Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Care and Feeding of your P2LN - Connected Educator Study (2)

The second key connector in our book study discusses personal learning: the how, where, and when.  I have loved reading this book as a veteran of Twitter as it reminds me of all the great reasons I love Twitter as a professional resource. Thank you, guys!

As a co-founder of two twitter chats, I can say with absolute assurance that connected educators are ready to learn anytime, anywhere.  I've moderated and greeted chats from volleyball games, passenger seat of the car, and once during freshman orientation (which I did with the utmost respect and discretion). I believe in the power of connecting and sharing that much.....  There is a valuable nugget of information for everyone who jumps into a Twitter chat.

Connected educators are also willing to learn on Saturdays and at 3 am because we LOVE learning and growing.  As the authors share, professional learning which takes place outside the traditional day, is the most powerful.  When we are able to be in the mindset to receive great information, it sticks with us and has a lasting effect. That makes finding some time for reading, reflecting, and sharing to take place so critical. It's the process of refilling the well and finding some humor in what we do. Here are a few educators I turn to for inspiration and great ideas.

Love The Daring Librarian, I hope to be as whackadoodle as she is when I Grow Up. And she's a middle school librarian.

Buffy Hamilton - the first librarian I followed on Twitter and love keeping up w/ her libraries, students, puppies, and best practices.

My partner in crime, Lynn Kleinmeyer, keeps me on my toes, pushes me to be better and want more for my students, and can kind of read my mind.

The FMS Library Instagram account - celebrating our students who inspire me everyday.

As a librarian in two buildings, I am my own department, and it is very easy to isolate myself within my own little world.  Having a connected network helps me to stay inspired and knowledgeable about issues, trends, new books, and great activities for me to share with my students. "So stealing that idea" is one of my mottos.  And please steal from me when I share things, as well.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Care and Feeding of Your P2LN - Connected Educator Series Book Study

Image result for what connected educators do differentlyThe invitation from Ann Feldmann to join this book study came at just the right time.  Here are some numbers for you.  I am surrounded by 1300 students in 2 buildings each day. This is my 5th year as a school librarian, my 4th year as a #nebedchat co-founder, and 1st year as a #mwlibchat (Midwest Librarian Chat) co-founder, and 1st year as a UNO adjunct instructor. I read 100 books each year as part of the @goodreads challenge.  And....I am the 1st to talk about being connected and inspired, but I am the LAST person to follow my own advice.  The result is the feeling of educator isolation shared in "What Connected Educators Do Differently."  

I think I fall into the "connected" category, but my take on Chapter 1 is perhaps more about the maintenance of your P2LN. The feeling we've all experienced after a great conference, workshop or keynote extends to the excitement after a whirlwind chat with educators and librarians.  The key is feeding and caring for that excitement and channeling it into what we do everyday so it can grow, connect, and inspire others.

We face some ginormous challenges in education.  Some of our kids have whole lives outside of our buildings, and what goes on in those buildings, for those students, is low on the list.  Combine that with budgets, resources, statistics and there are some pretty big obstacles to add to the process of teaching and learning. With so many big things, where do we even start?

After five years as a school librarian, one thing hasn't changed.  It's all about the kids, and it's all about connections. So although my issues have changed, grown, shrunk, and evolved, the need to stay focused on connections with my students and my personal and professional network has not.  So my blogging focus during the book study will be to record the care and feeding of my P2LN, and hopefully, inspire anyone else out there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Great Minds and All That.....

Have you ever experienced synchronicity? It's that bizarre feeling that things have just spun out of your control and are about to come together in an amazing way? Chatting with the dynamic Lynn Kleinmeyer (@THLibrariZen) via Twitter about scarves,  coffee, and library shenanigans  brought about my latest brush with synchronicity.  
Shortly before NETA15, Lynn sent me a message asking my thoughts on a librarian chat...... and my response was, "Me too!"  And then came the Instagram post about Miss Suzy, and then the Canva discussion, and then, well, we pretty much took over the Social Butterfly Lounge at NETA15.  We scribbled on the white boards, spun in the chairs, and hugged each other's friends.  And we made plans for the launch of the Midwest Teacher Librarian Twitter chat.  (Did I mention, we went totally fangirl meeting Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller)? - we did that, too)

As librarians, we often function in a place of professional awkwardness.  We are never alone, yet we are alone.  Our libraries are filled with students, researchers, makers, readers, teachers, learners, and we are elbowing our way into the hearts and classrooms of the
teachers in our buildings.  We become the fix-it people, leaders, and problem solvers. We wear a lot of hats and have our hands in a lot of cookie jars. It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed and often difficult to find another educator who travels our road. 

