Friday, July 10, 2015

The Seven Year Itch

I decided to revisit all of my blogging efforts and discovered that my first blog was written July 8, 2008. That was 7 years ago. And so I now have the 7 year itch - the desire to return to my roots and resume blogging. Just a funny observation on my part, so I'll label this Friday afternoon humor on a very hot summer day in Beaufort, SC.

Returning to the Land of the Bloggers

One of my goals for the coming year is to be a more active blogger. At first I considered starting a new blog but abandoned that thought. Instead, I will pick up where I left off - somewhere in the middle of my thoughts.

It's summer - a time for relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation. How's that for the New 3 R's? I'm claiming it and naming it My Personal 3 R's.

I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia last month to attend ISTE 2015. This particular conference is a favorite of mine as it encompasses my 2 favorite worlds of education - technology and library information science. I came away with an acute case of conference brains - idea overload coupled with numerous conversations with colleagues and friends while there. What stood out about this year's conference were several themes of interest to me and others: MakerSpaces, Minecraft, and global learning.

Makerspaces: I implemented MakerSpaces in my Learning Commons during the 2013-2014 school year. It continues to evolve or better yet morph as imaginations and ideas merge to create new venues for the kids to explore and create. I'll speak to this in more detail in a future post but for now, just a "crack the door open" experience.

Minecraft: I might betray my age here. I have the 4 books published by Scholastic in my library collection of the Learning Commons at my school. I can't keep these books on the shelves and I have multiple copies of each. "You know you're old when a kinder asks you when you're going to learn how to play Minecraft." That happened to me a few months back so one of my missions in life for the summer was to become a Minecrafter - one who knows how to do Mincecraft. And so I did. I attended a session at ISTE on Minecraft for Beginners. They had 4 sessions of this one and each time I tried to get in the door, they were "sold out" as seating was limited to 52 attendees due to the number of laptops they had for the session. But I was persistent. I decided to get there early for the final session of this one and got in by the skin of my teeth - I was number 52! WOO HOO! And 90 minutes later I and my colleagues in this session were pronounced "Minecrafters". Now I'm ready for my school kiddos - BRINT IT ON, GANG! I'LL MINECRAFT RIGHT WITH YOU!" This alone was worth the trip to Philly from Beaufort, SC where I live.

Global Learning: I enjoyed meeting and talking to folks in the poster sessions who were from around the world. Some brought a handful of school kids to co-present their accomplishments. I know for a fact that there are kiddos at my school who have never seen the ocean even though we are 20 miles from the Atlantic, and who have never left the county. So on my bucket list for 2015-2016 is to bring the world to my kiddos via SKYPE, Google Hangouts and anything else I can discover to use.

I also learned how to make a mobile green screen and plan to use this extensively with the kiddos this year. But I'll save this for another post.

Seems I've developed a strategy for blogging that might just work for me. Typically I can't sit still long enough to write much of anything never mind reflecting on things of interest. But now I am claiming to be a revived or resurrected blogger with goals in mind and a way to accomplish it.

In closing, one of my teachers shared her thoughts with me at the end of the school year. She said "Doc, you are all about the kids and that's what I love about you." "Tis nice to know the thoughts of others especially when they affirm the state of my affairs. Hence the name for my blog, Doc4Kids. Yes, I'm for kids but I also have 4 kids who are now adults with 3 of them having kids of their own. Interesting play on words. Until next time . . .

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Night Thoughts

Spring break is almost over. And I need to get busy with lesson plans and an article that need to be written. But I think I'll postpone these tasks for a bit.

So what did I do on my spring break? Oh a variety of things crossed my path this week. I spent some time with one of the grand kids - little girl named Charlotte who is almost 16 months old. she lives about 20 minutes from us, so she's an easy find to take shopping, and a great listener of stories. She loves going to Barnes and Noble, so on that plain we are kindred spirits.

I finished reading a professional book, one by David Loertscher. It's his first of two on the Learning Commons. As I poured over each and every page, I began to get a true understanding of what a learning commons is on the grand scale of things. My task is to bring it into economy of scale for an elementary school learning commons. My immediate conclusion is that I have quite a bit to do to accomplish this task, and at that, it will be an ever evolving adventure. This will be a future topic for my blog.

