February 2018 Wrap Up & March 2018 TBR

February 2018 Wrap Up

January 2018 had many mediocre or excellent reads. For February, I finished 15 books. That is way more than I thought I would finish. A long drive to work allows me to listen to audio books for about an hour each day.  The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Blue Coat and The Cruel Prince have the possibility to be in my top 10 favorite books this year.

  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse – 5/5
  • March Book 1 by John Robert Lewis – 5/5
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – 5/5
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling – 5/5
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – 5/5
  • March 2 by John Robert Lewis – 4/5
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden 4/5
  • Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare – 4/5
  • Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung – 4/5
  • Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed – 4/5
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – 4/5
  • American Panda by Gloria Chao – 4/5
  • Everless by Sara Holland – 3/5
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie – 3/5
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis – 3/5

March 2018 TBR

Some books I would like to try and get in March include:

  • March Book 3
  • Daugther of a Pirate King
  • Daughter of the Siren Queen
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Everland
  • As Bright As Heaven
  • Pashmina
  • Spinning
  • The Light We Lost
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker
  • Lincoln in the Bardo

Thing 3: Twitter and Other Online Communities

For this lesson, I wanted to revisit and reflect on my professional use of Twitter. Since the creation of my account, Twitter has been a professional, not a personal, network for me. I’ve always used it to gather and share resources regarding librarianship, education, books and technology. However, I needed to do something new this school year with Twitter.

To begin, I overhauled my profile description. Since it was a professional account, I had to focus on what means most to me as a professional. I also added a new section: My current read is … to share what books or articles I am currently reading. These edits make me feel more cohesive and organized with my online presence. I also updated my Tweetdeck account to follow different hashtags.

Although I am late to the game, I have started to participate in the #12daystwitter. Why not? I’ve sifted through some of the tweets to follow other handles and gather resources.

Lastly, earlier this year I debated whether to create a separate Twitter account to promote and brand the school library. I wanted to share more resources and happenings through Twitter this year, but not sure about the format. A pro and con list was created, and in the end, I decided to create a hashtag (#granbylibrary) versus a separate account. Because my Twitter account is a professional account, I felt OK doing this and I do have an established, active presence. Every few days, I gather photos or highlights of happenings in the library to Tweet out. This is a new process for me, and I find myself appreciating that resources are shared, but more importantly, I am advocating the library’s story. This simple change has proved to be a powerful new way to continue to advocate for my library.

Thing 20: Creating a Resource Guide

Step 1: Pick an Audience

I would like to target teachers in my building for this project. Teachers are constantly bombarded by emails, countless data and everything else. From a library and tech perspective, there are excellent resources to share that can support instruction and curriculum.

Step 2: Tools for Curating and Sharing

In the past, I have used Pinterest boards and LibGuides to curate resources for colleagues. The links on Pinterest do not work anymore, and I do not like LibGuides, which is not user-friendly. It also has cost our district a lot of money for minimal usage. We will not purchase a license for this tool next year.

However, I do want to try Destiny Collections. The district uses Follett Destiny as the library automation system, and this resource comes at no extra cost to us. Last summer, I attended a training on using the Collections resource, a collaborative site that allows resources to be curated and shared. Collections is easy to use and collaborative; anyone can add resources as long as they have the permissions. The elementary librarians and myself in the district began to gather resources to support curriculum in ELA, social studies and science.

Step 3: Gather Resources

For the past few weeks, I created two Collections guides: Primary and Secondary resources and Copyright & Plagiarism resources. I added links from other websites that sounded helpful. Destiny Collections also has a database of open educational resources, so I was able add more resources from there I plan to add a few more as links become known to me.

In the future, I want to create guides for Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy and invite the other librarians to add to this collection. As the district becomes fully 1:1 in grades 3-12 next year, it will be helpful for all teachers to have access to helpful information regarding safety and respect with this initiative.

Step 4: Share, Promote, Maintain!

So far, I’ve added the Collections made to the library’s website, and cleaned up the Teacher Resource page. Teachers use this page frequently, so they will not have to go to a new area. Also, I want to promote the Collections pages with the #granbylibrary hashtag. Maybe other people might have other ideas to add or use them to help others. Once the guides are more solid, I want to add a line to my email signature to promote a guide each week.

I do need to do a better job to maintain the guides. The Pinterest one I made years ago was outdated and links were rotten. To help this, I want to add other collaborators to the Collections guides I make. Also, I want to use the #granbylibrary hashtag to promote resources for others to use. The maintenance will be the biggest challenge for me, but I hope to do better this time around.

Thing 22: Emerging Tech and Scanning the Horizon

A characteristic of a librarian with a growth-mindset includes looking into the future to better meet the needs of the community. I have to anticipate change and be willing to try something new, even if it fails. If it does, I learn from the experience and try again.

