Monday, November 30, 2009


Thanksgiving was the usual traditions of turkey and dressing, holiday shopping, and fall cleaning in preparation for the Christmas season. But I did stop to count my blessings and be thankful for a few things.
  • My dear husband who puts up with my never ending calendar of professional meetings, social gatherings and general gallivanting and who keeps me laughing, challenged and inspired.
  • My sweet daughter who amazes me every day with her growing vocabulary and thoughtful observations about her world and who gives such unconditional love, warm hugs and sweet kisses.
  • My incredible cul-de-sac neighbors who check-in on one another, share good food and good times, who gather on the front porches and in the front yards to play games and share stories.
  • My loving parents who continually inspire me and challenge me and love me and remind me of simpler times and faithful foundations to keep me going.
  • My work family who maintain positive attitudes about teaching and learning and who always have the best interests of our students at the heart of all they do.
  • My network of friends who send good vibes my way, who are always interested in what's going on in my little world, and who say an extra prayer for me at night.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Calgon, Take Me Away!

You have to be of a certain age to remember the old Calgon commercials. Frazzled woman needs rest and relaxation and finds comfort in a warm, bubbly bath.

I'm just a little overwhelmed at the moment. How do I know? Well, I've got absolutely no fingers left -- caught myself biting those off yesterday. I'm cranky. I really want to be left alone today. Curled up in a tight ball in bed would be good, but I'll take sitting in my comfy chair at work...just don't come in my office, people!

My to-do list is incredibly long. I reorganized the list the other day with tags so I could tell what items went with the many different hats that I wear. I can't keep straight whether I should be reading the latest YA novel, fixing broken equipment, managing the book fair, attending this meeting or that meeting, cleaning my office, ordering my groceries, or what! Oh, yeah! I'm supposed to be doing ALL that.

It ain't happening, people.

I'm a little frustrated, can you tell? Anybody have any solutions to make my life less stressful?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

AASL Conference - Day 4 - Our Presentation

My colleague and I did our presentation today at the conference: Headed to Victory Lane! Library Media Coordinators as Teacher Leaders.

Basically we introduced the concepts of managers and leaders. As librarians, we manage a whole lot of stuff: the collection, circulation, schedules, resources. But if we are going to grow ourselves and our library media programs, we need to move from managing stuff to leading our profession and our programs.

Strong teacher librarian leaders are confident in the 21st century skills and learners: they know how to instruct students for information literacy. They don't just cooperate with their teachers, pulling resources and assisting on the side; they collaborate with their teachers, designing lessons and curriculum and taking part in evaluation and assessment of student learning.

Strong teacher librarians are all about professional development. They constantly are pursuing their own learning in the field of school librarianship, but they also stay up on the latest trends in education, education policy, and other content areas. Not only are they learners themselves, they are teachers of teachers, facilitating professional development for other teacher librarians and for their content area classroom colleagues.

Strong teacher librarian leaders understand the need for personal and professional renewal, whether it's a retreat with their professional learning team or solitude to soak their feet and read the latest YA novel. Personal renewal makes them more amenable to professional renewal which ultimately helps to make them awesome teacher leaders.

Strong teacher librarian leaders are not just advocates for their library media programs; they are activists for their programs. They work to create strong support in their school and community for the programs that will benefit their students the most. They act on their passions, beliefs, and expertises to grow great library media programs.

AASL Conference - Day 3 - Spatial Intelligence and Information Seeking Skills

This afternoon I geeked out and attended a fascinating session that focused on a research study and dissertation that a colleague in the northeast had completed. In working with her students at her all girls’ school, she was concerned about how students learned the information seeking process. Why were some kids asking her to slow down her instruction and yet other kids were complaining that she moved too slowly?

After a number of different theories, studies, and research (that I’m sure I could link you to if you really need to see it), she basically drew the following conclusion:

Students with high spatial intelligence find information faster than those students with low spatial intelligence.

What followed her introduction to the research was a presentation of interventions, ways that we can help our students increase and grow their spatial intelligence in order to help improve their information seeking skills. For many students, all it takes is talking the language, using the vocabulary to get them thinking in those terms.

One intervention is to use gestures when answering spatial questions. For example, when asked about moving an object, you could just answer “move the objects closer” OR you could give that answer AND gesture with your hands to show the movement that you would make to move objects closer together. This helps build spatial intelligence. (I’ve also read that gesturing while talking improves vocabulary.)

Other early interventions to help build spatial intelligence:
Mapping – navigation, scaling
Math talk – equivalence, symbols, ordering, calculation
Block-building – building up, towering, instead of building out
Visual representations
Perspectives – zooming in and out
Aiming games – physical outdoor games, video gaming
Mechanics – putting things together, taking things apart

I can see how my daughter is already building her spatial intelligence based on these early interventions. Now I need to figure out where my middle schoolers are in their spatial abilities and intelligences and determine the interventions I can use to assist them in transferring that into strong information seeking skills.

Friday, November 6, 2009

AASL Conference - Day 2 - Social Networking and Our Students

All I can say is “Wow!” danah boyd really laid it out there in talking about social networking and our students. We are creating digital identities and there is an evolution happening and a possible identity crisis.

The most eye-opening information that she shared was the socio-economic and social disparities between MySpace and Facebook. You’re probably going “huh?” right about now, but it was incredibly interesting how the two social networking sites broke down in the teenaged mind. Basically, it’s the same old division from the beginning of time, just in the context of social networking sites. The lower socio-economic class and the less educated (remember these are perceived disparities that are proven in her research) use MySpace as their primary social networking tool. The more affluent, better educated turn to Facebook as their home on the web.

