Saturday, June 30, 2007

973.0992 American Presidents: Interesting Stuff the 2.0 Way

One of the first blogs I started following a few years ago was (and is) the American Presidents Blog. Just full of presidential facts, figures, and still my ol' social studies heart! So much fun to read!

You can search thru the blog by president's name...first name alpha order There are also several key historical events (such as World Wars I & II or Cold War) and terms (such as First Ladies, impeachment, or Presidential Libraries) to use in searching for material.

A recent post described a 1500+ item donation of Lincoln memorabilia to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum by a private individual. In the collection, is one of Lincoln's top hats, the gloves he wore that fateful night to the theater, and some early handwriting including some math problems and poetry. Can't wait for the opportunity to see more online.

Also attached to the post was a newspaper announcement about the acquisition and what sadden me personally were all the negative reactions to the new collection. So many readers were not impressed or thought it was a useless and wasteful purchase. Yes, I know I'm a nut for stuff like this, but I still think not understanding the value of all these artifacts and "primary sources" of history is sad.

In another post that I found wandering around the blog is the earliest recording of a presidential voice...that of Benjamin Harrison in 1889. It is part of a collection of presidential speeches and recordings from the Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University. The library has created an online gallery of some of these presidential recordings and are available for use in mp3 or realaudio formats.

[Personal note (please bear with me!): This piece of history is particularly interesting to me because Harrison served on the staff of my great-great-grandfather during the Civil War. I have a photograph of the two of them together and now I have heard the voice of someone who stood in the same room with my relative. A sort of of 6-degrees thing courtesy of the web, don't you think!]
It's these kinds of online resources that make me appreciate even more (if that is possible) the WWW and all the forward-thinking individuals who do what it takes to bring the information to me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

371.3 Lesson Plans: The Wiki Way

Came across this wiki full of lesson plans and other resources this week.

It offers users templates to create lessons and activities and then a place to "park" them so others can adapt and use them. It includes some textbook type materials on many subjects and full-text novels from Project Gutenberg as well.

Has very comprehensive FAQs covering its purpose, history (was originally Sun Microsystem's Global Education and Learning Community GELC), and how to join, contribute and use.

Subjects include the arts, career & technical education, foreign languages,
health, language arts, math, science, and social studies. In browsing thru the language arts portion, I came across an interesting price comparison chart to use with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry...comparing Depression prices with today's costs...easily adaptable to similar books or cross-curricular activity in math. Here is a little "movie" that displays information about force and motion from the science section.

Of course, Curriki (don't you just love that name!) isn't unique in providing support materials for teachers and their lessons...there are plenty of other great sources...Blue Web'N, Education World, FREE, Kathy Schrock's Guide, TeachersFirst. But it will be interesting to follow the growth of this particular format, I think.

006.7 Blogs: Rating Yours

one's summer...time for fun, right?

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
kill (2x) death (1x)

found this at Book Moot, A Chair... , Goddess of YA, and...

Do yours here!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

428.4 Reading Inventory: Social Networking of Sorts

ok, I bit...when two of my favorite Librarian bloggers do it...I must follow suit...although I'm not sure I'm impressed with my results. But then again...maybe the truth hurts!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

371.33 Blogging Class: What We Learned

We are having a great time talking about blogs. We reviewed some vocabulary and some history of blogs and then we dissected the "parts" of a blog. The group is made up of Librarians and Friends of Libraries of SBISD.

Now we are investigating different types of blogs to see what they have in common and how they are different. It is a noisy activity, but they are having a great time looking and learning!The PPT that introduced the subject is available here. Some participants search thru blog rolls on sample blogs for blogs to review and some decided to track down "new" blogs by searching the WWW.

All agreed that the blogs are all as different as the people who create them. Personal taste and personal needs are reflected in the posts and in the blog rolls and other link lists that appear on the side bar!
Some of the blogs reviewed include:
A Library By Any Other Name & its mirror site
Librarian Philospher thought-provoking topics on librarianship 2.0
Book Book Book Title says it all! bunches and bunches
The Fidra Blog Edinburgh, Scotland book seller, reviewer, book lover!
Charlotte's Library archaeologist, Friend of her public library and a book lover
Blue Skunk Blog long-time, well-established blog + LOTS more!! website
TechBlog Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle
New Scientist blog for magazine of same name
Super Students Blog classroom blog, more by other students
4K Class Blog very clean format
Toolmonger all about power tools!
Other blogs covered in the class discussion:
Just One More Book podcasts galore!
Room 9 Nelson Central class blog 6-7 yr. olds from New Zeland. Ccheck out their video about blogging.
A Chair, A Fireplace & Tea Cozy graphic novels list noted, but there is o-so-much more!
Cool Cat Teacher super blogger (when does she sleep?)

