Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TL Cafe Smackdown with Joyce Valenza

I'm shamelessly lifting & adapting from Joyce's NeverEnding Search blog this week - if you follow my Tweets you'll know we're dealing with a family emergency right now (see below) but the TL Cafe is so close to my heart I gotta give you the heads up, right!?

"Time to look back at the best of 2011 in our school library/edtech world and share!

At the TL Virtual Cafe on December 5th, 8PM Eastern, we’ll be hosting a Learning Tools Open Mic/Smackdown/Karaoke. And the plan is to get ready by building a crowd-souced presentation/book.

Joyce & I are listed as presenter & host, but the goal here is for YOU, friends, to do the heavy lifting.

Look back at 2011. What is the most exciting thing you learned? What was the most powerful teaching strategy you tried? Which instructional tools best inspired learners? Did you have an epiphany about how to do something easier, better, cooler in your library or classroom? (Classroom teacher friends are welcome!)

From the tiniest to the most profound new thing, this is your time to share with you colleagues. Think of it as a professional obligation. And, if this works, we’ll make it an annual event!

All you have to do to get ready is to

1. think hard about what you want to share

2. share it as a slide or slides on this crowd-souced presentation/book.

3. remember that we are prepared to offer extra credit for very pretty slides!

4. be prepared to grab the Elluminate mic on Monday, December 5th at 8PM Eastern!"

Session Wikipage
Participant Link

Edublog Nominations DEADLINE FRIDAY! If I can't nominate this week, why don't you share those in your PLN who have made a difference in your educational practice!? (and no, that's not a hint to nominate me! really! no....really!)

--PS. Thank you dear readers & Tweeps for your positive thoughts & prayers for my beloved Gramma Scott who is ailing right now and for my family. Especially, my adored Mom! She's the eldest & well, this has been a real hard week for her!

My Edublog Nominations might have to be postponed or I'll promise to pick them up next year. I am so sorry! Family first!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just Blog It! Blogging Tips & Ideas

Why Blog? 
You don't start blogging for awards. You blog because you are passionate about your profession, and have ideas & content to share with potential readers. If you blog it, they will come. Eventually. It may just take a while! Don't give up! I blogged for YEARS out the aethernets and for a handful of readers! (I'm lookin at YOU dear Svetlana in Vladivostock!) And you surely don't start blogging for comments! If you are expecting comments when you start blogging you're gonna be discouraged awfully quick and give up. I get about 6 or 7 comments per blog post and most all of those are spam. That's why I treasure each and every REAL comment I get!
Now, I am in NO WAY saying I'm an expert blogger, (or writer! ha!) but I do have some ideas and tips for blogging that I've gathered over the years that I'd like to share and I'd love to hear yours!

Start When You're Ready, Already!
I started blogging in 2006, a few months after I saw the amazing (& now retired TL) Francey Harris’s present her landmark blog, Gargoyles Loose in the Library at my first AASL05 in Pittsburgh. It was an epiphany! Why struggle with a static library web page when I can have an ongoing conversation with my students, parents, & community with a blog?! However, my first year I wrote only eight posts — that’s it. If you choose to blog, it is a long-term relationship. If you're just trying to stat a web presence my usual advice, when asked, is start with a Wiki, Twitter, and not a blog! (blogs are hard work!) Blogs are like pets - they require care and feeding; Wikis are like a cactus plant - you can water them occasionally. Wikis don't judge you, wiki's don't give you internal guilt trips, and wikis can be neglected a bit. I'm a longtime Wikispaces fan. Bonus: they're also super easy to use and don't intimidate the new or reluctant tech user! But if you start a blog you should try to maintain it. Post when you can, be upbeat, share what you can, give anecdotes about your profession, tech tips, lesson ideas, your successes, your failures, & professional philosophies. So here goes....
No Excuses!
When blogging, do NOT apologize for not posting! Ever. Have you ever landed randomly on a blog & started to skim past posts and noticed that almost every other one started with "I'm so sorry I haven't posted in a while I've been so..." (insert lame excuse here) People don’t want to hear that!  It's boring & pathetic, unnecessary,  and I've done it myself! But it's also human nature! We innately feel self-induced guilt for not writing...FIGHT IT! Here's a challenge - go back and check your past blog posts and if you've started more than one post with that - take the time to edit that out & promise never do it again.