Twitter has been the resource for inspiration since I became a librarian. The rockstars I have followed for years are the people I turn to for ideas, guidance, and laughter.  Many of those whom I met have become my closest friends in "real life." I was honored to be a part of the epic phenomena #nebedchat which has brought together many a great mind over the last several years, and I am excited to partner w/ Lynn as we launch a chat for teacher librarians. Join us Wednesday evening (5/13/15) @ 7:30pm as we kick off our chat series with a half hour discussion on Summer Reading.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Is Your iPad a Microwave?

I remember the first microwave my family had.  It was a Christmas present for my mom, and cost like $9000.  I also remember I was the first person to blow up a bowl of eggs in the new microwave.  But that's a whole other blog post. I also remember the first iPad I ever had.  My husband bought it for me to use with my students and I started to cry at the check out at Nebraska Furniture Mart.  I was so grateful and excited to have an iPad - that was 2012.

Three years and nine gazillion apps later, I hope we sometimes consider the power of the gadget we hold in our hands.  It's handy for email, Twitter, Instagram, web browsing.  But is that all it's used for?  Better yet, is that all our students use it for? Checking email, grades, skills practice, web surfing?  At some point, it's time to move past consuming information and start creating knowledge.  You don't use the microwave just to warm up leftovers?

Microwaves are pretty great gadgets.  They make popcorn in little bags, brown hamburger, defrost stuff, melt butter. All pretty handy tasks, but generally done independently of each other - one at a time. Let's consider the gadget found below the microwave.... the stove. Now a stove will cook soup, roasts, casseroles, cookies, cakes, as well as all the things a microwave can do (kind of).  A stove helps us to create amazing feats of culinary skill multiplied by the number of burners and a possible double oven.

iPads have the potential to be ovens.  They can do all the communication and social media stuff, but they can also be the vehicle to creating some pretty amazing artifacts such as movies, photos, artwork. In fact through the process of app smashing, we are only limited by the amount of memory on the iPad and the iTunes budget. We can drop a string of videos into iMovie, add enhanced images, voice overs, and transitions and come of with a pretty spiffy movie about just about anything.....and so could our students.  Using a digital poster app, students can link to researched resources, embed videos and images, as well as text to demonstrate knowledge of any concept or better yet, create a study resource for next year's students.

I spend a good deal of time twisting arms, begging, and promising my first born to teachers in order to get them to try new resources through technology integration.  My next bout of arm twisting is about to begin. We are ready to move past using iPads as devices to practice skills and surf the web. We are ready to move toward the concept of supporting students in creating artifacts from a foundation of core content. We are ready to leave the safety of the microwave and leftovers for the wonders of six burners and convection cooking. Grab your spoons!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

10 Steps to Avoid a Twitter-vention

After my family accused me of functioning in a technology coma, I decided it was time to come up with some ways to protect myself from the inevitable intervention.

10. To avoid detection, put your device on silent. No on will hear the "tweet"

9.  Sleeping with your device under your pillow is a dead give way that you need help.

8.  Although the restroom may be the only time you are alone - this should be a device free area.

7.  No tweeting at the dinner table.

6. Make sure all your dependents have been fed before you check your twitter feed.

5. Avoid the urge to "tweet that out" when something unusual happens.

4. Avoid tweeting family members from across the room.

3. If you use tweet deck....limit your columns to 20 or less. More than 20 indicates at risk behavior and more than 30 warrants an intervention.

2. Avoid answering questions with "huh?" in a twitter induced haze.

1. If all else fails, put your device inside a print book.  As a librarian, how can I argue with a good book?


Sunday, April 19, 2015


Tell Your Story as a Connected Educator this week at NETA15! As you know, I am a social media maven loving life on Instagram and Twitter where I celebrate my profession and my students. One ofmy FAVORITE parts of NETA14 was rocking the InstaWalk (pretty crazy happy about that Fashionista badge) so I was giddy with glee when @morgetron asked me to join her in coordinating this year's journey. 

The InstaWalk is a super groovy good time and a great way to archive your NETA adventures and share the love 'cause this PLN rocks it everyday for every student. You also earn some pretty sweet badges you can post and rub in noses (Did I really say that..... Yeah.... Yeah I did) 

So here we go, kids.  If you aren't on Instagram (and if not...... WHY?) here are some basics:

1. Download the Instagram app onto your smartphone or tablet. Create an account.
2. Give Instagram permission to use your photos.
3. Capture a photo you want to share.
4. Upload it to Instagram.
5.  Caption it with any info you want to share + #NetaInstaWalk15 + the hashtags that correspond with the badge you are attempting to earn. (For Example: New Shoes for NETA15 #NetaInstaWalk15 #Beautiful #EduFashion). Hashtags are listed below for each category.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
  • If you have a PRIVATE Instagram account, we won’t be able to see your pics, even if you hashtag them.  You can friend either Jodie or me, which is an option.
  • If you do not have a private Instagram account and you use these hashtags, there is a chance we will re-gram you on #NETA’s Instagram account or on one of our accounts.
  • There is also a chance that your photo may end up in the slide show at the end of Day 1 or during Day 2 at some point.