We talked a little about RSS and readers like Google Reader and the types of things that you could use one for--groups of blogs, web pages, news sources...anything that you want to keep up-dated on.
We also reviewed how a blog gets started, looked at some basic information to think about when creating a blog and briefly looked at the two services, Blogger & edublogs that are open in our district.
The afternoon flew by and we had to leave some topics on the table for another time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

025.1 TASLA: Final Reflection...This Year!

Bear with me about one more posting regarding the TASLA conference that was held this past week. It was an enjoyable experiment trying to blog the sessions as they were held. I think I did a decent job of capturing the essence of what was presented. I did learn that you can not blog and hunt for links and upload pictures all at the same time! And it was great to find a new blogging friend who was also posting about the conference.

Outside of Tall Texans,* which is unique in that it is a one-time, invited experience, I find TASLA the most important professional development I can do for myself annually ...and consider myself very fortunate that my job description and my forward-thinking boss allow me the privilege of attending this group meeting.

This was my 4th year to attend. My first year, I think I was shell-shocked by the event. The 2nd year, I was clued into the procedure, and last year, I finally knew enough people, I felt like a qualified observer. This year, it was especially rewarding to renew the professional friendships I have with several people who regularly attend, and to make new relationships with new attendees. And I think I even shared enough information in the many conversations, that some even went hummmm at my points!

I, however, continue to be totally awed at the level of knowledge and professionalism of the group as a whole. The speakers are all so good and leave many points to ponder, but it is the informal networking over danish and coffee, a good sandwich at lunch, or a fun dinner downtown where the "real learning" for me takes place. This year, because I got to share the hospitality suite with this year's chair, I also attended two great late evening "bull sessions" where people's passions for kids and librarianship were clearly evident.

It is quite an intimate group made up of about 80 people from across the state who affect the library experiences of about 90% of the students in the state! It ranges from large districts, small districts, directors of large programs with lots of support, campus librarians who handle the high school along with district duties, multi-campus librarians who also must divide their time with technical duties, retired leaders who continue to make contributions, to brand new library leaders with new ideas.
For every scenario you can imagine, there are multiple approaches supplied by these outstanding folks...all in the name of student success. For every problem you think is almost to the breaking point, someone else can explain a situation that makes you grateful for what you have to deal with. Every one wants what is best for their kids...whether it is a database, plenty of books, enough hands on deck, or simple respect for what we can do...and do well!
Although there is value in staying the same place for almost 3 decades, it is always good to talk, and better, to listen to folks who come from a variety of places and a variety of situations. In many ways, it makes you appreciate what you have, but it also causes you to want more when you hear the experiences of others who do the same job as you in a completely different way and under completely different sets of circumstances.
I know lots of educators, both in and outside of the library world, who would not look upon 2 and a half days of intense conversation a way to progress in their profession. I do hope that they have some type of outlet that does bring them an opportunity for renewal of their passion. That's the important thing...being reminded why we do what we do. I just know this method, and this event in particular, does it for me.
Now where is my 2008 calendar?...I gotta get this conference marked for next year! Can't wait!
*Note: From my 2003 Tall Texan class, including me, there were 6 school librarians and 1 mentor there last week. Pretty impressive number for the class!

Friday, June 15, 2007

025.1 School Library Administrators: Always Learning, Day 3

"Never stand in the way of a school librarian on a mission."

Gloria Meraz from TLA has come to chat about things.

Databases--great first step on getting what we want, the way we want. She applauded the effect of the letters and other communications on the outcome. "The absolute credit goes to you." "You all are awesome."

She feels the whole library community has now come to embrace school libraries and their issues and the support from the other groups is there.

She feels the political tide has changed somewhat...long standing concerns --staffing and presence in TEA should be looked at and improved. There is a long "corporate" memory with the legislative staffers who are often there longer than the actual legislators. She feels this memory will be to our benefit.

Audience comment about the confusion of the original amount of money spent on databases seems to be cleared up. Several people are getting the correct facts together. A little over 2 million was spent on databases thru TLC in 2003 and the rest of the 4 million was the catalog--an item that is NOT a part of this new deal. So the money seems to be equal or a little better.

