Building Networks

Photo by Flickr user adesigna under CC BY NC-SA 20

Photo by Flickr user adesigna under CC BY NC-SA 20

Pondering connectivism was an excellent think for me, and I was able to reflect on the activities I currently work on as well as the ones that are percolating in the back of my brain.  I connected with all of these readings, but Daniel Pink’s Drive speech at the RAS was the best.  Therefore, I’ve selected his three factors for motivation to organize my reflection: Autonomy, Purpose and Drive.


#1 Tech Tuesday: I need to schedule a round-table sharing day for people to bring in their favorite tech tools.  I also need to do more scheduled sharing by others.  My “Guest Star” days are by far the best attended Tech Tuesday (I try not to take it personally). 🙂

Photo by NASA - Public Domain

Photo by NASA – Public Domain

#2: More international collaboration through social networks: by modeling how you can make this happen for my students, I can show them how to use the world as their encyclopedia once they’re out of school. I am (still) toe-dipping stage with this, and I need to figure out what deep diving looks like without engaging in another paid for course that forces me to do it like the Flat Classroom. Twitter is of course a great resource, and I’ve started to have some nibbles through Skype for Education.


#1: MOOCs as after-school activities: The University of the People fascinated me, but I don’t think it’s relevant option for me or my students right now.  I did like reflecting on all these modern innovations when it comes to learning, and I think have students select a MOOC and take it alongside interested teachers would be amazing.


This is a tough one for me.  it’s so easy to bribe students into doing stuff you think is cool! But here’s the hard truth:

#1. I need to stop bringing candy to my library lunchtime celebrations.  Damn you Daniel Pink!  It’s time to return the motivation to come and the motivation to stay back to the WHAT of what we’re doing. If the activity itself isn’t motivating and interesting, sugary teeth-rotting candies aren’t going to make it any better. Actually, as I’ve seen recently, it will take away from the excitement for those who are truly there because they love -NaNoWriMo, LIS Reads, Reading, Gaming- since candy crashers just come take loads of freebies, half heartedly participate and leave.

#2: Connectivism is important and it is not about technology. Technology is just a toolConnectivism is about relationships: developing, nurturing and valuing relationships. I think the IB program does put relationships at the center of their program, and then it is our job as schools to work on making sure relationships are at the center of our delivery.  One of the things I think our new deputy principal is doing particularly well is putting the focus back on relationships and conversation as the primary tool for navigating “discipline”. I am trying to reflect this in my library program.

#3 READ: I think connectivism in the library is deepening my connection with students, the sense of community and developing the library as a vibrant community space. I was delighted (and a little scared) when I saw

#4 Pay people enough to take money as an issue off the table.

Bingo Number 20 by Flickr user Leo Reynolds under CC BY NC-SA 2.0

Bingo Number 20 by Flickr user Leo Reynolds under CC BY NC-SA 2.0

How do we take grades (the student version of money) off the table for students?  Well, I am still fascinated by the 20% idea, and I think if we do inquiry well, the grade part becomes less of a motivation.  Perhaps working 20% time into one of our science classes will be my Course 5 project?

FedEx day: How do we take money (the teacher version of grades) off the table for teachers? We did one of these with our secondary school faculty at work, and it was wildly successful. I think we all felt good about working at LIS that day.  And we accomplished some serious stuff!  So WHY WHY WHY WHY haven’t we built that into our classrooms?

In very small ways at LIS, we are starting. For example, I believe “read whatever you want time” is essential, and I’m proud of our Language A English classes for building this into the majority of their courses, if on varying levels.  One of my favorite manifestations of this time is in Sou Cheng Leong’s Year 7 class, where she allows students to have ownership and autonomy in this process by having a different student each month design the book report format (students vote on which one the class will do) as well as reward the best ones based on their own judgement. You can check out examples in her Year 7 Reading and Book Reports Category.

In Conclusion

I think connectivism has a place in every learning environment.  I hope to keep it in mind as work to develop the learning relationships at my school.

