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.

Conferences pt. 3

On April 13th I attended Apple's Spring Update in Westborough. Those days are always an inspiratation and having just come from my first conference as a presenter I was particularly keen on observing the presenters and what made them so good. They come across as just ordinary guys--not techno super-heroes and don't flood you with jargon. They made everything they demonstrated: from an original composition in Garageband on the iPad that was amazing to deploying 1000 new ipod touches seem like a walk in the park. They related well to the audience. They used a lot of humor and related personal experiences.
Must tries from the day:
1. We need to get our hands on the iPad----HUGE impact on teaching--especially SPED
2. I want to try epub---it seems very doable and will be a good reason to migrate to pages. Grades 5/6 could do this.
3. App development with STEMS focus? Tap into UMASS? Thinking of how the tech squad kids would just gobble up programming.
So many ideas---now we have to find funding!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conferences pt.2

The TEP (Technology Education Partnership) conference on April 7 provided opportunities to see what was new with Smart, learn about Maine's 1:1 initiative, and ways that educators are using social network tools to stay connected. Of particular interest was a session titled "Connect, Collaborate, Create, Challenge – CHANGE" led by Gaby Richard-Harrington. Her perspective was fresh and thoughtful and I enjoyed her talk. One key point she made was that we are waiting too long as educators to teach our students about online tools. Being a"webizen" should start earlier with training in online protocol, civility and safety. By middle school it's too late. She also stressed the need to give back online--when we use an idea or lesson plan and create something of value, we need to share it back. I liked Richard-Harrington's delivery and message so much I attended her following session, "Design Your Professional Learning Community". I am comfortable with PLCs or PLNs but was sure there were things I could learn. Unfortunately the internet connection at this tech conference was unreliable and she couldn't demo live sites--oh, the irony!-but I did gather a handful of new ideas to use with students. We'll be checking out Edmodo and Primary Pad as possible safe online environments for student collaboration. Great stuff!
And the highlight of the day...the U28 tech team presented a session on our year-long tech initiative: Technology Professional Development – the Key to Mobilizing Integration. We had a full room and the reception was positive. Attendees were impressed with the level of administrative support we had for this undertaking and the time we were give. They like several of the ideas we shared-how we incorporate Tech Time into our PD, 28things, and had some new ideas to take back to their schools. This was our first time presenting and it fell in a week with a book fair, MCAS and Art & Technology show, but our nervousness was unfounded. We nailed it :>)

photo: Michael Wakefield

Conferences pt.1

On April 7 I attended the TEP Conference (Technology Education Partnership) in Holyoke as part of the U28 Technology Team with Debbie Lee, Karin Gravina and Christine Morin. Alan November was the keynote speaker. I'd heard of his work and really looked forward to his presentation. There is real value in having your beliefs challenged and shook up. I appreciated November's underlying message about education and the need to do things differently. He spoke of the Flipped model of learning where students traditional classwork and homework are reversed. I agree that putting computers in every classroom and devices in each child's hand does not increase learning in and of itself. How do we teach? How do we effect change? Unfortunately Mr. November's delivery was so arrogant, cocky and out there that it was hard to hear the valid message underneath. He is a leader in the tech ed field, and he put many folks from small schools at this small conference on the defensive, which isn't a position where people can be open to new ideas. Too bad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We are all Digital Immigrants

Andy Woodworth has a great blog, Agnostic, maybe that often gets right at an idea I've been thinking about. His post today about the term Digital Native was spot on.
We are all immigrants to this new land.
Google has been around for only 13 years, Facebook and Twitter for 5. New tools are developed every. single. day.
Working with children navigate the internet and the research process has made it clear to me that these aren't Digital Natives. They do not instinctively know how to get the information they need or how to best use the plethora of tools at their disposal. They need to be taught, just like the rest of us.
When I hear adults say they don't understand/use/like technology because they are Digital Immigrants I cringe inside. It's not an innate ability. It is not age related. One of my graduate school professors was in her 60s and is the most tech savvy person I know. She learned it. She worked hard to stay current. She puts in the time.
Not being interested in technology is ok. But please, don't blame it on not being born in this generation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Social Networks in the time of disaster

Like the rest of the word, I am feeling saddened by the horrible devastation in Japan. This tragedy feels personal to me, as through my son's visits there (he's spent 4 summers in or around Tokyo) the host families that have been so kind to him, his close friends, and the families of his college roommates I can put faces on the afflicted.
It is hard to imagine enduring the uncertainty of not knowing if loved ones are alive or not. Facebook, Twitter, email---these tools have been a Godsend for helping folks stay in touch.
Last month's events in Egypt were fueled in part by social media. It is astonishing how far we have come and so fast.
The number of home videos of the earthquake and tsunami on youTube allow the world to share in Japan's suffering, and hopefully move people to help. The world is small. We are all connected.


I am really looking forward to Friday's curriculum day and meeting our guest speaker Richard Byrne. I've been reading his blog for a couple of years and he is an important part of my personal learning network (PLN)--to us geeky librarian types he is a rock star! How can you possibly keep up with new technology? Follow Richard's blog.

This week was extremely busy for me with Books in Action- our big union-wide party. I wasn't able to attend to many things on my plate--and one was my PLN. My RSS feeds runeth over. I'm feeling disconnected. My PLN consists of reading lots of books (books first--always), subscribing to an incredible listserv (LM_NET) for school librarians, following the movers and shakers on Twitter, staying connected to local librarian friends on Facebook, using Google Reader to follow a couple of dozen blogs. I also use Goodreads which is invaluable as a reader's advisory and book selection tool. I also learn a great deal and benefit from collaboration with my colleagues in my school. Some teachers feel isolated in their buildings, but with a PLN I think you can feel connected, supported and have contacts all over the world to turn to for advice. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I like this video as an introduction to PLNs. Ooohhh...I'm feeling a tech time session coming on!

