in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Archive for January, 2013

Some Honest Thoughts: Post-Elem Practicum!

I still can’t believe this was my last week at my elementary practicum. Wow, how time flies when you’re incredibly busy, and we were. I’m incredibly grateful for the experience! A few things I’d like to note:

  1. My teaching skills have come a LONG way in a short time. I grew to feel really comfortable in front of the room and speaking with the students while instructing them. I recommend everyone try to teach a “pretty full” week, or if you can’t do that, teach an entire day (5 or 6 classes, different grade levels). The constant need to adapt, redirect, change, etc., will really help you in terms of gaining confidence teaching. (Not saying it isn’t difficult…but it’s well worth it!)
  2.  As almost a necessary result, my behavior management skills improved exponentially over just a week. At one point I wrote in my notes, “Don’t be afraid to STOP and REDIRECT”. It can be frustrating when you think “I need to teach X and Y, we need to do activity Z, and they’ve got to find new books in 35 minutes”. But, when behavioral issues mean the entire class is distracted, it’s okay to stop, redirect, refocus, and come back to the lesson, even if it eats into the time. Otherwise, you’re simply continuing the lesson so you can feel successful, when really it’s more about making sure your students are successful at the end — even if it’s not quite up to what your expectations were when you were planning. That was a lesson I needed to learn, but I learned it quickly!
  3. My experience after school with the Tech Club really helped me gain an understanding of my students, because I saw them three times a week- twice in tech afterschool, once during the school day. Because I’m not a “digital native” and can actually be a bit of a Luddite, it was great for me to see how ten year olds approach digital work, creation, production, and just general computer skills.There’s a huge difference, for the record, between students who may be in the same grade but have vastly different skill sets and experience with tech. While I was at the school, we learned/reviewed/made projects/created using Wordle/Tagxedo, Animoto, and Make Belief Comix, and I did a tutorial on how to create using Prezi. This week we started discussing Popplet as a mind-mapping tool but also a presentation tool.

By the time I left today, with 129.5 hours under my belt, I felt really good about how this whole rapid-paced experience went. Considering I went into (school name) feeling like the elementary level was going to be incredibly difficult and “out of my comfort zone”, I emerged feeling like I could really make a difference working with the younger students in our school system. That’s probably the best feeling one can have after student teaching…. right?

A few thoughts on: Twitter for Organizations

I’ll be the first person to admit that I can be a luddite. However, I’m a luddite in my personal life. I’m fully aware that my profession demands that I not only keep up to date on technology, but embrace those technologies which have been proven — or perhaps need to be tested — in the education and information fields. I promise you I get that. But in my personal life… well, I’m one of those people who thinks that it isn’t a real vacation if you have to drag your phone and computer along to get work done. Wanna take your phone so you can communicate with people? Cool. Wanna take your laptop so you can write blogposts in airports at 5 AM? Cool – been there done that. But I really don’t like the idea of technology becoming an appendage instead of a tool… in my personal life.

This is the look on my face while trying to use an iPad. It was February last year, hence the amazingly deliciously green Shammy Shake at my side. But yeah, I'm not known for my iPad skillz.

This is the look on my face while trying to use an iPad. It was February last year, hence the amazingly deliciously green Shammy Shake at my side.
But yeah, I’m not known for my iPad skillz.

That said, I’m taking IST 611: Information Technology in Educational Organizations this semester. So far, it’s been both interesting AND informative. I’m interacting with new things I’ve never heard of – Stixy, anyone? – and testing/analyzing tech that is still in beta mode. Fun! But… I might have a comment to make, and that’s this: I’d much rather experiment with technology to learn it, as opposed to read about it. That’s probably surprising if you know me well — I love reading before doing — but not when it comes to tech. If I’m going to spend an hour or three of my time… I want to emerge with a product – with a satisfactory experience – with a sense of “yes, that’s useful; no, that’s not useful; I’d have to play with it some more before deciding”. For me, reading about technology is just… not that fun.