This led me on to another conquest of sorts. My cell phone had been acting up in recent months, so I had justification for an upgrade with my provider. You may already know where I'm going with this thinking thread - - - I now have an iPhone 4. This is not any ordinary cell phone. I might go so far as to say that I'm in love with this little gadget - - - oops, mobile device. Not content to use it just as a phone, I created several QR codes, downloaded a QR reader app and the rest was a fun ride. Within a few seconds, a QR code scan transported my phone to a web page. I see lots of applications for this in my Learning Commons. And at that, I'll leave the rest to your (and my) imagination.

My next adventure was to charge up 15 old Palm TX handhelds. 13 held the charge, another did not, and another held a charge but it was inactive - tapping the screen with the stylus was like the lights are on and nobody is home. I think exchanging an internal battery from one to the other might resurrect the one that won't hold a charge. That's my next thing on the to do list. These handhelds will be used in the Learning Commons with wireless keyboards for note taking, writing stuff like poetry (April is National Poetry month), and more. So 13 or 14 working Palm TX handhelds could be a good thing. We'll see.

I scored on a shopping trek to Belks in Savannah. New clothes are a good thing, too. Even better than southern comfort food whatever that might be.

But . . .

Back to Saturday night thinking. I have some prep work to do for school and beyond. This has been my challenge all week. I started out great, accomplishing 2 of 3 initial goals for the week. It was adding 2 more to the list that punctured my enthusiasm balloon. So I coasted all week - my term for doing things not of the school or professional kind. Now have you ever seen a punctured balloon spiral around until it touched the ground or floor? MMMmmmm that might describe my frame of mind right now. I'm grounded . . . at least until I can put into print what is in my brain for next week's classes. Harnessing energy can be so much fun and extremely aggravating at the same time. So that's where I am on a Saturday night ... adding a blog post and disclosing my adventures past, present and future or sort of.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SCASL Overload

Hotel rooms are great places to compose blog posts. All is quiet on the conference front. Let's jump back in time to . . .

THIS MORNING! It was a busy day at the convention center in Columbia. The one bummer was that a session on Prezi was cancelled. Not to worry as there were 5 others from which to choose.

Dr. Loertscher was presenting a session on Transforming Learning Commons. This topic resonated with me - it's been a project in the making at my school for almost 3 years now with no end in sight. The core of his presentation was creating a knowledge building center on the learning commons using Google Sites. This is a great tool. I have a virtual commons a la google now. So I've been google-ized at SCASL.

The next session was w/ Frank Baker. Frank had worked with the state instructional technology team when I was with the team. His forte is visual and media literacy. Frank has a special talent for stretching one's mind painlessly. I came away with new ideas that will work well with my virtual learning commons that is under construction.

The next event of the day was the keynote address. David Loertscher was the keynote speaker. He began his keynote by calling out my name - was I present and if so, would I come up to the stage. Clueless in Columbia here made her way to the stage not knowing what to expect. Well, the next period of time was interesting. I had the honor of assisting him with his presentation - reading the slides as he said. David has low vision, part of macular degeneration. So I went from wondering what was going to happen next to having a wonderful time co-presenting as it were, reading the screen script which I had not seen previous to this. It reminded me of auditioning for district band - had to sight read a piece as part of the audition process. Reading words is like that, too. One can read the words or one can give life to those words as they are read. Funny thing was, as I was reading the script, I realized that I have a long way to go in transforming my media center into a learning commons. It's a true work in progress or as the saying goes, a very fluid environment. David's presentation was great - not because of me but because of his thoughts and ideas.

The awards luncheon followed. I sat with some of my profs from USC - earned my MLIS there having graduated May 2010. It was great to see them again. They had introduced me to the world of David Loertscher via his articles and books while I was in grad school.

I went to the First Year with a Flexible First Grade session. I picked up a couple of ideas I can use at my school not only w/ first grade, but other levels as well.

At the Ten Hidden Secrets in DISCUS, I bumped into a former instructional technology specialist with whom I worked. She is also a media specialist at a high school in Aiken.

The capstone event of the day was my presentation. I thought I would have a few people, given the time of day and other events happening at the center. I was surprised with 25 or so folks including Dr. Loertscher. The downside was the Internet was slower than a snail on hot glue. But overall it seemed to go well. Hopefully when I do it again tomorrow morning, it will go even better. I know I forgot to mention a couple of things, so I'll need to jot down some notes to keep me on track.