Gone Techie: Shaping the Role of the Library in EdTech

I don’t need a fancy report to tell me that mobile technologies, gaming and social networking have already infiltrated our students’ lives.  I see it everyday when I work with students in the library and as I wander the campus.  You can see it too by visiting our LIS Secondary Library Tumblr.

Exhibit A:


What I also know from going to work everyday is that, “too often, it’s education’s own processes and practices that limit broader uptake of new technologies” (Horizon Report, p.10).  I touched on this with my earlier post about filtering (which I swear I will return to… I’m just adding it to my possibilities list) and I discuss it regularly with members of our LIS Tech group.  Many of us want to change our approach to education NOW!  We want our students to be linked in, communicating with students across the world, and going paperless.

The problem is that the other quote from the Horizon report is also true: “As the potential for mobile computing is being demonstarted across an ever-growing list of K-12 education institutions, a successful shift from a traditional to a mobile environment still requires planning and research” (p. 12).  There are so many things to “fix” and “change” in order to support the learning environment are students are already living and working in, and if we do it all at once, we are going to crash and burn.  Six years ago, it was uncommon for our school to have electricity everyday.  Now I complain because the wireless is slow, inconsistent and doesn’t cover our entire campus.  So, while I still reserve my right to complain identify potential for growth and work collaboratively with my colleagues to progress, I also have to recognize the significant amount of progress that has been made over the last several years.

In the secondary school, we are moving in the direction of a BYOD policy.  We are moving agonizingly slowly, but I can see it on our horizon.  To be frank, BYOD has already reached our school, it’s just that it has happened without the support, scaffolding or guidance of the teachers, administration and IT department.  Students are bringing and using their own laptops, tablets, cell phones and ereaders everyday.  A timely example: Several weeks ago I taught a lesson to Year 12 IB DP students on using Diigo in the pre-search stage of their research. The school’s wireless network failed mid-lesson, but the ones who brought their cell phones just used them as their own wireless hub.  We are getting a Technology Advisory Committee off the ground, slowly but surely, and I am hoping we will play a major role in shaping the policies and procedures which will influence how technology will be impacting learning at LIS.

Making It Happen

I need to focus in order to play my role in supporting our school in meeting our students not just where they are but where they will be.

Big Picture Goals

  • Professional Learning for Teachers on Digital Media Literacy – If I still have teachers that argue that Wikipedia is a perfectly reasonable resource for students to cite in an Internal Assessment for IB, we have work left to do.  In an earlier blog post, I talked a little bit about my role in supporting professional learning and got some interesting feedback.  Since then I’ve been exploring creative examples of professional learning, and I am interested in the iTunesU course from Forsyth Public Schools on Flipping Professional Development.
  • Developing Resources for Teachers to Integrate Digital Literacy into Instruction – I can’t train every single teacher at our school, but every single teacher at our school does need to be concerned about digital and information literacy. My goal by the end of the year is to have a bank of search and research lessons available for teachers to adapt to their content area.
  • Collaborate! Harness the Talents of Students and Faculty Members – I can not do everything (and no one expects me to).  I don’t have the knowledge or time.  I am incredibly lucky to have supportive colleagues (Like the 13 other LIS faculty members participating in COETAIL) and a supportive administration.  We also have many very tech savvy students at our school.  One step I’ve already taken is the development our library assistant program.  I’m creating it with Kim Cofino’s Student Tech Team in mind, although I have departments for Reading Promotion, Administrative Duties and Events & Activities in addition to a Student Tech Support Desk.  I am also working to collaborate with and be a champion for innovative teachers at our school who are trying new things in new ways with new tools.