But I do it anyway. You never know when you’ll read something informative/new/interesting/exciting/mindblowing/mindboggling, after all. A few thoughts on this week’s reading for 611:

When you’re as well-versed in twitter as I am (I have multiple accounts, spanning multiple purposes, and I may have sent upwards of 40,000 tweets at this point) reading about it is almost painful.

  1. The advice to lock/protect your twitter account? Not nearly as cut-and-dry as Linda Braun makes it sound in her article. Perhaps with time (there’s no date on the article) she has changed her mind. My advice, however, would be to have an open account especially if you’re using it to represent your organization or school library. Nothing says “open and accessible” like a protected twitter account! (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)
  2. But why that advice? Because thus: if your account is open, anyone can go to http://www.twitter.com/YourOrganizationName and read all your tweets. If your account is locked, they need to create their own twitter account (which requires giving personal information) just to request to read your tweets. Is what you’re saying that personal that the thought of it being accessible bothers you immensely? If so, I’d recommend…
  3. Have a twitter account for your organization/library/etc that you use to speak personally and professionally. Respond to questions the way a human responds, for goodness sake! But keep a separate account for your own personal interests, and if you wish, lock/protect that account. make sense?

If you’re not quite up on twitter yet — or you find it cumbersome/too complex/etc — just try to spend some time every day using it. Download a twitter app like Tweetdeck or Janetter or HootSuite, and spend a little time just getting comfortable with it. Your organization/future library may not need a twitter account… but if they do, you can get to work immediately setting it up or taking over the existing account!

One last note: if you want to see how some organizations use twitter incredibly well to share information and handle questions/requests/inquiries/comments, look at:

Wegmans Food Markets on Twitter. Hands down, best example I can give you.

Check out your favorite sports network – The NHL or MLB, maybe?

If you’d prefer to read, pick up a copy of “The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk who tweets as GaryVee. Reading that book changed how I approach my relationships especially on the internet and social media… as well as just how I interact with people. You won’t regret it!

On that note, I’m off to read the Junco, Heigerbert, and Loken piece on “The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades”. I’m certain I’ll have something to say on this later… 🙂

Some Quick Thoughts from an Elementary Practicum Student!

I know, I know, I’ve been fairly terrible about blogging during grad school. The truth is that I prefer micro-blogging. Think twitter posts and conversations, long comment threads in facebook groups, and the like.

That said, I want to try to be better about putting things down in blog form this semester.
Reasons why:

  • I have to post a blog once a week for my practicum seminar anyway. I may import some, as possible.
  • I’m taking extensive (paper) notes on each day of practicum. I’m going to have to type them up. May as well share!
  • Sharing is caring.
  • I want to look back and say “oh yeah, I did that!” not “oh yeah, I wish I had typed up some of those experiences before I forgot them”.

So without any further pontificating…a few things!

  1. I interact better with the younger age group than I thought I would, honestly. There’s a learning curve on both sides, teacher-to-students and students-to-teacher, but it’s going well so far!
  2. You know how we talk about teaching “just-in-time” so skills align with activities and projects? Right… well, learning just-in-time works too. Like learning how to use a technological tool 10 minutes before you teach it. Not everything has to be rehearsed, scripted, etc. — there’s a freedom in the land of improv, as well.
  3. One of the most frustrating things, after “I can’t find a book” is when the question “well, what are you interested in?” is followed up with “I don’t know”. It’s this that I’m still working on – how to respond, how to find common ground, how to help a student determine what their interests are. 
  4. It’s okay that I haven’t jumped on the iPad bandwagon yet, but time will tell if I can continue to hold that view.
  5. Not having the privileges to update software as needed so that other software/tools can be used causes frustration. Sorry, tech club. 😦
  6. Wrestling books are COOL, y’all. 😉
This book is double-sided. It's like a "choose your own adventure"... in WWE.

This book is double-sided. It’s like a “choose your own adventure”… in WWE.