I had a chat with David Loertscher after I presented. He has invited me to write an article - traditional format for one audience/publication. Then ramp it up a notch into the virtual world with a hyperlinked article - a virtual tour of my Learning Commons. This is a first for me, an honor to say the least, but a heavy responsibility. I'll need to plot it, plan it, and do it. I have the ingredients; just need to put them into a great recipe.

And now it's time to call it a day. A very busy day at that with surprises, renewing professional contacts, and learning new things. I'm always in a learning mode.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do media specialists have ADD?

Oh this is so funny. I was talking with another media specialist from my school district this afternoon and she said she noticed I was presenting twice. Well, I made light of it, stating I was scheduled for the earlybird special on Friday.

Fast forward to 5 minutes ago and OH OH! I was selecting sessions to attend and when I got to Thursday afternoon, I finally saw what she had seen earlier. Uh huh. And the story doesn't end there. I reflected upon the 2 email notifications I received, and had questioned to which room was I really assigned for Friday morning. The song, "I Can See Clearly Now" comes to mind. And I roared with laughter as I realized that I just might have ADD after all. Those two email notifications were indeed informing me that I had been scheduled to present my topic not once, but twice.

And tomorrow @ 4:30, the curtain will go up and the show will begin! I'm still laughing at myself over this, but I'm ready and that's a good thing.

Maybe as media specialists we are such multi-taskers that FBR sets in - that's Fly By Reading. I do that alot and sometimes, I miss the tiniest of details. Well, a principal once told me that the devil's in the details. Being more of a visionary and imagineer, I tend to see the forest, not the trees. Call it a bird's eye view as opposed to the worm's eye view.

With that, it's to infinity and beyond, and finalizing things for tomorrow!

Doing the SCASL 2011

Time to catch up on everything. I'm in Columbia, SC as we speak attending the 2011 SCASL Conference. For those of you unfamiliar with SCASL, it is the South Carolina Association of School Librarians. But, does this really accurately describe and/or fit the role for the 21st century? Think about it . . .

Meanwhile, back to the conference. Today I attended a preconference workshop entitled "Leadership Strategies for Building Communities @ Your Library". Dr. David Loertscher did an excellent job in challenging the attendees to think without a box - I like "thinking without a box" better than "outside the box". Why? Not sure except that without a box, it's a "no holes barred" scenario, enabling or empowering one to imagine beyond infinity what might be possible in a school library.

Oh, there's that word again, "library". Rambling right along here, I dont have a library. I have a Learning Commons that contains a library collection, a media center, a mini computer lab, an e-classroom, a readers theater, a discovery dock AND an information island. Yes, I imagined those words and gave them life at my school. All without a box, too!

I have a desk plate that reads "those who see the invisible will do the impossible". I think that captures the essence of how I approach my craft, that of serving as a library media technology specialist. I haven't come up with an improved title yet. I highly suspect it will hit me in the near future though.

The SCASL conference theme for 2011 is Building Community @ Your Library. And so it is the purpose of the Learning Commons. It's the perfect community building playground. More on this in a future post.

For now, I need to review the program and identify sessions that are important to me and my imagination. I also need to finish or polish my presentation for Friday. I'm presenting Friday morning @ 8am. My presentation is entitled "Is your media center stuck in the 20th century?" So is it or is it not? The choice is yours!

I don't believe in boxes. I believe in infinity and eternity.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BES Media 2.0 - where life is taking on a new twist.

The beginning of August brings with it the excitement of another school year, a time of great adventures, many virtual places to visit, books to read and share with others, podcasts to produce, morning news shows to produce and more.

BUT WAIT! BES Media 2.0 - where life is taking on a new twist is about to happen in true twister form. I can hardly wait to return to school and get into the groove, to kick things into high gear. This return will be delayed a few weeks due to surgery a few weeks ago - total hip replacement. Here is a glimpse, a tiny one at that, of the vision I have for BES Media 2.0.

- Change in the landscape - the LMC sports a new look - pictures coming later.
- BES will have a new related arts special for grades 3, 4 and 5 - Media Technology. There will be an interesting mash-up of library information literacy skills, media literacy skills, technology skills, and project based learning. Simply put, Buzz Lightyear said it with "To the future and beyond . . . ".
- Puppet Patrol - temporary name for the moment as the kids will determine the real name for this troupe.
- Resumption of the weekly podcast show
- Revision and resumption of the daily morning news broadcast

I get so excited just thinking about all of the things the kids will do this year!

Here's to another fun-filled, adventure-packed school year where kids will explore, read, and learn about the world around them.