Friday, June 22, 2018

Leading from the Library with Personalized Professional Learning

In the days of deep budget slashes and little money for professional development, the school librarian is in a perfect position - as someone who has the ability to work with every student and teacher - to lead from the library and fill in what some cases is a major gap. 


One of the big trends in education today is working towards a system of more personalized learning for students. By meeting students where they are in terms of interest and ability we can do so much more to engage them in deep learning and help them develop skills that will aid them in becoming college and career ready as well as model citizens and life-long learners. 

While advocating for personalized learning for students, it is also important to consider the personalized learning needs of our teachers. Talk to any group of teachers, and you will discover that there is a wide range of ability and interest for our teachers when it comes to digital age teaching and learning competencies, because of this it is essential to provide multiple avenues and create more of a personalized approach to learning for our teachers.


The Future Ready Schools Framework advocates for "Personalized Professional Learning" as one of their primary tenants for helping to achieve a "a shared vision of preparing students for success in college, career, and citizenship." You can see if your district has taken the Future Ready Pledge [here]. 

Even if your district has not taken the pledge, you can support teachers in your building by advocating for Future Ready trends. Future Ready Librarians are encouraged to "Lead professional learning to cultivate a broader understanding of the skills that comprise success in a digital age (e.g., critical thinking, information literacy, digital citizenship, technology competencies, etc)."



Begin by Asking Teachers What they Want

So, how do we make this happen? It helps to begin by asking teachers what they want. In the EdSurge article "Personalizing Professional Development for Teachers, By Teachers" by Pat Phillips, Phillips shares that we should begin by including teachers in the design of the PD. One easy strategy is to set up a beginning of the year Google Form and identify what teachers think are their biggest needs, and ask basics like: 

  • What days of the week are best for meeting?
  • Do prefer in person sessions or something more virtual and self paced?
  • What is the optimal length of time for a session?

Once you have some general feedback you can begin to establish a schedule that you can promote. 

Collecting ongoing feedback is also important. Often new trends emerge during the year or tools change. Collecting feedback after sessions helps to stay on top of teacher needs. Often in a session feedback form it helps to ask if teachers need something more in depth or additional resources. I like to ask teachers which tools they need more information about and how they would prefer to get that information (follow up email, one-on-one or a later formal, PD session).

Develop your Plan

The School Librarian wears MANY hats during the school day, so planning personalized professional development is largely going to depend on your schedule. It is critical to put together a team that you can count on for help. Obviously the building administrators will be an asset. If you have access to a Digital Learning Coach or an Instructional Learning Coach in your building, creating a partnership with them is very important. You will also find that you have many teacher leaders in your building who are interested in sharing, recruit them and be their megaphone to amplify the cool things they know. Then set goals. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:
  • How often can I provide PD? 
  • Can I capitalize on any digital tools we have - Google Classroom/LMS?
  • How much time do teachers really have to focus and learn on an ongoing basis?

Once you know what works for your teachers you can create plans that work for their needs. In the beginning, I only focused on our elementary specials area teachers and created custom agendas for them while classroom teachers were attending other district led PD. 

We covered things like learning to use Twitter and finding people to follow, Canva for creating classroom content, website development, and many other topics. 

Once I felt comfortable with my time and with what teachers needed, I began to branch out and get a little more creative.

Creative Ways to Engage Teachers in Ongoing, Personalized PD

We covered things like learning to use Twitter and finding people to follow, Canva for creating classroom content, website development, and many other topics. 

Once I felt comfortable with my time and with what teachers needed, I began to branch out and get a little more creative.

Creative Ways

I found as a librarian, through the year, I really only had writing and lunch time to get new ideas out there. I made heavy use of Smore pages for an ongoing Tuesday Teacher Tips. I included information about things we had in the library, but often took the opportunity to answer questions or provide information based on teacher feedback. Here's an example:



I also used a Power Lunch format once a month. During this time teachers were invited to come and eat lunch together in our conference room and get some time with a new tech tool or idea. As an added bonus, you might think about supplying dessert. We covered topics like HP Reval (Aurasma), Voxer, and collaborating with the tools we had available. 


These two strategies are relatively low key in format and are effective ways to reach out to teachers and creating collaborative opportunities.

If you have a little more time, you might try these next ideas.

Quick and Flexible Formats

DIP Days I wish I could take credit for this name. I heard it in a session at ISTE last year. For this format the person giving the PD provided different dips and teachers were encouraged to Drop in for PD. 


You might however consider a DIP model of Drop in and Play. Host time in your library for teachers to come and play with things you have. Here in Kentucky we like to call that #KyGoPlay time. During a session try the Ignite-Play-Share strategy. Ignite their curiosity with a video or quick demo, give teachers time to play then share how they could use the tool or strategy. These sessions could be as long as an hour or as short as 20 minutes.


Tech in 20 Minutes Some of the "early bird" teachers appreciate a quick 20 minute session before school to get their morning started with a new idea. Over the years I have often hosted these on Tuesdays and we spend time with just one tool and some special features. We use this time to feature new tools and apps or get a quick tutorial on a special feature of something bigger like YouTube.

