Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Google Junior

This was another serendipitous find. Google Junior. While I've tried it only one time, I think the results will be good for young info searchers. The images are filtered, and it's really easy to see the difference between Google and Google Junior with an image search. You might also consider adding the Ads Block Google extension that will block most ads.

The Word of the Day, the Quote of the Day, and Today in History are a nice touch.

It's That Wonderful Time of the Year

Through a serendipitous route, I discovered a real fun holiday calendar. What's even better I could add my own links, but they are revealed by calendar date. You can go back but not forward in the reveal. It's a gift that keeps on giving until December 24.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

I'll Trade You That

As a salute to Connected Educators' Month, I have an example of the power of "connectedness." If I were not active with Twitter and not a frequent reader of a few blogs, I might have missed making this connection. The AP teachers at Westlake HS can now demonstrate to their students how relevant and important and meaningful their presentations can be to relatives and friends of Vietnam Vets. It's more than just a grade on a finished project.

Twitterdom and Blogs
Do you know the term "six degrees of separation"? Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is connected in some way to any other person. So the chain of "a friend of a friend" statement can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. For example my husband's best friend has a sister-in-law whose husband is the brother of my college roommate.

I want to relate a story that blossomed about three years ago. It started with a tweet from Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary), librarian at Westlake HS in Eanes ISD (Texas), about an annual research project at her school. It's a six degrees kind of story.

I'll Trade You That 
As a companion research project to the book The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, each student at Westlake's English 3 AP classes research a person whose name appears on the Vietnam Wall. Students then create a presentation honoring the individual's life and the time in which they lived.  (click on this link right now before you go further with the story and find Charles Douglas King)

After seeing her post on Twitter, I wrote this email to Carolyn. "Last night I saw your Twitter link to the Vietnam Memorial project and thought of my dear friend, Pam Taylor, and her blog post from last summer. I emailed her this morning and asked for the soldier's name. It is Charles King. So, I emailed her the link, and she is going to show the website to her husband later today. I'm putting a copy of the post that she wrote about their visit to the Memorial last summer in It's sort of a "The Rest of the Story" or maybe "The Beginning of the Story." 

Roy Taylor, Pam's husband, is a kind and gentle man who has been a minister for more than 30 years and was a deputy sheriff in Louisiana, and is now a substitute teacher in a high-poverty high-crime area in the Dallas. All his jobs help pay back the sacrifice Charles King made. You might think how can being a cop or a substitute teacher be a payback? Easy. Roy spends a lot of his time counseling those in a crisis or in trouble and, in his own way, is making the world a better place just as Charles King did.

You might want to share the links with your AP teachers. Together they make a very powerful piece. I wish there was some way to forward it to the student who did such a good job with the memorial and to King's sister."

The whole story will be finished when you read what I put in (It's perfectly safe to download because it comes straight from my account) But be patient; it take a while to download this long pdf. I promise you it is worth it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Summer Slide

Bloggers and respected educators have it all wrong when they talk about "summer slide." Summer slide is not what happens to kids during the summer when they lose some of the academic gains made the previous year. 

Summer slide is for teachers. Here's how it works. Picture a playground slide with about 60 steps up to the top, and imagine a teacher climbing those stairs one rung a day until the beginning of August. On August 1, the educator goes down the slide in about 10 seconds, the exact amount of time between August 1 and the first day of school! Now, that's summer slide!

Since we are almost at the end of the slide and school preparation is kicking into high gear, I hope you take an hour or so to treat yourself to your "guilty pleasure." I don't know if if will be a decadent piece of chocolate or binge-watching a Netflix series, but do it because you deserve a break today!
Photo source:

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's All about Mindset

Today this graphic figuratively fell into my lap as I was scanning through my Twitter feed.The graphic has been tweeted and retweeted with no citation too many times, but . after searching Google Images, I finally found a reference. Lisa Damour, Teaching Girls to Adopt a Growth Mindset (Shaker Heights, OH: Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School, 2011) or 

And admins too! RT @Primary_Ed: Fixed or Growth Mindset? Great for teachers & students.

If you read my previous post, you might quickly understand why this graphic parallels my Google Hangout experience. Prior to the GHO, we gave lip service about "You know, even tech gurus have had some wipeouts when they've done webinars." And certainly I've seen that happen, but it happened to the other guy, right? 

