Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Curriculum 21 and Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Today, during our professional development, we had an amazing opportunity to hear from a visionary in the field of education and curricular design, Heidi Hayes Jacobs.  As she spoke during our morning session, I felt a whole lot of this running through me.

For example: 
Heidi spoke about differentiated professional development reflective of not only your district but individual buildings respective of their cultures and tribal patterns.

She attributed the quote "You're either growing or you're decaying" to Jean Piaget.  I've found it attributed to either Lou Holz (sub dying for decaying) and Alan Arkin.  Though I don't doubt Jean Piaget has said something to this effect too.  He was pretty into growth and child development, after all.

The message hard chairs in rows sends: Stay in your place.  Design flexible spaces.

In relation to curriculum, we need to decide what to cut; what to keep; and what to create.

Perspective taking.  Last week, we watched this video from Alan November.  Similarly, Heidi pointed out that in Britain, the "American Revolution" is referred to as "The War with the Colonial Insurgents."

Digital Literacy involves Access; Selection; Curation; and Creation

Research means to "search again"

In our buildings/districts, there are "people doing interesting work that should be shared." 
Um, hello #sharetheawesome

Things I'm planning to check out:

The film, Beyond Measure   Not surprising to me, this is by the same film maker who created The Race to Nowhere, Vicki Abeles.

I look forward to my trip (wink wink) to the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY but moreover, checking out the available resources for educators in media creation and literacy.

I also look forward to my trip to The Reading and Writing Project with Lucy Calkins.

Some other resources I plan to investigate further are here in this Symbaloo.  I plan to add more resources as I read Heidi's book, Curriculum 21.

*I don't usually make my symbaloos lopsided, but I noticed that when embedded this was cutoff and made a design decision to do so so you can see them without having to scroll and whatnot.

Oh, and then there's this.  Like Richard Byrne and Donalyn Miller before her, I'm sure this was not at all creepy for Heidi.  Because we are on a first name basis.  She said so.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

#PSLA2016 Reflections


Keynote with Richard Byrne
Last year, on May 1st, I posted this picture to twitter.

Because I was. so. excited.  RICHARD BYRNE?!  THE Richard Byrne?!  When I posted this to twitter and tagged him, he helpfully pointed out that his name was misspelled.  Oops.  But I digress.  I had been following his blog, Free Technology 4 Teachers, since I don't even know when.  Every time teachers thought I was somehow a tech savant, it was really ideas and breaking tech news he had shared on his blog.  Which I highly recommend you follow if you don't already.  Back in the time of non-clunky RSS readers, I was more consistent, but still I check in on how everything is going with broadband in Maine.  So I was looking forward to this keynote for approximately a year and was not disappointed.

I'm sure this was only mildly creepy for Richard.
Some favorites:

  • Let them tinker.
  • Create wise consumers of information.
  • Use a google search challenge for students to come up with their own questions.
  • Help Your Students Become Better Searchers
  • As a teacher, you don't know everything anymore.
  • Instead of "Today we will learn..." shift to "Today we will explore..."
  • Model sharing for students.
  • Connect people to good ideas and let them do.
  • Let kids solve real world problems.
And looking ahead to next year...
#sharetheawesome: PD Under the Radar
If you caught up on my Common Ground update, then you may already know all about the awesome.  This presentation was only slightly different with the addition of one slide that I thought was a good intro for faculty meeting breakout sessions.  It looked a little like this.

Not true in my school because we have awesome faculty meetings now!
I created the above image using Image Chef if you'd like to try to make your own.  But the real difference this time around is that my co-presenter couldn't be there in person.  Which was bad.  And very, very good.  Because it gave us the opportunity and challenge to try something different.  And model for participants how to virtually connect.  So, we did.  And we had a few back up plans too.  After some connectivity issues at Common Ground and YouTube videos that were slow to load, we made a plan that Brittany would connect to the group via Google Hangouts and share her screen of the presentation so that she could follow along in live time and lend her voice.  We would flip back to my computer to show the videos from YouTube and I had them already loaded so there would be no buffer time needed.  And JUST IN CASE we lost the connection to Brittany, she even recorded videos of herself explaining her slides and programs.  To add a fun twist, the afternoon before our presentation, Brittany was invited to go on a field trip to accept an award with some of her students.  At the same time as our presentation.  So, she brought a hotspot and joined us FROM A FIELD TRIP.  That's dedication folks.

Thanks for making it happen, Brittany!
Oh, and did I mention?  No, I did not.  Our presentation was at 9:15.  At the SAME time that Jerry Spinelli and Alan Gratz were presenting author presentations and Richard Byrne (you remember him, from above) was presenting right next door to us.  And people still came.  I'm not going to lie.  I don't know if I would have come to our presentation.  But people came.  And I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with some more teacher librarians and administrators.