And Here are the Groovy Categories for this Year's #NETAInstaWalk15: Take a look at the categories and then during NETA if anything rocks your world, snap a photo and Instagram it with the accompanying hashtags.  Jodie and I will be watching Instagram during the conference and we will send you the badges you earn.  Pretty sweet, huh? 

Fashion! What is your style? How about other styles you admire? Show us your #NETA15 #EduFashion!
To earn the #Beautiful award, post a picture of your favorite #NETA15 fashion. It might be YOUR own fashion. It might be the fashion of one of your friends. It might be the fashion of a complete stranger who will become your friend after you tell her/him how much you love her/his fashion. Be sure to include the following hashtags to get full credit for this challenge:
#NetaInstaWalk15 #Beautiful #Youngbloods #EduFashion

Which friends (old and new) did you see at #NETA15
To earn the #WithALittleHelpFromMyFriends award, post a picture of your and your friends. This is selfie time USA. Don’t hold back. If you have a selfie stick, I hope you brought it.  Be sure to include the following hashtags to get full credit for this challenge:
#NetaInstaWalk15 #WithALittleHelpFromMyFriends #TheBeatles

What were your magic moments at #NETA15?

To earn the #ThisMagicMoment award do your best to capture what you consider to be a magical #NETA15 moment. Be sure to include the following hashtags to get full credit for this challenge:
#NetaInstaWalk15 #ThisMagicMoment #TheDrifters OR #JayAndTheAmericans

Enlightened you? Made you think?
There is so much to learn at NETA, pretty sure this will be an amazing category.  Be sure to include the following hashtags to get full credit for this challenge:

#LetTheSunShineIn #FifthDimension #NetaInstaWalk15

What did you eat while you were at #NETA15?  To earn the #AmericanPie award, post some pics of your breakfast, coffee break, or your lunch.  Be sure to include the following hashtags to get full credit for this challenge:
#NetaInstaWalk15 #Foodie #AmericanPie #DonMcLean

If you Earn all the Badges Above? Well, then, YOU are a movin’ groovin’ machine.

If you think you have earned all five badges, be sure to post a picture of ANYONE or ANYTHING from the conference and in the caption, please use the following hashtags:
#NetaInstaWalk15 #Kodachrome #PaulSimon #IAmAMovinGroovinMachine

If you have questions, send Jodie (@morgetron) or myself a message (@cynthiastogdill)  or snag us at NETA and we will get you back on track.  Additionally,  Here is a link to Jodie's blog (Thanks, girlfriend for letting me borrow from your blog!) with more great info! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Felt the Power & Got the Tshirt - Part 2

(Updated Blog Post: Because the First Version Just Sucked......Seriously)

 You can't be a connected educator without a social media presence. Twitter has become an inspiring and dynamic place for educators to connect.  That presence serves to model digital citizenship to our students, gain professional inspiration, and provide professional development to our colleagues in our buildings, districts, and network. Combining Twitter and EdCamp only makes that connection to inspiration greater and more powerful.  Some of my closest colleagues were people I met initially on Twitter and solidified connections through the EdCamp experience creating learning opportunities for me and my students. Edcampers are the people who empower everyone around them but also know they need to refuel occasionally themselves and they know that won't happen between 8 am and 4 pm.

I realized this afternoon how powerful these connections have been in my life lately.  I've spent time collaborating via Google Docs on #nebedchat questions with a nationally recognized educator and absolute rockstar. My girl, Jodie Morgenson  invited me to help out with #NETA15InstaWalk this year and we have been chatting, tweeting, DMing, and Google Docing for several days.  In the midst of this I am preparing my NETA15 presentation on leading professional development from the ranks. And I have been thinking ALOT about leadership, what it means, and how you get there. And what I know right now, is that I never started out to be a leader.....in anything.  But somehow, by wanting more for students and wanting more for teachers, I found a place where I could support learning by integrating technology in a meaningful way which led to a leadership role.  And I found myself surrounded with like-minded crazies who don't know when to quit.

