Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

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!