Friday, August 20, 2010

Lessons I didn't learn at school, but hope to use them there

6:00 a.m.- Yes, I am up; but is it because I am so excited to start the year?  Well, a part of me is, just not the part that dislikes the alarm clock sound.  As I am sitting here in the quiet, dark morning sipping that first cup of coffee, I am making my back to school resolutions, they remind me of things I learned from my family!

1.  Try not to offer unsoliticed advice!  "Don't you think if you just add ...."(my mother)  or "I would do it this way." (my little brother)  We have several new teachers in our building this year, and I so want them to have a good year.  But, in my zeal to help then out, I don't want my suggestions to sound like either criticisms or expectations.  Baby steps, Liz, baby steps.

2. Remember that not everyone sees life as a series of adventures.  Me- "come on boys, let's go on an adventure!"  Boys - "The last time you said that we went to the grocery store."  I have always felt like adventure is what you make it, and I have adventures every day both large and small.  I need to step back and recall that some people see a day of hills and mountains to climb, and are not as eager to try that something new.

3. Not everything has to be good for you, all the time!  Meaning, find the joy in your teaching and learning!  Have some fun.  "Try this, it's good for you."  I hereby swear on my stack of SLSs that I will not make a face everytime someone checks out "Captain Underpants."  Just because we have to teach things like multiplication facts or the Dewey Decimal System doesn't mean we have to do it all the time, sometimes we can just share a book because we love it. 

I hearby resolve to:
  • Wake up every morning and give thanks for my job, my wonderful, my unpredictable, engaging students, my supportive, hilarious fellow teachers, and the starting of another day.
  • I will try my best to make every day a little bit better for each person I interact with, and in turn they will improve mine!

I will find joy in everyday.                                         I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 on the 10th?

Alright, I follow Cathy's tweets and blog (Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community).  She is a friend and former literacy coach, and great early morning debater of topics large and small.  For details on this event, check out Cathy's blog.

Liz's Pick
1. The Napping House, what is there to say, critical viewing, change of prespective, amazing cumulative text.
2. The Other Side.
3. Tuesday.  Wordless books offer so much to the reader.
4. We had a Picnic This Sunday Past, Jacqueline Woodson.  Voice, characterization, sense of place, and great language
5. The Curious Garden
6. The Straight Line Wonder by Mem Fox
7.The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen
8. 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore.  Definitely a conversation starter
9. Diary of a Fly
10. The Rescue of Aunt Pansy by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Addicted to technology? Or super shopper? You decide.

While attempting to organize my home office and get ready to take some things back to school, I realized that I have purchased a lot of new technology this summer.  I love it, it's great, but am I letting technology drive what I do?  Because of this question, I went searching for answers, and yes, I turned to the Internet.  I entered the phrase, "design 21st century learning environment" and got some interesting responses.  Of course, there are companies designing pre packaged learning under this new label, but I also found this.   It is the latest white paper from P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Learning), 34 pages long, but a wonderful read!  We can't just buy all the new stuff, throw it at teachers and say, now you are a 21st century teacher. 
Back to the Innovation conference last week, I listened to a presenter who said, before getting any new piece, ask yourself, how can this be used to enhance education for my students.  Not just how can we add "razzle dazzle" to our final report.  With all that said, here are the items I purchased that I am betting will engage and deepen my student's learning and/or my teaching.
1. Flip camera. ($159) These are not new, but I really want to turn mine over to students to help us document what we are learning as we go though a study together.  This will help me as I reflect at the end of a unit, what worked, or more importantly, what didn't, and why.
2.  Pulse pen. ($129, plus $$ for the peripherals) It's the pen that will upload notes to your computer, and record the talking that went with it!  I want to share with teachers, I see lots of classroom application, but for the library learning center, I am going to challenge the kids to help us discover its best uses. 
3.IPEVO Point 2 View USB Camera  ($67 dollars on Amazon, new.)  It attaches with a USB connection, does NOT use the expensive bulbs that Elmo's use, and can be attached to lap tops around the room to design more "student at point of need" learning.  (Disclaimer:  I saw this at a conference, have not yet used it with kiddos, but I will as soon as I have some when school starts and will update!)
4.  Smart board.  OK, I had this last year, but this year I want to "re brand" it as a student used learning opportunity, not my glorified white board.

All of these tools should help me use inquiry in my daily teaching; small groups, at point of need, as well as using inquiry as my foundation on which I will design all of my teaching for this year.

My next blog I will share the next step of my journey toward an inquiry based library instruction.  It has already become a collaborative event, planning with another media specialist in my district to design a reciprocal communication between our students as we design this.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I have spent the last three days (plus one more day tomorrow) at a Conference co-sponsored by our district on Innovative Learning Environments.  I am energized and recharged.  The common threads from this conference on 21st century learning are: student choice for passionate learning, moving beyond standards, individualized learning opportunities.  How to do this?  Inquiry and projects, student-led learning, collaboration, utilizing 21st century tools to use strengths to enhance their learning.  My thought is this;  where in the school building can we do this?  The media center, of course!  But wait, this is 21st century learning, so let's use the 24/7 knowledge building center (online media center, and more!) to create, build upon, and share these learning opportunities.  I have found my goal for this year -- to guide  my students, staff, and extended learning community to contribute to and own this endeavor. 
To forward this goal, I am revamping my library home page (housed on my Destiny webpage), using Google Docs, wikis, Livebinder, flip cameras, and whatever else allows me to engage my students.  My physical space has already been revamped as best as can be in a 50 year old building (I like to call it the warm and cozy welcoming sanctuary), and I have just ordered a new $60 document camera (that is not a typo), and a few more tools to encourage these projects.
What next?  Think up some content and interest-driven projects and invite teachers to join me.