After looking at the articles for this lesson, I feel overwhelmed. What was new last year is not new this year. There are so many trends and emerging initiatives to be aware of and implement. I had to take a step back from the articles for a few days to reflect on what I read and put emerging trends into categories that I plan to tackle:

Redesigning learning spaces

The library does have an effective makerspace, but other parts of my library need to be adjusted. I appreciated the articles that mentioned “unplugged spaces.” At times, students do need a place to relax and reflect; they don’t always need to be collaborative. The library does have collaborative spaces, but it needs a more reflective space. There is one corner of the library designated as a reading area, but that area can be improved. In that space, there are also 4 desktop computers used for the Destiny catalog. Next year, students in grades 3-6 will have access to 1:1 Chromebook devices and there is an ipad cart in the library, so students in K-2 will have access to mobile technology. I want to remove the catalog station and table in order to expand the book nook area with area rugs and more flexible seating. Our school implemented a daily social emotional learning time during with a program called Second Step Program. I hope this new area will be an extension of the program. Already, some students use the library during recess because the cafeteria and gym are too busy and crowded. I hope this space will provide more students with a reflective atmosphere.

Leadership and teacher-leadership

How can I be more of a leader to curate and share resources? Here are some ways I want to try:

  • Our library automation system has a collaborative piece called Destiny Collections. I would like to add more resources to this platform, but invite teachers to collaborate with me, as well. I want to share more resources about media literacy, coding sites and more. My team began this process last year, but it took the backburner. I want to make this initiative a priority this spring so it will be ready for fall
  • Be more active on Twitter to share resources and ideas. I go in spurts of using Twitter to share and connect; I use it more to lurk and gather ideas but that needs to change. Once I get into a habit, it will become natural

Redefining digital citizenship & flipped learning

Students in grades 3-6 will each have a Google Chromebook in 2018-19. Grade 4 has them now, and I have collaborated with the team to provide flipped learning digital-citizenship lessons for students to complete. However, it is not solely the librarian’s responsibility to teach digital citizenship lessons. Students will have these devices in every part of their day, and any teacher can teach these lessons. That is a gap to bridge, and we are beginning small now with hope to bring this to more grade levels soon. Also, students need the opportunity to connect in a global world, and I found the website ePals, where students can connect with students from a different part of the world; they can learn about other cultures and communicate in a safe, positive manner. My fifth and sixth-graders will complete this project after winter break, and I hope it goes well.

Thing 44: Social Reading and Book Stuff

A few years ago, I completed this post about social reading and book stuff. Since then, there have been updates of my usage of this topic:

  • What am I reading? I like to post my current read in my profile on Twitter and email signature.
  • Goodreads: I use this for a personal network. Before buying books, I like to see what reviews they have. Though I do not post reviews of my own, there is a TRB shelf and more to help me keep track of my reading
  • NYPL library card: Last fall, I signed up for this card. Since then, it has been my main source of audio book checkouts. The selection is vastly larger than my local public library, and I do not have to be put on a hold list often
  • Twitter book chats: I have participated in on of the #2jennsbookclub, and hope to do more in the future. This helps me connect with newer YA books that are published. I also try to participate in a monthly Twitter chat called #owlbabble from the company OwlCrate, a bookish subscription box I receive each month. It is exciting to connect with big-name authors
  • Summer reading bingo board: I saw the template for this, and would like to try it for summer 2018. I would like to modify the board into primary versus secondary. To make it a “social” book talk, I plan to include the library’s hash tag #granbylibrary and maybe students or parents will connect with each other and myself to show what they read this summer

Recently, my district received a grant from an organization called Read To Them. They will provide a copy of the book “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate to each student in K-6 in each elementary school. The goal is to have families and the community involved in reading this book that our committee selected. After talking with the instructional coach at my school, I would like to facilitate a Facebook book discussion group after the program launches in March. It would include discussion questions people could respond to or reflections about the reading experience.

Thing 34: Digital Portfolios For Students

In March 2018, all students in grades K-10 will be part of student-led conferences. In the past, parents or family members would meet with teachers regarding a student’s academic progress; students were not present at this meeting. This year, all that will change. To support the district’s improvement plan, 100 percent of students in grades K-10 will participate in student-led conferences. This is a meeting where students invite family members or trusted adults to review their academic goals and progress. Students lead the conversation and teachers act as facilitators only. The goal of these conferences include for students to take ownership of their learning and to improve school-home connection and family engagement.

With these initiatives in mind, the instructional coach and 4th-grade team at my school will help students turn physical data binders into student digital portfolios to share at student-led conferences in March. This is a pilot initiative for us, and if it works well with the 4th-grade students, we will share this at other grade-level PLC meetings this spring.

The usage of student digital portfolios has been a topic of implementation in the secondary level at my district, but only recently has this topic been initiated at the primary level at my school. The secondary level has used Schoology and Google Apps For Education to create digital portfolios. At the primary level, we have decided to try G-Suite.

After reading the articles about digital portfolios, I appreciated how these and student-led conferences had similar goals of importance:

  • Archive student work artifacts and keep a record of data from K-12
  • Students can share learning success with a broader audience: family and peers
  • Cultivate 21st century skills: collaboration, technology literacy, oral and written communication skills, initiative
  • Incorporate digital citizenship lessons with the creations and sharing of digital portfolios

After discussions with the team and instructional coach, they want these items to be included in a Google Slide presentation, which will be a template for the digital portfolio (this format may or may not change pending feedback after the student-led conferences).

