Teacher Librarian 2.0

Learning About Web 2.0 for School Libraries

Internet Filtering – I’m Hopping Mad!

February 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

crossman

Scott McLeod - CC Attibution 2.0 Generic

Does this picture remind you of how your administration treats its teachers?

Do you see internet filtering as indiscriminate censorship and a challenge to intellectual freedom?

Yes? Then don’t just vent – understand the issues, get busy, and make change happen.

 Time to Act

When it comes to internet filtering in the district where I taught for 38 years, and where my grandson will attend school, “I’m Mad and I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore,” to quote Mary Ann Bell. Internet filtering in my local school district does not work as it should. Bell  (2008) provides a clear call to action for those fed up with the problems filtering causes teachers and students. She says, “It is time to move past fear mongering and paranoia as guides to internet access in schools.”

Of course this isn’t just a local problem. Cathy Nelson says, “I think the biggest problem at hand is complacency among educators in general. This IS an issue of intellectual freedom. Rights are being infringed here.”

Buffy Hamilton agrees, “I get so frustrated when people complain about the filter issues but then take no constructive action to educate the decision makers about the resources we want unblocked.”

 Can we eliminate filters?

Finnish schools don’t have any; instead they teach responsible use of the internet. “Over there, thanks to solid teaching, the filters are in the students’ heads. Ultimately, that’s where we need to be too.” (Weinstock, 2008; Villano, 2008)

We are nowhere near that point in Alberta, where teacher librarians are almost extinct, teachers have to push students through curricula to pass provincial exams, and we have no mandated curriculum in internet literacy. We can’t get rid of filtering altogether.

Here I agree with Nancy Willard. “There are certainly some benefits from the use of filtering software — if, and only if, filtering companies are not blocking based on viewpoint discrimination, and if educators have the ability and authority to promptly override the filter to access and review any blocked site and to provide access to students when appropriate.”

What Makes Me Hopping Mad?

How about the deceit that internet filtering promotes or tacitly condones in students and some staff? To illustrate:

  • 2¢ Worth » Filters Work – “when [teachers are] asked about getting around the government-required filters, to conduct  . . . research required to find . . . resources, a frequent response is, “I have no idea.” The next most-common response: I have no idea, but when I need to get to a blocked site, I ask a student for help.”
  • From Patrolling web 2.0: “despite the presence of an internet filtering solution, more than 150,000 attempted visits to MySpace were made.
  • To see just a small slice of the rampant bravado of the avoid-the-filter attitude, go to Google, YouTube, Facebook, or Wikihow and search “bypass internet filter.”

This situation reminds me of what Admiral Mike Mullen said to the senate about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell American military policy. ”No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

Shouldn’t our policy makers be troubled by a policy that encourages or tacitly condones our teachers and students to break the rules? Don’t misunderstand me — I am not excusing their behaviour. But I agree with Doug Belshaw: “I want clear policies whereby both staff and students know where they stand when it comes to internet access and filtering. As far as I’m concerned, resources should be available for teaching and learning unless a clear case can be made otherwise.”

We need to find a way to protect students without interfering with our teachers’ right to teach and our students’ right to learn. And I don’t think internet filtering as it now exists is the solution. To echo Will Richardson, there is too much “don’t” and not enough “do” going on, and definitely not enough teaching about responsible internet use.

What’s broken?

I’ve identified issues from my own experience, from my reading, and from my conversation with some of my colleagues. Some of the fixes are self-evident. 

  • Teachers don’t know what the filtering policies are, who is in charge of them, or how to request blocking or unblocking of sites.
  • Students, especially at high school, have no input into internet filtering.
  • Filtering increases the divide between students who have access to computers at home, and those who don’t
  • So many sites have YouTube feeds that it is becoming an essential resource (Ross, email communication, 2010)
  • Poor acceptable use policies don’t support responsible use (Media Awareness Network)
  • No consistency in which sites are blocked in which schools on which day (Filters and other annoyances)
  • Lack of bypass rights (Bell, 2006)
  • Time taken to get sites unblocked (Bell, 2006, Filters and other annoyances)
  • No consistent provincial policy, like Nova Scotia has
  • Teachers don’t have time to teach internet skills (Pam’s comment)
  • Social networking sites are routinely blocked (Any interactive website is poison)
  • Sites are blocked because of their format, not content (Format Bigotry)
  • Sites are blocked due to social/political content, e.g., Gay, lesbian, pro-choice (Bell, 2006)
  • Inconsistent filtering makes teachers look inadequate, ill-informed (Bell, 2008).
  • Filtering gives false sense of security, so monitoring/educating don’t happen (Willard)
  • Need to discuss policies as a staff, review, update them regularly as circumstances change (Carla’s comment)
  • Teens need “bystander strategies” to provide effective peer guidance. (Willard)

So how do we effect change?

I urge you to view Buffy Hamilton’s slideshow below, and to visit Fighting the Filter. She provides some common sense ways for tls (and teachers) to assert our professionalism in filtering issues. After all, Hamilton says, “If our goal is for students to be information fluent learners, we must have access to the tools so that students can ultimately act as their own filter.” As a retired teacher librarian, I’m going to start asking questions, writing letters, and advocating for change.

By the time my grandson starts school I want all the “don’ts” of internet usage gone. I want his teachers (hopefully Pam, Carla, and Greg) to tell him, “Do use our network to collaborate with others to change the world in meaningful, positive ways.” (Richardson) Isn’t that what education is all about? 

references

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Internet Filters — I’m Seeking Input

February 17, 2010 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

I am planning a blog post about internet filtering in schools. Before I write the actual article, I have set up this post to collect some comments from teachers about how well (or not!) filtering works in their school. When I was a teacher librarian in a high school library two years ago, it seemed that filtering was unpredictable and restrictive, but perhaps that has changed. I’m hoping you have ideas to share. I’d be most grateful for your help.

Some possibilities:

  • A story about a time when a lesson was sabotaged because a link was blocked, or
  • When a link was blocked that worked before.
  • How you have been involved in the filtering process, such as being consulted about sites to block/unblock, or
  • Were asked to serve on a committee to make these decisions.
  • Whether or not you are clear on just how internet filtering works in your school or your school district as a whole.
  •  Whether or not (and why) we can do without internet filters.
  • Your thoughts on intellectual freedom/internet filters/safety and protection of children.
  • Any other ideas.

