Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be a Daring Defender, Part 2

Last time I blogged about Change, Innovation, and Tenacity and this time I want to finish this discussion by tackling Positivity and Collaboration.  Among my friends I've sometimes been accused of being a bit of a Polyanna who chooses to be happy. I think that's because I truly believe that
....Happiness is a Choice or that

Stay Positive by Staying Out 
of The Teacher's Lounge!
And some days, it's an EFFORT! LOL I'm going into MAP testing season tomorrow, so I'll be having my waitress smile on most of the day. Yes, I was a waitress in my 20's when I needed 2 jobs to live in Downtown of the best experiences of my life!  Taught me how to fake it, till you make it, stay positive, let things roll off my back, and keep smiling. (Even when inside I sometimes wanna let the expletives fly!)  All great training to be a middle school teacher!

Don't Be a Funpire!
Anyway, in my 23+ years of teaching I have noticed that sometimes the environment in a school can lean toxic if you LET IT. Stay out of the teacher's lounge! It's where great ideas go to DIE. It's where bright innovative ideas, positivity & teacher collaboration is looked upon with either distrust, askance, or worse, mockery. This is where the Debbie Downers and Toxic Teds hang out. You know, the funpires. They suck the fun out of life! So stay outta there! Me? I usually eat my lunch alone in our TV studio reading TV recaps, BRAVO blogs, and celebrity gossip. That centers me. I NEED quiet for at least 30 min in the middle of the day to be centered. Don't judge me. ;-) Here's an idea:

Reclaim The Teacher's Lounge!
Watch my AWESOME CUE, friend Mike Lawrence talk about this and collaboration.

I love the Yes, and bit! I was also a community theatre kid, too! Brainstorm collaboration ideas with other teachers and give them a chance to say "Yes, and" how about this? This is also a great technique to brainstorm and crowdsource with our kiddos for the start of a project or product! Give it a try! Thanks Mike for a truly inspiring TEDx talk!

Collaborate Generously IRL or VRL!
OK, but what if you feel all alone and your school is a toxic place when it comes to collaborating innovative new ideas and the thought of reclaiming the teacher's lounge it is either exhausting or impossible? Why not seek out the virtual teachers lounge that is Twitter? And bonus!... it's a positive place! Just last night one our awesome Twitter PLN, Kim Thompson shared this AMAZING book review project idea that she did with her kiddos using QR Codes and Google Docs! Here's how it went down!

Which led me to, of course, comment on her excellent blog and then share it out!

I could TOTALLY see the above lesson involve a collaboration with your friendly neighborhood Teacher Librarian, ELA and your Art teacher!  All three subjects working together & empowering student creativity and artistic talents and giving the kiddos a display gallery space for those products! Brilliant!

Visiting the Virtual Teacher's lounge of Twitter where sharing IS caring and people are supportive and positive is a good thing! Use a combination of your favourite Education hashtags! #TLChat,  #EngChat, #SSChat, or whatever fits best! You can also collaborate virtually! Why not try:  Google Hangouts? Skype an Author or classroom? QR Codes? Vine? or Instagram?

Choose Share, share, share, and collaborate your awesome ideas for true education happiness!

Defend Our Kiddos
Part of the what I hated most about the negativity in my teacher's lounge were the teachers ragging on and talking crap about some of our kiddos. That really pissed me off. Sorry for the language, but man oh man, that's just right out! Because, like the graphic above, every kid (and person) is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Don't pollute other teacher's opinion of a kiddo - defend them. Stand up for them. Needless to say,
 Think before you comment. It shows more about you than it does about the topic of conversation and remember to be cool, don't be all uncool! (Thank you, Countess LuAnn!)

And remember, haters gonna hate, don't let petty professional jealousy stop you from being your awesome, sharing, innovative, collaborative, & defending self! Haters hate because the cool stuff you do makes them look bad and feel secretly guilty for being somewhat of a slacker.  Shrug it off, smile brightly (that KILLS them!) & keep moving forward!
Cheers dears!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Be a Daring Defender, Part 1

Hey gang! It's the beginning of a new school year, so let's put into perspective why we're here. Why we do what we do. And even when you may be testing 89 days out of 180 - there will always be time to do some really great things for our kiddos.