Keep an Idea Folder Going!
When you see an interesting Tweet or think of something that might make a cool blog posting - bookmark it, file it away, or jot it down. That way, whenever you feel like blogging but just can't think of a topic - then you can go to those brainstorming ideas. It's like creating a little safe-deposit box of blogging awesomeness!

Schedule It.
I try and blog on Sunday mornings. But be flexible. Having a schedule helps me "git er done" but if I'm traveling over the weekend or just don't feel like it, I don't blog. If I'm inspired & excited on a Wednesday - I blog Wednesday night! Whatever. It's a balance....having a schedule but not being a slave to it. I'm blogging on a Saturday because we're celebrating my Mom's B-day tomorrow & I wanted to get this off my list. (Sadly, my laundry is still in the hamper by the stairs!-GAH!)

Get Graphic!
Show pictures. People love reading blogs with graphics embedded that help illustrate what you are sharing.  If you don't want to get as graphically saturated as this blog, with a picture for almost every paragraph, try to find a coordinating picture for the top of your blog post. You can easily (and for free!)use Flickr Creative Commons. You can edit or tweak those graphics with PicMonkey   Just always give attribution!

Share Shamelessly!
Share the content you create enthusiastically and shamelessly. If you invent a wheel (or even a spoke!) share it so that someone else (always think of the new or first year librarian or teacher) doesn't have to re-invent that same wheel! This goes for lesson plans, activities, promotions, and products.
  • Use Slideshare to embed your PPT's & Docs
  • Use Flickr or another easily navigated photo sharing site for your pics & graphics
  • Link to your wikispaces or web page for complete lesson plans. Think of the blog as the appetizer & the wikipage as the meal.
  • Use Google Docs & Google forms!

Gimme a Widget!
Embed widgets & videos on your blog. pages. Adding Video & Widgets to a Wikispaces page is really easy! Check out the Comic Life graphic & this wikipage for directions. -How to Embed Almost Anything in your Website. Widgets are mini-applications that may be embedded in websites, blogs, wikis, etc. They are often dynamic and interactive. Note: Most of the Digital Storytelling Tools and online Video portals provide embed code. More resources can be found on the Information Fluency Wikipage as part of the Smackdown I participated in at AASL09

Be You!

Honestly, speak from your heart. Or as my friend & HCPSS colleague Matthew C. Winner said...
"My Tip: YOUR VOICE is the BEST VOICE.I always appreciate blogs that embrace an original, authentic voice. I find them more approachable and even more personal. An authentic voice feels both like a trusted friend and a valued colleague... and keeps me reading post after post." Be passionate, be positive, and always be professional. The kiddos we teach are in our trust and just like a doctor or lawyer we protect our kids by not talking about them in any way that could be negative. I'm privileged to have that privilege. Cheering their successes is a whole different thing. We all have frustrations in our jobs but a blog is not where to vent them. Doug Johnson has a great post about this! BFTP: Blogging and a little common sense

Give Credit!
Don't forget to credit your sources, quotes, inspiration, graphics, & more! The more you give the more you will get back. Giving attribution is hot!
Buy Your Name!
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don't want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, considered it back in the late 90's - went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains! thedaringlibrarian.com for this blog and daringlibrarian.com for my electronic portfolio.

Be Thankful!
If someone took the time to leave a comment on your blog, Tweet a thanks! Or comment back! Better yet, go to their blog - read one of their posts, & give back a nice comment. Pay it forward!

Lastly, be stubborn!
The school library Blogger I started in 2006 was blocked by my district and it really threw me for a loop. I blogged about how Life is Not Filtered & moved my MHMS Daring School Library Media blog over to EduBlogs - I didn't migrate the old posts (I'm lazy, right?) but I had to learn a new publishing format - ouchie! In the end, it's for the best...so if you're starting a new education related blog whether it's a professional or school blog, I'd recommend an EduBlogs. Doubtful your district will block those. But, you never know....be nimble, be daring, be digital, be flexible, be ready to roll, and always have fun! Thank you for reading!