Your participation would be much appreciated.

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So Who ARE These Digital Natives?

February 7, 2010 by · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

In his 2001 article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: A New Way to Look at Ourselves and Our Kids, Marc Prensky describes digital natives. He says, ‘Our students today are all “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.’ Prensky provides some other characteristics:

 Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work.

This slide show from PEW puts the concept of digital natives, born in 1990, in a historical context.

 

Prensky labels older people as digital immigrants and states that “our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.” Many people, including Kathy Shrock and Joyce Valenza, take issue with being labelled digital immigrants. Both Kathy and Joyce are “digital pioneers.” As Kathy says, “This group of users grew up as technology grew up. This group of users has mastered both the skills (learned from years of technology risk-taking and experimentation) and the processes (learned from the real world and the online world) of information literacy and choosing the correct tool for the task.”

 Of  course there must be more flavours than just natives and immigrants. In her article Not just digital natives & immigrants! Anne Collier says, “Digital immigrants/natives is a huge generalization: among other things, it fails to acknowledge how very individual media and tech use is for people of all ages.”

 I found some more labels for people in the digital landscape in an article titled Digital Denizens. I like these because they show that we all go through various stages in terms of integrating technology in our lives.

 * Digital recluse: use of technology is a result of the need to function in the current environment, not used by choice; computers are prohibited at home

* Digital refugee, unwillingly forced to use technology; prefers hard copies, does not trust electronic resources; seeks assistance; may have grown up with technology or adopted it as an adult

* Digital explorer, uses technology to push the envelope; seeks new tools that can do more and work both faster and easier

* Digital innovator, adapts and changes old tools for new tasks; creates new tools

* Digital addict, dependent on technology; will go through withdrawal when technology is not available

 So how do we close this gap? In The digital melting pot: Bridging the digital native-immigrant divide, Sharon Stoerger suggests that there are far too many variations, and that instead of focusing on the divide, we should consider a melting pot. “Instead of segregating individuals based on their skills or lack thereof, the digital melting pot is a place where all individuals, including those with low levels of competency, experience technology in a way that fosters opportunities without barriers.”

The whole idea of degrees and styles of involvement in the digital experience of course makes perfect sense, but I like the term “digital multiculturalism” (Collier cites Prof. Henry Jenkins) much better than “digital melting pot.” Melting pot seems to imply to me that we all have to end up one bland mixture. How about “digital tapestry”, where our individual talents, expertise, and creativity are woven together, and each individual strand is worthy in and of itself, but made stronger, more beautiful, and more useful as part of the splendid whole?

 Brain Research

 So are young people’s brain really so different from ours? I gained more insight into digital natives by watching Digital Nationon Frontline. What stood out for me:

a) not enough research has been done to determine the effect/efficacy of new technologies on and for learners and learning ( Dr. Gary Small, author of iBrain),
b) although the digital natives’ brains do seem to be wired differently, older people’s brains change in similar ways when they use technology( Dr. Gary Small, author of iBrain), and
c) students’ routinely over-estimate their skills and abilities to multi-task efficiently (Clifford Nassprofessor at Stanford University, director of the Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) Lab.)

In Digital Natives and Immigrants: What Brain Research Tells Us , Nancy K Herther cites Apostolos Georgopoulos, director of University of Minnesota Center for Cognitive Sciences. “There is absolutely no scientific basis for claiming that young people’s brains have changed in recent times or that there is such a major difference between the brain at different ages. There isn’t a shred of scientific evidence to back up these claims. This is totally unfounded.”

We as teachers see that our students are young people and individuals no matter their level of “digitality,” and who better than trained teachers to work towards meeting their needs right now.

 Now What?

In “Who Are Today’s Learners?” (Learning & Leading with TechnologySeptember/October 2008) Christine Greenhow says, “As good teachers we always want to know who our students are and where they start from so that we can tap into, reinforce, build on, and extend their knowledge and experiences in learning new things.” She suggests we survey our students to find out their “out-of-school technology access, conditions, and use” and use strategies to “engage” (use technologies in creative and innovative ways) and “prepare” our students for the workplace where they will use social networking and other web 2.0 applications.

Certainly we can agree that our schools don’t all meet the needs of 21st century learners, and that we haven’t kept up with web 2.0 innovations. There are changes we can make now to remove the barriers blocking our progress. Some suggestions:

Lobby for changes:

  • Stop blocking access to YouTube and social media and web 2.0 sites
  • Change district-wide filtering so that sites needed by high school students aren’t blocked because they aren’t suitable for elementary students
  • Add appropriate technology and brain-research training for prospective teachers to teacher education programs (see March 2008 Learning & Leading with Technology: Hilary Goldmann – Preparing Teachers for Digital Age Learners)
  • Build in training time for current teachers
  • Fund – including evergreen funding—technology (Doug Johnson demonstrates 1 million+ tech $ saved in his district by moving to Google Apps)
  • Stop using labels that limit public perceptions – like digital immigrant
  • Encourage/enable/lead web 2.0 savvy teachers to mentor their peers
  • Survey students to find out their technology abilities, expertise, and shortfalls
  • Ask students how they think more technology can be integrated into your school/library/classes
  • Give Teens the Chance to Think for Themselves -Allow them opportunities to express themselves and share with a global audience
  • Have tech-savvy students create materials and lobby on your behalf, like Josh Porter 

We need to be vocal, focused leaders in our classrooms, our libraries, our administrators’ offices, our parent-teacher meetings, with our superintendents, and with our legislators to ensure the above are enacted.

If we need further inspiration, I’d like to close with 10 year-old Dalton Sherman. Do you believe?

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Saber-tooth Curriculum or 21C Standards?

January 31, 2010 by · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

saber-tooth-tiger

New Fist, an early Stone Age man, develops the first formal curriculum, devising lessons to teach their youngsters skills that will significantly improve the quality of their lives. Topics include fish-grabbing-with-bare-hands, wooly-horse-clubbing, and saber-tooth-tiger-scaring-with-fire. The curriculum is highly successful for many years.

