Thursday, April 27, 2017

Camp Readamorra: Summer Reading PD Plans

I have noticed that most professional development sessions that address reading seem to be about dissecting, analyzing, and tearing texts apart. I wanted to put a course together that promoted independent, recreational reading. I also wanted to start building relationships with the teachers at my new school before next year. I thought it would be fun to use a camping theme so Camp Readamorra was born.
I debated between Camp Readamorra and Camp Wannaread. I wanted something cute that conjured up those happy feelings of summer camp, even though my own experiences at camp never met the high expectations from camp movies. I tweeted a poll and it ended in a tie. Internet, you failed me:)
I shared the outline of the tasks with the other librarians in my district and several expressed that their teachers would also be interested. I submitted the course for approval to my district to earn renewal credit and created a Google Classroom for elementary, middle and high school groups.

This is the outline for the course if you would like to adapt and use with your teachers. You can access a copy of the Google Doc here.  From there you could copy and paste the assignments into Google Classroom or another platform you prefer.

I shared a flyer I made using the Canva images above with a short description and the Google Classroom code. By the end of today I already have 8 teachers enrolled from all different content areas. Normally we focus on reaching out to our students and of course, that is essential, but I also believe we need to continue to share the power of reading to our teachers as well. I would love to hear how you're sharing with your teachers.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Summer Reading Plans 2017

Summer reading is so important for our students so I knew that I wanted to plan something as soon as possible for my new position. I found this article from YALSA and was inspired by Lauri Vaughan's ReCreate Reading program. As much as I would love to do this with the entire school I thought that might be too ambitious since I would not be there to make sure it all went smoothly. I know I'll only get one shot to convince the teachers and admin that the program is worth the time and effort so I wasn't willing to try it and risk failure. After speaking with my new principal we decided that I would implement this idea with our Freshman Academy only. I met with the FA admin and a few staff members and we worked out the final details. This is what I'll be sharing with the entire FA staff after Spring Break.

All 12 teachers, plus me, one guidance counselor, one administrator and the School Resource Officer will be sponsoring a book. This will allow our discussion groups to be under 20 students. I created a resource list of book titles to help the teachers choose a book. I included two authors that we are considering for author visits. When everyone has selected their title I plan to go to the middle school and meet with all of the rising 9th graders to share the summer reading plan and sign up each student for a book. I hope that our public library will have their summer reading materials ready at that time as well so I can share those.
My promotion materials will include an Animoto video with the book covers, QR codes that link to teacher videos explaining why those choose their book, and posters for each teacher to hang near their door. I'll post again when everything is complete, but this is what I have so far since a few teachers have chosen their book already.

I didn't forget the other grades. Even though it isn't feasible for me to plan a more involved summer program this year I did want to do something to encourage summer reading. I plan to make a quick video explaining why summer reading is important and share the SYNC YA information, our public library summer reading information and this BINGO sheet. I'll buy some affordable books to hand out as prizes.

I look forward to reading more about summer reading as the time draws near. I'll be sure to come back and post more when I have materials ready for my students. If you see something you would like a copy of or more information about, don't hesitate to contact me.
*All my background images were made in Canva then layered in Google Slides.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Follow Your Bliss-Back to the Library

After three years as an instructional technologist, I am excited to announce that I will be returning to the library. I have learned so much and enjoyed getting to know teachers across our district. It has been a pleasure to be on the team that rolled out 1:1 iPads to our schools.
Even though I have enjoyed this position, I have missed being in the library, promoting reading, planning student programs and being an integrated part of a school culture. I was thrilled to find out that I had been hired as one of our high school librarians. It was obvious to me that I had lost a bit of my spark when I realized that I had not blogged in about one year. I even found myself approaching kids wandering the stacks of a library that I was working in so that I could recommend a recent read or help them find a book.
I hope to share more of my journey during my transition back to the library. I already have several ideas in the works for this summer. Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope that you are following your bliss-advice I haven't forgotten since watching Bill Moyers' interviews with Joseph Campbell in my high school senior ELA class.