Even one or two lessons of AWESOME can change a life, mind, and outlook of a reluctant learner (or fellow teacher!) And gee, I think this post will have to be in 2 parts and please bear with my conversational tone which is high overdrive today. This is a blog not a novel. 
Change & Innovation
So embrace some change in your school or classroom. Try something NEW this year! Even if it
scares you. Especially if it scares you! I'm in my Danielson evaluation year this year & am
quietly freaking out over wanting to do a GREAT job in my observations. I really haven't been observed formally in YEARS!----

Try something new, and if you don't like it, you don't have to keep doing it! I know, I know... I prattle on a LOT about this - embracing change, embracing the fail - am I trying to convince you or myself? Both? I've previously blogged passionately that when it comes to new technology or new teaching trends You Don't Have to Marry It... just Date it! So why not give it a swing?! What exactly? That's YOUR call!

Is it BYOD? Makerspace? Google Hangouts? Skype an Author or classroom? QR Codes? Vine? Instagram? Twitter? Lesson Paths (formerly Mentor Mob)? could even just be something small like setting your alarm 15 min earlier and getting to school earlier. (I'm trying that this year, though I've only been successfully EXTRA early fifteen min twice, LOL) It doesn't matter what the Something is, just pick one and give it a whirl and then do it. That's how we grow!

Tenacity & Grit
Stick with it - even when it gets hard.  This may be slightly contrary to the above paragraph, but keep
reading! How can we preach to our kiddos to stick with their goals, studies, a new piece of technology or learning if we throw up our hands too easily?

Sometimes I wonder why our kids seem to give up too easily in school or want things spoon fed when I know that when it comes to gaming they are TENACIOUS!
But I admit, I've done it. Given up. I could write whole paragraphs at a few things I've attempted, tried, and failed. (National Certification- bought the box, never started)

Some things I've given up easily (Facebook) and some things still burn inside and haunt me. But I keep going. One success was Second Life. I tried being good at it many times, I quit and gave up 20 times over six months before I "got" it. The learning curve was WAY STEEP!  But I did, eventually get good at it. Building, creating and teaching in a beautiful virtual world. Forget that it's sorta OUT now (because it WAS so hard & expensive?), I learned it. I loved it.  Like Photoshop which I've used for over 10 years now, and it's also very hard but I'm still learning.

Stick with it! Show tenacity, grit, determination. But forgive yourself also if, after giving it a fair try, you just don't like it or it just is causing you too much anxiety. It's all about balance. You can do it! Heck, maybe someday I'll run a marathon!
And maybe someday  monkeys might fly outta my butt, too! LOL

It's OK, I ain't perfect. I'm actually letting go of a LOT this year since I know it will be hard one for me. Step one was painful, letting go  and passing over the management and running of the  #TLChat Virtual Cafe monthly webinar series to the amazing Librarian Tiff (OK, she makes it easier!) I did it for 5+ years after Joyce Valenza created it and I LOVED it...but I have to learn to let go of some things to give me some head space to do a good job at my job and cope this year...and that's...OK! Because, I'm Good enough, I'm smart enough....
Or to quote Stewart Smalley, You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough--and Doggone it, People Like You. Well, if I'm really being honest, not everyone likes me (some do!) I'm a bit too impatient, OCD, unfiltered, immature, sophmoric, snarky, abrasive, self-aggrandizing, vain, silly, and of course ridiculously humble. [grins] Heck, sometimes I even exhaust myself! But you...I'm sure people like you! You ROCK!  Now get out there and try something new and stick with it! We'll talk later.

So yeah, this is part one. I know it's sort of feels like a pep talk or a lot positive affirmation  So be it. I think sometimes we ALL need to think positive. Which is what I will blog about later. It's too beautiful outside today - I need to eat a late lunch, get dressed, & get out and enjoy it. Maybe I'll even run...err... walk my car! L'shana tova, friends!

Now it's YOUR turn! 
What did I miss?  Am I kidding myself with this try something new but you don't have to marry it bit. Is it to contradictory?  What would you add? Your comments are always welcome!