Day to Day Goals

  • More Real World Experts: Why not Skype in writing experts and authors during NaNoWriMo to talk about the writing process and get kids inspired? Or during Langauge lessons on writing? Or both?!?
  • Global Collaboration: Chloe (my super co-teacher) and I are talking to a school in Massachusetts about starting some collaborative activities across book clubs.  Hopefully this will grow over time into something like the Sister Classroom Project, but with our schools connecting across many subjects instead of just a book club.
  • Kindles for Checkout: Next September (or October or August, depending on when our shipping container gets released from the snarl that is the Luanda port) we will be piloting Kindles in the secondary library.  I would like to move onto to other mobile technologies in the following year.
  • Apps! Apps! Apps!: Our students use their phones for everything, so I need to more actively promote the available research apps within our student body and our faculty. I dipped my toe in by blogging about World Book Online and Destiny Quest Apps, but I need to have a more comprehensive approach to this.  I think this sort of guerilla, change from the inside work, will go a long way towards changing the culture as we work to have our policies and procedures catch up with our reality.
  • Student PLEs/PLNs:  Personal Learning Environments is something I’ve talked about before, both here and in other online professional communities.  Supporting students in developing their own PLEs or PLNs is a core part of our job as librarians, and I think our Personal Project in Year 11 at LIS would be a great place to launch this idea with students and teachers.

So, while I don’t need a fancy report to tell me we need to make some changes, it is always nice to have reliable resources to share with naysaying colleagues.


Tech Tuesdays: Bringing Tech to the Teachers

Recently, a fellow COETAIL-er asked me about the Tech Tuesdays professional learning series I run at LIS.  In the spirit of giving back to the EdTech community, here’s a primer on Tech Tuesday.

  • What: Weekly professional learning session introducing faculty to a new tech tool
  • Where: The Secondary Library
  • When: Tuesdays before school from 7:15-7:45 am
  • Who: All LIS Faculty
  • Why: because Chris Hines made me do it! To support teacher professional learning and move the use of educational technology forward at our school

Do I do this all by myself? 

It really is a team effort; like most of my job as a librarian, I’m more of a facilitator.  I get a lot of support from Rhena, Donovan, and Mags, who attend regularly and lend a helping hand whenever I need one.  I had a guest star when Jac presented about using ClassCharts and ClassDojo for classroom management, and it looks like I’ll get a pair of guest stars in the form of Chloe and Donovan presenting about Padlet.  Many of the tools I present are introduced to me by other educators at LIS, like Ju, who talked me into presenting Thinglink at tomorrow’s Tech Tuesday.

How do I plan it?

At first I just plugged tools I liked, like Diigo and our eReference resources.  Then I got more strategic and went for themes, like Digital Storytelling. For a little over a month, I introduced a different digital storytelling tool each week: Voicethread, Storybird, and podcasting made the list. That stretch concluded with a three part series on iMovie. For the next several weeks, my theme is “Visual Literacy 2.0”. I am sharing tools which allow students to share or explore information through “media rich visuals” (phrase blatantly stolen from ThingLink).

How do I promote it?

We have morning notices at our school, and I put a message in for the teachers each morning about upcoming Tech Tuesdays.  I also send out a separate email on Mondays, reminding teachers about the next day’s session and sharing relevant information.  This has been surprisingly effective, as teachers who don’t attend will still explore the tool of the week and end up using it in their classroom.  Whatever it takes, I say!

How do I structure it?

There was a short, frustrating phase where people would wander in at anytime between 7:15 and 7:45, which is when I realized I needed a structure. Here’s what I’m working with:

  • 7:15-7:20: Overview of the Tool & Intro to the Educational Benefits
  • 7:20-7:30: Brief Tour of Features or “Need to Know” bits, Sharing Examples of the Tool in Use
  • 7:30-7:45: Teachers signing up, using the tool, asking questions (Dare I Say Geeking Out and Messing Around?)

Future of Tech Tuesday

Well, bringing it back to our readings, I want to figure out how to do new things in new ways and I have no idea what that looks like!  At least not for the part of my job where I support professional learning.  I know I am doing old things old ways (purchasing print books for our professional collection), and old things new ways (sharing resources with the faculty through our LIS Tech Group and LIS Faculty Group; blogging about EdTech; helping to coordinate our COETAIL cohort of 13 people at LIS). But what is “new things new ways” going to look like in professional learning?

If you are in charge of professional learning at your school, how are you changing your professional learning?  Teachers, how would you like to see professional learning change? Has anyone seen anything which makes you think, “Wow! That is a new thing in a new way!”?