Image result for joseph campbell follow your bliss

Monday, February 29, 2016

Launching a SC Instructional Technology Network

Our team often remarks on how difficult it is to find and connect with other instructional technology coaches/facilitators. We try to connect with those that perform the same job at conferences, but we would like to connect more regularly. In an attempt to create a network of instructional technologists we arranged for a meeting last week and invited all of the instructional tech faculty from surrounding counties. Even finding names to invite was difficult. We pulled names from conferences, websites and Twitter to send invitations. We created a Google Form sign up sheet so we would know who to expect. Our first meeting brought seven other instructional tech professionals to our team of three.

These are the slides we used to keep us on track for the day.

We started with a "smashing" introduction. You can see our creations on this Padlet wall.
Then we visited a few classrooms, broke for lunch and returned to an afternoon Edcamp style discussion. You can see our topics in the Slides at the top. Throughout the day we asked our visitors to play a little scavenger hunt using different apps and tools. There were six clues that required the use of Shazam to identify songs, Sphere to find clues in pictures, Google Translate to translate words, Google Cardboard to determine a location and a hidden link on the school map. When the clues were all found and filled in on the back of their agenda card, the letters spelled LAUNCH. The first to tweet the word received their very own Google Cardboard.
We ended the day with plans for our next meeting. We hope to regularly meet and change the location so we can all learn from each other. We are investigating the possibility of visiting a nearby university. Overall it was a fun day and I look forward to getting together again soon. I hope this is just the beginning of a great collaboration with our neighboring districts.
I would love to hear how you connect with others in your same position and would appreciate any advice if you've started a group before.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

PD Projects for January and February

My last post ended with our Tech the Halls contest. We had a lot of fun visiting the schools, judging the bulletin boards and handing out prizes. We chose a winner for each school because they were so creative this year. Enjoy this Animoto video of the winning boards.
We went with a Star Wars theme for our prizes. The winners received lots of sweet treats and a Star Wars Google Cardboard to use with their students.

We had the opportunity to spend a day with the student teachers, setting up their iPads and showing them a few tech tricks. We split the group into elementary and middle/secondary. They attended two sessions: SAMR Model and Classroom Management with me and Kristen Hearne and Core Apps with Kristen Gunter and Jessica Preisig.

As you can see we went with the Star Wars theme again. We served popcorn in Star Wars cups and handed out Google Cardboard for prizes. It was great to see such enthusiastic student teachers as they begin their journey with our district.

For January we hosted a PD session called "Let's Collaborate". Each grade has a shared Google Slides presentation and we asked each teacher to contribute one lesson idea using technology. What began as a way to encourage sharing became a lesson in using Google Drive and Slides so overall it was very successful. Our teachers now have access to several ideas and we will be revisiting the presentation to add more ideas after each PD session for the rest of this year.
This is the video we used to kick start the lesson.

In February I shared virtual field trip apps and green screen projects with the elementary schools. 

This session was a lot of fun and so important for our low income students that do not get to travel much (I was one of those when I was little). You can see the lesson ideas and green screen images we made on this Padlet wall.

This month in the middle school and with my high school ELA department I led a PD session on teaching vocabulary with tech tools. I used ten pop culture slang words as their "vocabulary" and led them through a model lesson before showing them Marzano's six steps for vocabulary instruction. Charades Kids was a big hit.

 You can see their vocabulary creations using Big Huge Labs on this Padlet wall.

For my high school science teachers I set up three stations for them to experience using a picture from the conclusion of a lab/experiment. As an exit ticket they had to answer a few questions on Quizalize, a tool I think they will enjoy using in addition to Kahoot. Since this PD several teachers have used Thinglink with their students. Yay!