 One day, a new ice age dawns. Muddy rivers make it impossible to see and grab fish. The wooly horses leave for a more desirable climate, and the saber-tooth tigers become extinct. Some members of the tribe suggest it’s time to revise the curriculum and teach new skills more applicable to the changed environment. These skills include net-making, antelope-snaring, and bear-killing.

cavebearBut tribal leaders scorn their ideas. “If you had any education yourself,” they say severely, “you would know that the essence of true education is timelessness. It is something that endures through changing conditions, like a solid rock standing squarely and firmly in the middle of a raging torrent. You must know that there are some eternal verities, and the saber-tooth curriculum is one of them!” (Brooks-Young, p. 129 )

 When I read the above excerpt (longer version here) in Digital-age literacy for teachers: Applying technology standards to everyday practice, the stone-age metaphor resonated with me. The need for change is not new, and it is never easy. There is no question that as educators, and especially as teacher librarians, we too can face a stone-wall attitude about change.

 Moving Out of the Stone Age

Moving to 21st century teaching and learning is not easy. The good news is that we have some expert, research-based help to move our teaching expertise — and our schools –forward with The AASL Standards for the 21 Century Learner and the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and Performance Indicators. Marjorie Pappas’s article, “Standards for The 21st-Century Learner: Comparisons with NETS and State Standards” provides summaries and comparisons of the documents:

 The AASL Standards for the 21st-century Learner are preceded by the following nine Common Beliefs:

  • Reading is a window to the world.
  • Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
  • Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
  • Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.
  • Equitable access is a key component for education.
  • The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
  • The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
  • Learning has a social context.
  • School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.

 The AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner include the following four standards:

Learners use skills, resources, and tools to do the following:

  • Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.
  • Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
  • Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
  • Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.

 NETS: The Next Generation (ISTE) includes the following six standards:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

Pappas points out that “Applying an inquiry process within collaborative learning situations and thinking skills are apparent throughout the documents . . . . Both sets of standards place value on cultural differences and focus on participation in a democratic society by including those skills within separate standards. Both standards include skills that engage learners in gathering, evaluating, and using information.” (Pappas, 2008)

Obviously these are skills applicable for many years to come.

More Help

In their article “Reframing the Library Media Specialist as a Learning Specialist,” Allison Zmuda and Violet H Harada ask, “What would it look like if learners could determine their information needs, solve problems, read for pleasure, effectively and ethically use information and ideas, debate merits of a point of view, and create quality written and oral communications?”

The AASL book Standards for the 21st-century Learner in Action helps answer that question by providing an in-depth look at the beliefs and standards of the program including detailed benchmarks and action examples.

The chapter that most interested me, because influencing student attitudes is not easy, is Chapter 3: Dispositions in Action. It says, “Learning in the 21st century . . . requires a range of dispositions: to be curious, resilient, flexible, imaginative, critical, reflective, and self-evaluative.” The chapter goes on to detail indicators and behaviours to show the development in the student from teacher controlled to student controlled learning. An example:

Indicator: Display emotional resilience by persisting in information searching despite challenges

Sample Behaviors:

-  Brainstorm new ways of searching for information when the existing strategy does not work

-   Analyze challenges faced in the research process and identify the possible barriers

Stages of Development

-  Stage 1 – Need continual encouragement when first attempts to find information are not successful

-  Stage 2 – With occasional help and emotional support from the teacher or SLMS, identify alternative strategies to find needed information

-  Stage 3 – Reflect on why original search strategies did not work; independently determine additional possibilities (AASL, p. 43)

 Brilliant! I eagerly looked for more information and found Barbara Stripling’s article, ‘Dispositions: Getting Beyond “Whatever.”’ Stripling says, “Dispositions are not taught explicitly. Instead, teachers structure learning experiences so that students practice the behavior that is an expression of the disposition. Over time, through a series of experiences that reinforce the targeted attitudes and behaviors, students can adopt the dispositions as their own personal habits of mind.”

The article perfectly sums up for me an attitude I have seen too many times.

‘”Whatever.” This one word characterizes the public attitude of far too many students today. Many young people have developed an armor of nonchalance or “whatever” to counter the increasing pressures of testing-based accountability and classroom cultures of teacher-incharge and students-instep.”

Stripling goes on to explain that by integrating the AASL standards into our programs, we can help our students move from “whatever” to “Yes, I can” as they develop the dispositions needed to be independent learners.

What’s Next?

Though, like the saber-tooth tiger, I am rather “long in the tooth,” I’m not a tribal leader resisting change. In Alberta we are waiting for the Alberta Education School Library Services Initiative (SLSI) to be completed. In the meantime, I encourage my colleagues to integrate the AASL standards in their programs. How? Zmuda and Harada (April, 2008) have suggestions:

“The . . . AASL Standards for the 21st-century Learner should be prominently featured in all aspects of the learning environment – physically hung on the walls, judiciously placed in curriculum binders and planning materials, and prominently displayed on the school and library media websites. The library media specialist also should use the learning goals as a touchstone in every conversation with staff. Such relentless consistency both models and reinforces to staff that the focus on the goals of learning is a “disciplined mindset” that ensures that what students are asked to do on a daily basis is challenging and worthy of the attempt.”

This dedication to change for the sake of our students and our society is the sign of the 21st century leader.

References

American Association of School Librarians. (2009). Standards for the 21st-century learner in action. Chicago, Ill: American Association of School Librarians.

Brooks-Young, S., & International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). Digital-age literacy for teachers : Applying technology standards to everyday practice (1st ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Pappas, M. (2008). STANDARDS FOR THE 21ST-CENTURY LEARNER: Comparisons with NETS and state standards. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 24(10), 19.

Stripling, B. (2008). Dispositions: Getting beyond “whatever”. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(2), 47.

Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. (2008). Reframing the library media specialist as a learning specialist. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 24(8), 42.

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Haiti, The GG, and My Cousin Phyllis – Leading in the 21st century

January 24, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Haiti, The GG, and My Cousin Phyllis – Leading in the 21st century

[Update: Read Phyllis’s  bio in Canadian Nurse.]

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how the catastrophe in Haiti has highlighted the need for 21st century learning – and teaching – skills. As I watch the news about Haiti, and research and read about 21st century skills, I see clearly that what is essential in our society is global awareness.

 phyllisMy Hero

This is my cousin Phyllis (actually she’s my husband’s cousin, but I claim her too). Phyllis, a retired community health nurse, university professor, and motel owner/manager, is my hero. She brought both her parents into her home and nursed them with grace and dignity through their final illnesses. She developed cancer in 2004, underwent treatment, and in 2005 spent a month in Indonesia nursing tsunami victims.