(But you spammers, why do you waste your time?  I will NEVER publish your comments hawking your products & tawdry essay writing for money offers! Sheesh, it's like you don't even READ my blog to be asking!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Flocabulary: Hip-Hop Learning That is Out of this World!

Longtime Flocabulary Fangirl
I've been a Flocabulary & Week in Rap fangirl since they came on the scene and have blogged about them back in 2009 and 2011...and they just keep getting better! 
Every week, sites, companies, and startups email me trying to get me to blog about their product - and while that's really flattering, this blog can't be bought!  My street cred is important to me! I only blog about sites and products I truly LOVE....and though I've was given a Flocabulary T-shirt once, they're not paying for this! 
Flocabulary is Hip Hop Learning that is Out of this World!
What's new? 
Week in Rap, Jr! Now...just for the little K-5 Kiddos, there's a weekly news Rap-up (get it!?) for the small fries! Appropriate, timely, and educational - get the news in a super engaging way for the younger crowd. Week in Rap, OG - for the Middle to High School students is still rocking and is now year round!  Play the video embeeded below to experience the AWESOME!

From my friend Molly at Flocabulary:

"The Week in Rap Junior connects age-appropriate news stories to elementary science and social studies curricula and promotes development of core skills like reading, writing and critical thinking for students in grades K-5.

Each week, the series will offer students a new hip-hop video, standards-based exercises, a creative challenge - and the chance for a shout-out in an upcoming video!

Like all of our units - activities each week include quick review questions, interactive lyrics (that offer more info on each news story!) fill in the blanks, a quiz and our great printable activities like this one for the August 14th edition!  We’ve got the full update on the series in our press release and blog post, and first few editions are available free."

What's FREE?
Yes, Flocabulary isn't free. It costs money for both the single teacher & for a whole school plan and it's worth it!  But there's still a LOT free that you can experience and there's always a free trial. AND just for our blog YOU dear readers, they've generated an extended Super SCHOOL WIDE 45 Day FREE Trial!

Check out Walk Like an Egyptian! Ancient Egypt 5-12 Social Studies Lesson
with Video, Teacher's Guide, Printables, Quiz, & more! 
"It’s time to walk like an Egyptian. In this Ancient Egypt music video, we take you back to the days of giant pyramids and hieroglyphics. This song covers the ancient Egyptian civilization that flourished along the Nile River."

What's COOL?
Around 100 new videos (plus activities & quizzes ) since last school year.
"Over the last year, we’ve added new units across our library - some of our latest releases support brand new subjects like social & emotional learning and geography.  

Social & Emotional Learning: this subject is a recent addition to our Life Skills subject covering topics like bullying and managing frustration. (I blogged about oversharing online last year!)  We’re working on more units for SEL, too - teaching empathy, active listening, and more! Here’s a link to our Social & Emotional Learning units:  

We added new videos here over the summer like longitude and latitude, themes of geography and landforms, with additional titles coming this fall!"  Check out their Geography units
What really impresses me are the lesson quizzes. I love the quizzes! 
Wow...I NEVER would have thought I'd write THAT!  
They're really fun & they remind me a lot of Brainpop quizzes

Common Core for the Win!
Share with your teachers of all subject areas and see how cool  hip-hop rhymes engage kids and inspire them to learn all ALIGNED to the Common Core State Standards! If you care about that kinda thing ;-)

Check out Flocabulary and give the exclusive  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reading: A Passionate Love Affair

I've been inspired by the amazing Jennifer LaGarde who has written such brilliant post about the important people and pivotal moments in your past that made you a lifelong reader.  Jennifer's post is evocative, thought-provoking, and inspiring! It was so good I wrote a flippin novel of a comment that will make up much of this posting!
Her well written words caused me to smile and fondly recall those individuals, pivot points, and circumstances that made me into a reader. And it wasn't a book report, diorama, or a standardized text passage that did it. Shocker.