There is great understanding of the pressure we are under with school starting. She feels the state library, etc. will do the best they can to meet the deadlines to the best of their ability and lessen the impact on us.

Library programs are built on collaboration and it isn't always a polite process. It takes lots of discussion and push and pull to get to the point that is the best for the most. [Have seen a lot of that the past few days!!]

We should consider ourselves lucky that we have two "homes"--both appropriate for us. There are things TEA can do best for us and there are things the State Library can do best for us. A sort of summer/ winter home arrangement! [thanks BB!]

Staffing and certification is a major issue. She is not sure they will come up in the next session, but the work can certainly start now.

The political reality is that any of our requests must be based on things we know can get attention and funding. We could ask for anything, the reality is that some issues will make more progress than others. It does not lessen the importance of the other issues. We don't like unfunded mandates, but sometimes that is a place to start in a fiscally conservative state.
Audience comment--we need to show the effect of our impact...use the measure of our success in making kids successful. A related comment--the TSLAC sunset review study ...who is going to hear the result of the study? What will happen to the info, where will it go? How will it be used? "Our TSLAC commissioner" read the wording of who will get the report, the deadline etc. to the group to aid in answering these concerns. Gloria said yes, that is a beginning and we will do even more with the info. From another commenter: Another way to use the info will be to take the results thru the administrative route...share with principals, superintendents, etc. groups showing the positive effects of how libraries impact student success. Gloria reemphasized the need to work together with all these groups and use all these avenues in the good way that we can.

It is critical that we thank the legislators. A quick laundry list: Kolkhorst, Branch, Zaffirini, Duncan, Chisum, Ogden [she will send the list for our communications link so watch for it]

We need to send them info about the info is being used successfully with the kids. Be sure and promote these resources. Get the principal, teachers to write to say thanks. An audience participant said use visual reminders--kids using the resources and the results.

A cautionary comment from several--be sure the training is there. The last time some schools didn't use them because they don't know how. We don't want that to happen this time. Five years later, the base of knowledge in using these types of resources is better. But there is work to be done. Let's work together. Use the technology to share the info.

She expressed thanks from TEA for the support this group gives to get the message out. Every little bit helps!

SB 1788-- distance ed for K-12, primarily high school, in partnership with higher ed. There is a clause for instructional materials and online resources. This can tie-in with the online resources issue and the study coming up. Audience participant--some states have virtual school programs (taking at least one course online) mandated as part of graduation...he knows it is coming for Texas as well. Another mentioned that we really need to be sure "libraries" are truly a part of this partnership...not just represented by online resources.

HB2930-- did not pass. Had to do with exemptions on science room & library size.

Sen. Patrick's bill-- trying to get 65% rule put into went no where.

Dutton's bill-- putting libraries and services into the accountability system...went no where, not even to committee discussion.

It's break time!! One last opportunity for that all-important verbal networking.

Post break includes some letter writing information--who we need to thank for many things. The information is on our wiki.
We are now reviewing our thoughts of yesterday's regional discussions on what we want regarding the databases and what we want from our two new homes (see above!) Lots of talk on standards and getting "teeth" to them...mandating wishes... All this information will be on the TASLA blog so comments can be made. Please comment.

Based on a comment, apparantly the 65% rule has been tweaked...and not necesarily for our good. Gloria gave an explanation [most of which I lost in translation (to my brain) so I'm going to have to do some research to be sure I'm up-to-date.]

A bit of housekeeping and ...tick, tock...That's it folks! It's been real and it's be fun...real fun!
Hasta la vista!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

025.1 School Library Administrators: Always Learning Day 2, Part 3

Nancy Kubasek, Richardson High School, Richardson ISD, has come to speak about some ways to use books to create a culture of readers and a reading community thru readers' advisory and paired collaboration with the teachers. She gave us a nice list of YA titles that you will recognize.

She also gave a out a list of 13 booktalking hooks...they are not unique ideas, but it was nice to have them all in one place to review and reflect upon again.

She reminded us about 3-strike rule...if a kid is not connected with a book by three times in the library, he/she won't ask again for help!

From the book Swimming Upstream, a poetry book, she read and commented on the poem about the School Librarian. She replaces "school librarian" with her name!

Books that she is booktalking:
The Red Thread by Townley-- reincarnation, terrible dreams, past lives, a murder 400 yrs. old.

Runner by Deuker -- Chance, a runner who wants to go to college & gets a chance at some easy money. [ a review from Muller in the Middle blog, good place to read about books!]