Today Phyllis left for Haiti. As part of a medical group working with Food for the Hungry Canada, she travels with two doctors, two other nurses, and a load of medical supplies. Unless plans change once they arrive, they are headed for Child Hope, an orphanage in Port-au-Prince that has been deluged with injured quake survivors. One of the mission workers has been posting updates about conditions. Like so many other people, they are relying on individuals who hear about their needs and help as they can.Daphne

 

Phyllis, a true 21st century learner and teacher who lives global awareness, is taking a camera to Haiti. As she did in Indonesia, she will photograph her journey and create a presentation when she returns. She is determined that people will see the needs in Haiti as long term.

 

The GG

gg2Another 21st century leader is Michaelle Jean, our governor-general. During the telethon Canada for Haiti, she said,

 “We are right now in an era where what we call the civil society is something big and international. There is this sense of togetherness that is happening in the world today, and what Haiti is experiencing has touched the hearts of everyone on this planet. So we must come out of this stronger than ever. We must grow from this and learn from this and also know that it’s Haiti today, but it’s also around us in our communities. We can make a difference to bring about change, and this dream of a better world — it has to be a shared responsibility; it has to be everyone’s business.”

Indeed it does.

What do the experts say about global awareness as a 21st century skill?

Here are some excerpts from the research: the emphasis (bold) is mine.

In her ASCD article “The 21st Century Skills Movement,” Paige Johnson summarizes the skills and knowledge included in the Framework for 21st Century Learning:

1. Core subjects and 21st century themes (such as language arts, mathematics, science, global awareness, and financial literacy).

2. Learning and innovation skills (such as creativity and innovation and critical thinking and problem solving).

3. Information, media, and technology skills.

4. Life and career skills (such as initiative and self-direction).

In its Framework for 21st  Century Learning, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills actually lists Global Awareness first under its Core Subjects and 21st Century Themes.

In his article, “Missing: Students’ Global Outlook,” Daniel S. Alemu says, “Schools of the 21st century must be capable of equipping students with appropriate tools—knowledge, skills, and disposition—needed not only to excel in academic subjects and fit in the rapidly changing technological world, but also to become functional global citizens.”

Howard Rheingold, in his July 09 address to Reboot Britain, (found on Helene Blowers’ blog LibraryBytes), discusses his 21st century literacies. I’ve added some thoughts:

Critical consumption – Everyone needs a “crap detector;” the ability to differentiate good from bad information. [Could we explore with students how many fake Help Haiti sites have sprung up on the web?]

Attention – learning when focused attention or multi-tasking is appropriate; being aware of paying attention

Participation – Young people create as well as consume online. These media enable (don’t guarantee) that people can inform, persuade, and influence the beliefs of others. They can help people organize collective action on all scales. [Could we encourage our students to create and participate in the global response to Haiti?]

Collaboration – Using the technologies and techniques of participation and attention to organize collaborative efforts. Rheingold points out that emergent collective responses (he cites examples of children in California and in Chile using social networks to organize protests) have now become global responses, as with the 2005 tsunami [and now, of course, Haiti].

Network awareness – (I quote Helene Blowers for this) “the combination of reputation, social capital, “presentation of self” and other sensitivity to individual positioning within the network collective.” [Could we help our students to see that building their reputation and social capital can be done while using their skills to help others around the world?]

Good News and Bad News

The world responded dramatically and quickly to help Haiti, most immediately through online technology. Our own Ruth Elliott (@RIElliott) devoted hundreds of hours to coordinating tweets and creating Twitter lists on Haiti to enable information to get to the people who needed it. Dozens of volunteers organized and attended crisis camps like this one at USC where volunteers worked “to design improved maps of battered Port-au-Prince neighborhoods, concoct better family-locater services for quake victims and speed more accurate and timely relief information from more closely coordinated data feeds.”

Geoff Livingston details 5 Social Media Lessons From the Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort. There were mixed results. ‘“Mobile raised tons of money in the world that still had a power grid and IT infrastructure,” said Tom Watson, author of CauseWired. “And it failed rather completely in a world devoid of those industrial luxuries. No ‘app’ was capable of getting anything done in Haiti itself. And we should be up front about that.”’

Social media contributed heavily to the traditional media with local bloggers and photographers providing material to the networks. While the earthquake and its effects were explored, the background story of poverty and violent history was not. And there is no guarantee that the long-term effects of the earthquake will hold our attention for long.

What Next?

I’ll be looking for examples of students using their 21st century skills to respond to and help their fellow global citizens in Haiti, and I hope to share some with you.   

And by the way, if you could take a moment to include Phyllis and her group in your prayers, I know they’d appreciate it.

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Biblioburro and the 21st Century Library

January 17, 2010 by · 4 Comments · Uncategorized


Watch this video at Ayoka Productions

The Biblioburro

Every weekend, Luis Soriano, a primary teacher in La Gloria, Colombia, loads a collection of his own books into the “Biblioburro” pouches on his donkey’s back, and travels to remote villages to bring reading to children. Ayoka, the not-for-profit organization that filmed the Biblioburro video, provides some background information.

When Soriano was a child, his family fled local violence, moving to a city. Soriano not only found comfort in a library but had a teacher who encouraged him to read. When he became a teacher in his home town he discovered that most of his students couldn’t do their homework because they had no books at home, and so the Biblioburro was born.

He and his wife, Diana, have built (mostly by hand) La Gloria’s first public library, where he can at last display and circulate his entire collection of books.

So what does the Biblioburro have to do with a 21st century library, you ask? Aside from the obvious — many people know about the Biblioburro thanks to YouTube, and Twitter — there is food for thought here for teacher librarians looking at harnessing the power of Web 2.0 for their schools. I re-discovered the Biblioburro thanks to an LM_Net post that arrived as I was reading the rather intimidating issue of School Libraries Worldwide – Volume 14 Number 2, July 2008.

The Demands of the 21st Century Learner

The theme of this issue is New Learners, New Literacies, New Libraries. The issue explores the ramifications of web 2.0, and the urgency of the need for change to accommodate today’s learners. School librarians need to demonstrate leadership 21st century skills, or risk being left behind. In these days of budget cuts and standardized testing, revamping our practice, our libraries, and our schools is certainly not an easy task for most of us.