And, to sum up our presentation, Christy Brennan created this awesome sketch note.


Beyond the Basics: Tech Tools for the Google Guru

Literature Review Roundtable

PSLA Teaching and Learning - Literature Review
Best of 2015 Book Talks

Extending Your Reading Reach: 
Connecting with Books, Authors, and Publishers

Lead the Change: Blending Professional Learning

Un-Conference #pslaunconf


Extending Our Reach: 
How Does an Author Ever Really Reach the Elusive "Reader"?

Jacqueline Davies is HYSTERICAL.  She told stories about her childhood, and how she and her siblings learned to read and the books they grew up with (of questionable quality).  Morals of the stories of her childhood: Stupid Molly painted herself into a (literal) corner; a rabbit who wished for wings, wished them away, and never wished for anything ever again.  Watching her mother read and wanting to do the same.  Not censoring writing to exclude difficult situations or words that have power.

Taking a Fresh Look at Your Library
Reordering Ranganathan
Five Laws of Librarianship
Law 1: Save the time of the reader.
Law 2: Every person his or her book.
Law 3: Books are for use.
Law 4: Every book its reader.
Law 5: A library is a growing organism.

The Four P's of Marketing

"Bad libraries build collections.  Good libraries build services.  Great libraries build communities." - R. David Lankes

Have teachers come through to look through their curricular section to inform ordering.
Use images in the catalog for tech items.

Ways to invest in students:

  • Provide warm transfer
  • Understand users' interests
  • Demonstrate library value
  • Toot your own horn
  • Leverage the power of social influence

Is the procedure helping your readers?  Reflect on each process and make changes where it makes sense.

Presentations I didn't attend but that I would have liked to, and they are sharing their resources, so I am saving their resources.  Thank you all for sharing your awesome!

Incorporating Research Skills Across the Grade Levels and Curriculum

Tremendous Tech Tools

Reach Your Students with Inquiry Based Learning

Big Ideas: Bringing a Litfest to Life in our School

Tech Tools for Every Librarian

One to One and Libraries: Now What?

Maker Club 101: A Look at a School's First Year of Learning

Makerspace Outline and Rationale
Letter to Parents
Reverse Engineering Discovery Sheet
Lego Marble Maze Instructions

Skip Dewey and Skype Around the World

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sharing ALL of Common Ground's Awesome Session Stuff

Here's a peek inside my brain after a conference.

Oh wait...that's every day.
And here's a peek at my lap.  Multiple devices all with way too many open tabs.  It's amazing they all held their battery for the day.

I'm going to use Hulk Notes (more on that...probably in the summer by the time I get to it) to sum up my experiences.  And links, lots and lots of links.  So that you too can have many open tabs.  You're welcome.

Collaborate, Investigate, Debate: An Elementary Research Project

Students research to debate and video record their debate.

The Pathway to Teacher Leadership

Daniel Pink Keynote

Attunement - Ability to see things from other perspectives
Buoyancy - How do you stay afloat in an ocean of rejection? *Decatastrophize rejection*
Clarity - Ability to curate info; access is no longer issue, ability to sift is
Be an ambivert.
Give people an off ramp; make tasks easy to complete.
Two types of people: those who make life harder and those who make life easier.  Be a person that makes life easier for someone else.
Not how, but why?  Give purpose.
Help people id the hidden problems.  Solve the obvious ones.

iDeal: Inspiring, Developing, Empowering, Assessing and Leading a School Wide Independent Reading Culture
Building classroom libraries, school libraries, family and community engagement, and independent reading time in the classrooms.

#sharetheawesome: PD Under the Radar

Voice and Choice: Fostering Reader Ownership

Donalyn Miller Selfie
"When a man is penalized for honesty, he learns to lie" - Criss Jami
Just because we are assigning rigorous books doesn't mean kids are reading rigorous books.
"Access to a full-time school librarian increases students' test scores, closes the achievement gap and improves writing skills." (Lance, 2012)
Literature is both a mirror and a window.  Make sure our book collection reflects that.
Express Your Shelf Bulletin Board with Shelfies
Levels are not for children, they are for books, and for teachers to match books with children; not badges for children to wear.
Self-selected reading is twice as powerful as teacher-selected reading in developing motivation and comprehension. (Guthrie and Humenick, 2004)
Book Recommendation: Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston

Cracking the Code
Unplugged Lessons
Videos for Computer Science Lessons (not part of presentation, I just found them while poking around on

Developing 1:1 School or District Level Digital Learning Plans

Growth Mindset Roundtable
More documents will be emailed to me!  But to start, I LOVE this bibliography!