Remember my being deflated when the Google Hangout wasn't a success? I realize now that I was a victim of Fixed Mindset Thinking. But as soon as the Google Hangout was over, Marsha and Linda were already using Growth Mindset thinking and planning for the future. Marsha asked, "When can we try this GHO thing again? After all, it's just technology, and we're geeks!" It took me a couple of hours to adopt the same thinking. 

What's best about this chart is that it reminds me of a quote from Maya Angelou. "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." So simply said, but such a powerful reminder that we do our best work when we are in the Growth Mindset. The next time something doesn't work, I'll remind myself to take a deep breath and to think of the experience as just a shallow puddle in the pathway of continuous learning.

Deflated But Not Defeated

Remember that old movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Can you visual the part when Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump into the raging river? Substitute me, and you've got an image of what I did last week.

How I got to that point is a rather long story, but the short version is Linda Gray (Youth Services Director of the Tyler Public LIbrary), Marsha Edney (Henderson HS librarian), and I decided to do a presentation on Building Public Lbrary and School Librry Relationships for the online District 5 and 7 TLA meeting/conference on Saturday morning. A PowerPoint? No problem. Using Google Drive Slides? No problem. Doing it as a Google Hangout? No problem. A recorded Google hangout? Yes. Something new to learn? Yep.

So we created the slides, met in a hangout one night to iron out some details, and then with some directions from the TLA District Chair and YouTube, I learned how to do a recorded Google Hangout. We decided it would be best if we were all in the same room so the three of us met at the Tyler PL at 9:00. We knew bandwidth would be a problem because many people were on the library computers, and there was a big Tyler Rose Festival parade downtown with lots of photographers tweeting photos of the floats; we used an Aircard to overcome that hurdle though. We had everything set  up and ready by 9:30. That included tweeting the link to our GHO (Google Hangout) and sending an embed code to the librarian who could put the link on the conference website. We waited patiently until our time to start at 10:45. At 10:42, Marsha's computer (the one we were using) decided to restart. Thus we lot all our connections, the GHO, and the links since we couldn't connect again to the original GHO). 

Panic, panic, panic, sheer panic on my part because the computer didn't work fast enough for us to make the 10:45 start time. When were were finally up and running and connected to a new GHO, it was 11:00, and we were not broadcasting any audio. Panic again. So we aborted that one. Our allotted (alive) time was up so we decided to create another GHO and record it. We did that and sent the embed link. So it's now posted on the conference website.

When we crawled out of the raging river (remember the earlier reference to Butch Cassidy?), Marsha and I had a two Margarita lunch...something I very rarely do. But we had earned it, right? After the adrenalin rush of panic and disappointment and the calming effects of a Margarita, I came home and sat in fetal position on the patio for a couple of hours. I needed some time to overcome the disastrous morning experience (at least it was devastating to me at the time.) Lots of lessons learned.

So, the end to my adventure but with many lesson learned. After a while I was deflated, but not defeated. I tell you of my epic adventure because the learning never stops for me. While I'm not a fan of the term "lifelong learning," it's true everyone is a lifelong learner, and they don't stop unless they are comatose. In my opinion everyone learns something every day either by design or by accident. Will I do it again? You bet. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

STEM and Libraries

Much has been written about STEM and the classroom and STEM and the library, but I want to share a gem that I accidentally ran across yesterday. Oh my goodness. It's a perfect book for the elementary librarian in October/November. If it's not in the library right how, you should order it on speed delivery. Why is it so good? 

  • Elementary level, preK-3
  • Seasonal, but not Halloween or Thanksgiving specific
  • Good Read-Aloud
  • STEM-appropriate, without shouting STEM
  • Skills: Estimation/Prediction, Counting by 2, 5, 10s, Working with Cooperative Groups
  • Makes a great science experiment or survey question from which statistics or math problems could be generated
  • Easy to align with Science and/or Math TEKS for each grade level
  • It's a RIF book with an accompanying webpage. 

  • If you read my previous post, you'll understand that I think this book would make a fantastic library lesson and so easy to align with TEKS objectives. While librarians for young children like to read seasonal books, this one would be perfect for all the reasons listed above. You might not want to teach or reinforce TEKS objectives, but look how easily it can be done. Easy peasy.