Mid-South Tech Conference – Day 1

The first day of the Mid-South Technology Conference did not disappoint.  I only wish I’d been able to go to more of the sessions.  Thankfully, I have friends who’ve agreed to share their notes from some of the sessions I missed… and  I, of course, will share with them as well.  Ahhhh, collaboration….

The day started on a high note with Keynote Speaker Alan November with just the right amount of humor, great information, and motivation.  Very cool.   Earlier this week a few of us at school were having a discussion about the need for students to work harder than teachers.  How exactly do you motivate middle schoolers to work harder than their teachers?  As luck would have it, Alan November outlined a number of ways to move toward this goal.  It includes students teaching themselves (finding answers on the internet and designing rubrics), students teaching their peers (creating video tutorials and interacting globally), and focusing on the process rather than the answer.  Awesome speaker.

I also attended a great session on Edupunk with Aaron Fowles and Laura Smith.  The wealth of information is included on the wiki they created.  Go check it out!  They explain it much better on their wiki than I can here, especially at midnight.  Hmmmm, I’m blogging at midnight.  Could it be that I’m coming out of my technoslump?

I also attended a scary session on copyright law as it relates to digital content.  More on that at a later date.  I need to get some sleep before Day 2.

Keep reading and keep learning!

Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers

At our district’s Library Inservice last week, I hosted a breakout session called “Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers:  Using the Internet to Promote your Library”.  If you missed it, I’m including the PowerPoint below (there’s not much to it, I tend to talk more than “present”), along with these links to three cool web tools we discussed:  LogoEase (to make unique logos for your library and its programs), Wordle (a fun, eye-catching way to get your point across), and Animoto (slick little videos of your uploaded pictures).

Casting a Wide ‘Net for Readers

MCS – Technology Showcase

I am so proud of the focus our school district is placing on technology and how it can be used to better educate our students.  Last night, I was honored to assist with a Technology Showcase for Memphis City Schools.  The Board Auditorium was converted into a series of technology-rich administrative and classroom settings.  School Board Commissioners and community members became “students” for the evening as they progressed through a series of small group instruction sessions.

I assisted in the Secondary Education classroom with one of my favorite tech mentors, Linda Eller (MCS Academic Operations, Technology and Innovations).  We taught our “students” how to add information to a wiki, use an iPod touch to conduct research on NetTrekker, and how to add photos to iDVD to create an easy but very professional slideshow…. …all in roughly 7 minutes per session.  We talked fast.

Most of the participants we taught were amazed and impressed by the tools we demonstrated and how those tools can be utilized in our classrooms to make learning more effective and engaging.  Good Job, MCS!  Thank you, Felicia Fowler, Instructional Technology Dept. Coordinator, for including me on your team and putting together a fantastic showcase for our district!

Keep reading and keep learning!

Promoting Teen Read Week (Oct. 12-18)

Next week is Teen Read Week, an annual initiative of YALSA (the Young Adult division of the American Library Association).  It’s the perfect opportunity to promote the library to the teenagers in your school.  At our middle school, roughly half of our students fall into the “teen” category.  Since the other half of our students are teen-wannabes, though, Teen Read Week speaks to the entire student body.

Why Teen Read Week? It’s in the teenage years that many students quit reading for fun.  There are so many other ways for teens to spend their time.  They need to be reminded that there are alot of great books written with them in mind and that reading for fun is a wonderful way to spend their time.  In addition… “Research shows that teens who read for fun have better test scores and are more likely to succeed in the workforce.” (http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/teenreading/trw/trw2008/index.cfm)

If you need ideas (or have ideas to share) to promote Teen Read Week to your students, check out the Teen Read Week wiki on the YALSA website.  The wiki is full of ideas related to promotion, programs, displays, web-based resources, books that tie-in to this year’s theme, etc.

Still looking for ideas on how to reach your teens?  Take a look at the YALSA Blog, a wealth of information on teen-oriented library services.


Suggestion:  Those students who don’t want to be called “children” but aren’t yet “teens” need a week of their own.  Maybe the week prior to Teen Read Week should be called Pre-Teen Read Week for the 9 to 12 years crowd…

I’ve Jing’d My Wiki!

If someone had told me a couple of months ago that I should “jing my wiki”, I’d’ve slapped them first and asked questions later.  Seriously, I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were talking about.  Now, thanks to Tech Camp 2008 and the instruction of our incredible MCS Ed Tech team, I am reasonably familiar with Jing, wikis, blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, and all manner of impressively innovative technology tools.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have created a wiki for my middle school.  I was asked to prepare a brief overview of this wiki for a presentation and was unsure whether or not I would have internet access at the presentation site.  You know how it is… Be prepared for all possible problems.  I decided to use Jing to record the screen activity as I “toured” my wiki on my computer at home the night before the presentation.  I figured that if I couldn’t access my wiki online at the presentation site, I could at least show my Jing video of the wiki, which was saved in the Jing History on my laptop.  Even though I ended up having internet access at the presentation, I showed the Jing video to illustrate how Jing can be used to create tutorials for our classrooms and teachers.

Click on the picture of my screencast below to watch a Jing video of my school’s wiki.  I’ll warn you… This was my first attempt at a Jing video and I was a little tentative in my delivery.  I’ll speak louder next time.

pbwiki – simply quick and easy

One of the topics we covered at Tech Camp this summer was wikis.  We watched a great little video called “Wikis in Plain English” on the commoncraft website and I was sold.  Where could I sign up?  That was easy enough at pbwiki.  I signed up to create a free wiki and got started.  It’s like creating a document (or series of documents) on the web with multiple authors and access for whoever needs to read it.  It’s perfect for people (like me) who love to collaborate but REALLY HATE meetings and like to let people be creative in their own timeframe and place, when it’s convenient and comfortable for them.

I’ve started a wiki for the faculty at my school to develop resources for our school-wide themes.  As a faculty, we have chosen a character-based theme as well as another relevant theme to incorporate into our classroom instruction and decor each six weeks period.  I have done some preliminary research and provided a list of resources for each of the twelve themes we selected.  The great thing about the wiki, though, is that it will evolve throughout the year as our teachers find other resources or tweak ones already listed.  Instead of printing a stagnant document that our teachers may or may not be able to locate when and if they think of it throughout the year, our wiki will be as available as their access to the internet.

My first attempt at a wiki is pretty basic …simple, easy to access, and yet surprisingly gratifying…like peanut butter.  Try pbwiki.  You’ll like it, too.