Independence Hall - Building Independence Using Osmo
William Tignor and Sarah Pease of Snow Hill Elementary School presented as Osmo Ambassadors about all the possibilities in early elementary and beyond!

Digital Collaboration to Enhance Literacy

Suggested but not free: Literably; News-O-Matic
Didn't work well for me: Zing!
I organized these with ones I either already use or will plan to try in the top two rows, and others that were suggested but I'm less apt to try are on the sides and bottom.

Globally Connected: Making Two-Voice Poems and Authentic Learning Task

Supporting Formative Assessment with Technology
FAME: Formative Assessment for Maryland Educators

What's the Mood?  What's the Setting?  What's the Theme?
Create engagement and set the tone of lessons with pictures and music.  Act out actions, and discuss alternate paths of the plot.

Examples of books to use:

  • Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack
  • Firebird by Misty Copeland
  • The Magic Ring
  • The Golden Mare
  • Mufaro's Daughter
  • Patricia Polacco books

Friday, April 29, 2016

Finding Common Ground to #sharetheawesome

So, I'm wrapping up from an amazing conference and reflecting on how completely blessed I am.  In so many ways.  But I'll begin at the beginning.  I just finished a fabulous 2 days of learning at Common Ground in Ocean City, MD.  Not only did I get to learn from amazing educators and leaders, but I also had the honor of presenting a topic about which I am passionate along with my super librarian friend, Brittany Tignor.

Brittany and I met at ISTE last summer in Philadelphia and connected over a session.  I don't actually remember what that session was.  No, maybe I do.  I *think* it was a "birds of a feather" session for teacher librarians.  Though I could be wrong about that.  Regardless, I *think* we were asked to share an idea of something we wanted to try, based on things we had learned about at the conference.  I shared about TED Talks and Brittany shared about PD While You PP and we paired together to learn more about what each of us had shared.  A partnership was formed.  We stayed in touch and decided that these two ideas might be powerful, but sparked even more ideas that we wanted to share with others.  As a result, Brittany applied to present at her state's library association's (MASL) annual conference last October.  And the presentation was accepted!  I did the same for my state association's (PSLA) annual spring conference and it was accepted again!  Brittany went out on a limb and submitted to Common Ground and (as you may have realized from above) it was accepted there too!  The presentation was well received at MASL and now at Common Ground too.

#sharetheawesome at Common Ground 2016
None of this would have been possible, though, without the support of administrators and teachers at my school and my family at home, and for that I am so, so grateful.  My administration has mentioned that there is a clear benefit as I bring back information on tools, resources, and ideas to our district.  But still.  Their support has been invaluable.  And my administrators' innovative ideas have continued to shape our presentation.  I included videos that highlight the work that my principal, Brian Swank, and my Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development, Julien Drennan, have implemented over the past year that really reflect progressive and personalized PD and fit right in with our message of sharing the awesome work our teachers are doing on a daily basis.  Likewise, with almost a year of some of these ideas in action, I was able to include feedback from some of the teachers who have participated in TED Talks 4 Teachers this year at my school and I think their voices lent credibility and real world application to those who were listening and participating in our audience yesterday at Common Ground.  And really, the ideas we share are to help teachers share their awesome.  I am so fortunate to work in a place with teachers who have so much awesome going on in their classrooms.  We are full to the brim with ideas to share at Pine Road and LMTSD.

So, shortly after I asked permission to present at and attend Common Ground, I received word about an opportunity to speak on Capitol Hill at National Library Legislative Day, and I don't know about you, but that seemed like an offer I shouldn't refuse.  So I asked permission to extend my time just a smidge.  And I get to go!

Now, the clincher for all of this is the expense beyond the opportunities, like lodging.  And that's where I have two more (extremely generous and kind) people to thank.  My friend and colleague, Karen, happens to have access to lodging in Ocean City, MD and I was able to weasel my way in there.  In fact, that's where I am sitting RIGHT NOW as I type this post.  THANK YOU KAREN!!!  And (more to the point) Karen's dad!!  You guys rock!  Tomorrow, as I continue my journey to the DC area, I get to make a family visit with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my 6 month old twin nephews and stay there for the balance of my trip.  I'm also missing my home away from home, my school library, but I know my library aide extraordinaire, Andrea, has it all under control there!

