Reflection – my thoughts

I am deep into reflection as part of the process of finishing up my degree. There are parts of reflection that are truly discomforting, but there are parts where you realize in hindsight how far you have come. I think this is something I will keep in mind when working with students. We ask them to reflect on things but forget that it may not always be a comfortable process. Being a student as an adult has given me an invaluable chance to relate to those I teach, even if reflection isn’t always comfortable.


LONG overdue

I began the semester in January with a goal of posting every two weeks. That did not happen. I’d like to say I was so busy doing fabulous things and learning all sorts of new techniques that I didn’t get a chance to post all semester, but I’d be lying. This is what happened



Barely two weeks into the semester I managed to break my hand, my right hand. Yes, I am right handed. Panic quickly ensued when I thought about all the work ahead of me and being without a usable hand for weeks on end. You would be amazed at what you can do with your left hand if you have to & that it is possible to type with just your left hand and one finger, LOL.  My hand still isn’t back to normal, but I’m out of casts and braces and the surgeon said to try to do everything I normally would. That brings me back to many things, among them posting to my blog. Remembering way back to when I began this program, a librarian is flexible. I have learned that many, many times over the past 8 months and I’ll tell you all about it in my next few posts. Until then, here’s to making it to the end of the school year.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to a new semester I go

After an EXTREMELY brief break from classes, I’m already a week into a new semester. Where did the time go? I would really like to pretend it is summer and I am sitting on a beach somewhere. Obviously, I am at my desk since I’m typing this 😉 This semester my classes focus on Reference and Reading. I’m looking forward to them with a mix of anticipation and terror. I love learning more, but I do not know what challenges the semester will hold. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly. I wish everyone a very successful school year filled with learning, laughs, and love.

Confession Time- I am not a techy person

I have to be honest, when I began this class at the beginning of the summer I was terrified. I am not a techy person, I’m willing to poke around but the thought of creating content terrified me. I honestly thought I was going to need a Valium when we had to embed things in our blogs and when it came time to build a website I almost lost it. Flash forward to the end of the semester and here I am having embedded pictures, video, audio, and I have even created three websites- I’m feeling much better than I did when this class began. You could almost say I enjoy everything, I do as long as I’m not getting a grade 😉 That brings me to my last project, a portfolio that is formatted as a conference presentation. I’ve embedded it here for you to check out.

Portfolio Presentation submission

I hope some other people who think they are “untechy” take to heart that they can do more than they ever dreamed, they just have to play with what they’re afraid of. I wish you a happy vacation & I’ll see you in September.

The future is coming

This week I had to choose three websites from AASL Best Websites list that look interesting. Please, ask me to play- LOL. I have spent my day doing nothing but play with websites & accomplishing a fat lot of nothing because I am having too much fun. Yes, trying out tech tools can be fun.

The first site I checked out was Screencast-O-matic. Let me say I had way too much fun exploring this tool. This tool is great for sharing your screen with students and narrating what you are modeling for them. I brought up several webpages and had multiple tabs open while using it but all that can be seen in the screencast is what I wanted to show, the webpages. Screencast projects a red and white striped box around what it is recording, everything outside the box is invisible in the final video.  It is important that you know that the free account only records narration, it will not record sound from your computer which is a drawback if you want to share a video. Of course, you could always put your speakers at full volume and hope Screencast records the sound if you are playing a video (it isn’t like I tried doing that 🙂 )  You can check out my Screencast where I talk about using the tool and show it in use here. 

Pixabay, Pixaby, how do I love thee? With your thousands upon thousands of creative commons images what is there not to love? This is a great go to site for students in search of creative commons images for projects. All the images are CC0 which means they can be used, mashed up, altered, etc. The site says you do not have to give attribution but it is the best practice to alway give attribution to every picture you use. One very cool feature about this site that I did not know about until 5 minutes ago is if you use the explore tab it brings down a menu that gives you options of how you search for images and you can search by camera!!!! You can search by the type of camera that took the pictures!!! I am so excited about this. I got a new camera a year ago that I have yet to fully explore but I was able to see pictures that other people took with this camera and I am so excited to see exactly what this camera can do. I already loved the camera but now I may be infatuated with it thanks to Pixabay. This tip may be good to share with the photography teacher or yearbook advisor- have students explore images by camera type to get an idea of what a particular camera can do. (PS- I did set up a Pixabay account and upload a few pictures, message me and I’ll share my screen name with you.)