Desert Crossing by Broach-- 3 friends on a road trip hit something with their car...a body of a girl is on the road. There is a bracelet involved also.

Hand of the Devil by Carter-- Ganges Red, the largest mosquito in the world is featured on the cover. Involves a hole full of body parts [ok JB, I think this is your book.]

Silent Room by Sorrels-- isolation room, a hood over your head, a breathing apparatus is hooked up to you and you are left there until you sign "the papers."...or die!

Dragon's Keep by Carey-- wears gold gloves to cover up deformed hand (one dragon's claw)...if you see it, you have to die. [author interview from Cynsations blog, another good place to read about books]

Peeps by Westerfield-- disgusting and gross! [author podcast]

Masquerade by de la Cruz--vampires!!! and the blue veins in their arms [BL, here's one for you!]

Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Craft

Right Behind You by Giles-- psychological thriller. Would you kill for a baseball glove? "I set Bobby on fire..."

Buried by MacCready--post it notes

Harmless by Reinhardt-- telling lies

Another program of hers is Classic and Contemporary Connections: Paired Readings
It is geared towards librarians and language arts teachers--collaboration is a MUST with this program. Teachers wanted to solve the "tired" research project problem and the related plagiarism issues. Uses colored post-it notes to mark relationship between chosen book and classic..what is the SAME? She booktalks the contemporaries, but not the classics.
The reviews in Barnes & Noble are acceptable for part of the research about the pairings.

Shattering Glass by Giles matches up with The Lord of Flies, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, A Separate Peace

After by Prose matches up with Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird. Island of Dr. Moreau

The Raging Quiet by Jordan matches up with Romeo and Juliet, The Crucible, Scarlet Letter, Color Purple

Truesight by Stahler (being blind in a sightless society) matches up with Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World

Responding to an audience question, Tunes for Bears to Dance To was taken off... the students could not get the significance and get a good classic match.

It's break time....humm, wonder that our treat is?

After a nice popcorn and Dr. P break, we had a business meeting...suffice it to say, it was business and it is done.

025.1 School Library Administrators: Always Learning Day 2, Part 2

After another good networking break, Dr. Adrian Johnson, Associate Commisioner of Education, is bringing greetings from TEA and Commissioner Neeley. He stated the obvious--Libraries and Librarians are the heart and soul of the schools. In explaining his role, he shared a little personal history about being a Frost Polar Bear, having a community where people "watched" the radio, and having his mother as his first teacher in life...and school! A nice quote-- "You (as Librarians and educators) bring Old Yeller back to life."

We all need to work together. He does recognize that Librarians often feel "left out" in the educational family. He reminded us about the 03 issues when we lost a voice at the agency. He doesn't like the present situation...the challenge-- live with the things as they CAN be, not with the way things were. He is committed to doing what he can.

Planting...where the first seed began essential ingredient...create a climate of knowledge and learning
Example: college readiness in not possible without knowledge of how to do research

Recommendations for LEAs
Latest technology and online resources are necessary parts of libraries
Use library standards to ensure school libraries/librarians assist classroom teachers in information literacy and tech apps learning.

He discussed how TEA and the State Library will work together to support school libraries under the new legislation that just passed. There is no edict in TEA that says libraries are not important and he wants to know if that mis-information is out there!

Take what we have and make it go farther..reevaluate where and how it goes in a spirit of cooperation.
"Their (children) success is our success."

He did review the Rider 88 for Library Resources...2.5 million each for 2008 and 2009 and SB923 School Library Study.

When in the TEA website...use ELA-Reading as the search term for finding library "stuff."

Question from audience:
TEA and State Library meeting is good but who will "represent" "us"--maybe we need a representative group to be there? Dr. Johnson said the idea is a good one, but they need to have a broad view. He will present the idea in the initial meeting.

Another audience comment:
Ways to keep school library informed thru the TEA website...a place to go and read what is happening, changes, etc.

Can we have something flowing so when school starts IN August, we can start working...not wait until September?
Related question:
Look at the fiscal year...maybe the cycle needs to change.

Another audience member hopes that ALL the research about libraries and student success will be apart of all this need conversation.
Another audience member reminded him AGAIN in a very nice way that we WANT a voice, It is i-m-p-o-r-t-a-n-t.
And...who from TEA is going to make sure the schools are built according the standards correctly.
One more...can we connect the standards to some form of measure to give them weight in the scheme of things..where the community will now how our libraries stack up

His new word--sustainability. We have a "benchmark" now and we will make corrections and we will continue next year and next...