The people in my PLN don't coast and don't quit at 4 o'clock.  They are planning on Tuesday night, chatting on Sunday afternoon, Edcamping on a gorgeous Saturday. No one was looking for a thank you or a stipend, and we got stuff done, ideas launched, and tasks checked off.  All will benefit and empower teachers and students in our own districts. These connected educators don't talk about what a great idea this all is, they are out there making things happen, putting in the time, and digging for answers.  These are the leaders in education and I am humbled by the mindbuzz going on around me and grateful to be a part of something visionary.

I wasn't able to attend all of EdCamp Omaha, however, I did have the opportunity to stop in later in the afternoon to see some of my rockstar PLN. Can I just say, that in the short time I was there, I felt the power of a group of people passionate about education, technology, and students.  I got hugs from organizers Kristina Peters and Josh Allen and picked up my super awesome t-shirt. The UNO Community Engagement Center was buzzing with energy, conversation and laughter, and just a pretty cool place to hang out for any reason.  I could feel a blog post coming and was all in for the challenge put forth by my friend,  Brent Catlett, along with Ann Feldmann, Otis Pierce, & Mickie Mueller.

Edcampers definitely do not coast.  They are constantly looking for more, better, and cooler. Find an Edcamp, Go and Lead.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Leading the Way

Thank you technology for failing us......just this once.

The past few weeks have brought about a frenzy of craziness in the my libraries.  We have 5th graders starting some hefty research business using print, online databases, and Google Docs, and middle school students in various stages of construction on digital portfolios in preparation for parent-teacher conferences next week. Let's add to the chaos.....a bookfair in both buildings.

I spent one day literally running back and forth across the street between my two buildings and I lost count after my fourth trip to the middle school.  This week, we had the mixed blessing of Nebraska weather which resulted in two snow days in one week with a full moon.  Everyone seemed just a little off kilter by yesterday afternoon.

Not even going to mention the heavy duty discussions going on about technology, curriculum, conference presentations, and the cardboard solar panels taped to my car by my fifth grade HAL students.

With all that said, by yesterday, I was ready for the whack-a-doodle week to be OVER. I was spending the day in an eighth grade English class helping students pull together and finalize their student portfolios.  At the middle school, we have been moving toward a digital portfolio for students to use as an archive of work, goals, and progress.  It will become a living document and digital footprint foundation as they go through high school.  Our template consists of a Google Site developed last fall and students add their work, assessment information, and examples of their learning.

Yesterday, our plan was have students scan their documents and send to Google Drive for addition to their portfolios.  We had chosen an app for the scanning process and seemed to be set to start working.  For whatever reason, the app would not export....... at all.  Ok, well actually it did... like seven hours later. We had to switch gears pretty quickly and I started using my phone to scan and email students their artifacts so they could keep working.  At some point, a few students started using their devices and took care of their own documents.  And then....

I looked up and saw kids huddled together over phones, passing devices back and forth, helping each other take photos of posters they had made, kneeling on the floor next to another student walking them through the process.  In the course of constructing their own portfolios, they also reached out to their peers who were lost, unsure of what came next, or didn't have a device.  And once again, I was humbled by the power of watching kids collaborate and support each other in the learning process.

Yesterday, started out as a day of individual work on a personal archive, and ended as an opportunity to not only learn, but to teach others. Grateful I was there to witness the power of students collaborating and supporting each other.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

And Above All Else....

One of the my favorite moments of each day is the sunset.  Often sunset brings a mass exit from our house, a jump into a vehicle, and a quick dash to the beach on the other side of the lake from our house, phone in hand, camera ready. My girls are often with me and then it's a race to Instagram the first image captured.  They have their own reasons for capturing sunsets, but mine center around gratitude.

It has been almost three years since our lives took a strange and unexpected turn, professionally and personally. There were things I thought I wanted in my life and the months following our move brought none of those things.  Instead, we were blessed with different opportunities far beyond our imaginations and far greater than I would ever considered.

The Tangled Librarian blog started as a record of my journey as an educator.  It has become an archive of the moments that have made me who I am. My passion is always striving to make the school library environment better for students in whatever form that may take.  I've been blessed to be a part of a dynamic learning community through Twitter, Instagram, and Nebraska Ed Chat.  I was honored and humbled after receiving an award from my state organization last fall.  I have an opportunity to guide future school librarians as they prepare for our profession, and began my school year in two new amazing buildings with beautiful libraries in a district moving forward and looking to the future of education. All of these blessings are far greater than  what I thought I needed in my life three years ago.

The lesson which has settled in me during this journey is that above all else, be grateful.  Be grateful for every beautiful sunset, small victory, miracle, and simple blessing that comes along.  Gratitude makes room for inspiration and innovation which keep us coming back everyday.  Gratitude makes room to breathe and look up at what we do each day and know that somewhere we made a difference.