Before writing this part, I called my Mom to "fact check" my memory of my pivotal reading moments and spent a great 45 min recalling both of our reader love stories. Which turned out to be - surprisingly similar!
Narnia by Candlelight
One of my earliest happy reading memories was in Miss Cooper's second grade class at Capitol Christian Academy. Every day after lunch, Miss Cooper would let us put our heads down on our desks, she'd dim the overhead lights, and she would light this little brass Swedish candle chime thingy that would rotate around dreamily and make a lovely tinkling sound.  Then she would read aloud in her clear sweet voice with all the inflections,  a chapter or two of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was magical. I was entranced.  My Mom would read the next chapter to me that night before bed in her beautiful voice, but I never minded the repeats the next day. It was wonderful!

Fast forward a couple years and grades to a rainy summer week at the beach. We were renting a "vintage" (read here cheap with no TV!) cottage at the Ocean City, Maryland beach around 1974.  Growing up, Mom said I could read but I didn't really LIKE to read. At the time, Mom was an English teacher at Bowie Senior High School and I asked her today if in those early years if it bothered her at all or if I was disappointment to her. She said nope, she was just waiting. She's a patient woman, my Mom!

Public Library Visits
Mom took my brother and me religiously to the Bowie Public Library every other week to check out tote bags of books.  But until that rainy summer week, she said I would usually check out non fiction books about How to be a Stewardess or crafting books and I would mostly just look at the pictures. 

Nancy Drew Saved Me
That week, with the rain pouring and no TV to entertain, Mom took us to a bookstore at the Salisbury mall and I got my first 2 Nancy Drew books. Mom said it was the first fiction book I read, read, and read, and didn't put down until I finished it and asked for more.  I was going into the 4th grade and I was in LOVE!
I read Nancy Drew books non-stop for a year - we would go to the Riverdale Used Book shop where you could trade in books for other books and I started collecting Nancy Drew books from the 30's, 40's, 50's...every decade - each were a little different and fascinating! 
My Mom shared with me today that she also read Nancy Drew books from the library on the Elmendorf Air Force Base library in Anchorage, Alaska growing up after WWII! And that it wasn't until Nancy that she became a lifelong reader! No wonder she nudged me in that direction!
After Nancy Drew I started branching out to other books like the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, Gothic Novels, Harlequin Romances, Vampire books, The Hobbit, The Cliffs of Night, A Wrinkle in Time, Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Really, from then on I was omnivorous. I do remember that in 5th grade I was sent to the Principal's office at my fundamental Christian private school for bringing in the book Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. What the what!? Mom sent me to public school the next year! LOL

Library Helper
In 6th grade - my first year in public school, I was a Library Media helper for Ms. Wildburger....she the School Librarian and was also my TAG teacher who just, well.. Got. Me. In fact, when I "graduated" from Elem she gave me an inscribed paperback book Listen for the Whisperer by Phyllis A. Whitney. I still have that book! It's in my office at school. I now routinely give kids ARC or paperback books and I always write something personal for that kid to remember me by. You never know, they may just keep it.

Gone With the Wind Fabulous
During the blizzard of 1979 we were stuck home for a week and I ran out of books. (Gasp!) The picture at the very top of the post shows me curled up sitting on the heating vent with Grandma's afgan reading The Laird of Tariff Hall well-worn Gothic paperpback. After that, I guess I was whining about nothing to read so my Mom gave me her Gone With the Wind paperback - that shut me up! I don't know if it was totally appropriate for a 14 year old to read that - but it kept me quiet for many many days! By the by? If you haven't read the book - it's quite juicy!

Stand Behind Scary Books
Around this time I also read Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, some strange vampire book called Lupe that disturbed me a bit! I read Stephen King's It, and Tommyknockers.  I also tried to read Stephen King's The Stand but I quit it after the NYC tunnel scene. WAY too scary! (I finally read ALL of The Stand last summer & loved it!)  See kiddos? Sometimes you're not ready for a book, but the book will always be there waiting for you! 
Time and Again
My favourite book off ALL time (Ok, maybe until Harry Potter) was a book I was Jack Finney's Time and Again which I read in HS for fun. I LOVE this book! It's a time travel book that's illustrated with historic photographs and etchings. It's surprising, delightful, suspenseful, heart-pounding, romantic, exciting, and poignant. I was very social in High School, Studio Art, a Theatre Gleek, yearbook editor, part time job at Kemp Mill Records, the 80's punk rock scene, and boys....oh the boys!  But I still found time to read.  I was an English Lit major in college and after a couple careers in PR and advertising I realized my heart and soul were not being filled and I belonged in a school library for the rest of my life. This is the short version. 