Dr. Johnson was hugely entertaining and made some tough stuff easy to get through. I really enjoyed his presentation and words.
He says he is "real" and really wants all of this good stuff to happen.
Oh, I really, really, really hope he IS. It will make looking towards the future so much better.

[Sideline--we have been joined by a church group and choir in the room next door--has added an extra dimension to our discussions.]

on to lunch...

025.1 School Library Administrators: Always Learning Day 2, Part 1

The day is starting with a collaboration example where a new principal and librarian, Deana Harrell, and Debra Marshall, at Wilson Elementary School in Coppell ISD, have worked to change the reading culture of the school. In her first action, the principal replaced two paraprofessional with an elementary during her first year, a very emotional change for the teachers because she let two long-time support people go. From a couple of questions in the audience about why she made the change, she stated she had to overcome Robin Hood induced decisions and her personal history of the love of books and reading as the reasons behind the huge emotional change for the campus.

Other changes that allowed the Librarian to interact included monthly meetings for professional dialog and planning feedback called "Meet and Model on Mondays" where the Librarian worked with different grade levels. Faculty meetings also had reading, literacy components—Librarian presented staff development on things like, World Book, Nettrekker
The Librarian & principal had to meet with the tech dept to get additions like Nettrekker added. The Librarian is part of leadership team and the school has a united agenda before school starts

The principal removed the points-based reading program and she presented another way to instruct children in reading: change in library brought change in the culture of the whole school.
Teachers concerns—what grades & accountability?
Students – can I read anything I want?
Parents & community – will my child still be reading? The principal worked very closely with PTA to bring them on board...research, informal conversation over lunch, one-on-one office meetings.

What they did this year to develop the culture of readers:
The emphasis was on activities for reading for pleasure including:
Book character parade
Grant for book clubs – BookWORMS; used moms as club leaders; principal, asst. principal monitor in 4 & 5 grades
one of the book clubs is continuing in summer at B&N
Charlotte’s Web Literacy Night – stations, used passports for recording...kissing pig principal
Author visit – Rick Riordan [his blog]– even parents had a breakfast—again the whole community
Author visit – Rochelle Strauss [her myspace]…a science based experience to help with science scores….an opportunity of collaboration example
Author visit – Kate McMullan for the younger children...another collaboration opp with the teachers
Dr. Seuss Week
Bluebonnet Program – increased voting from 10% to 35%
Reading buddies – collaboration between 2nd graders and 8th graders and nonfiction books

The principal mentioned that even the kids discussed what was their "schema"-- they know the word…critical thinking skills are up (general test scores are good, but can be better!)

There was a laundry list of good results from all of this activity...more parental involvement, more dollars for the library, a five-year plan for library, student library advisory committee, Friends Group for the district level, appointment of Debra as Head Librarian for the district (which allowed for part-time clerical help at her campus)...and integrated lessons with the teachers and the teachers' requests!

ok...break time! Wonder what is in the goodie bag today?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

025.1 School Library Administrators: A Few Sights, No Sounds!

I am going to share a few more pictures from today. They are going to upload, but I am not going to be able to place them where I want, but that is can still see them...and I am off finding my "chee" in the Land of does that to me...often!
More tomorrow!

025.1 School Library Adminstrators: Always Learning, Part 3

The afternoon began with Dr. Julie Todaro, Dean of Library Services, Austin Community College, on Recruitment and Retention
An audience member asked: Do you have to ask the same question of each interviewee?

Her answer dealt with Consistency and Documentation
Check them against EEOC guidelines--don't ask an inappropriate question.
Yes, all should be asked and phrased the same way to each applicant and a set time for each.
Yes, you can ask a clarification question and a clarification question about their documentation.

An interview vs a courtesy interview--the audience agreed they knew what that was! You need signals for the team when this happens. You know the person is not going to get hired. Scoring sheets are needed as well. You can weight your scores...if one question is important to you that is ok.

On a phone reference what info can you receive? The person called must only verify dates of employment and verify title and salary at point of leaving. That is all they have to say. You can ask would you rehire, but they can decline to answer. Anymore is up to the other person and that should tell you volumes if they do not say anything else!

From Dr. Todaro's hand-out, in preparing new employees, an administrator should:
1. begin with your own organization's/ umbrella group's policies and procedures
2. stay current
3. proactively interpret content in writing
4. push HR information to employees and other appropriate groups--the employees need to get the info together and be in the know.

