Monday, July 11, 2011

Final DLC posting (Finally)

I completed the final DLC back at the end of school but have been waiting for a rainy day to load all the links to 28things and post to the blog. Arghh--the weather is too nice to be inside on the computer! But no rainy days have come my way :>) so I'm taking a break from the Hazy Hot and Humids to get it done.
I've updated the users' guides link on 28things with the instructions completed by my colleagues. So proud of each of them for striking out and trying something new and sharing it.
My guide was on screencasting, so I thought it fitting to create one to share, rather than just give step-by-step directions.

These can be effective, especially if you want students to master a skill and have the ability to review as many times as needed. I've found screenr to be the easiest to use of the screencast tools, and it doesn't require a download like Jing. Give it a go!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wrapping it up

Well, another school year in the books. It has been interesting for me to be part of the U28 tech team this year and part of the tech PD initiative. Challenging and rewarding. Working with Debbie, Karin, Christine and Rob has been wonderful--we are fortunate to have such smart and deeply caring folks in charge of the infrastructures of our technology programs. They are masters at problem - solving. And every team needs a cheerleader, so that was my role.

Today I tallied the DLCs completed by the SES for submission:
21 staff participated and completed 91 challenges! Five teachers completed all nine! Go SES! The absolutely best group of colleagues one could ever wish for.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Department of Education withdraws federal support for school libraries

This is not how we are going to "Win the Future".

The 21st Century skills we are after for our students: critical evaluation of information, multiple literacies, comfort with technology on many levels, abilities to create and collaborate, are taught by School Librarians. We do books, but so much more. In conjunction with the technologist, the School Librarian is best suited for the role of technology integration specialist, an important role in supporting teachers.

In state after state, studies show schools with certified School Librarians have higher test scores. Yet the position is often the first on the cutting block. 'Cause you know, parent volunteers can check out books....

I am very sad about what is happening in California. The state of Massachusetts does not mandate a certified school librarian at the elementary level. They do in middle and high school. Why is that???? The foundation of all of these skills takes place in elementary school. Wait until high school and you have waited too long.
Imagine the impact if every school had a SL. For the students who are not read to at home, who can not access the internet, who don't fit in at school, who need someone to tap into their interests and light that spark ...

I am extremely lucky to work in a community that sees the value in a school librarian. My heart is with all of the school librarians who are finding themselves with no jobs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Managing your Reading Life

Last evening I teamed up with Mary Anne Antonellis, Director of the M.N. Spear Library to present the program "Managing your Reading Life". We shared all of the great features in our online catalogs, the digital resources available for download and Goodreads. Andrew from Barnes and Noble did a presentation on the Nook e-reader. What fun!
I loved the Nook and think that it is a tool that would benefit many students. Price was reasonable, had a good feel and nice functionality. Some books have text to speech, font size was adjustable, many free books available from B&N, and best of all compatible with OverDrive-the public library e-book provider. The research is showing that adding technology increases motivation in reluctant readers. (Maybe it becomes technology to them rather than reading?)
All this technology in the library world had me thinking about the ways searching for a good book to read had changed. Not so long ago, if you wanted something to read you headed to the library or bookstore and looked around for a title that caught your fancy. Maybe a friend or family member would recommend a book. You browsed. Flash forward to 2011....
Not much browsing going on. Reading has become more deliberate. Readers request books online through the library catalog. They place holds on popular titles. (Even first-graders have mastered the art of the hold!) They share book reviews on a social network. They determine what they want to read before they enter the library. (Or order it online at!) Notices are sent via email (overdue reminders, too) and if you miss the due date you can even pay your fine online. Most library business can be conducted without physically stepping into the library.
It is still fun to browse. But there is something really satisfying in having the power to obtain just the book you want to read when you want it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Friday, May 13th 2011


How I used technology today:
1. Did the Biggest Loser Cardio DVD (ok-it's old school but still technology!)
2. Checked my email
3. Checked my Twitter feed to see where my daughter was on her way home from college.
4. Check my RSS feeds on iGoogle
5. Checked in books using the online circ/cat (Destiny)
6.Received my daily to do list via email.
7. Used Photobooth with a student to record him reading a book.
8. Used the Photobooth clips to create an iMovie.
9. Used to create talking avatars to introduce the Paul Revere lesson with 5/6
10. Embedded the vokis on the wiki pathfinder.
11. Showed two clips from Youtube to the 5/6: an excellent reenactment of the ride and a Schoolhouse Rock Clip.
12. Accessed the NEH Picturing America website to show the class a painting.
13.Used iMovie with grade 4 to create regional tours of the U.S.
14. Checked email
15. Checked to see how the results were coming in on the PD survey.
16. Checked out books to students using Destiny
17. Took digital photos of kindergarten and downloaded them to iPhoto
18.Renewed ILL books online through CWMARS
19. Ordered a video online at
20. Texted my daughter for her ETA
21. Checked Facebook.
22. Heated leftovers with microwave :>)

I had to think really hard about this. The technology thread is woven very deeply and is now part of the fabric of my day. I don't smile and declare "I just made a Voki!" as often as I used to--it is just a part of the flow. The novelty is worn off and the tools, which I really enjoy using, are just part of the equipment I need to do my job and live my life.

What was joyful this week was to see that the same thing is starting to happen with our staff. There is still the joy in successfully using a tool for the first time, but it is quickly being woven into their personal arsenal of tools--to be pulled out when the job requires it. They are amazing!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the dam...

Paul Bocko, our wonderful, energetic curriculum-coordinator had our staff engaged in a multi-day dam building exercise. Using foundations of inquiry, we broke into teams and designed a dam for a standard 5 gallon fish tank, built it and then revised it based on our initial results.
Today was the final day and each group was tasked with presenting their revisions. Well, in a very short amount of time our staff created presentations that just WOWed us! The 5/6 team created a lovely iMovie complete with music and explanations. They even scanned in a drawing of their design. The 3/4 team also used iMovie and provided us with a vision of an appealing dam and recreational area. The k-2 team used powerpoint to explain their project and the elements of the design. Our group used a combination of Google sketchup and the document camera to share our design.We were so proud of our teachers! This was spontaneous. Technology was second nature to them. They executed independently. The choices of presentation tools really fit well with the intention of the sharing session. In the words of Mr. Mahler, "We use technology, we don't have technology." It was a really nice showing of the gains we have all made this year.

May 4 Job-alike Day

I was glad that Debbie and I were able to host the final job-alike at Shutesbury. When we initially layed out plans for the job-alikes we had hoped that the final one would be a sharing opportunity. In December I attended the CS50 Fair at Harvard University. Several of my son's close friends are computer science majors and his roommate Yuhki Yamishita organized this huge event. Over 300 students were stationed at their laptops all around the huge conference room and visitors got to see some very cool websites and applications. Amazingly creative stuff! Sure, the next Mark Zuckerberg was probably in the room. Representatives from Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft were in attendance.
Heck--this is just what we need to do in Union-28--share our best stuff!
And so it was...the first I3: Inspire, imagine, integrate!
22 Teachers came forward and shared their projects. Steve taught us how to Skype with his friend in Spain. We saw iMovies and Garageband, Comic Life, blogs and wikis. Having the opportunity to talk about the projects with their creators made them more accessible. We imagined new opportunities. We saw tools used in ways different from the way we had been using them. We made contacts. We planned to integrate technology into our teaching. The afternoon affirmed what a hard working, dedicated bunch we are. It ended the year in an upbeat way which is what we hoped for.