So what exactly is so intimidating? In his article Youth and their Virtual Networked Worlds: Research Findings and Implications for School Libraries, Ross Todd looks at the challenges posed by today’s students. He says, “Key challenges for school libraries relate to conceptualizing the school library as a knowledge commons, shifting instructional emphasis from information provision to knowledge development, and engaging the whole school community in appropriate pedagogical and policy decisions in relation to Web 2.0.” 

It isn’t enough just to use a few web 2.0 tools in the library; this is actually a dramatic shift involving one’s entire school. 

Why so urgent? Todd cites the research of Marc Prensky. ‘Marc Prensky, educator and developer of game technology for learning, claims that young people are powering down in schools–not just their devices, but their brains. He claims: “It’s their after‐school education, not their school education, that’s preparing our kids for their 21st century lives – and they know it. …When kids come to school, they leave behind the intellectual light of their everyday lives and walk into the darkness of the old ‐fashioned classroom” (Prensky, 2008, pp. 41, 42). In this brave new world of Web 2.0, the visionary, creative and learning centered leadership of school librarians can play a vital role in turning on the lights.’

So how do we go about turning on these lights? In another article in SLW, Towards School Library 2.0: An Overview of Social Software Tools for Teacher-Librarians, Jo-Anne Naslund and  Dean Giustini look at educationally useful web 2.0 tools, and how they can fundamentally alter the learning experience. ‘ʺWhen a studentʹs work is seen, and commented on, and collaboratively enhanced by a larger participative audience, students are drawn into extended educational ʹconversationsʹʺ (Hargadon, 2008).’

Another article giving extensive practical advice, and the most powerful article in this issue for me, is Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries, by Marlene Asselin and Ray Doiron. They develop a “proposed pedagogical framework for school library programs in a Learning 2.0 environment” by answering these questions: “(1) Who are the new learners of the Net Generation?; (2) What literacies do today’s students need to live and work in the world?; (3) How do we teach the new learners?” 

The article’s conclusion contains a call to action. “It is time to situate the new literacies of the real world in schools and make school libraries the bridge between in‐school and out‐of‐school literacies. “ It also identifies “actions necessary for libraries to advance these activities – studying today’s learners in order to develop meaningful user‐centered services and programs; engaging in a collaborative change process as a profession; embracing the need for immediate actions; taking risks; and accepting that learning will happen as you go.”

Other Practical Advice

Joyce Valenza’s Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians, a living, evolving, wiki, provides a blueprint for tls looking for specific ways to upgrade their practice. In every area of librarianship, ranging from Reading to the Digital School Library and the Information Landscape to Access, Equity, Advocacy to Digital Citizenship, and much more, the wiki provides specific, hyperlinked criteria for using web 2.0 to meet the needs of your stakeholders 24/7.

We must ground our efforts in the context in which we live. In their article Things That Keep Us Up at Night, Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson say, “Rather than creating a perfect library, we need to reshape our thinking and create the perfect library for our individual institution. . . . Teachers, administrators, parents, and students must demand the essential services we provide.”

And the Biblioburro?

I have felt rather overwhelmed by the fact that I have a ways to go to achieve 21st century librarian status, but when I look at what Luis Soriano has accomplished, I feel ashamed. If Luis Soriano can survive guerrilla warfare, displacement, and being held hostage by bandits to empower his students, then surely, with the expert assistance I’ve described, I can empower mine as a 21st century librarian.

I finish with this quote taken from the Ayoka site:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead

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Finding My Voice Within the Edublogosphere

December 20, 2008 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

This week’s topic for discussion is “Finding your voice within the edublogosphere.” While I was tempted to write about how I plan to become a famous (and rich!) blogger, I thought better of this. I’m sure you are all disappointed!

Seriously, as I was trying to think of an inquiry question for this topic, I was working on my post on social networking, and I read Dustin Wax’s post, 9 Tips to Get the Most Out of Social Media. Tip #9 really struck with me.

Add value

This is the single most important thing to remember on any social networking site. Do whatever it takes to make your posts, your profile, your story submissions, or whatever the “currency” of the site it, as valuable as possible. You add value when you submit a link; you add more value when you include a really good description of the article; you add more value still when you explain why I would want to read it; and you add yet more value when you tell me what the author left out or how the information might be used.

My discussion question for this topic is “How can I add value in my blogging?”

There are lots of suggestions for good blogging out there. Steve Dembo, on his blog, Teach42, is almost through a series, 30 Days to Being a Better Blogger. For each tip Dembo discusses why bloggers should follow the tip, and explains how he does this in his own practice. Tips include a wide variety of ideas ranging from technical tips (ensuring your blog can be read on mobile devices), to content (inviting a guest blogger, creating a mission statement) and more. You can find all the links on a wiki here. Some of his tips are based on those from Darren Rowse’s series, 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers.

In Becoming a Blogging Maestro: Composing Beautiful Blog Music, Vicki Davis, an eloquent and passionate educator, shares how she creates blog entries. This is a must read. She says, “I believe that blogs with truth, variety, passion, inspiration, and technical precision are those that stand head and shoulders above the rest,” and her post discusses how she begins with those qualities in mind as she writes.

As a result of my reading and reflecting on my own blog, I’ve developed a list of strategies to implement to add more value.

1. Write more comments on other people’s blogs.

Vicky Davis writes extensively about this in Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Ten habits of bloggers that win! She points out that of course when you write about an article, you link to it, but “After you post, go to the person’s article that you quoted. Write a meaningful comment or a small excerpt of what you wrote in your blog and hyperlink to your post.” She sees this as being “part of being a responsible part of the global conversation.” Before I read this I felt that my blog was insignificant enough that I wouldn’t waste “the experts” time by commenting on theirs.

 This is a tip that Steve Dembo also gives in Day 8 – Comment unto others. I was struck by the comment on this tip that Bill Ferriter wrote:

…All too often, people think blogging = writing.

Blogging REALLY = writing + listening + responding + reading + arguing + listening some more + rethinking + revisiting

When bloggers get stuck in the “blogging is about the posts that I write” mindset, all we’ve got in the blogosphere is a heaping cheeseload of digital soapboxes, don’t we?