She suggested using the HR Guide as a starting point.

She considers HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) her biggest problem right now in trying to stay compliant with the legal ramifications. Things like requiring personal health information is a no-no and it can't be shared. You can't forward email that has anything about health--that portion needs to be removed before the rest of the request is forwarded. You can require a doctor's confirmation to be specific. hen asking for sick leave, employees should simply ask for the time and give no details as to why. Three places an administrator can SUGGEST health info be placed--medical alert bracelet, card in wallet, or in a desk drawer/under a blotter.

Law & Legal
For those kinds of questions is available --you can get all kinds of legal information and there is a blog available as well.

Email--it is a written or oral notice? The organization has to decide. In her organization, it has been determined that an oral communication is a phone call with follow-up if face-to-face is not possible. will provide guidelines for diversity hiring wording.
If you want HR law by state, you can go to the US Dept. of Labor in the 21st Century

Important vocabulary word--do not use the word "accommodation"in asking about an employee's health concern...that moves them automatically into an accommodation mode with all of its implications.
Well, we had one of our famous breaks...cookies and milk this time and a few raffle drawings for vendor gifts...and now back to business.
Based on a question from the audience, such things as lifting heavy boxes, or using stairs should appear in your job description because you can not discuss their physical limitations during the interview. Then you ask "is there anything we need to know that might limit your abilities based on the job description?" You can verbally state the limitations as described on the job description...i.e. "can you lift the 65 lb. boxes as listed in the job description?"

Dr. Todaro spent quality time explaining all the ramifications of her document called "reasonable expectations of adult behavior." This can include style of communication, timelines and timeliness...i.e "you are expected to respond to email in a timely manner; you are expected to be at work by 8:00 every day."

Employee Behavior Problems
Age, color, ethnicity, alternative lifestyle are part of the prevention of harassment policy. Hate and sexual harassment are a part of this as well. There should be equality for all. Drug and alcohol, criminal background checks are set up by the organization based on the law.

Workplace Violence
You can require them to visit Employee Assistance Program person.
Do not fire on Fridays. It could leave them helpless over the weekend when support services are not available.
Always ask about final paperwork--do not assume sending it to the home address is ok--it may not be! there could be issues in their personal life.

As an administrator, you have to find the comfort level that works for all...there has to be a common denominator that will be good for all. You have t o let them know what are your expectations. It is their responsibility to let you know what makes them uncomfortable so that you can set the appropriate level.

Did you know about the safety kit for people who work in your library? Face masks for working the stacks, latex and non-latex gloves.

An audience member asked: "How do you handle HR themselves?" Her response included never just asking them to do something but giving them your take on the situation and asking them if it is correct info. (And it is because you have gone to the websites with the correct info!) Use compensation language for money is another way--use their language.

If you get asked: "What can I do to have a better chance with your district the next time?"
Let me tell you what are the most important interview questions are...give them a generic interpretation of the most weighted questions.

She recommended looking at the work of Richard Sweeney with regards to the workforce for millenials and genXers.

In more time with the audience, DH from District 8 said that is an initiative for this year's district conference--recruitment!

On a little lighter side, Dr. Todaro shared this and it has become my favorite new phrase of the day: We all know people who never have "an unexpressed thought." Think about it--you know what it means!

025.1 School Library Adminstrators: Always Learning, Part 2

Being break time it is time for the networking. The buzz is going full force!

Our next speaker Peggy Rudd, TSLAC Director, has come to give us an update. She is talking about the background of the legislation that just passed about the online databases. The State Library will expand its connection to school libraries by taking on this new role with the databases. A partnership was in place with ESC-20 last year and the statistics of participation look pretty good. Now they can take it to the next level for all school libraries.

She hopes this new project will lead to state law change after this two-year period to make school libraries more connected to the State Library system, not just for databases, but all the various things that are going on. Under the Tex-Share umbrella there is room for all. She did say that the ILL issue that often worries school libraries is not mandatory. She does charge us as leaders to understand all that Tex-Share can do for school libraries and there is a lot!

Director Rudd states that among the people responsible for getting this legislation passed were: Representative Lois Kolkhorst from Brenham, Daniel Harper, a staffer on Senate Finance, and Representative Warren Chisum from Pampa. There are other people that may be discussed later in the conference.

