Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Ready & Getting Focused!

I have always loved the beginning of the school year! It is a time for new beginnings for everyone-- students, staff, and even our teaching environment!  After a wonderful vacation, I am ready for the new school year and will be in the library this week getting things ready.  Here is a before picture of our library:


It is a little fuzzy, but my brain is also a little fuzzy with all of the ideas I have for our physical space, as well as the lessons I want to teach, and the books I want to share, and the tools I want to use, and.... you get the picture.  There is a lot to do, but I can't wait to tackle my to-do list!

One of the things that I'll be using this year to become less "fuzzy" and more focused is the book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman. 
The premise of the book is that we should focus on five areas that will have the greatest impact on our life, and make sure that each day, the majority of the things on our to-do list are focused on these areas. That by spending just 18 minutes (some in the morning, some throughout the day, and some at the end of the day) we should stay on track. I'm ready to try!
And, as usual, my Twitter PLN has offered support!  Several others are also reading this book and a Google Hangout is in the works so that we can share our progress!  Thanks to Sherry & Cynthia for holding me accountable for staying focused & getting things done!!
Hopefully, by the end of the week, the picture will be clearer, and things will be marked off my to-do list.  The RIGHT THINGS! 
How do you stay focused?  I would love to see how other libraries are coming along as we prepare to welcome our students back!
Happy Back to School!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vacations Help Clear the Mind! EdCamp Fort Worth Experience

It took a vacation to get my mind clear enough to share my first Edcamp experience!  We spent a cool 6 days in Vancouver & Whistler, BC Canada and it was WONDERFUL!!

Before that though, I spent a Saturday at Edcamp Fort Worth, hosted by some great people in Keller ISD!  I had seen information on Twitter about Edcamp and I was excited to find one so close.  Two teachers and two librarians from our district went, each with our own individual focus.  I don't think any of us left disappointed!  And we are all excited about the next one, Edcamp Dallas!

The great part about an Edcamp is that it is so informal and provides opportunities for personal professional learning with peers.  When we first arrived, we listed topics we were interested in learning about on sticky notes and then grouped them on a window with like notes.  The sessions were then chosen from those and put into time slots. 

An easy tool to help with organization of your edcamp experience was the guidebook that I downloaded before I got there.  I could keep up with the sessions I wanted to participate in, and that is exactly what it was, PARTICIPATORY.  In two of the sessions, there were people who were more knowledgeable than most, but in two sessions, we just all shared and tried out things while we were in there together.  None of the sessions were lecture or just one person talking.  This is how Edcamps should be from what I've learned!  :)

The first session I chose was on Evernote, an organizational tool that can be used on iPads, as well as PCs.  It is a way to organize documents, websites, photos, and more in different "notebooks"  The notes can be tagged for easy access.  While in the sessions, I learned  how to create different notebooks, which I had not done with all of my notes.  Another attendee showed how she had created a checklist in Evernote to use for the beginning of school, which was interactive.  She was able to check off supplies/notes, etc for the students as they brought them in.  So much better than all of the paper checklists!  Evernote is definitely a tool I will be using this year to stay organized!

Next, I went to a session on Genius Hour, which is something we are interested in implementing at our school. It is based on Google's 20% time, where employees are allowed to pursue their passions & interest for 20% of the work time.  Amazingly enough, 50% of the new ideas put into use came during this creative exploration time. For school use, students & staff would be able to pursue their own interests during Genius Hour. Teachers would set aside a certain amount of time for students to work on their "passion projects." It was described as "messy" and "loud" but we are were still interested!  :)

While in the session, people shared how they are planning to use genius hour in their classroom. Some teachers plant to put no parameters on the projects, while others wanted to offer a little more guidance to their students.  I loved that each person could make it their own, which is an important part of this. Genius Hour, if nothing else, is individualized & personal!  All of this made me stop and think of how I could support classroom teachers with genius hour using our new Makerspaces in the library.  Our engineering makerspace, as well as the multi-media makerspace would fit in nicely with genius hour!  Light bulbs were definitely going on!

In addition to these two great sessions, I also went to one on Augmented Reality. This is something I had only heard of, and still am a long way from implementing, but it was oh so cool!!  I'll have to work on it during my own "genius hour" and look at the ways it can be used in the library. The last one I went to was on Google Docs, and although I comfortably use Google Docs, I decided to stay as a refresher, not to mention, I had so much already going on in my brain that I didn't think I could handle anything else new!  ;)

My first Edcamp experience was GREAT!  I learned quite a bit in a short amount of time and in a very relaxed setting. I was able to meet some of my Twitter PLN face to face, as well as make new connections!  The people who put it on did a fantastic job, and it ran very smoothly! AND there were door prizes!! 

 I can't wait to attend my next edcamp:

Oct 12th 2013
Plano, Tx (Sockwell Center)

Have you been to an edcamp?  What are your thoughts?  Have you helped present or facilitate at one? I'm hoping to try that in the near future....  Any advice? :)