Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

App of the Week - TeacherCast Pro

Read a blog,
 listen to a podcast,
 read app reviews,
 find a job,
 watch educational videos....
 This mobile version of the website allows you to have all of these great features on the go.

 Jeff Bradbury, the webmaster behind the site, is a music teacher.  
He has assembled an entire social network of contributors to his comprehensive site.  

If I only had one educator app, this would be it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Myth #6 - Information Skills Can Wait 'til College

What Sparked this Myth
Recently, I was speaking to someone in a district-level decision-making position about libraries and the subject of learning library skills, specifically locating and evaluating information. This person shared that she did not learn to navigate a library until college and had not considered that perhaps today's students - with electronic resources providing a flood of information - should master these skills earlier.

My Story
This conversation caused me to ponder when I learned to use the library and, later, the internet. In stark contrast to her story, I was provided with formal library instruction staring in 2nd grade. For two weeks I was (gasp!) pulled out of reading my class (gasp!) to attend library class. It was held in a room behind the circulation desk, back where the secret library work took place. (That alone was pretty exciting.) In those two weeks, I was part of a small group of students who learned the differences between, and process of, conducting author, subject, and title searches in the card catalog. We learned shelf order and the Dewey Decimal system. We learned how to find books to meet an information or recreational needs, from looking them up to locating on the shelves.

In this same library, we began learning to independently use media in 1st grade, with stations set up for filmstrips and audio books after book selection.

As 4th grade began, I moved to another school in the same district. This new library had an entire glass-enclosed media room we students could visit after checkout. It accommodated an entire class and was full of all sorts of now-obsolete machines.... My 5th grade teacher was big on inquiry-based learning. We wrote several research reports in her class and she taught us to cite our sources.

In 8th grade, my speech teacher took us to the library and showed us how to use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Remember those??? Look up what you need and then pray that 1) the library subscribes to that publication, and 2) no one had torn out the article you needed.

By the time I got to college, the only thing left was the transition from Dewey to Library of Congress. Somewhere along the way I picked up the difference between magazine and journals. Internet skills were learned as a teacher, through district-mandated trainings, MLS courses, and self imposed learning.

What is Your Story?
As I mused over my history, I recalled that there were students in my MLS classes that were unfamiliar with Dewey until starting graduate work. I count myself fortunate to have grown up in a district that taught me information skills so early. I also feel fortunate to have had a village (librarians, teachers, technology gurus) to teach me.

Now I want to know when and how YOU learned to use the library... and if you think that same plan works for today's students.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Apps of the Week - iSwifter & Rover

These two apps have been around a while, but I encountered colleagues
this past week to whom they were unknown, so I thought it best to
share, just in case you, dear reader, are also Flash-impaired.

As you are probably aware, iPads will not run flash. But the iSwifter
app makes it possible to view Flash content on an iPad. They do this
by executing the flash content on their own servers and then magically
forwarding it to the iPad. To the best of my knowledge, iSwifter was
created with gamers in mind, and it does ask if users are over 17. 

But never fear if you have your heart set on using Flash via iPad with
your students. Rover, by iSwifter, is the education app. With
appropriate firewalls in place, the Rover app ensures that downloaded
content is in compliance with CIPA.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Have you heard of We Transfer? I used it today to send a large .tar file - We Transfer allows you up to upload up 2 GB of data! Okay, some of you out there probably knew this existed, but not me. And..... the fact that it is free makes it an even better discovery!

I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Libraries 2020

The world of information is changing...

Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future

Are YOU - students, parents, teachers, administrators, librarians - changing too?  

Is YOUR perception of a librarian's role changing?

App of the Week: VidRythm

This week's app is mostly for fun, in honor of Summer Vacation.

I know it could be used educationally. As a music teacher, or even as a classroom teacher, I would incorporate this when studying rhythm, but it's unlikely I would use it in the library.

Have a look and have fun!

.Easy as 1, 2, 3...

1-Choose a song

2-Pick the style of video you would like to create

3-Record yourself making sounds and visuals for your video

Watch your video and share with friends

Great alone or with friends... We even featured our pets! Guaranteed to make you smile.

Friday, June 8, 2012


A Hot Potato

Based on some of the comments we received in the poll for Myth #5, this topic of titles and certification touched a nerve among our readers.  I see this as a positive, because it leads to discussion, and discussion can lead to greater understanding among individuals... If we all keep an open mind.  

So before we look at the poll results, let's talk about who we (all of us) are.

Who We Are

People who work in libraries love books or students or reading or teaching or technology or organizing or some of the above and sometimes all of the above.  We are a passionate group.  We come to the library from different walks of life and specialize in different aspects of librarianship.  We begin our role of librarian before, during, or after becoming certified.  Some of us are assigned to the role, some of us volunteer.  Some of us take two or three or more years to complete our degree; others take the fast-track and complete it faster.  We are learners and we are teachers.
In the case of these Flying Librarians, Ann and I were both certified teachers who moved into the library and started working as our schools' librarians before we were certified.   Personally, I found this to be invaluable and enriching.  EVERYTHING I was learning was immediately applied.  I had a group of peers and an expert (the professor) with whom I could bounce new ideas and improve them before trying them out with students. One vivid memory during my LMS classes is of analyzing the materials in my reference section (back in the day when we had large reference sections), and discovering materials I would never have seen until it was time to weed them.  It was eye-opening to the classroom teacher in me who would have used said materials if I had known they existed.  