The last person I want to thank is my husband, Jeff, who gets to spend six full days flying solo with our kids.  Now, he is an expert at this, don't misunderstand.  I'm not the kind of mom who considers it babysitting when a father is spending time with his children.  Nonetheless, parenting solo is exhausting, and he didn't hesitate to agree to my crazy plan for this trip.  My kids, who did not agree to any of this, are being awesome (so far anyway) and we have been face timing to keep up with day to day communication, bedtime stories, and homework check-ins.  We live in a truly awesome time when I can practically teleport home to read stories with my kids.  And if you have never face timed a fiercely independent two year old, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Elephant Babies Around the World

This past week, I have been reading the nonfiction PA Young Reader's Choice nominee, A Baby Elephant in the Wild, with first and second graders.  I have been able to read the Follett Shelf eBolk version through the Bryte Wave reader app on an iPad and project to the SmartBoard via a wireless Apple TV.  I could just as easily read the eBook at the SmartBoard, but I have really liked the freedom of the iPad and Apple TV to circulate around the library.  Reading the book this way also allows me to zoom in on text sequences to highlight how good readers find evidence in the text and make personal connections to information.  Likewise, I can zoom in to enlarge some of the fantastic photographs.  

Earlier this week, I hosted a PD opportunity and one of the first grade teachers mentioned that in Social Studies, they are beginning to talk about maps and globes.  This lesson with A Baby Elephant in the Wild was already planned but I had planned to teach it in a month or so.  With the information that teachers were talking maps and globes, I adjusted my plans.  For that day.  And bumped the lesson up.

Why?  This lesson has an opportunity for a seamless discussion of maps and globes.  Really, any nonfiction (or fiction for that matter...I've done similar lessons with The Three Little Dassies and other stories with distinct settings that can be found on a map) with an interesting setting near or far does.  A Baby Elephant in the Wild features a map of Africa with the Congo and Namibia highlighted.  We talked about the difference between a continent and a country, the oceans around a continent and then looked at the globe and Africa in relation to the United States and North America.

Following our reading, students had questions about elephants.  I found a "teachable moment" and introduced one of our online encyclopedoa databases.  We searched the text for answers to our questions.  And found them!  We also noted information about African elephants and Asian elephants and went back to the map and globe to look at both continents and some of the countries where elephants live.

Finally, for the reason I was inspired to write this right now.  I'm sitting in my public library.  Right now.  I walked in and saw the gorgeous book, Soon, by Timothy Knapman and Patrick Benson on display.  I snatched it up and read  it right away.  The perfect companion, it highlights a fiction story about a mother and baby Asian elephant.  I highly suggest you check out both A Baby Elephant in the Wild and Soon. 


Thursday, January 7, 2016

I Don't Like Snakes

I Don't Like Snakes

Don't Like Snakes is an interesting blend of a story of a girl who (at first) doesn't like snakes but learns to grow more and more interested as she learns from her snake loving family.  She learns about how they slither in different ways, and that they don't JUST slither, they sidewind, fly, twine, swim, and climb.  Facts like these make me like this book too.  The inclusion of an index will help young readers recognize this as nonfiction and the bibliography will help them recognize the sources that have been cited to craft this tale.

I Don't Like Snakes
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Luciano Lozano
Published 2015 by Candlewick Press

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall takes the reader back to the beginning, when she was young growing up with her mother, father, and sister Judy during the turmoil of World War II.  As a result of the war, her father was away fighting, and she and her sister along with her mother relocated to Bournemouth.  Throughout her childhood, Jane explored and practiced scientific observation with dedication.  Growing up in a primarily female household, Jane recalled "I was never, ever told I couldn't do something because I was a girl."

I was interested to learn more while reading about how Jane came to be in Gombe where she made many famous discoveries.  After a friend suggested she meet with Louis Leakey, he hired her as a secretary and quickly realized her potential.  But then came a hurdle.  Jane, who had never been told she couldn't do something because of her gender was told by African officials when seeking permits to conduct observations in Gombe National Park that she could not do so by herself.  Because she was a woman.  Fortunately, her equally impressive mother, Vanne, offered to accompany her to camp.  Her first discovery, that chimpanzees used tools to acquire food, was groundbreaking.  Her simple act of being a woman scientist observing in the field was groundbreaking as well.  She paved the way for other female scientists like Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas.

The final paragraph of the book is inspired and inspiring:
"Jane believes that anyone who loves animals can take that passion and turn it into a path for life.  All animals matter.  All life matters.  And our planet can be changed by one small action at a time.  As Jane has said, "Together we can make the world a better place for all living things.""

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall also earned a place on the list of Finalists for the CYBILS award.  Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner on February 14th.

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall
Author: Anita Silvey
ISBN: 978-1-4263-1519-0
Published 2015 by National Geographic Society