
That those pictures are really them?

ZOE:
idk
HAYDEN:
no
HMN Generic Grade K:
yes
KOBY:
yes
LYRIC:
idk
KAILEY:
idk
HMN Generic Grade K:
no
DANIELLE:
no
DANIELLE:
idk
MARC:
yes
CHACE:
yyeeess

I'm not sure they were ready for my follow up questions about the pictures. I have a feeling it make them think about it more than they had in the past. I did notice that none of the students mentioned anything other pictures. I don't think it's bad to start with pictures, but certainly it shouldn't be the only thing. When I started connecting with people online, pictures played an important part, but more importantly, I checked out their blog, or the other people they were connected to. I'm not sure that's something 12 years old are thinking about, but perhaps it should be.

Here's the last questions - and I'm happy to say that most of the students answered this question with the answer I was hoping for. I should have followed this up by asking how they could gain someone's trust online. I'd be curious to see what they would say.

ME:
Do you trust people you meet online?

HAYDEN:
no
JOHNNY:
yes
ALEXANDRA:
some time
DANIEL:
no
KAILEY:
no
DANIELLE:
no
CASSIDY:
maybe maybe not
MELISSA:
sometimes it depends
ZOE:
sometimes
LYRIC:
NO!!!!
MARIA:
NO
SHAWN:
some times
CHACE:
nooo
CASSIDY:
kinda /yes but no.
JOSHUA:
no
KOBY:
yes and no
BRIAN:
sometimes
HMN Generic Grade K:
hell no
KENNETH:
NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HMN Generic Grade K:
yes
SERENA:
not really


So, tell me what you think about this conversation?

I haven't really talked to the students I work with about Social Networking, even though I knew many of them were well on their way to a networked life. Without realizing it, the students I work with are beginning to learn about being connected and how it can impact their lives. With that in mind, I wanted to do a little fact finding. We have a program on the computers in our lab, Vision, that allows me to monitor their screens, block the internet, launch programs or websites, and even chat with each computer or the entire group. I really like this program, when it works, because I can sit in one space and see what everyone's doing, take control of a computer to help the students if needed, and simply watch them without them really knowing I'm watching. I can also communicate with a student or group of students to get them back on task, or perhaps something more severe, without embarrassing them in front of the entire class. Okay, back to the main point - I decided to use the group chat feature to invite the students to share some information about their MySpace and Facebook use. I told them this was simply for my information and that I wouldn't be sharing the information with anyone. Since we've never talked significantly about social networking, I was curious about what they knew and what they were doing. Below, is the chat transcript for question #1.

ME:
Do you have a MySpace or Facebook page?

CASSIDY:
no
HMN Generic Grade K:
yes
MELISSA:
no
LYRIC:
yes
KOBY:
yes
ZOE:
yes
CASSIDY:
no.
SHAWN:
yes
KAILEY:
yes
MARIA:
no
DANIEL:
no
ALEXANDRA:
myspace and facbook
SERENA:
no
DANIELLE:
yes
JARED:
I USE TO
HAYDEN:
i did
MARC:
yes
BRIAN:
used to
SERENA:
no
BRIAN:
i forgot username
SERENA:
no
CHACE:
no

I wasn't that surprised when the responses were mixed, with more than half of the students having accounts. I didn't go into anything about the age requirements for the sites or anything like that, I simply wanted to know if they had accounts or not. More telling, however, were the answers to the next question I asked.

ME:
Why?

ALEXANDRA:
talk game
SERENA:
i dont know
ALEXANDRA:
chat
HAYDEN:
because it is cool
ZOE:
so i can talk to my friends
DANIELLE:
i dont know
CASSIDY:
my mom siad its not good for me
LYRIC:
ill think it is coll
BRIAN:
alot of oter pepole have 1
MARC:
cause its awsome
KOBY:
so i can talk
SHAWN:
so i can keep in tuch
HMN Generic Grade K:
so you can talk to your fiends
DANIEL:
i don' t no

(I'm copying and pasting the transcripts - please forgive their crummy writing)

It seems to me, that many of my students have accounts because they think it's cool (or coll) or simply because their friends have an account and they want to talk to them. Interesting. Are they using these sites simply for the IM feature? I thought it was rather interesting that some of the students had accounts, but didn't know why they had them.