What is in a Name?

I worked in the library.  I was in charge of the library.  I taught students in the library.  I called myself the librarian.  I will not apologize for taking on the title before the certification... What else would I have called myself?    But herein lies the conundrum we face... Because we do not have clear titles, the definition of a librarian is muddied.  The public has developed their own understanding of who we are and what we do based on their prior experiences.  And some of those experiences are 20+ years old!

Most people would never walk into a doctor's office and call everyone in there a doctor.  And doctor could get away with calling herself one before she has completed her certification.   But in the medical world has provided a number of titles to identify at what level a doctor is: intern, resident, board certified.  Librarians do not spend time as interns or residents, but perhaps we should.  

I have worked with certified librarians.  Some were amazing, some were less so.

I have worked with library staff who were certified teachers who have taken classes but not finished their library degree.  Their years of experience give them an edge over those with LMS degrees just starting out in the library. 

I have worked with library staff who were not certified teachers, not taking LMS classes, but worked magic with their students on a daily basis. 

Currently, I work with some of the finest library assistants who receive minimal guidance from certified librarians, and do a fine job of keeping the doors open and the books circulating while they juggle non-library related duties.   


As school library positions are cut, it seems that our job has been boiled down to book circulation, and the common belief is that ANYONE can circulate books.  Anyone can.  But can ANYONE assess a students interests and reading ability through a casual conversation?  Can ANYONE teach a student how and why to access a database rather than "do a Google" search?  Can ANYONE convince teachers that graphic novels are really books with merit?  Does ANYONE know what to do when a parent comes in to request a book is removed from the shelves?  Does ANYONE know why we do not arrange a library by reading level and restrict students to the books that an automated reading program has identified at their "instructional level", but allow them free access to information so they can satisfy their curiosity and information needs? 

So what is the difference between certified school librarian and ANYONE?  The #1 difference is that we are teachers, and we need the public and our supervisors to know that. How are you spreading that message?

Poll Results:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher and Librarian

State of the Library

Ann is AMAZING.  She has no technology fear, is an early adopter, and, best of all, immediately sees how to integrate new technology applications into current practice.  

Rather than submit a word or .pdf document, she turned our annual library report into an online magazine with

Have a look:

Friday, June 1, 2012

App of the Week: ShowYou

I am challenged.

Just ask Ann.

I have had an account since completing 23 Things in 2010, but I rarely used it. Ann, however, is a master at Twitter, and has encouraged me to jump back into the stream...

Maribel Castro is another Twitter-inspiration. At each presentation I've attended, she mentions Twitter and its value to her professionally. She recognizes that we all have our preferred social media (I am a Facebook person, Maribel is not.) At her last presentation, she confessed to being Prezi-challenged, and shared that she commits herself to learning a new technology each month.

So I am committing myself to mastering Twitter. I can do the basics: log on, follow, read posts.... and I even post myself, although most of my posts come via! But there are two challenges I need to overcome:

I need to learn the language

Twitter is a foreign language in which I am not yet fluent. Most posts look like a bunch of gibberish with all the #'s and @'s and URL's. My 10-year-old daughter, in an effort to help, added Justin Bieber to my feed. Dare I admit that this teenager's plain-language tweets are the most intelligible easiest to read (yet irrelevant) of all I receive???

I need to learn to Tweet effectively

Time saver or time waster? How do YOU handle the non-stop stream of tweets? I tried using HootSuite, which is a good app, but left me deafened in a cacophony of tweets. For a time, I avoided Twitter completely because the tweets from colleagues read as a list of links... links that I feared would take me on too many bird walks (no pun intended) to be a productive use of my time.

Showyou to the rescue!

While it has not reduced ALL my Twitter anxiety, Showyou has simplified a great portion of the links I receive. Showyou delivers of all the videos my contacts post in Twitter and Facebook, and it allows me to browse through thumbnail clips of them, taking some of the guesswork out of which links to pursue. There is even an option to follow other Showyou users, which I have not yet experimented with.

  What are YOUR Twitter survival strategies?

I have a prize to mail out for the most helpful tip/comment I receive by the end of the working day, 5:00 CDT, Monday, June 11. 
(Anonymous comments do not qualify. Sorry.)

End of the Year Meeting....

Twiddle A and Twiddle C

Leave it to Cindy to suggest a theme for our End of the Year Meeting with all of our library staff across the district.  When she said she wanted an Alice and Wonderland Theme - I figured we would make the perfect Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum; hence the above pic.  I love all of our IDEA library staff and I am excited for all of us to gear up for summer.  

Of course the hardest part of our upcoming meeting will be that we will need to say goodbye to Cindy.  Cindy has been recruited to be the Head Librarian for The Bonn International School in Germany.  There is a big part of me that is so jealous because that means she will be doing what we both love - teaching and working with incredible International Baccalaureate students.  But, the hardest part will be the separation of what I consider the best working relationship I have ever had.  We compliment each other in so many ways.  She has taught me SO much and I look forward to continuing our blog with her in Europe and me in the United States.  

I am going to miss her optimism and wisdom.