Google Keep– Google Keep is a neat tool that allows you to take notes, save urls, and set reminders and access them across devices since it is part of the Google suite of tools with so many schools using Google Classroom this is probably a great tool to keep in the back of your mind to help students with note taking and setting up task reminders. This is what it looks like:


One way to stay current is to follow blogs. I already follow a few that were mentioned in this week’s sandbox so I explored a few more. I knew I’d follow Diana Rendina’s blog regardless of what was on there because she has such incredible makerspace ideas so I looked for a blogger I may have overlooked before and discovered Andy Plemmons at Expect the Miraculous.  I was so inspired by just reading one of his blog posts I knew he was someone I absolutely had to follow. I checked out his blog a little further and noticed he had a bunch of badges and the one that sealed the deal when it came to choosing someone to follow was the Sensational Student Voice badge from AASL. That’s what I am most interested in, the student voice and libraries that are there for the students and not the librarian. I can do that in the physical world but I have a hard time creating a digital world that engages students in something more than academic, but I’m a work in progress and that will change as I learn more. With people like Andy Plemmons to look up to I’m sure I’ll find ways to create both a physical and digital space for students to have their voice.

I came, I saw, I learned, I’m exhausted

We had Summer Institute this week, two days of in person learning with experts in the field of school librarianship. Finally seeing the people you have spent hours online with was wonderful and gave you the chance to put the person with the name you see on the screen. There were so many great ideas and truly “aha moments” spread throughout the days that it was exhausting trying to keep up. (This is where I’ll say thanks to my husband for getting me that iPad so I could write my notes and record at the same time- great for when I can’t figure out what my notes say.)

I loved Dr. Perry’s presentation about the library for future ready students. It was heartbreaking to hear the numbers from California, 1 librarian for at least every 7,000 students? Yes, a 1 to 7,000 ratio. It sent my brain reeling on to all sorts of thoughts. One of the biggest was if thousands of students in one of the largest states in our country do not have librarians will we eventually see an even greater disparity in knowledge and critical thinking skills in the future if the movement to save money by cutting librarian positions continues? Just as my heart was sinking there was one ray of hope in the form of a makerspace. I understand the concept of makerspace but I have struggled with how I would have one in a library since I tend to be a crafty person and not a techy person. Why not embrace that but add an element that gets students more involved by adding a caring component? That’s what Gina Seymour at Islip High School (Go LI!!!!) did in her school’s makerspace, it’s maker +C (caring). I could absolutely do something like that. We have so many groups we can reach out to in our community that would benefit from things created in a makerspace. I will be keeping this idea in mind for the future.

A common theme through the presentations I went to was you have to believe in what you are doing or where you are going before you can get others on board. It is great to have a vision but if you fail to convince the teachers and the administration that your vision is possible and will benefit the students then all you will have is a vision. What good is a vision to anyone but you?

I had two ideas to follow up on from Summer Institute. I loved learning about fandom. I had no idea how in depth it went. The array of levels and terms was mind blowing. I have had conversations with students about certain elements of fandom in the past but I had no idea of the depth that fandom can have while I was talking to them. If I am lucky enough to find a job in a high school library I will definitely find a way to embrace fandom in the library. My other idea to follow up on comes from the session on e-books. My district is in the process of going 1:1. My thinking is that as more of our students have devices we need to embrace e-books more than we do. At the schools I work in there are e-books in the collection but they are almost never checked out. Students do not know how to check them out and I doubt most teachers know how to check them out either. Why not use bookmarks to advertise the e-books like they did in Dare County? I already plan on teaching the students how to check out e-books, I could write the steps on bookmarks and give them to the students so they could check out books at home or school. It’s a simple low tech idea that will help them navigate a high tech tool.

I really enjoyed Summer Institute. Seeing friends, meeting the people behind the name, hearing from the field, it was all incredible. Now, if only the semester was over so I could recover but alas, I have to go back to reality and Module 4 & 5 (678) and create a portfolio/conference proposal.


I came, I saw, I played

I managed to get my hands on a Sphero, played with a green screen, and went on a couple of Google Expeditions. I’m a little more confused about Sphero than I was before, kind of have a glimmer of an idea about green screens, and am totally in love with Google Expeditions.