The commenting side of blogging has been great fun because it forces me to consider my own positions related to the author’s initial posts. Sometimes I agree, other times I disagree-but articulating that response ALWAYS improves my own understanding.
2. Write some thank-you notes.

This idea comes from Steve Dembo in Day 3 – Write a Thank You note. He suggests you can write to thank another blogger who has linked or you, or you can write a note to someone who inspired you to start blogging. I plan to write to some bloggers who I find particularly inspirational. Dembo says, “Trust me when I say, there is no greater compliment than to read an email from someone saying that you were an influence in their decision to begin blogging. So make sure that they know they were. They’ll appreciate it.”

3. Create a mission statement for my blog

This class will soon be over, but I want to continue blogging. Steve Dembo suggests that you create a mission statement for your blog. He suggests, “Start off with the surface ideas. Think about what drew you to blogging in the first place and why you started blogging. Then think about why you’re continuing to do it today. Do you blog for the same reason now that you did when you started? Is your blog professional, personal or both? Is it a place to share unbiased, impartial information or are you posting your thoughts and opinions? Are you restraining yourself to specific topics on your blog, or is it wide open?”

I’ll be reflecting on why and what I write. I have always written for my colleagues, and had a built-in audience. Now that I am no longer part of a school community I’ll need to think about how I move ahead.

4. Be a Creator of Useful Content

In 10 Habits of Highly Effective ProBloggers Darren Rowse says, “Successful bloggers give their readers something that they need. . . . Not only is their content useful but in many cases it is looked at by others as being original and something that makes them a ‘thought leader’ in their niche rather than just a recycler of what others are saying.”

I believe that Stephen Downes’ advice to “Be yourself” is an essential part of this. In his article, eLearn: Opinions 7 Habits of Highly Connected People, Downes says, “What makes online communication work is the realization that, at the other end of that lifeless terminal, is a living and breathing human being. The only way to enable people to understand you is to allow them to sympathize with you, to get to know you, to feel empathy for you. Comprehension has as much to do with feeling as it does with cognition.”

I’ve tried to be myself as I write about topics important to me, incorporating pictures, anecdotes, and references to my life as a way of illustrating what I’m talking about. I’ll continue to do this as much as possible, as way of making myself real and of value to my audience.

Hopefully these four strategies will help to add value to my voice in the blogosphere.

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Simple to Real to Complex Blogging

December 20, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am asked: Will Richardson talks about the progression that bloggers go through from simple to real to complex blogging. What does this mean to you given your own recent journey into the blogosphere?

There is no doubt in my mind that I have written some blogs posts that might be considered true blogging, as Richardson describes, but I know I’ve also broken some of the rules. My inquiry question for this topic is, “What elements of complex – true – blogging do I already exhibit, and how can I expand on these to improve?”

 Looking at Richardson’s spectrum (Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,  and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, 2009, p. 31), I can see that there are some rules I’ve broken. I have listed links, although always in a context where there was (I thought at the time) a reason for doing so. One example is my post on blogs as PD. I listed some useful blogs at the end of my post and should have written about why I selected them. That, I’m afraid, was due to lack of time as I had been away on family business and did not have time for second thoughts – not my most carefully crafted work.

I certainly have given links with description, some deeper than others. I have tried to write as Richardson described in #7, “Links with analysis and synthesis, that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience in response mind (true blogging)” (2009, p. 31).

I think one of my strongest posts was It’s All About the Connections: VoiceThread . I wrote about the power of the tool, connected it to my own life, looked at application for both teachers and students, and made a connection to a revised Bloom’s taxonomy. Looking back at that post, I think I was truly blogging.

So what can I do to improve? I think I need to continue reading more blogs, and also reread my own. I can revise posts that are not well done. I can look for “true blogging” and continue to refine my skills. Where do I want to end up? Richardson quotes Ken Smith, (2009, p. 30) who suggests that instead of assigning students to write, we ask them to read widely and then think and write about what they’ve read, making connections. Eventually they will have other people reading what they’ve written and responding and discussing their ideas.

 I haven’t had a lot of comments, so I haven’t had the opportunity for a back-and-forth conversation. When I read Richardson’s blog, I can see how this refines and develops the ideas he is sharing, and I can see how powerful this is. In his post about Clay Shirky’s idea about using media for action (http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/media-for-knowledge-vs-media-for-action/), Richardson has multiple comments from other great bloggers, and they also comment on one another’s comments, arguing, clarifying, and disagreeing with great energy. Wow!

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Are We There Yet? Finishing EDES 501

December 7, 2008 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Are We There Yet?

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. — Ursula K. LeGuin

So I’m almost finished the course, and it has been the most difficult course I’ve ever done. It’s also been the most exciting and immediately useful course I’ve done since I became a teacher librarian. I must hasten to add that the other TL-DL courses have also been excellent, but with those I had considerable experience in the field to help.

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping  – Chinese Proverb

I laugh when I remember Jennifer Branch telling me that I should expect to spend 10-12 hours per week on the course. There were many weeks I spent three to four times that long. Thank goodness I was not still teaching, because there is no way I could have kept up. I’m looking forward to next week, when I can really start my retirement! No deadlines! Hurray!

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. — Marcel Proust

Too Close to Crashing

The main challenge of my journey through Web 2.0 was that EVERY WEEK I had to explore a new application, figure out how to use it myself, create a product with it, read how others were using it or evaluating its usefulness, and decide how it could be used by teachers and students in school. Then of course every second week I had, in my mind, yet another “paper” to do in terms of the discussion topic. The workload was quite horrendously intimidating, and at one point I thought I wouldn’t make it.

In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. — Dante Alighieri

That dark point for me was the last week of September. I worked so hard on the video-sharing blog post (Stumbling Through Video Sharing, or The Week I Almost Lost My Mind) and did very poorly in terms of the mark. I almost quit the course, but Joanne did reassure me that I did in fact know what I was doing. As a side note, while it is fun to look at, I must admit that I STILL don’t altogether see the usefulness of YouTube in the classroom, especially since it is blocked in so may schools. I believe that TeacherTube is more educationally useful.

After this near meltdown I decided that I needed to limit the reading I did and focus more on choosing a few good articles or posts to share. Fortunately my new strategy of being severely selective in my reading worked, and this helped make the workload more manageable. I decided the next week after writing about RSS feeds that I could in fact do this Web 2.0 thing!