What are YOUR blogging tips? What works for you? What did I miss? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Can't Get Enough of Miss Critter Sharpe? Follow her on Titter & check out her latest YouTube Video below!

Credits & References:
Pictures of Critter Sharpe used with her Mommy's permission
Video of Critter Sharpe from YouTube
Pictures of my furry first cousins Boo & Bentley from my auntie Life With Lynn's Blog (I'm so proud of her! I helped her start that lifestyle blog & she's just run with it! - If you like cats, quilting, cooking, travel, & cute stuff - that's your blog!)
Screenshots from my blogs & wikis. (links on right)
Some quotes were from a Washington Post interview -What is Literacy Today
My Blogs are Blocked-Life is Not Filtered

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shine a Light on Advocacy - NOW!

I got this compelling email from good friend and LJ/SLJ/The Horn Book publisher Ian Singer who forwarded a passionate plea to several of us to mobilize, sign the petition to Ensure all school libraries are properly staffed, open, and available for children every day and to get out the word via Twitter. So, I immediately signed the petition and Tweeted it out now I'm posting it here to share it with you my dear to readers! DEADLINE: November 27th

My friends –

Good morning.

I’m writing on behalf of a single voice, who has reached out to School Library Journal looking for “help and hope”. And so, I am reaching out to you individually and collectively because the time for us to act is now.

While at AASL, I spoke with very many of you about this exact issue and the pressing need for us to get together and more actively to support the plight of our school libraries and librarians . . . the time for us to act is now.

So let’s start somewhere, together, and help our friend, Seanean – please see her message to SLJ below. While it would be ideal to coordinate action, we can all start by doing something on our own, via our own channels, to advocate. I’m asking you to think about what you can do and to act . . . now. On our end, we’re going to do all we can via our social media channels, our newsletters (LJ/SLJ and The Horn Book), our blogs. Our efforts can’t focus solely on the school library channel.

We need to get over 23,500 signatures by the end of the month . . . we can do it, together!

And to build on the momentum, and perhaps to help fashion a wider advocacy plan that we can all support . . . I’m asking you to PLEASE inform SLJ via Kathy Ishizuka, Rick Margolis, Josh Hadro, Guy Gonzalez and/or me about exactly what it is you can/will do. We’ll report it . . . we’ll report on how many signatures TOGETHER WE drive to the petition. And please forward this to other colleagues / friends who I have missed . . . I started “small” but started.

Have a great day/weekend . . . and it makes me happy to end with, “Seanean – we hear you and YES we will do all we can to help!”


Ian Singer VP, Group Publisher - Library Journal, School Library Journal, and The Horn Book Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.


President Barack Obama and his Administration have created a site to assist citizens in writing and "signing" petitions online that can, if all thresholds are met, make it to the President's desk. This is how the recent changes in student loans came about. I have created a regarding school libraries, which I and my fellow CSLA and LASLA members hope might make it past the major thresholds, but we are having problems getting it far.

Would you be willing to help promote this petition to get ALL school libraries open with proper staffing and enough books to really help our children grow and become better readers, learners, and evaluators of information? California is woefully underfunded in this and some estimates take us now to 6,000 students or more for every one qualified school librarian. We need help. We need hope. Can you help us?

Sign The Petition Here

- It just takes a few min!

Thank you!

Seanean Shanahan, M.A.Ed.
Teacher Librarian, SRHS #2

So dear readers, please sign the petition. Sadly as of today we only have 7,231 and we need 17,769 more signatures to make the required 25,000! As I said in my comment on Joyce Valenza's blog "It would be a shame if we couldn't get this done!.....what does it say if we can't mobilize & get 25,000 signatures?!

Mobilize for help and hope: Petition Obama & Twitter bomb Senate!

Thank you Joyce for blogging about this! When I got Ian's letter I signed right away & started Tweeting it out A LOT. I haven't heard from @librarytalker yet during all this week of Advocacy Tweeting & Re-Tweeting but I am hoping our Geek Tribe & friends can mobilize to get this pushed forward!"
Now....I've blogged about it, too! As Joyce & Seth Godin say .....
"We are stronger when we share!"