As part of the sunset review of TSLAC, there will be a joint study with TEA about school libraries and their needs. When these are determined, then it will be decided which needs can be met by TEA and which can be met by TSLAC. It was brought up by an audience member that there is no "Librarian" at TEA to discuss these needs! Director Rudd stated that it will a group effort to provide the information and to make sure the correct outcomes of the study come forth.

It was asked if EBSCO has been settled as the database source? She stated it has not been decided as yet, but she did say something would be in place for the start of the school. There is also some concern about the ability to have options in what could be chosen. Timing is an essential ingredient to many in the audience for approval and training.

There is a rider for funding options for after-school homework assistance program. It will have to be looked at on how to do this and then sustain it after the initial offering. There was some discussion about it being a duplication of efforts in some locations and and maybe not the best use of funds. She did point out there are some areas of state where the public libraries are bearing the brunt of after school issues. Another topic for lots more talk and work!

One more topic...looking at students' participation in summer reading programs and effect on testing scores in reading. Only been it about a year. El Paso Public Library and the El Paso School District are working on this study. A comment from the audience....look at a public library where this is going on where there is no school librarian.

And a final audience concern...that none of the 2.5 million for databases be sued to create a bureaucracy in TEA for libraries...the money needs to stay for databases.

This was a difficult session to monitor...if I didn't get the right gist..let me know!

On to lunch....more later!

025.1 School Library Adminstrators: Always Learning, Part 1

The annual Texas Association of School Library Administrators' (TASLA) meeting going on in Austin today. It is a chance for Library Administrators to get together and catch up on what is new, figure out ways around problems, and do the all-important networking!

My colleague has spent the year preparing for this as part of her role as chairman of this group. And it has gotten off to a good start. Congrats LP.

Right now we are hearing a program about school book clubs. The speaker, Cris Espinoza, Librarian from LBJ Middle School, Pharr-San Juan ISD in south Texas, has already brought up one of the major points of a successful program of any from the administration, where it is the campus level or higher up! She does pattern her book club after Oprah's model where the top group of writers/participants get to go to a special lunch to discuss the book. for her school, a school whose students have many barriers to overcome, the book club has been part of the growing success of the school. Everyone is welcome-- parents, neighbors, school and community leaders join in with the kids. Some of the kids have even been featured on the local reading books making the news! How great is that!

Lottery Rose, Among the Hidden, Tequila Worm were some of the featured books. For Tequila Worm, the author Viola Canales participated as well! I wish you could see the line-up for the snakes around up and down the halls. Last membership number--328!'s break time. More later!

92 Mr. Wizard: The First Science Guy

It was sad to hear about the passing of Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert, who was such a fixture in my post-Sputnik, race-to-the-moon, informal-learning-of-science life. TV was monitored in our house, but Mr. Wizard was a permissible Saturday program.

He sure knew how to make science a child-centered and relevant fun thing...even thru the grainy black & while venue called early TV. And he grew to meet the times.
Thanks Mr. Wizard!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

027.8 Librarian - Teacher Collaboration: Learning & Doing Together

Last week a group of librarians and teachers spent an intense week collaborating over lessons and infusing them with various types of educational technology. Elementary and secondary teams came together for a whirlwind tour of technologies, Web 2.0 services, and other online resources.

Beginners and advanced alike all learned something new to make lessons more student-centered and real-world relevant while using technology to make the delivery of instruction more inviting and the culminating activities different learning experiences for their students.

Subjects included Greek mythology, food groups and good eating habits, the water cycle, career exploration, famous Americans and their contributions, and good behavior habits. One way the group made sure the lessons were student-centered and true collaborations between librarian and teacher was to deconstruct the lesson by making lists of teacher, librarian and student responsibilities.

Everyone had opportunity to learn PowerPoint tips and tricks, how to create a Photo Story, how to work with videostreaming, how manipulate photos, how to add music, and create podcasts. A special presentation was made about the ActivBoard and all the great teaching and learning tools available with that special technology. There was lots of looking for the sign-up list to get one! The group learned how to create a rubric using Rubistar, an open source software available to all who want to use it.

Lots of work time was built into the week so that each team could present a good representation of their lesson to the whole group. Even during this time, there were exchanges of ideas and expressions of "O, I can do that too with mine" or " Gee, I can add that to my lesson." So much so, that the "final" lessons will not be posted for about another week so that all the good ideas can be incorporated and added.