Earning Those Bonus Air Miles

The real plus of this journey through Web 2.0 was that EVERY WEEK I had to explore a new application, figure out how to use it myself, create a product with it, read how others were using it or evaluating its usefulness, and decide how it could be used by teachers and students in school. Then of course every second week I had yet another opportunity to explore Web 2.0 in terms of the discussion topic.

Wow! What an opportunity! I got to create a blog, and work on blogging over a whole term. I created a podcast, built a VoiceThread, crafted a wiki, uploaded photos to Flickr, learned how to embed videos and widgets, really mastered social bookmarking with Diigo, and much more. I got to read the writings of some of the leading lights in education and teacher librarianship.  And, best of all, I had great company on the journey.

Fellow Travellers

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

I have been fortunate indeed to be part of a wonderful class of gifted and dedicated educators. While I can’t possibly list all I’ve learned from them, I would like to mention each, in no particular order, ending with Joanne.

Joanie, what I have just realized is that your blog isn’t just about learning Web 2.0; it’s about how you live your life. I truly admire what you’ve achieved here. I loved your entry The Thrill of Victory. I enjoyed reading your blog each week with your strong voice, running quotes and analogies, and your passion for the craft of teaching. And thank you for reminding me to keep on top of my email!

Christine, I love your voice, your humour, and your enthusiasm. Your post What’s Next? Wikis for all of course! post makes me want to run right over to school and start making my teachers use wikis! Seriously, as always, Christine, you offer wonderful resources. Reading your blog is like getting great PD painlessly. Many thanks for your great ideas about time management too!

 Jill, I appreciate your philosophy of teaching and practice. You challenge me to think deeper, as in your post Sustaining Change in Technology Practices in School Your comments about sharing “the ownership of learning and change with all stakeholders – support staff, parents and students” resonates with me.

Rhonda, your blog is always practical and your comments supportive. You’ve given me many new resources to follow, including the Awakening Possibilties wiki and Anne Davies’ blog – EduBlog Insights. You are a podcaster extraordinaire as you show in Which Web 2.0 Tool? Thanks to you I’m going to try again to make Twitter work.

Jes, I am so impressed by how you are using VoiceThread with your students and encouraging your colleagues to use it too. Thanks also for the great resources you’ve introduced to me, including the Langwitches blog. I wish you all success with your exciting  First Nations project

Kathleen,  I appreciate the introduction to the chapter by Hughes-Hassell and Harada, Violet H. (2007): Change agentry: an essential role for library media specialists,” in School Reform and the school library media specialist. Your post blog-no11 What’s next? On the horizon of the web 20 landscape gave me much food for thought about wikis and the school library.

Selena - Your blog too gave me so many good ideas and resources. It’s Time to Walk the Talk remined me of Will Richardson’s blog, A Web of Connections…Why the Read Write Web Changes Everything, and introduced me to 25 Tools every Learning Professional should have in their Toolbox – and all for FREE!. I would love to hear more about the class wiki you are going to do next semester for your Social Studies 11 students, “who can get bogged down with all of the vocabulary they have to learn in order to be able to write their provincial exam (in French no less).”

April, Your post What’s Next? Provides all the links and suggestions for tools one would need to start blogging with students – including analysis of an actual online assignment. Now I want to check out http://moodle.org/.

Heather, your post The ABC’s of Blogging in Education is one I want to share with my teachers. It is clever and intelligent and relevant. I also really appreciate the link to 50 Useful Blogging Tools for Teachers!

Darryl, yours is another blog I will return to for professional development. Your post In the wiki wiki wiki wiki wiki room…. with its links to your Literature Circles with the wiki and the The Learning Library Wiki is excellent, and I want to share Part II – Drum Roll Please…… with my staff when we look at blogging.

Joanne, thank you for all your work in setting up and running this course. You gave us challenging assignments supported by those excellent Trailfires. Thanks also for using Will Richardson’s inspirational book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom. I also appreciate your support and understanding when I really needed it.

Thanks to you all for your kindness and generosity as we shared this journey. I look forward to revisiting your blogs as they are wonderful professional learning tools for me.

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind. — Henri Frederic Amiel

Where to next?

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. —  Martin Buber

What have I learned? I believe I really do understand about Richardson’s Read/Reflect/Write/Participate/Web. I’ve learned that there are more experts out there in Web 2.0 than one person could ever find in a lifetime. Thank goodness I’ve also learned that it is not all up to me to find them – I’m developing a professional/personal learning network to help me.

I’ve learned that I CAN’T WAIT to get back into a school and start working with educators on Web 2.0 applications.

My next university course will be EDES 545, but unfortunately not next semester. What I am planning to do is continue exploring Web 2.0, and continue blogging about that journey. There are plenty of applications I haven’t tried (or mastered!) yet.

And, to answer my question — no, I’m not there yet!

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. — Greg Anderson

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Moving Web 2.0 Towards School 2.0

November 30, 2008 by · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

Towards School 2.0

Professional Development: What Doesn’t Work

When I began to think about at how I would introduce web 2.0 to the teachers at my school, I immediately thought, “NOT professional development!” Why? Mention the phrase “professional development” to some teachers in my large, urban high school and you will immediately see their eyes begin to glaze over. Not so long ago, mandated, one-shot sessions dealing with the flavour of the month in education were common in my district. Thousands of dollars were spent to import outside “experts” (usually American) to tell large groups of teachers sitting in expensive rented meeting rooms how to create caring schools, reach at-risk students, or use graphic organizers.

My personal favourite? Our school paid a huge speaking fee plus expenses for an American professor to spend two hours telling the 100 teachers on our staff how to improve reading by having students use three colours of sticky notes and highlighters to colour code their textbooks.

Of course our district wasn’t alone in its need to change its ideas about PD. One researcher even wrote an article titled ‘”Professional development: A great way to avoid change” (Cole, 2004)’ (as quoted in Fullan, 2007).

What Does Work: Professional Learning

Building on the work of various researchers, including Michael Fullan, our district has recognized that the experts in teaching our students are already in our schools, and effective teacher learning does not happen with traditional PD. In Change the Terms for Teacher Learning, Fullan identifies key ideas describing the shift in teacher learning practices:

  • Professional development as a term is a major obstacle to progress in teacher learning;
  • We need to deeply appreciate the meaning of noted educator Richard Elmore’s observation (2004) that improvement above all entails “learning to do the right things in the setting where you work” (p. 73);
  • Student learning depends on every teacher learning all the time;
  • The first three components depend on deprivatizing teaching as teachers work together to continuously improve instruction (Fullan, 2007).

