Thursday, August 14, 2014

An icy way to end a summer day

Eighteen years ago, I lost my mother to ALS in the month of June.

So how could I pass up the ice bucket challenge issued by friends who, unfortunately, have felt the same sting of loss from this disastrous disease?

Add one more thing to the list of this librarian's summer activities:

And if you are so inclined--douse, donate, or both.  Let's find a cure for ALS.




Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I learned during my summer vacation: Professional edition

Wordle: CMM Summer Learning 2014  Yes, I went to six and a half days of professional development this summer.  Only two days are required by our district, but I am a glutton when it comes to learning.  

Here are my take-aways from the five full-day and three half-day courses I attended:

  • Gifted/ Talented Training, Module 1--There is no definitive description of a TAG student, as their traits and giftedness are varied.  They are likely to learn quickly and independently (but can have a dual exceptionality and qualify for remedial services).  Some TAG students are great at persevering, while others cringe at challenges they can't accomplish perfectly on the first try.  They may have high moral thinking, but poor social skills.  What sets them apart is their overall ease of learning and out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to standard school work.
  • Gifted/ Talented Training, Module 2--Identification of gifted students varies from student to student and school to school.  There must be qualitative and quantitative data to support the identification, and a minimum of three instruments should be considered.  Students qualify when their academic needs cannot be met within the general curriculum and classroom (much like special education services).  Identification should involve more than just cutoff scores on assessments and teachers' perceptions.  We also need to be sure to screen the whole student population, not just those referred, because many gifted students may be overlooked otherwise.  We got to review the assessments used by our district, which was fun!
  • Picture Perfect Science, K-2--This training was based on the professional resources Picture Perfect Science Lessons by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan. Each lesson is paired with picture books, using fiction and nonfiction titles.  The materials include the stem questions to ask while reading the books aloud to the class.  The presenters led us through some of the lessons, modeling how the book is used and guiding us through the hands-on labs.  We got to spend the last part of the day reviewing our district's curriculum to see when and where these materials were recommended for use. One of my campus' kindergarten teachers was there, and we were able to look up which books were to be used, see if we already had them in our library, and if not, I added them to my fall shopping list.  I also came up with the bright idea to record myself reading the books along with the stem questions, so that our large teams could use the recordings when books were in short supply!
  • Picture Perfect Science, 3-5--This training was similar to the K-2 presentation, but with higher level experiments and books.  I have to admit that it was fun doing hands-on labs again, especially ones that involved mud!
  • Campus Leadership Retreat--What a difference a year makes!  Last year, I attended the retreat as a complete newbie, and felt so out of the loop.  This year, it was a reunion with the colleagues who helped and encouraged me through my first year as a librarian.  I was able to meet my new instructional tech support person, and can tell already that she will help us continue to have fun while we learn in the library.  We also jigsaw-read The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.  I was really motivated by the book when I read it last year, and I'm glad I got to revisit it with my colleagues.  I'm also happy to know that our new(ish) superintendent wants to continue focus on the "whole child" when we consider our curriculum, culture, and climate.
  • Creative Commons training--I've used Creative Commons to find images for my own projects.  This class gave me sources to use for teaching CC to my teachers and students--not only as consumers, but as producers of material.  We got to play with several creative applications like Movenote, WeVideo, and PicMonkey.  Lots of useful info to use in the upcoming school year!
  • Interactive Read-aloud--This was a nice piggyback to the Picture Perfect Science training, since it utilizes the same method to teach key concepts through read-alouds. Pre-reading books and priming with questions written on sticky notes throughout the text allow us to squeeze teachable moments out of minimal time.  It was also emphasized, though, that sometimes we just need to read aloud for the sake of hearing the story, not over-analyzing the text.  Poetry was suggested for use, and I was happy to see the presenters refer to The Poetry Friday Anthology as a resource; we have a copy on every team at my school.
  • Screencasting--Another fun tech class!  I didn't know we had a YouTube account connected to our school Gmail--and that we could upload video directly to it.  The ITS (instructional tech support) folks presenting the lesson showed us four different platforms we could use to create digital lessons with video and screenshots/ slides:  Educreations, Screencast-O-Matic, Screencastify, and Movenote.  There were several librarians there, and we talked about the different ways we could use screencasting--orientation videos, booktalks, learning stations...oh, the possibilities!  Now if I could just get comfortable recording myself on video...
I learned a lot in the classes I took, and hope to apply at least one thing from each class in my library teaching and program management this year.  Always grateful for the learning opportunities afforded by our district!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The introverted librarian

Quick test to tell if you're more of an introvert or extrovert:

When you leave a large gathering of people (party, lecture, crowded store, concert) do you feel energized and ready for more, or drained and in need of quiet?

When you lack energy, do you seek out social stimulation, or prefer solitude to re-energize?

You've probably guessed that those who seek and gain energy from social stimulation tend to be extroverts, while those who feel drained and need solitude tend to be introverted.  I am definitely in the latter category.

This seems to surprise people, especially those I encounter in my workplace.  I can understand their confusion.  At work, I am talkative and engage others in conversation. I prefer to be out "on the floor" than tucked away in my office when classes are visiting, and make it a point to greet those who stop by for materials or even just to chat.  It's my duty as the librarian to make my learning community feel welcome in the space, and to be in tune with their preferences and needs; this is best accomplished by being present during their visits.  I am "on" pretty much the entire workday, and then some.  And I'm not faking it; I really do enjoy my job!

But when I come home...whoosh!  All that interaction takes its toll, and I'm like a deflated beach ball.  I'm ready for my usually quiet home environment, where I can take a power nap, collect my thoughts, and settle in for the evening.  In the mornings, I wake up especially early just so my day is started in silence, gathering up my quiet energy to serve my patrons. 

At first, I was worried about how tired I was at the end of the day. But then I realized that I was happy and tired.  I imagine it's similar to the way runners feel when they complete a marathon; you've given it all you've got, and you're proud of the accomplishment.  Most days, I've given the library all I've got.

Just don't ask me to Zumba with you after school.  A nice walk alone, or a chat with a neighbor or two, will suit me just fine.

And if you're up for a really good read on what introverts can bring to our typically noisy society, check out Susan Cain's book.  You might just find out you're a bit of an introvert, too!