Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keeping a collection Fresh: My annual Weeding

About two weeks ago, my assistant and I decided it was time to start our yearly book weeding session. It is such a long process, but we know that the final outcome is best for kids and the library.

Our plan was to clear out some books that hadn't circulated since I took over in 2010, even after we moved them and reorganized the collection.  We found over 600 books have sat on shelves, collecting dust and getting more and more outdated.  We did a lot of evaluating and discussing to decide what to do.    We decided after a lot of thought and discussion that weeding was the ultimate conclusion.

I hate getting rid of books.  I am a book hoarder.  Upon a visit to my house, it is evident, but, sometimes, getting rid of a book is the best thing for it, especially if the topics are so antiquated that they are useless to keep.  It is hard to write an accurate research paper with a book that talks about information relevant in 1995, as many of my science books were.

With our weeding, we focused heavily on the Science, Health and Geography books and VCR tapes (yes, I had a huge collection of these) after all, who needs a book about Burma when it hasn't existed in ages.  We looked at our historical books and political books and determined what was available online via databases and more current sites.   Our method to weeding is probably typical of most districts, but, I did a few things a little differently.  I asked the staff.

We have a few teachers who require students to have book sources for their research papers.  I relied heavily on these folks, as they know what their students need.  I invited them in, handed them a cart and asked them to pull unneeded materials.  I got a lot of response from them.  I also had several come to me telling me they would take the copies to their room as a reference.

Despite my efforts of encouraging staff to use other sources, I still see a few of our teachers rely heavily on books, even if the material is outdated. We decided that history doesn't change, much.  We didn't weed much unless we have multiple books on the same topic and some of them were in bad condition.

The exciting thing is, teachers came in after I announced the weeding and started grabbing books for their classrooms that have been sitting in the library, unused, for four years. What do we do with the balance?  We donate them.  One of my former students is at a very low funded school with a 98% free and reduced rate.  I am going to let him look at them.  I also send some to a program founded by that same student called Refugees Read.  It ships books to African countries and builds libraries.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Data collection in the library

I have been in the library for four school years now and I am pleased with what I have done, but I came to realize after I attended the TLCHAT virtual cafe last week that there is one component I am not focusing on that I need to:  Data collection.

I learned a lot at the virtual cafe, and it inspired me to start collecting data.  One gal actually has a google form she fills out every day, a journal of sorts that logs what happened, numbers, circulation records and the good and the bad.  I decided to take that idea and put together my own document that will help me journal the day.   I decided I needed to get into the habit of doing it right away, so I can get myself and my staff trained to keep the data.  I have been keeping track of student comings and goings since Christmas time, I generated a google form they fill out when they come in, and I get the names of the kids, their reason and the teacher.  It has come in handy when a plethora of children suddenly arrive unannounced.  I can go to the teacher and remind them to give me a heads up, etc.  It also helps me see the why for the visit.

The main problem with the form is the data it generates.  There is so much information that figuring out what I need is a challenge.  I think the daily form with the number of kids in, circulation records and such is going to be my push.  I am envisioning a monthly data report, even posting the data once a month on the school library blog. I think if people see what is happening and why, maybe it will impact funding, support keeping an aid, support my goal for a shift from a media center to a learning commons, and help me get the grants I want.  I never realized how important the data collection is.  I am seeing a definite need to keep track and to generate charts and such with the data I collect.

I suspect I will find the time I put into data collection will help me a great deal with my numerous causes and needs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Personalized PD: Finding webinars

As I spend a little time talking about personalized PD, it is only appropriate to share the concept of the webinar as a way to grow professionally.  Over the past few years, webinars have become one of the fastest ways of learning material and personalizing what is learned.  There is a lot of picking and choosing and a lot of options for many different content areas, grades and educators.

I have found several fantastic sites that offer PD webinars.  Some sites charge a fee to be a member, but they have free sessions from time to time. I do those free days like they are going out of style. My kids make fun of me because I am doing another webinar.  But, some of them are outstanding.   I have found a lot of good tools on the simplek12 website as well as edweb.net.   Both do webinars often and all of them have been great quality.  I have learned a lot of new things through both.