Then came Harry.
I've blogged about this before. My love for the Harry Potter series. In 1997 I ordered from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and from then on - every year eagerly I pre-ordered from Amazon each new release, and I would be on tenterhooks for the next book. THAT, as a grownup, changed my reading life! It was the first time that I felt like I was in a reading community about a series. And what was even more exciting? I was sharing it with my students!  I wouldn't let my teachers check out the new books (they were saved just for the kiddos!)- but I would let them borrow my personal copy.  I even made a special sticker made on Print Shop Deluxe to put on each volume so it wouldn't accidentally be shelved. 

What's YOUR Story?
Now that I ponder it, I think we all should write a blog post about our passionate reading love affair moments! Yes! I think, as librarians, we should share that which made us want to BE a librarian and a life-long reader. I guarantee you, it was NOT because we were induced to, or as Jennifer said by any "points or other incentives."

We should do this to both honor those people who helped shape us, to commemorate it for ourselves and our family, and to remind the public that readers are not bought. They are not bribed. They are not coerced. They are saved. 
I would call it mix between an almost evangelical conversion and falling in love. I've been in love many times in my life. They come, they go, they get tossed aside. But my love for reading has stayed steadfast and true.

Reading Addictions
The way I read may have changed - but the magic in the words off the "page" or the tablet still delights and maintains me. I feel panicky if I don't have a book nearby. That is lifelong passion. That is lifelong devotion. That's a lifelong addiction. Call it what you will. That, is what we each try to inspire in each kiddo we meet. No small task but we're librarians. That's what we do.

So, if you haven't already - you gotta read Learning To Read Alone Is Not Enough. Your Students Need A Reading Champion. You're welcome.

Your Turn! 

I don't write as well as Jennifer. I'm rambling and all over the place (and I know I have lots of parenthetical asides, this one!) But I really hope we (all of us who have had a lifelong love affair with reading) we all should try and write down our earliest magical reading moments. I'm sure yours will be better than mine & I can't wait to read it! Comment, Tweet, share shamelessly my friends!

Resources & Links:

Do you remember the moment that you fell in love with reading?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wonder More - Fear Less

Dare Everyday.
You know, my brand is sometimes a lot to live up to. I'm not always daring. I won't buy a 3D printer until I know I can get projects kiddos create cranked out in a timely fashion or that we can reliably afford the materials and upkeep supplies. You don't ALWAYS have to be daring in BIG ways, but you can dare everyday something. Dare to keep smiling to that kid who never smiles back. It's easy to smile to the kiddos you adore & have a connection with. But try to smile consistently, to that kiddos who is all prickles and burs. You will be surprised at the results. It took me 8 months once to get a reluctant grin back.

When thinking about the next school year -I'd like to suggest we keep in mind that we should be ready to try new things without letting fear stop us. To go beyond our comfort zone. Even if you choose only one thing that makes you squirmy inside, that's good for your practice and our profession. This way, we can truly say to our kiddos that we are pushing ourselves to fail/win and try again just like we ask them to do every day!