Fullan’s ideas clearly echo other findings about professional learning. In “What Makes Professional Development Effective? Results from a National Sample of Teachers,” Garet and his colleagues found that “PD was rated as most effective when it

  • a) was sustained and intensive rather than short-term,
  • b) was focused on academic subject matter with links to standards of learning,
  • c) provided teachers opportunities for active learning,
  • d) afforded opportunities for teachers to engage in leadership roles,
  • e) involved the collective participation of groups of teachers from the same school, and
  • f) was meaningfully integrated into the daily life of the school” (as quoted in Torff and Sessions, Factors Associated with Teachers’ Attitudes about Professional Development, 2008).

All of these ideas are reflected in our new efforts at professional learning in my high school. Instead of pulling teachers out to attend once or twice a year district “professional development” sessions on topics mandated at district level, professional learning is built into the culture of the school. As part of a district cultural change, and working with staff, students, parents, and community our school has selected an instructional focus that reflects our students’ needs. All of the school resources are centred on developing best practices to support our instructional focus: assessment for learning.

As the article Assessment For Learning: Planning for Professional Development explains, “In an assessment for learning environment, rather than something that happens at the end of the learning, assessment is used to support and inform learning, build self-confidence, and capacity for success (Stiggins, 2001). Assessment for learning is ongoing, and requires deep involvement on the part of the learner in clarifying outcomes, monitoring on-going learning, collecting evidence and presenting evidence of learning to others.”

When I think about working with teachers to implement the use of Web 2.0 in our school, I can’t help but think that using the “Read/Reflect/Write/Participate web” (as described by Richardson in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, 2009, p.137) ties in perfectly with our instructional focus.

Professional Learning at My School

Traditional professional development methods don’t work. What does work in my school is a professional learning model that

  • capitalizes on the expertise found in our school,
  • has teachers learning strategies and applications that work for
    • their curriculum and
    • their level of expertise,
  • encourages teachers to collaborate and lead,
  • is sustainable and long-term,
  • makes teachers active learners,
  • allows teachers to make some choices about
    • topics right for them, and
    • how and when they will learn,
  • Provides flexible release time,
  • Provides technical support.

Based on this model, it is evident to me that I can’t choose which Web 2.0 applications we should be using in our school. Instead, I choose to introduce the Read/Write Web, and then how individual applications support what Richardson (2009, 130-1) calls the New Literacies and Big Shifts of the read/write web classroom.

Plan for Introducing My School to the Read/Reflect/Write/Participate Web

Use the library web site to link to blogs, wikis, podcasts, Flickr photos, SlideShare, VoiceThread presentations, TeacherTube videos appropriate to various content areas.

Look for evidence we already participate – talk to colleagues, students to see who is blogging, podcasting, or otherwise creating content. Highlight this content on the library or the school web site.

Meet with department heads and the technology committee (technology lead teachers) to discover who can help teach about web 2.0 applications

With a small cohort of like-minded teachers, build a presentation to share with leadership staff.

Build a wiki of resources to be used for teaching about each application; e.g., the wiki page on Diigo will have links to

Set up short, varied tutorial sessions to be offered at various times: before or after school, during a spare

Offer longer, in-depth sessions during exam week, during department meeting time, or on a half day with teachers given release time to participate.

Use the cascade model – I teach you, you teach two others, they each two more, etc.

Use the cohort model – start with the interested/committed, establish training. Aim for one or two from each department.

Arrange for release time for the instructors and for interested participants who want to hone their skills.

Have the same session offered by different instructors, so that participants can work with the person they choose.

Partner experienced teacher with newbie when using a technique for the first time with a class (e.g., building a wiki)

Showcase results. Share staff and student work in a presentation at a department meeting and staff meetings, on the web site and at parent nights.

Query staff as to what sessions they want.

Enlist gifted students to help teach.

Enlist non-teaching staff to share what they know (e.g., computer tech has a Facebook page for his hockey team)

Offer a variety of opportunities for learning including online resources, one-on-one instruction, small groups, use more than one instructor. Create a wiki of online tutorials for each application. Pull from sites like 100 Free Library 2.0 Webinars and Tutorials.

Take photos of tutorials and post on Flickr or have participants create slideshows online (Animoto, Slideshare, etc.)

Showcase results. Share staff and student work in a presentation at a department meeting and staff meetings, on the web site and at parent nights.

All departments have photos of staff and students at work, best practices, etc. Give a workshop for Foods on turning these quickly into a presentation with music and text using Animoto.

Have volunteers blog (anonymously if they like) their experiences as they explore web 2.0

Offer particular sessions to particular departments e.g., do a session on VoiceThread for English teachers using a poem they teach, or doing a visual response.

Showcase results. Share staff and student work in a presentation at a department meeting and staff meetings, on the web site and at parent nights.

Do a session on social bookmarking with the science department and have them transfer all their bookmarks to Diigo, and set up and/or join Diigo groups by topic; e.g., global warming, genetics, etc.

Do a session on RSS feeds with the social studies department. Show them Free Technology for Teachers: 34 Ways to Use RSS  and then have them explore the Social Studies Resources listed in the left margin. Have them sign up for a Google Reader account. Walk them through Getting Started with Google Reader.

Look at blogging for math classes (some teachers are already have students keep journals). Explore Darren Kuropatwa’s various blogs for mathematics classes.

Follow Helene Blowers‘s advice and tell staff to HAVE FUN! Look at her blog for reflections on teaching web 2.0 to adult learners.

Showcase results. Share staff and student work in a presentation at a department meeting and staff meetings, on the web site and at parent nights.

Conclusion

I particularly like the last sentence in the article Assessment For Learning: Planning for Professional Development.

“Taking time to incorporate changes in ways that strengthen and support current initiatives makes sense. Beginning quietly, but in inspirational ways, is often the best way to build a climate for sustained efforts that support change.”

Sharing expertise in ways that work with my colleagues, and celebrating the exciting product and learning that I know will result, can’t help but make our school a more vibrant learning environment.  Professional learning – here we come!

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