This is especially significant after the *AMAZING* presentation on the TL Virtual Cafe Webinar that Jennifer LaGarde & Librarian Tiff gave us last Monday! If you missed it...the inspiring & fun! ARCHIVE is up & available for you to experience!
...Let your voice reflect your passion! For your teaching practice, for libraries, for literacy, for education, but most importantly - for our number one priority, - our students!

NEXT Month on the TL Virtual Cafe:

Library World Smackdown: Open Mic Night
with Joyce Valenza!
& Moderator Gwyneth A. Jones - The Daring Librarian
Monday December 5th - 8pm EST
Joyce will share her top discoveries of the year. Get ready to share your faves too and help us build an interactive resource book.
Session Wikipage
Participant Link

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dropbox It Like it's Hot!

I eagerly drank the Dropbox Koolaid last year thanks to my good friend from METC_CSD Gina Hartman - I was sold when she said "because of Dropbox I don't care if my laptop crashes" My jaw literally dropped my eyes bugged out, and I realized THIS WAS BIG!  Now I love Dropbox more every day! Dropbox brings together seamlessly all of my devices. All of my Macs (iPad, Macbook laptop, & iMac work desktop) and my Android Fascinate phone (UPDATE 11:14 - iPhone 6+) . Between Dropbox & GoogleDocs - I really don't need to carry around flashdrives (But I still do -cause networks *can* still go down!) I'm a girl scout that way.

The Cloud is here! Give it a shot by joining Dropbox – Are you a teacher? Dropbox loves schools After you join, if you are an educator you can also get double the credit for referrals. That's 500 MB for you per friend & an extra 250MB for them that with your special .EDU account. (Update 11:14 - not sure about this anymore) Make sure to use your school email addy! It only kicks in once they Join AND INSTALL Dropbox on at least one device! …Sure, it’s a total pyramid scam of Dropbox goodness! See my Daring Tech Wiki for more cool Web 2Oh Tools!
Adore you Gina Hartman of METC_CSD for hooking me up with this! Using the Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Guide (published by MakeUseOf) - PDF !

(I used keepvid to upload this to my Flickr so you could watch it at school)
PDF iPad Reading Goodness!
I use this feature all the time! It's great! You can "easily read the PDF files in the iBooks application which is installed on your iPad. You can do this by opening one of your PDF files on your iPad and then pushing the “Open in iBooks” button which appears on the upper right side of the screen. The button provides a way for you to open the PDF file in iBooks and automatically imports the file into the iBooks application. Also, if you sync your iPad with iTunes the application will automatically be synced with your computer" - Techwhizbackup

Notable Dropbox Features from Techwhizbackup
  • It’s FREE! Dropbox offers anyone a free 2 GB account for as long as you like. You can get more space - up to 20GB by sharing with friends, referral codes, Tweeting, and other small tasks. (Update 11:14) I now pay $99 yearly for the Dropbox Pro 1TB upgrade.  SO worth it!
  • Linux Support - Unlike other online storage services, Dropbox supports linux. You can also use Dropbox on any mobile device and there is a custom iPhone app as well.
  • Real-Time Backup - Dropbox will automatically recognize files that are new or have been changed and will only backup new or changed parts of the file rather than re-uploading the entire file. This can lead to significant time savings and reduce the resource footprint on your computer.
  • Syncing and Sharing - Dropbox is specifically set up for syncing files between computers, and as with the backup, this sync occurs in real-time. Any changes you make to files in your Dropbox folder can be immediately seen by all users. Sharing Made Easy! Dropbox also has more advanced sharing features than many of the other online backup services. Inside the Dropbox folder, users have the option to create public folders, which includes files anybody can access without a username and password. Dropbox also gives every file its own URL for easy link dropping.
  • 30 Days Undo (this is HUGE!) A nice feature of Dropbox is they keep 30 days of history for all your synced files; this even includes deleted filed from your computer. Drop also offers an optional unlimited undo feature called “pack-rat” for additional charge. - by
You can also get more storage space by doing a few fun tasks! See below! 

Web 2.0h! Tools
Intro to Dropbox on YouTube
Dropbox Allows iPad Owners to Read PDF Files
Dropbox Review


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