Wonder More. 
Wonder what could happen if we go beyond our comfort zone. Wonder what could we achieve if we put back the wonderment in our classrooms. Don't always tell everything - give our kiddos the gift of supposing. Opening discussions with this theme - which fits into ANY of our subject areas. Try it. Wonder for a moment about the conversations you could have starting with wonder and suppose. It's not really magical, but it can do ....well, wonders! 
I wonder if I've driven this home yet. I wonder if I should go onto my next point. LOL 
Dr. Justin Tarte is one of those inspiring education leaders in our amazing PLN that I really like and admire! His blog is fantastic and I sometimes read it nodding along and saying YES! This quote exemplifies how we both believe that change, however difficult, is necessary in our profession.  
Here's what I've been thinking lately
Fear Less. 
Fail - Win - Try Again.
I am not afraid to look like total DOOFUS in front of my kiddos! Whether it's trying a new device, piece of tech, or a new teaching style. I'll say something like this:
"OK guys, this is really new, I don't know if this is gonna work, it could totally bomb,  and I may even need your help to make this fly, but let's give it a whirl!"
After I say that, they immediately perk up! I also sometimes will compare it to gaming - by failing, sometimes often, that's how you learn to WIN! By admitting my vulnerability to them also makes me human and gives them permission to take honest chances.  
As a matter of fact, some of the times I've done that, fell flat on my face,  and asked for help and patience - those have been the MOST exciting and transformative experiences I've ever had in my 23+ years of teaching! And kids remember the willingness to try far more than if it works or not.

20 years ago I had a 100 foot phone cord and a 14.4 k modem that I bought myself to dial up to the University of Maryland's server because my school district didn't have the Interwebs yet. I said to my kiddos then - all 28 of us gathered around the tiny 14" Mac LCIII pizza box computer, that we may or may not get though, but if we did we were going to add this to our research unit Where in the USA Carmen Sandiego by searching this place called Yahoo that had a page filled with up to date facts about every US State!  They were entranced and excited when it worked and really good sports when it didn't. Four of those kids are teachers in my district now. \\FTW!//

Be You. 
Don't be afraid to be the authentic you to your kiddos. 
Sure, I say be a bit austere the first few months getting to know the kids and setting your ground rules. My Mom (retired teacher of 40 years) told me to not to smile until Thanksgiving. Have you heard that, too? Yeah. It works. After you get your classroom management on point, then you can relax a little and be your own self to the kids. I'm unabashedly goofy, doofy, nerdy, ADHD, & mercurial. My kids either dig it or don't. Whatever. Not trying to GET the kids to like you is key. Be you and they eventually will. Or won't. Whatever, keep your center, know you're coming from a place of  authenticity & passion for our profession and it will show.  

Have a great year, everyone! Keep trying, peeps! Never give up - never surrender! 

Because see, I've been thinking of this saying for a while now.
For both myself, teachers, & my kiddos. 
You don't have to free climb
or do urban parkour to stretch yourself.
Every day
Every School Year.
If it scares you a little, you're on the right track! 

Pick one thing this year that scares you and try it! 

OK, I better hang up now - my Mom might be trying to call me & getting just a busy signal. LOL

Your turn! What scares you the most? 
What do you worry about trying with your kiddos?
Add your ideas & thoughts in the comments, please!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tweet Like a Ninja

I've been blogging about my favourite Social Media outlet Twitter for over five years now. From Twitter: The Art of the Follow, header and background design tips with Are You Ready for a New Twitter? to What's YOUR Twitter Formula?

I figured it was time to try and put a lot of these tips into one package. This is a new presentation that I'm still fine-tuning, but I thought I would share it to get some feedback. Below are a few slides to give you a taste, as well as the full embedded Slideshare.

Your suggestions are very welcome - but please remember a lot of these tips are just my opinion or rather, enjoy this disclaimer...

Here's the full presentation - Enjoy! 

Tweet Like a Ninja from The Daring Librarian Experience
I know it's a LOT of slides but I swear
it all fits into a one hour presentation, really!
But it's not as fun without me presenting it LIVE! You gotta believe that! 
So, feel free to Contact & Invite me;  to keynote or spotlight your next EdTech or Librarian conference & give this fun presentation in person. With Bonus snark, amusing anecdotes, & Sophomoric humour! Hashtag Shameless!

Now it's your turn! What would you add? What did I forget?
Please add your thoughts & ideas in the comments! :-) 
The best will be added to the preso w/ attribution, of course!

Ps. I'm #NotAtISTE this year - I am taking a digital detox & going on an Ashram & Spa Retreat will not be Tweeting until the weekend. (Unless I can't stand it and sneak, but I'm really gonna try and be good!)  But will definitely enjoy the Tweets after the event whether it's #ISTE2015 or the shorter IMHO better, #ISTE15. Will miss you all dear friends! Namaste!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...