I still don’t understand how a Sphero works. I had my hands on the iPad, I moved the arrows, I swiped the speed, and Sphero went bounding off under a table. I think I need to go to remedial Sphero. I think this is one of the things that has a learning curve and I just didn’t have enough time today to learn how to do it. I can understand why students love it, it’s cool to watch it shake and then take off, but I need quiet time to figure out how to use it before I even think about using it with students.

The green screen made sense when the app actually worked. It’s kind of like combining a melody and a harmony line, I understand that now. There are still mysteries to the green screen but I have a little bit of a clue now that I didn’t before.

Google Expeditions was the one thing I really wanted to check out. It was nice to find out that the viewers we tried today were under $4 each, that makes it reasonable to purchase a class set, but what do you do if your students don’t have devices? I haven’t heard of too many schools having iPod Touches for student use, usually there are iPads & they are too big for the viewer. Google Expeditions has great potential but equity needs to be part of the planning process when you go to use it with students.

Just a few thoughts, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about tomorrow. #oduopenspaces

Tech week aka my brain’s a spinnin’

We’re going to be on campus this week going to seminars and playing with tech tools/toys. My head’s kind of spinning with the amount of things I’ll be exposed to. Here’s a little bit about the things we’ll be playing with, I mean learning about 😉

Little Bits- think of them as Legos but juiced up! Little Bits are blocks containing circuits that you put together like you would Legos but when Little Bits are put together they light up, make sounds, or move. I could see using these in a makerspace to allow students to track the blocks of code they have to put together to create the action they want.
Google Expeditions- this is the tool I am most excited about. Instead of showing students pictures of something and telling them about it you can take them there. I can tell a student the Great Wall of China is massive and long but they understand the concept of its size when they use virtual reality to go there. I really want this to be practical for classroom use, I’d like to take students on field trips to places they may never see.

Paper circuits- Paper circuits consist of copper tape, a battery, and an LED.  Paper circuits would be a great way to show students the concept of a closed circuit instead of just telling them about it.

Sphero- Sphero looks like a ball but it is a robot that you control using code. Sphero is a great tool for teaching students coding without them realizing they’re coding.

Makey-Makey-  Makey-Makey is similiar in function to a paper circuit. You pick an object to be your key, you plug your makey-makey board into your usb, you use alligator clips to attach your object to your board, you use an alligator clip to create a ground wire, hold your ground, tap your key and viola- it works. It works because when you hold the ground and tap the key you are creating a closed circuit.

Ozobots- I’ve actually played with these before, not very much, I kind of had to actually work while I was at school 😉 Ozobots are great for students to learn that every action (colored line) influences another action. I watched students draw lines and place their Ozobots on them to find out they didn’t move in the expected way. The students went back and looked at their lines and noticed they were too close together or they crossed one another and they went back and tried again. They did not think ahead in the Ozobot movement process as they were drawing their lines but they were able to retrace their steps and find their errors.

Green screen- I have seen these in every school I have entered and I have no clue how to use them! Classroom wise I think they would be great to use for student presentations but as far as how to actually use one- no clue. This is the one thing I absolutely have to learn about during Summer Institute.

Aurasma- This is another tool I’ve seen in use, I haven’t tried to use it myself though. I could see using it as a way to provide more information about an area of the library or to trigger extra help when an object is viewed.

Aviary app- I wasn’t familiar with this app but it seems like a neat tool. I have been known to create memes using Meme Generator by MemeCrunch for birthdays or to cheer someone up, I hadn’t thought to use memes in the classroom.

Given thirty minutes, ten minutes per tool, to learn more about the tool I’d have to explore green screens, Sphero, and Google Expeditions. Let me start listing the reasons…..

Green screen- every school I have been in has one. I have no idea how to use one other than you stand something in front of it and you film. How do you know you’ve filmed your footage correctly so you can add backgrounds later? Can you edit people or objects out if they are not green? Can you draw outlines in when you edit? I’ve seen students doing the morning news who are heads and pants with nothing in between. Exactly how hard is it to learn using a green screen and is there a special trick when you save your video? I have lots of questions, I need to find the answers.

Sphero– I’ve seen these running around at VAASL. One of my coworkers was so enthralled that she had to play with one in the hallway while we were trying to get out the door for lunch, but I digress and she has since bought one for her library. I think Sphero is a way to learn to code but other than moving around what does it do? I am serious, what does it do? Can I make it do things other than roll around? Is there a use for it other than to learn to code? What happens if your Sphero crashes? How hard is it to program? I tried to download the app but it didn’t come up in the app store so I really want to get my hands on this and figure it out.