So all those class and social groups that are prevalent in the “real world” (read “middle school” or “high school”) are now becoming more obvious in the virtual world.

The at-risk kid in our schools will most likely be an at-risk kid online. In other words, we need to pay close attention to what those children are putting out there in their web presence. We have to look out for them, not only in our schools, but online. So how do we do this if we have schools that block social networking sites and school districts that make policies about “friending” our students and connecting with our kids online?

We have to be transparent about our online interactions with those in our care; we have to be the other adults in their lives, looking out for them and teaching them how to navigate the world of social media. They are going to use the tools, whether we like it or not and whether we are there to support them or not.

Doesn’t it make sense that we teach them the best ways to traverse the virtual world so that they have healthy, safe, happy online experiences? Why can’t we make it all about the learning?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

AASL Conference - Day 2 - The NASCAR Experience

Didn't you get the notice that I was coming to Charlotte? Where are you Dale, Jr.?!

So my colleague and I splurged and went on the NASCAR Valley tour this morning. We boarded the luxury motorcoach that took us from downtown Charlotte over to Concord and the home of the Lowes Motor Speedway.

We started our tour at the Hendrick Motorsports garages. Okay, I'm not a real fan of Jeff or Jimmy, but I can dig me some Dale, Jr. None of the boys were to be seen; however, we did see a good number of cars being worked on in this immaculate garage. Definitely not the backyard garages of back in the day, these multi-million dollar technologically equipped buildings.

The highlight of the tour, other than the incredibly personable and entertaining tour guide who had worked with Harry Gant for 14 years, was an actual lap around the track. no, we weren't at top speeds -- I think we hit about 70 mph in the 15 passenger van -- but you really did get a feel for the banking and possible speeds. Kinda cool! How many people can say they've ridden the track in Charlotte?

An interesting side stop that I hadn't expected was a visit to the Sam Bass Gallery. This is the fellow that designs all the cool paint schemes for the team cars. He has a nice little setup with a gallery and memorabilia on display.

Well, I'm racing off to the general session! Vrrrooooommm!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AASL Conference - Day 1 - The Hilton Experience

My colleague and I arrived in Charlotte around 1:30 p.m. this afternoon and met up with one of my college friends for a late lunch. If you want an incredible Italian meal, then you should check out Dolce in downtown Charlotte. It was dee-licious!

We checked in to the hotel, Hilton Charlotte Center City, right next to the Charlotte Convention Center. Now when I attend a conference, especially a national conference like AASL, I want to be AT the convention center hotel; that's why I chose the Hilton for our stay. Forget that it is $160 per night. I can deal with that. You know why? Because the Hilton has wireless high speed internet, according to their site. No where does it say that that wireless internet is $9.95 per day!!!

This is a media and information technology library conference, people! And we are going GREEN! This means I need total access to the internet from every where in the hotel, especially my guestroom. I want to blog about my day, the networking, the excitement, the authors from the comfy, coziness of my plush hotel bed while plopped up on cushy pillows in my nightgown. You get the picture! I don't want to have to go to the Business Center, the only place where the wireless is free. Maybe they said it was free in the lobby, too.

So we load up our stuff and head over the convention center, where we have been assured that our "go green" conference will have a wireless internet connection. I even found the lovely "Laptop Pit Stop" sign with cute little tables for sitting at while you type on your laptop. Yeah, right! It took me five times to connect to a network although there were four unsecured networks available. The two designated for our conference -- AASL and AASL 2 -- each had about 2 bars. I managed to connect to a network called Worship Facilities, which surprisingly enough had 4 bars, but that heavenly connection lasted for about two minutes.

I was resigned to use the internet cafe, hard wired desktops on tall tables, strategically placed at near the registration area to lure you in, but ergonomically lousy to discourage you from standing there all day. I managed to check my personal and school email, maybe 10 - 15 minutes of good computer time, before my lower back said enough.

Right now, I'm writing this while sitting in the lobby of The Blake Hotel. That's where my NCSLMA board meeting is in a few minutes. There's FREE wireless in the lobby, but they, too, charge $9.95 per day for wireless internet in the room.

What's this connected world coming to?!

Off to my meeting....and searching for another lobby after dinner.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blogs as Literacy Engines

My Monday morning was spent sitting in a tech contact meeting, tyring to decide which "hands-on" sessions to attend and being pulled toward a couple of colleagues just to have good old fashioned one-on-one networking.

The first hour of my meeting was spent listening to David Warlick talk about blogs and wikis. Obviously, I’m already a blogger and read blogs and write in my four blogs (this one, another one, the other one, and now this one) on a fairly regular basis.

I was much more interested in the presentation software / application that David was using with his presentation. He was moving in and out, zooming (I think that zooming was partly just a feature of the Mac) and flipping and spinning facts and figures up on the screen. Pretty cool stuff. I’d rather hear about this software, Prezi, than blogging, something that I already know.

And something that I really understand. I know how to use blogs in the classroom; I’ve been talking with teachers for two years about using blogs in the classroom and connecting with professional blogs for themselves.

It’s amazing how many blogs and about some crazy topics there are out there. David threw up some statistics about bloggers and blogs and some great bloggers to follow.

The best turn of a phrase, though, was when he called blogs literacy engines: read, think, write. I like how that sounds. And that is exactly what we do with blogs.

Read. Think. Write. Read. Think. Write.

I read over 30 blogs and get news in my reader from another handful of sources and sites. And I think about what I read and discuss it out loud with my dear husband and a few colleagues. But it's true: I write about what I read after I have processed my thoughts. I write in my own blogs.

What I find I need to do more of, and I would like for more people to do on my blogs, is to comment right then and there. How come nobody's commenting?