I'm going to post more of the chat in another post in a day or two. I'm curious if you've done anything like this with your students. Have you asked any similar questions? Did you get similar responses?

Below are the other questions I asked. I'll be sharing the responses soon.
Do you have "friends" on MySpace or Facebook that you've NEVER met in person?
Okay, for those of you who just answered yes - how do you know who they are?
So you believe the pictures they have posted are real?
Do you trust people you meet online?
Do your parents know you have a MySpace or Facebook page?
Have your parents ever seen your page?


Promoting reading and reading programs at my school seems not to be a one man job - thankfully! Most of the reading incentive programs (how I feel about those is a topic for another day) are organized by several of our reading teachers - and boy, do they do a great job! From organizing an author visit to planning Read Across America, they are fantastic. Sure, I get involved in the discussions and help out when I can, but for the most part, they take the lead. This might be a good thing because they are far more organized than me!

This leads to me write about an event I attended at the school my children attend. Tonight was the second year of Camp Read-A-Lot. This outdoor event, put on by the media specialist and the reader teacher, is a variety of things, but mostly an event to promote reading. During the hour-long event, families brought their chairs or blankets and hung out on the lawn in front of the school - some of the children even wore their pajamas. We listened to a couple of stories read by the event organizers, sang a few campfire songs, and then had some time to read with our children. Oh, did I mention there were smores? In addition, children were encouraged to bring books from home that they no longer needed and then could add them to the Book Swap table. If you brought put a book on the table, you could take another back home with you.

It's a cool event, short, productive, and positive. I saw at least four classroom teachers at the event, with their own children, not "working" - which I thought was great.

I wonder if an event like this would be successful at my school?? I guess there's only one way to find out - tell the reading teachers to do it!

There has been a pretty interesting discussion about the role of the Library Media Specialist, thanks to this post by Darren Draper. The comments to the post are pretty interesting, with many library media specialists tossing about their ideas. Please, read it.

There's no doubt the library of today isn't what it was in the past. The technology has changed the way the library functions and librarians have had to move with the changes. Some have moved along quickly, like the hare, while others are trudging along the like tortoise. The good news, is that most are moving in the right direction. Those of us in the library field understand what's needed to keep our libraries successful, important parts of our schools. We need to get students thinking globally, communicating with others outside of the school walls, and to become better problem solvers. We need to collaborate with the classroom teachers, stay current in trends related to our position, and continuously learn.

To me, much of what's discussed regarding the students seems to be easier to implement at the high school level, not the elementary. It's a different ballgame in a K-5 building barely meeting AYP. While I'd like to completely overhaul how my services are delivered and how I interact with the students and teachers, many of the restrictions are beyond my control. Here's what I can't control:

1. A fixed schedule (Contractually, I provide prep time for teachers)
2. Certain attitudes about what I do on a daily basis (from teachers)
3. The physical layout of my space - lack of $$$ prevents me from changing a lot
4. Lack of technology - one computer lab for almost 400 students.
5. Time - I see each class for "technology" no more than 45 minutes a week.

I understand that with the exception of #1, secondary libraries struggle with the same problems. Perhaps the fixed schedule is the largest of my issues. However, since teachers have prep time when their students are with me, it's going to be very hard to change that. In addition, there are many in my department who don't want that change made because it provides us with job stability. I agree, but if a flexible schedule was implemented correctly, teachers might feel a greater need for the library and the media specialist. In my district, that's not going to happen anytime soon. In addition, it seems there's so much to cover in a little bit of time. Since we really don't have a technology curriculum broken down by grade level, I'm having a hard time figuring out what to teach when. I know I need to talk about internet safety, proper web searching techniques, etc. But when? At what grade? With a limited time frame, and students struggling with basic skills, I see our students spending a lot of their time working on basic skills in the lab - phonics activities, basic math facts practice, keyboarding for 4th grade. These are all important, but there's so much more that could be done if....

I need some guidance getting from point A to point B. I'm not at the starting line anymore and I can see where point B is, I'm just struggling with how to get there.

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