Coming up soon are PD sessions on Chrome extensions for teachers, a session for high school Social Studies on alternatives to note taking and blended learning tools for high school math. Our instructional technology team is also planning a networking, edcamp style day for all the other tech coaches/instructional coach/insert title here in neighboring counties. I'll share all of the information from that day soon.

If you would like more details about these sessions or copies of the materials, I'll be happy to share.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fall & Winter PD Projects

A lot of emphasis is placed on professional development before a big technology initiative. That time to prepare is so important for teachers to feel ready. However, we are facing a possibly larger task: keeping the teachers interested in technology PD.
This year is a particularly stressful year because of a change in teacher evaluations on the state level and a district accreditation review. I think in some minds that has allowed technology to take a back seat. Our instructional technology team is trying very heard to keep technology PD in the spotlight and push our teachers to go beyond the substitution level with tech use. Some of the PD I have offered recently include...

Simple K12

Our district purchased the Mobile Learning webinars for our teachers so we wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this amazing resource.


Now that we are set up for Youtube in Education our teachers can approve videos for our students to view. This also opens the doors to tools we have not previously had access to like Edpuzzle and Educannon.

Teachers loved learning about this tool because it strips the ads off of Youtube so they can safely share the video to the class without worrying about an underwear ad popping up.


Our high school students needed practice using graphs and data so I shared resources like Daily Infographic, Human Face of Data app and infographic creation tools like Canva, Piktochart,, and Google Slides.

Creation App Practice

Our teachers are always looking for more choices for projects so I shared this session with my middle and elementary teachers. Thanks Kristen Gunter for sharing.

A few apps I've shared recently that were well received:
Schoolkit Math
Learning Tools
Flashcards NKO: our middle and high school love this app purchased by the district

I've also had sessions on Seesaw and Showbie for those that are still not using one or both of these tools. They are very popular district wide.

Last month our district hosted the Digital Innovation Institute. We invited administrators and teachers in to visit classrooms, hear about our technology journey, share our professional development and give teachers ideas for their classrooms. We had a good turn out and enjoyed sharing and learning with districts from all over the state.

Our second annual Tech the Halls bulletin board contest will be judged in the next few days and we'll deliver prizes this Friday. This was a lot of fun last year and I look forward to seeing the displays this year.

On a personal note, I've finished my first semester of classes for my Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction with the University of South Carolina. This is a three year plus dissertation program so I'll have lots of time ahead where I'll be juggling work, school and family. The struggle is real! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Google 911 and Tech Tricks and Treats

Now that the school year has settled in and our technical problems are at a minimum I'm able to focus more on professional development, my favorite!

For September I visited each of my four schools and offered a day of Google questions and answers called Google 911. Most of the questions I've had from teachers are about the subtleties of Google Drive, such as share settings. The teachers were very appreciative and happy to have their questions answered. They loved the little shortcuts and tricks I was able to share to make their daily tasks a little easier. Sometimes these informal sessions are the most helpful to the teachers.

For October I'm offering a session called Tech Tricks and Treats. I started a Google Slides presentation and shared a few tricks that I think they'll enjoy. I'm encouraging each of them to add a slide and share a trick of their own. I'm bringing hot chocolate and a few prizes as I travel around to each school. This should be a low stress PD option for our weary teachers. We have a new evaluation system this year and extensive required reading training in the elementary schools, making the enthusiasm for scheduled PD wane.

The iTeachers have been offering bimonthly PD sessions. While attendance has been small, the feedback from these sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. They've shared presentations on Book Creator, Google Forms, Art Apps and more. I'm especially excited about November's session on "Becoming a Digital Pirate" from one of our amazing teachers, Hope Meares.

I found out that my Donor's Choose project, "I Can Show You the (Virtual) World" was funded. Yay! Now I'll have several Google Cardboard glasses to use with my students. I can't wait to try them out as soon as they arrive. Thank you, College Football Playoffs Extra Yard for Teachers program!