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 2 Job-alike

Debbie and I had the chance to create a workshop on iMovie for the third job-alike of the year. We had hoped to offer this as a hands-on workshop, since we believe that is the best way for learners to experience technology. Since that wasn't an option, I was a bit nervous on how the session would run.
No worries. The group was wonderful! They really stuck with it. Great questions and an openness to giving this great app a try. Once the learning curve is accounted for, iMovie is so easy to use that is really takes no time to compile a clip. I've used it several times this week, preparing for Books in Action.
The dilemma I have is that I have version 8 at home, 9 at school and would love to get my hands on 11, the new version! The rapidness in which new versions are released is daunting. I feel this way about technology in general. The speed in which obsolescence occurs is blinding! Could we please just have 6 months in which nothing new is issued, nothing revised? I need to catch up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter of our Disconnect

I just finished Susan Maushart's fascinating book The Winter of our Disconnect: How three totally wired teenagers (and a mother who slept with her iPhone) Pulled the plug on their technology and lived to tell the tale.
Six months with no computers, iPods, television or video games. Screenless.
It was interesting to watch the psychological impact of her "study" on her family. She provides plenty of research along the way, such as the ability to "multi-task" and even the screen time's impact on children's diets.
As educators (and parents), I think we constantly battle with how much is too much. Were things really better in the "black and white days" as Maushart calls them. I loved one insight she provided which is while many older folks view reading as a more virtious activity than crawling the web, there is truly no more solitary, passive activity than reading. Sitting in a chair absorbing someone else's ideas and thoughts--ha!
Maushart pairs her experiment with a fascination of Henry David Thoreau, and calls on his wisdom to living a simpler life. So in my own little mini-experiment, I went 60 hours off line (full disclosure- I did watch one movie on DVD.) No checking my email or Facebook, no iPod. I'm not a cell phone user, so that wasn't a problem. But after the first full day of not checking my email--I was anxious. I might miss something important! At the same time, I felt more relaxed. Checking email always creeps into what Maushart calls WILF (What was I looking for?) following links, in a slow-mindless web search. Time away from the screen is good.
There is a lot to think about here. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My love letter to Goodreads

Today is Valentine's Day. Not my favorite day of the year, since it feels so contrived, and if you are single, the media makes you out to be a loser. HA! to that I say. But I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to homemade cards. Especially when they are from children. That lifts my heart.

My true love today is Goodreads. I can't spend enough time with G. When I read, G is anxious to hear what I thought of the book. It makes perfect recommendations of other books I'll like. It shares what my friends are reading--which is my lifeline to great books. Goodreads never belittles me for reading a trashy novel once in a while, or for abandoning a book midstream if I hate it. G gently nudges me along when I'm stalled on a book, asking what page I'm on and if I'd like to update my status. It's also helping me reach my reading goal for the year, by tracking my progress. It's supportive and understanding. It's there when I need it. It's cute and fun. I've introduced it to my friends. It makes me feel good about myself. It is love.


I was happy to play around with Voicethread in preparation for this week's challenge. I think it is one of the most valuable and flexible web 2.0 tools. We've used it very successfully for digital storytelling and for presenting student research. When embedded in a blog, it offers parents and extended families a nice look into the student's work. Easy to use, reliable, privacy--vociethread has it all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


One area where technology seems to have just turned the corner is with e-readers. The holiday season seems to have really put them into the mainstream. Kindles, Nooks and iPads - most everyone knows someone now that uses one.

The reports on reading behaviors and technology are interesting. I've read one study that shows boys are more interested in reading when it involves technology. Surely a strategy for reluctant readers. I'm currently working on a grant application to purchase e-readers and other alternate reading devices like Playaways for the library. The success of the iPods in providing access to audiobooks has been huge.

It is a great time to be a librarian. (Ok, anytime is a great time to be a librarian, but we have really cool toys now.)

Tech Time vs. Report Cards

Since early December we have not been able to hold our regular Wednesday Tech Time workshops. We had an Artist-in-Residence that took most of our attention last month, along with ELA assessment training. And card writing.

DLC participation seems to be closely tied to Tech Time. Teachers really want the additional support as they branch out and try something new. They report that they miss Tech Time and are anxious to get back at it. Me too!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm feeling energized after today's job-alike workshops. I was fortunate to work with Rob Lord on the Photobooth/iPhoto session. I had the fun job--to introduce Photobooth, provide some ideas on using it in the classroom and then letting teachers loose to try it out. Like a photobooth at a carnival, we were amused by the effects and different backgrounds available.
Rob followed with a wonderful introduction to iPhoto. He had a nicely detailed step-by-step handout that will be a valuable resource. Although I've used iPhoto for several years, Rob had many new tricks up his sleeve. I learned that I can create multiple libraries in iPhoto, and how to view my photos in a full screen sequence. One of the nicest things about the presentation was being able to see Rob's photographs. He is a talented photographer and shared many interesting shots. It's nice to get to know him and he is a great addition to the technology team. I also am really enjoying getting to know the teachers from the other buildings and working with them. Such nice folks and talented teachers. The feedback was positive, and I'm looking forward to the next session.


I was introduced to Pandora a couple of years ago. I really like having the ability to create different stations to meet my mood, and to fine tune my choices with a thumb up or down. The Music Genome project is pretty impressive.
I would use Pandora more in the LC as ambient music, but Debbie has concerns about streaming and bandwidth, so I use it occasionally. Using music in the classroom is such an effective way to change the tone or draw attention to a topic.
We played mariachi music as a class entered the LC to kickoff a study of Mexico and it was great!