Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Step 16: Go Out and Do Some More!

What a busy week it has been!  On Monday evening I attended a MITI (Make It Take It) Workshop at the CMTC(Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference) on BeeBots and ProBots!  These are engaging and fun little robots that kids can code.  I had a blast learning how to drive my BeeBot around the room and really enjoyed making my ProBot write my initials and draw a circle.  I can imagine so many ways to use this in the school's Makerspace and in my library lessons, especially when I am teaching kids about coding.  For more information on BeeBots and ProBots, check out their website!
Wednesday I attended the CMTC for the whole day and was able to participate in some wonderful workshops.  I listened to the Keynote speaker, Sara DeWitt, who works for PBS Kids and discovered some great resources.  I then attended a workshop on Makerspaces - and got a few ideas for my school Makerspace.  Then a workshop on Math apps, which gave me some great ideas to share with my fellow teachers.  And finally, I ended the day with a STEM workshop, which gave me even more ideas for activities for my Makerspace.

I also presented with one of my colleagues on using beacons in schools!  We had a blast, even though there were only three workshop participants!  For more information on what beacons are and how you could use them at your school check out our Google Slides presentation.

And, if that isn't enough, I spent a great deal of time this week preparing for Hour of Code!  We decided this year that our whole school is going to participate in Hour of Code.  In order to do this, every student will complete an hour of coding activities, either using the website, a coding app, or an unplugged coding activity.  In addition, one of my colleagues lined up a group of community members who use coding in their jobs.  Kids will be able to learn about how coding fits into a career at Rugers, Corning, Hypertherm and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  In preparation for the Hour of Code, I had my fifth graders participate in an unplugged activity during library classes.   They had to write code for each other to get from one point in the library to the next.  They were all over the place, but the energy was fantastic and the students learned a lot.

I look forward to doing and sharing more, so keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Step 15: Be creative and have fun

One of the courses I'm taking this fall is about Web Design and Media Production.  Through the course I have learned so much about color, photography, audio recordings and video...and we're only half way through!  I can't wait to share some of what I've learned with my colleagues and make improvements to my school webpages.  I may even surprise you with some cool audio files on here in the future!

For now I wanted to share some of the images that I took for a project that I did on Kodak's Top Ten Tips for photographers.  I created a YouTube video and had a blast snapping photos for a few weeks.  Since then, I've been bringing my camera everywhere and continuing to snap pictures here and there.  It was a beautiful fall this year in New England and I managed a few gorgeous shots during the peek of the season.

Kodak Ten Tips video - Heidi Doyle

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Step 14: Why Blogging is Important and Necessary for Educators!

Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury) “Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”

Blogging is an excellent Professional Development tool because it allows educators to communicate with colleagues, parents and students, and gather information from other professionals, while also providing a venue for reflective thinking. This communication and information sharing will build loyalty within the classroom, within the school and within the community, which in turn can lead to better support. Reflective thinking on the part of the educator leads to a greater understanding of the content and students which can also aid in garnering support. Below I will explain how blogging can be used to communicate, gather information, and provide a venue for reflective thinking, all of which are important to the educational profession.

Blogging is one of many ways in which educators can communicate with colleagues, students and parents about what they are doing in the classroom.    By sharing on a blog, which can be accessed by anyone around the world, I am sharing my lessons with others who may need inspiration. Additionally, when I want to share what students have been learning in my classroom, I can link my blog to emails, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media.  In this way, parents have easy access to my curriculum. Since I started sharing my own experiences on Blogger, I have received wonderful feedback, encouragement and suggestions from family, friends and colleagues around the state.   By maintaining a classroom blog, students have an opportunity to share their successes and failures with the world.  Knowing that other people are reading what they write can be a powerful motivator. Communication with all parties can be enriched through maintaining a blog.

Reading other educators’ blogs is a great way to gather ideas and information.  There are several Librarian blogs that I follow in order to gain insight into the profession.  I have come across wonderful lesson plans, bulletin board ideas, resources and funny librarian jokes that keep me inspired (see below for links to these blogs). As a school librarian, I am the only person in my building who teaches my curriculum.  When I want to gather ideas, my in-house colleagues may not have a full understanding of what I mean, especially if I’m using Library specific lingo.  I have to look outside the confines of my physical building for professional development that suits me.  By connecting with other librarians through their blogs and my own, I now have colleagues that I can rely on around the world.  Their support, advice and knowledge have brought my own teaching practice to a higher level. It has also helped me to build a Professional Learning Network(PLN) that is specific to my needs.

One of the most informative aspects of blogging is the reflective piece.  Each time I sit down to write something, I ask myself “why is this important to share?”  Some days I reflect on what I have learned, either in the classroom setting or from my peers.  Some days I share my experiences in the hopes that others will be inspired to try something new, or avoid something that may not work!  Other days I just marvel at the joy that I experience in my classroom, in my life, in my experiences as a teacher and a human being.  This reflection makes me examine what I’ve done that I count  as successful and what I need to improve.  It also means that I look at what I’ve written more than once before I post it, making my writing stronger and my voice more confident. As educators, we often do not give ourselves time to be reflective; we are too busy pushing through with the next initiative, to the next state test, or onto the next challenging student.  However, just a few minutes a week can lead to better practice when we take the time to analyze what worked and what didn’t.

Overall, I believe that blogging is an excellent way to connect, share and reflect.  Since the format of a blog can be professional, personal or somewhere in between, there is no right or wrong way to approach it.  It will enable you and your students to communicate in a meaningful way with the community and gain support. I highly encourage others to take the leap and begin blogging. You might be surprised by what you learn about your profession and about yourself.

Blogging Sites and Survey

Below are some of my favorite blogs.  I use them to inspire my teaching on a regular basis.  In addition, I have added a link to a short survey about blogging.  I would love to hear what you think about blogging.

Blog sites

Renovated Learning - Diana Rendina
Elementary Librarian - Jocelyn Sams
The Library Voice - Shannon Miller

Blogging survey