  • Attendance and behavioral goal
  • STAR chart and goals
  • Writing samples
  • ELA and math goals

The plan is for me to create a template on Google Slides and place into Google Classroom. The students will open and copy this into their Drive and write and reflect on the items above. Students will visit me by homeroom with their Chromebooks for 40 minutes each week for 2 weeks during our flex time. We will also have discussions about how to use this information in a safe manner and talk about digital footprints. After, students will personalize the slides and then share at the student-led conference.

I am excited for this project as it is a brand-new initiative. This year, the district went from 4-6 fixed to flex schedule, and this is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with teachers and provide students with a meaningful learning experience. I hope it works well so I can bring this idea to other grade levels and strengthen more collaborations, but it also provides an opportunity to fit in digital citizenship lessons, as well.

Thing 35: Supporting English Language Learners

After reading one of the articles that showed the percentages of ELLs in New York state, I was surprised to see that Utica schools had a slightly higher percentage of students than Buffalo schools. This fact made me curious, and I plan to reach out to one of the ENL teachers in my school to find the answer.

I also appreciated the advice of how to make my school library more accessible to ELLs. In the past few years, the number of ELLs in my school has increased. The most spoken languages are Spanish and Arabic. With CCD money, I purchased high-interest fiction and non-fiction books in Spanish and Arabic. However, I do need to move these books to a more prominent location for the students. Interestingly, other students have been checking out the books that are English/Spanish or English/Arabic to try and learn some of the language. One area I do think I have done well in the past few years is to build a diverse collection of resources and promoting these resources to the school community The collection can always be improved though, and I will continually evaluate the collection annually to determine what areas need help.

Earlier this year, the ENL teacher and instructional coach at my school collaborated on a Google Doc to share ELL digital resources and databases. After looking at this lesson, I added TeachingBooks.net ELL Instructional Resources on the Google Doc and spent some time reviewing this resource as I was not familiar with it. The book readings and author meetings were excellent. I do need to do a better job sharing this document with grade-level teachers again. The students have reviewed these resources with me, but the teachers need to have these reminders again. As the school goes 1:1 in 3-6 next year, it will be easy to add these links and resources on the Chromebooks.

Overall, I do have some homework in the next few days:

  1. Change shelf location of books in Arabic and Spanish so they are more accessible to all
  2. Share Google Doc with teachers of ELL resources again (http://granbylibrary.weebly.com/teacher-resources.html)
  3. Share Teachingbooks.net resource with teachers


Genrifying School Library PD

At an Oswego Citi library council meeting earlier this year, we discussed possible PD opportunities for the summer. Librarians offered topics that they had experience with, and I mentioned that I have had a successful change with the genrification of my library a few years ago. Somehow that conversation turned into an offer to share my process at a PD session this summer. I said yes, and was excited. I have facilitated tech PDs with my school community, but never with a group of librarians before.

A few weeks ago, I created my format and presentation. I thought about how to engage the participants, but not have information overload about genrifying a library.

Today was the session at an elementary school in Oswego, and I am proud of myself. Based off feedback and reflections, the session was the right amount of time and informative. Participants made goals for the upcoming year to begin the genrifying process of their library. We had some excellent conversations, and I even came away with some new ideas myself.

Being in the CNYLDP program, I have gained more confidence in my knowledge and skill level of particular topics that I want to share with others. Facilitating PD about library and tech topics has become a favorite of mine this year. My goal is to expand PD sessions more in the next coming year, and hopefully present a proposal for a conference or larger session.

Day #1.5

We finally left Syracuse after a nearly 4.5 hour delay. We then arrived in Toronto, and the flight to Lisbon was delayed. Toronto is a confusing airport. Finally, we arrived at Lisbon, only to miss our last connecting flight to Amsterdam by about half an hour. Now Jim and I are in the commons area at Lisbon waiting for our last flight. It should take off in about four hours. 

Propeller planes from Syracuse to Toronto are appalling. Loud, bouncy. It was not a pleasant flight, but only lasted about an hour. From Toronto to Lisbon, the flight was much more smooth. 

Hopefully, we will be in Amsterdam around midnight and can begin fresh tomorrow. 

Day #1

This evening I was supposed to leave for my honeymoon, but the flight has been delayed so many times that we missed our connecting flight to Amsterdam from Toronto. For someone who appreciates punctuality and efficiency, this has been a difficult wait. We are in line to see what flights are available and if we can leave Syracuse tonight. It does not look likely. For having anxiety with flying, this is doing nothing for my nerves. If nothing else is delayed, we have to stop in Lisbon to connect to Amsterdam. It is beautiful watching the sun set in Syracuse from the airport windows. 

Jim has worked diligently to plan this vacation, and right now he appears defeated and disappointed. It’s the reality of our situation and no fault of his own.

I did finish a book, called “Ramona Blue” and enjoyed it immensely. I’m about to start “The Twits” and “Everything, Everything.” Earlier, we stopped at a Middle Ages satellite restaurant for beer and food. As always, Middle Ages beer is delicious. We both had Swallow Wit and shared a flatbread pizza.