Summer Professional Development

Once again, I have fallen off the blogging wagon.

This past summer, I took part in 3 professional development activities. Something which I have not done for along time.

The first was MakerEdTo in early July.

Newman suggests that inquiry should happen everyday. Not just as big projects but as an regular question. Inquiry does not have to be huge. Just present in your room.
In August, I attended my second Summer Institute at Algonquin College in Ottawa.  Journey to Canada: A Learning Commons Approach was set up completely different from the first one.
Everyday we had a field trip which is easy to do in Ottawa. It was active and fun learning that showed me parts of Ottawa that I have never seen before.
I highly recommend taking one of one of these courses in the summer. But you need to sign up early because they fill up quickly.
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Makey Makey Fun

Last spring I had a little money leftover after the end of the semester. I had heard about these cool things called Makey Makey that I wanted to try out. So I purchased three.

In the fall, I set up with the bananas and oranges to play the piano and playdoh for Tetris. The kids had fun with these and I put them away. IMG_3733

At a loss for the next step, I started looking for more ideas on the internet. I signed up for the Global maker Space day. By luck, I watched Colleen Graves‘ webinar Makey Makey in the Classrooms. Then I went to New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning  (NPDL) Learning Lab in my district where I saw two great uses for Makey Makey.

The first was a guitar that could be used to play several different games. I found a template for the main body of the guitar.IMG_4471 I enlarged this on the photocopier until it was big enough. I then cut the template out from pieces of cardboard. I taped the wires into place and connected it to the Makey Makey. I then found several games that could be used with the guitar.



Then I put together a set up for a Dance Dance Revolution type game. IMG_4474

I had too much fun putting these together and want students to have the same opportunity (and fun). It was good for me to try it out on my own to see some of the problems students might encounter with their building. Now to set up a situation for students to build.




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Sketchnoting is taking notes that include colour and sketches. Do a search and you will find many excNesh1wImageellent examples of sketchnoters.

I have been following a few blogs and reading books on sketchnoting. I have tried it out in a few meetings and  on a professional day. I have also been practicing sketching common pictures so I can draw them quickly when needed.

While planning an unit on communication for Personal Life Management (HIP4O), i decided to set up stations for each of the topics. For a different stations activity I set up an answer sheet on a 11×17 size paper. I did that again for this activity and even add a few sketches and colour. I was pleased with the results on my first attempt to share my sketchnotes with other people.









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Blog Update

I restarted this blog on February 8th with a focus on keeping a digital portfolio.  I have tried to write a post every week with some success. I have posted on Twitter when I have a new post and am very excited to see that a small number people have visited my site over the last few months.

I was worried that my posts weren’t been read by many people. I had to remind myself that I am posting to make a digital portfolio not to be read by hundreds of people. So I am continuing to write with the thought of that great quote from the movie Field of Dreams

If you build it, they will come.

I’m reworking it to…

If you post it, they will read it.

It’s not just my blogging that is slow to become a habit.

I introduced the idea of blogging to 3 senior classes at the beginning of the semester. One class was quite interested, one class had some interest, and the third class had no interest. Guess which class is still blogging?

If you guessed the first one, you would be correct. Now to be fair, I do go in every other week to support the class with their blogging. I helped set up the rubric to assess the posts which are directly related to the course work and I suggested that their blogs be used to demonstrate their learning  for their summative project for the semester.

A few students have continued to blog from the second class and I could not convince anyone in the third class to blog at all. Now if I was their teacher everyday maybe the results would be better. I do think that for some students writing in any form is seen as a punishment. I don’t feel this way now, but I sure could relate when I was in school. Writing my own blog is a giant step out of my comfort zone but I do believe it is worth the effort.

So, next semester, I will choose different classes and request more time with the students to help them blog regularly. My goal is to keep blogging about my learning and maybe…

If you post it, they will read it.




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Facebook in the classroom

You should see the looks of amazement when I tell students that they will be using Facebook in class. Facebook allowed in class! What the heck is going on?

A few years ago, I was at ECOO Conference in Niagara Falls. I went to a session titled Twitter as a tool to practice historical perspective by Lisa Unger (Upper Grand DSB). This presentation looked at how Ms Unger asked students to use Twitter to tweet from a historical perspective during the whole semester.

I was intrigued by this idea. However, as a teacher librarian, I don’t have my own class to test drive lessons. I joined with an history teacher in my school to try this out for a section of the Grade 10 History  (CHC2A) curriculum. We thought the 1920’s and 1930’s would be a good way for students to show their understanding of the events perspective of the time period.

The first time we tried this activity with Twitter. However, we had several problems with using Twitter. The first problem was with opening new accounts. Twitter allows a set number oftwitter-icon accounts to be made from a location at a time because of people making spam
accounts. The students who were slow signing up quickly became frustrated as they struggled to make an account. The second major problem was with actually following the conversations. Even though we asked for students to use hashtags, locating the tweets was difficult.

Overall, we weren’t completely happy with the way the activity went. The next semester we switched to a closed Facebook discussion.

There were still some minor problems with signing up new accounts but for the most part this is much easier with Facebook. This is a closed groupfb-art and students are invited to comment on different topics. The first is coming home from World War I. Each discussion has a limited time line to help students stay up to date with their posts. Students are expected to make at least 1 post on the topic and 2 comments that add to other student’s posts. Liking a post or one word comments are not considered adding to the conversation. Students are able to use the last few minutes of the class to make posts using their own device or one of the iPads in the classroom. There are approximately 10 topics for students to comment on during the unit.