I have also found several archived unconferences with webinars too. (An unconference is a virtual conference where people all over the globe get together and go over various topics.  I have seen some through teacher2.0 and library2.0.  A few conferences have been archived, you just have to search for them.  They are all over the internet.

I recommend looking into these free webinars if you want to personalize PD for yourself.  It is very possible to customize what you want to learn.  I do a lot over the summer so when I go back to school I am fresh and ready to go.  I have taken a lot of information from these webinars and used them in my classroom, library and with colleagues.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Personalized PD: Google+

If you are interested in personalizing your PD, an easy way to do that is to create an account on Google+ and start joining communities.   Google+ has been around for awhile, but, of late it has become a really strong support system for educators.  It isn't as focused on the family, social and fun stuff people post on Facebook, but more of a professional based setup.   I decided recently that I was going to separate my Facebook for my professional life and focus on Google+ as my professional platform.

Here is what you need to do to use it for your own PD.

1.  Create a google account. (Gmail account holders already have Google+, so just login.)
2.  After you create your google account, you can go to the search bar and type plus.google.com and it will open your Google+ platform.   Under the Home tab, you can find communities and people who meet your needs.   Some communities let you join immediately, some ask you to request to join and they add you.  You need to make sure you have a profile

I have learned a lot of great tips and techniques from people on Google+, but like twitter, it can be a little overwhelming. Find some people on Google+ who you follow on twitter and add them to circles. (Circles are the "groups" people belong to.  For example, I have a circle called Hoosier Educators, another one called Library People, and one called Edtech People.  Some people are in more than one.  It is an organizational method.)

It seems to me that Google+ is less social and used more by the masses for things like personalized PD. It is a great way to see what is going on in other school districts around the US and elsewhere.   It is truly a great way to start developing your own personalized PD.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Personalized PD: Twitter

Often as educators, we are called to a staff development and hear about the newest trend, data that pertains to a small group of people and very irrelevant to others.  Yes, learning about math data is important to the staff as a whole, but, if there was a way as a teacher we could grow personally and develop our own PD, I think we as a whole can become better educators.

There are many ways, as educators, we can personalize our staff development and these are the ways you can do it:

If you are not on twitter, you should be.  Twitter is by far one of the most powerful ways to learn and grow as a professional.  If you spend 10 minutes from time to time glancing and reading what people post, you will learn something new.  I had a teacher ask me for some insight to a topic.  I went to my twitter, posted a quick question and in a matter of five minutes, I had close to 10 responses with suggestions.   WOW!  Who would have thought five years ago that something that powerful would be available at our fingertips.  (For more information about personalizing PD with twitter, please check this link and read this material.)  Select a few hashtags (#) and watch them from time to time.  There are a lot of programs that allow you to follow the chat, some even allow for an archive so you can go back and see it later.

Here are some fantastic education chats and links to places you should visit to learn more about twitter for education:
The Cybraryman:   This site is a plethora of information for everyone in education.  The link here is for Twitter and it includes a lot of informational pieces for you.  He has established a schedule of all of the education chats out there and the times. (PLEASE DON'T BE OVERWHELMED) There are many of them, but only a few may pertain to your needs.

Here are the ones I personally attend from time to time:
#edchat  (Tuesdays at 7pm)  Lots of fantastic ed topics.
#INeLearn (Thursdays at 8pm)  Directed by IN-DOE department of eLearning.  Excellent source of information.  Topics vary weekly. (Every state has their own, I follow Indiana's since I live in the Hoosier state.)
#edtechchat (Mondays at 8pm) Focus on educational technology.

Are you looking for some people to follow?  Everyone listed here are a good start of who should  be followed on Twitter.  As you follow these folks' posts, you will see more people to follow.  If you are looking for content specific people, ask it on Twitter, someone will help you.:
Jerry Blumengarten                                             edweb.net
ISTE                                                                 Kimberly Munoz
Edtechtalk                                                         Sara Hunter
Angela Maiers                                                   Larry Ferlazzo
Matt Miller                                                     
Michelle Green
George Couros
Chris Casal
Connected Educators Project
Shelly Terrell
Will Richardson
Kathy Schrock
Adam Bellow
Pam Moran
Richard Byrne
Erin Klein
Vicki Davis