Google Expeditions– I want to learn MORE about this. Where can you go on an expedition? Is there a way to use it with an iPad? It seems like it would only work with something smaller like a phone or an iPod.  Is there a way you can suggest Google Expeditions if there isn’t one already made for a topic you want to teach? What limits are there on expeditions? Do they time out or can you stay in one until you are ready to leave? Are there options available for schools to purchase Google Cardboard or similar devices at reduced cost? I really want to take students on virtual field trips but if getting enough devices is too expensive it may not fit in the library budget.

I hope I get to explore all three tools I’m interested in, but if I don’t that’s ok because there’s a lot of open spaces out there waiting to be explored.

QR codes & that head slap moment

Let me begin by saying this semester has pulled me WAY out of my comfort zone. When I began this program two years ago my expertise was limited to creating cards, posters, and flyers with PrintMaster & Publisher, typing a letter in Word, email, and Facebooking like nobody’s business. Two years later I’m keeping a blog, embedding sound and video, and building websites. WOW!!! If you had told me back then what I would be doing today and that I would be relatively comfortable with it I would have said you were crazy. I’m going to keep my mad skills a secret from my family, they just might be jealous-lol. They all use computers every day for work,  engineering or the sports entertainment field, but I’m the one who actually does fun things with a computer 🙂

That brings me to this week’s focus, layered reality and what can we do with it at school. Layered reality boils down to seeing something in front of you and using a device to receive more information than what you are seeing. We experience it all the time and probably don’t know it, it’s a ubiquitous part of life. You read a magazine and in an ad there’s the black and white box inviting you to scan it for more information. Oh, there’s another layer to that ad & if I want to learn about it I can scan the QR code. You go to a museum and they invite you to download their app for the best experience. OK, so you do it- what happens? As you’re walking through the museum your phone suddenly comes to life when you point it at an object and you are given more information about a piece, or you see a video that explains the provenance of a piece. You walk through the mall and there’s a booth inviting you to strap on some goggles to try out virtual reality. We live in a world with layered reality and we don’t realize it since it’s always there.

Now that we’re aware of layered reality how do we use it in the classroom or library? Let me start with there may be some things that we won’t be able to do, that’s ok, use what you can. I love the idea of putting QR codes on books that will bring a student to a book trailer, but what about the QR code bringing them to a list of books that are similar to the one in their hand? How often do students ask for a book similar to one they like? This way they can find that answer immediately without waiting for the librarian to answer their question.  You could also label centers with QR codes that students can scan to be brought to a worksheet. This would be great in a school that is 1:1. How about making a QR code that links to a document containing checkout policies and putting it throughout the library so students can scan it and know how long a checkout period is? If you are really ambitious you could link it a page which would tell students the due date for materials checked out that day, they would know when the books are supposed to be returned before they even checked them out, that could be useful for students doing projects.

Augmented reality is another great tool that can be used at school. I have seen it used for novel presentations in dual-enrollment English classes. Students created traditional trifold boards but there were “triggers” on the boards that once scanned with an iPad brought to new content like a museum’s website or a video. Students were able to give more information on their novels than the presentation board allowed by utilizing augmented reality.  I’m sure that is just the beginning of what students could do with AR (augmented reality). I’m going to explore AR, I think it could be an incredible tool in the classroom or library.

Virtual reality would be the hardest to use in the classroom due to cost or device limitations. I love the idea of using virtual reality to bring students to places they may never see in real life. Instead of hearing about the Great Barrier Reef they could dive it courtesy of VR (virtual reality). Instead of watching videos of Mt. Everest they could stand there and take in the view from it. VR has the potential to open the world for students but until it becomes more practical (mainly equipment wise) it probably won’t be seen in many schools.

We’re all going to be in Norfolk this week for Summer Institute so I thought I’d share some QR codes for dinner ideas. Why I didn’t think of doing this sooner warrented a head slap moment. How easy it was to create the codes to share this information, why didn’t I think of it sooner?!!!There’s a code that brings you to the Norfolk Restaurant Week site, one for Waterside District (totally redone, not the Waterside you might remember), and two more that bring you to the webpages for two of my favorite places to eat in Norfolk. Enjoy, see you this week in the wide open spaces.

restaurant week

QR code for waterside

Grilled cheese bistro