PD While You...
Another format I have found success with is posting printed out PD While You..flyers in places where teachers are waiting to do...stuff (copy machines, by the mailbox and in bathroom stalls). I try to include bit.ly links to more information and give them enough that they can let their eyes rest on for short periods of time over the course of a month.




For the Virtual Learner

Not all teachers have time to learn in person. This is one reason why a newsletter, like the Smore I posted above, can be so helpful. You might also consider using your school's LMS or a special Google Classroom to encourage virtual, asynchronous learning. For example, I have developed PD in your PJs modules in Schoology for teachers to use if they need more formal PD hours. Each module connects to different ISTE Standards and includes tasks, videos and articles. 

Your LMS or Google Classroom can be easily used to organize and create a professional book study with discussions and sharing of examples.


Of course, don't underestimate the power of a custom hashtag and sharing on social media like Twitter.


Today, as a Digital Learning Coach, my plan looks a lot more intense. I try to respond to the needs of the teachers and provide many different opportunities. One thing I do to help teacher know what is happening is I create a menu they can refer to:




I have found that offering "PD On Demand" is extremely helpful to teachers who just need some extra help. I publish the dates I am available for that and teachers can "book" that time to go over a skill, strategy or tool specific to their own needs. Sometimes a small group will come together in this way. 

Promoting your services like this on a semester basis can go far to promote things that are available in your library and create a community where everyone is a learner.


What ways do you lead from the library by creating personalized professional learning experiences?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Engaging Students with Digital Interactive Notebooks

Digital Interactive Notebooks are an amazing way to help engage students in the learning process while creating personalized notes with content that is meaningful to them on an individual basis. Teachers can custom create notebooks to help guide students through project based learning, specific units of study or for tracking personal goals.

Check out this 2nd grade example for a unit on plants to get an idea of how one might look.




The digital interactive notebook can act as a compilation of hyperlinked content like video and digital articles, combined with note taking strategies and student created digital products that demonstrate key understandings. 

If used with tools like Google Classroom, teachers can check in on work and insert comments throughout to give feedback and help guide students in deeper understanding. As students grow accustomed to the model, teachers can gradually release creation of the notebook over to the students to choose their own note taking strategies, video and articles to help solidify meaning.

Want to know how to get started with digital notebooks? Check out this Digital Interactive Notebook for step by step directions and activity ideas:



Get your own copy of the notebook [here]

Additional Resources


Monday, June 4, 2018

SAMR Remix Update & Redefining the Role of the Learner.

It's been almost two years since I've updated my resources for SAMR and Bloom's Taxonomy

As I was considering the newest tools out for students to use, it became really clear that as time has gone by my own view of what is "Redefinition" has shifted. This really highlights the subjective nature of the SAMR model. What is Redefining in one classroom, may not be that at all in another. 

When I first began to develop SAMR resources back in June 2014, I placed Nearpod under the Redefinition category. Back then the possibility of putting your presentation directly into every student's hands where they could see clearly and engage in the lesson seemed so forward thinking. When I revised in 2016, I chose to keep it there because of the addition of so many interactive elements, the ability to self-pace for differentiation and of course the virtual field trips that allowed kids to go to even the coral reef. Now, as I look at how far technology integration in the classroom has progressed, I realized that it's time to recategorize it. In this version, I chose to place Nearpod in the Augmentation category, mostly because even with self-pacing, Nearpod is primarily a teacher driven tool that allows students to share their thinking in different ways with their teacher or explore something someone else created. 

Today as I consider tools and integration, I ask myself these things: 
  • Are students creating? 
  • Are students able to push back the walls of the classroom and reach a larger, more global audience?
  • Are students given choice in what they use and how they share?
The more control over the learning and sharing of learning that can be achieved by the student, the better. With those questions, I see myself moving away from SAMR strictly in the sense that I'm referring to technology integration and more toward looking at ways to REDEFINE the role of the LEARNER, which in my own opinion is the real role of technology. 

This is not a be all end all guide to integration of technology, rather a work in progress. The tools represented here, if used in different ways with different intentions by the student, can allow them to redefine their own role. For example, when a teacher uses a Google Form to collect data from students, it's simply Substitution, but when a student makes the decision to create a Google Form to collect data for personal record and goal setting or, even better, for a specific project that seeks to gather information from people from around the world, and they then take that data and visualize it with reports, it changes the role of the tool. Students are redesigning tasks to meet their own needs, collecting data from far and wide in ways they wouldn't have easily been able to do before. In this case we see the tool can be used in an Augmentation or Modification capacity.

In 2018, our students can easily share their thinking, their findings, their judgements with a global audience through video, book publishing and podcasting, and they can model and prototype in 3D with virtual and augmented reality, and there are plenty of tools out there to make these tasks even better.

The interactive image below includes links to resources and ideas for use. Be sure to check out the resources with the red target for background. Blue targets will send you to the resource, and black will send you to different ideas for implementation.