We split the jobs for the assessment of this activity. One teacher reads and comments on the posts.  She also makes sure that the discussions are historically correct and appropriate for school. The other person reads and assesses the posts and makes sure students are regularly contributing to the topics. We usually switch jobs halfway through the unit.

Here are some posts from the Coming Home from World War I conversation:

My factory has now closed down to change back from making tanks and we are going to make cars again. Now I don’t have a job until the changes are made to the inside of the factory. On another note my son has returned but seems a little bit off, he isn’t himself… maybe he just needs to get back into routine of Canada again

My brother is just about to go to bed, he seems very exhausted.. More than usual. This Spanish flu that started in Spain seems to really be taking a tole on him. I thought that when he returned everything would have gone back to normal. Unfortunately he doesn’t have a job due to the 3 fingers that he lost, and the lack of ability to work because of his illness. My mother has had to work more often to be able to support both me, my brother and herself. So blessed to have a mother that will do everything and anything for her family.

I don’t get it, my Dad who just returned from protecting our country lost his right arm during the war.  Now that he is back,  he can’t find work due to the loss of his arm. Not only can he not go to work and support my mom and I. He was diagnosed with shell shock. If we even drop a pot by mistake he acts like he is back at war and it can be really scary at times.

This is the third time for this assignment. Each time we adjusted the instructions and expectations to improve the activity. Using Facebook in a history class seems to be a great way to engage students and demonstrate historical empathy.

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I am intrigued by this site that promotes coding. Coder Dojo offers coding to kids and parents once a month. 

  This is done  through volunteers — people with knowledge of coding and are willing to share their time. 

I have to be honest here. This idea caught my attention because I feel my own kids need more exposure to coding. I get the exaggerated eye roll if I ask them to try out a coding program with me. It’s just not cool with Mum. 

Perhaps an after school program led by someone who is an expert in their eyes would catch their attention. 

But if my kids need more coding experience, then other kids need it too. So now I’m looking at ways to do this. 

Again I have to admit that organizing something like this program is way out of my comfort zone. 

Does anyone have any words of wisdom on how to do this?

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Where have all the books gone?

I have loved books since before I could read. I love reading them, becoming friends with the characters, learning about things outside of my world, and just collecting them for my bookshelf. Becoming a teacher librarian in 2001 was not just my dream job but a part of who I was.

The school was brand new and it was truly a baptism under fire as I figured out what a high school library should look like. The first five years, I was the only person that worked in the library.

I was trying to remember this morning how many computers we had in the library that first year. I think I was quite proud to boast about my four desktops. I was often asked where were tcard-cataloghe books as the space was quite large and it took time to build up the collection. I carefully purchased books I felt were needed by our students and eventually built the collection to more than ten thousand resources.

Fast forward to 2016. The book collection has decreased to under ten thousand but the computer resources have increased dramatically. We now have 21 desktops, 45 iPads and 48 Chromebooks.

The space has been opened up and I am working on making the library a true learning commons. Even with a variety of seating areas to choose from, students often pick the floor as the best place to work. We have a makerspace, a green screen room and a smartboard room. We are open for club meetings and staff PD. We have four different robots and participated in the Hour of Code this past December. We are in the first year of a three year plan for our library transformation and have just placed an order for new furniture that matches our vision for this space.

I am struggling a little with this vision. I am getting a lot of pushback from other teacher librarians and teachers about the changes I am making.

I believe that students need equitable access to digital resources. The learning commons is the a great place to access these resources for students. Last September, after years of vandalism and damage to desktops and laptops, I agreed to barcode all of the mobile digital resources and entered the information in the circulation catalogue. Most of these resources are signed out every period. If there is a problem, it can be tracked right back to a student and a conversation then occurs about appropriate use and respecting school property. Once students realized that any problem would be addressed, most of these issues stopped.

It’s a big job organizing this everyday. I now spend time charging the devices are each night, I clean the screens and disinfect the cases, I load apps, and I make sure there are no problems with the device. These are all new responsibilities for me. I have not taken them on lightly. In fact, I feel this is part of the evolution of libraries if we want to keep them relevant to our clients.

The hardest part of all this comes from people who think I no longer like books. I believe that books will always be an important part of and library/learning commons but times are changing and we have to see to the needs of our clients first.

I believe that fiction will always be a part of any library. Not every student/person is ready to read on a device. Ebooks are still expensive and getting them from your public library is not always easy. I spend a good portion of the library budget on novels that give our students a choice in what they read.

The internet is the number one source of information for high school students and most adults. They do not understand why there is a problem with this. With thoughtful instruction on website evaluation, it shouldn’t be a problem. So the purchasing of non-fiction has decreased drastically. I still buy non-fiction when needed, but I am much more selective than I use to be. For example, Canadian History is an area not well represented online. This section I am still purchasing books regularly, but the best  and most recent medical information is found on the internet. We just need to make sure students know what sites have good information.

I wonder…

Is anyone else is doing something similar in their library and can give me some feedback from their experience? I would really like to know what is going on around the world in school libraries.

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