Comments from participants include:
"...long set of ahas as we learned all these wonderful tools."
"Don't be scared or intimidated. You will have lots of help & learn way more than you expect."
"If [I] can learn this, anyone can!!"
"Wow! How much fun is my class going to have dazzling our school with our technology pwoness!"
"I really had to use problem-solving skils to make my powerpoint do what I wanted it to do. The normal rules just didn't apply..."
"Using hidden text releases a big headache because I can create a key and "hide" the answers."
"Flash drives are my new best friend." One participant, my friend G, also blogged her thoughts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

371.22 Blogging Project: Wizard of Oz 2.0

One of my favorite "book" bloggers discusses a class project she does around the Wizard of Oz. She uses the original Baum version of the story as well as the classic movie we all grew up with. She compares the Oz story with her personal favorite Alice in Wonderland.

She and her students discuss both of these books, their related projects, AND bunches of other "stuff" on her classroom blog AND the students' own blog, blog, blog,...more blogs.

She also has a nice list of other class blogs...3rd-6th grades.

006.7 Blogging: The Value of Using It with Kids

"...and a little child shall lead them."

How much more convincing do you need?
Here's the blog itself.

These children are 6 & 7 yr olds. I think they got it.
I'm glad their teacher got it for them.
And their administration must get it too!

Of course, I AM preaching to the choir...or you wouldn't be reading this!

Monday, June 4, 2007

371.22 Educational Technology: Videostreaming Resources

Hopefully, your school district has access to educational videostreaming products such as Unitedstreaming and Power Media Plus. They are subscription services, require passwords to access, and are worth e-v-e-r-y p-e-n-n-y your administration pays for their use!

However, there are other sources for videos that can be used quite successfully in the school setting with proper planning and attention by teachers and librarians. Probably, the best know of these is the video sharing site YouTube which has been discussed in this blog earlier this year. Individuals can create videos and upload them for all to see. There are many, many, many appropriate videos for school use...BUT... my and many other school districts block this resource.

So, as with many things technological, someone came up with a "work around"-- in this case, a site called TeacherTube, a video sharing site devoted to videos create for and quite often by students and their educational needs. It too has previously been discussed in this blog. Great NEED to take a look. And that is possible at school! What a pleasant surprise!

There are the traditional news services such as CNN, MSNBC, ABCNews, Fox News and USAToday along with other educational and institutional sites that provide current events, science, social studies and other educationally appropriate video resources. But it would a lot of work to check all of these sources and the dozens of others available on a regular basis.

Hurray! To the rescue comes Blinkx... a video (and audio) search engine. You can put in your search term and get a list of videos from over 130 sources. You can then select the appropriate ones for your needs and can usually play them without additional software or other technology.
Often, because these videos come from reputable sources, they are not blocked. However, it is possible that the Blinkx site might be blocked, but you could locate the video from home, capture the address, and then be able to see the video from within the school district.
A word to the wise. Be sure you check these videos out before turning them over to students. They are not exclusively educationally appropriate items. Some are user created and uploaded to services such as MySpace, but the Blinkx crawler will find them.
Have a look at all of these..either at school or at home. You will be pleased, I think!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

780.622 Royalty-Free Music Files

In rummaging around for other things, as is my usual style, I found this site for royalty-free music clips that you can use in you PowerPoints, etc.

The author of most of these music files also has a blog and among the postings, he will have new music files and give a little background on why he wrote the music or will talk a little what project prompted its creation.

Seems like quite an eclectic, interesting, talented guy. His site is called Incompetech and the tag line is "Ugly website. Brilliant content." Sounds vaguely familiar to the many descriptions often associated with another one of my very favorite websites! His humorous dig at himself already wins points with me. I have emailed him to say so and I will be interested in his response. I'll fill you in later.

And if you want to use these music files for you PowerPoint, here is what I did to accomplish that feat. Others may have a different journey for you to take.
After you have selected the music you want, right click on this Mp3 symbol and "Save As" to your desktop. Then go to you PPT and go to Insert Movies & Sounds on the first slide.

If you want the music to play throughout the slide show, you have a few things to do in the Slide Show, Custom Animation set up.

1. Be sure the speaker image is highlighted.
2. Go to the Slide Show menu.
3. Click on “Custom Animation."
4. Under the Multimedia tab, check “Play Using Animation Order.”
5. Select “Continue Slide Show” and put the number of slides you want to play thru in the box.
6. Also under the Multimedia tab, click “More Options.”
7. Check “Loop until stopped.”

Be sure the music file is in your PPT folder (you did make a folder before starting to create your PPT, didn't you?) and........... save, save, save!