ISTE 2013

It’s post-conference now, and I’m trying to to absorb all I learned. There’s almost too much to take in! I really came at it with (at least) three different hats on – librarian, technology integrationist, and TAG teacher. Here are some initial takeaways and what I’ll do about them:



Writing – I want to know more about McGonigal’s programming at the NYPL, where young people crowd sourced writing.

Ebooks – I’m more confused than ever about choices for ebooks! I spoke to Barnes and Noble and thought the Nook seemed like a real possibility, especially because they really help libraries with management. Then the news came out this morning that Barnes and Noble is shuttering Nook operations, just sticking with its black-and-white e-reader. That was what I was looking at yesterday, but gosh, this news doesn’t give me much faith in going that direction. I spoke to a couple of other vendors, including Follett Shelf (where we already house over 120 books for MNW students), but am still going over the options.


f_lavins. From Flickr, Creative Commons License. Found here.

Teaching technologyThis was picked up from following #iste13 tweet.




Makerspace! I saw Gary Stager’s name in the ISTE book and knew I had to go hear him. I follow him on Twitter and loves his message of authentic learning. This was no different – it was so fast-paced it was hard to keep up. But my favorite part of it was his message of makerspaces. I actually have joined the Ames Makerspace and am going to an event on Saturday. I loved Stagerś message that the ¨maker movement is that craft traditions are being honored and kicked up a notch.” The funny thing is I love the idea of makerspaces, but I don´t actually make that much. I guess I´ll learn!

Tech Integration

Gamification – I’m still mulling all this, and I’ll finish reading Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken. Wouldn’t Massive Multi-Thumb Wrestling be huge fun as an ice breaker in PD?

Claymation – Won’t this be so much fun? I’d love to do a collaborative unit at the elementary with the art, music, and guidance teachers using this tech. Remember, don’t use green Play-Doh with a green screen!


Storyboard That! – Found this on the vendor floor and know the guidance counselor will love it to have the students make writing prompts.


Professional Development

I had a great talk with Atomic Learning – they are updating the student and teacher tech assessments which needed it. But this was a reminder of all the fantastic resources they have here for tech teaching. I want to make a web page or site that has tools for teachers.

Cyber-Patriots: This is an organizations that schools bring in as an afterschool activity that give real-world skills (hacking, or as they call it, cyber security) to high school students.



One other thing that Atomic Learning has is a series of videos about programming. I’m adding programming to choices/requirements for junior high TAG students (still to be determined) and am looking for resources. Like look at this, for XML basics.


MOOCs! I’m already a big fan of MOOCs, being a perennial drop-out (but I am finishing this class this summer). This session really wasn’t for me, since I already know what they are and how they work. But of course, I always love knowing everyone else is learning about something I already am passionate about. I did check out the offerings from Udacity, EdX, and Coursera. I signed up for this course from EdX, starting this fall. (Plenty of time to drop out . . . ) I do think every teacher should take a MOOC, and am going to include that as an option for the TAG students this fall.



I’m so glad I had business cards printed up! I’m glad my husband and daughter could come and do a family vacation with me, though I wish my other kids could have been here, too. Because they were here and doing touristy-stuff, they needed my iPhone. And I forgot my camera! So no pictures. That stinks. But I was so glad I brought a Chromebook. It made tweeting so much easier than doing finger-typing on my phone or a tablet.

Okay, that just has to be enough! There is so much else I learned. What a great experience.

Goodbye, San Antonio!

Communicate better!

I’ve had a great morning at the IASL/ABC CLIO Leadership Academy.  And can I just say, those were the BEST potato chips I’ve ever had!

So, I’m doing a group project with Rachel Burrow from Norwalk and Lisa Beal from West Liberty.  We’re discussing dimensions of leadership and our area is leadership.  Lisa had the fantastic idea of doing a video with avatars.  As you saw in the last post, I’ve been using xtranormal, but maybe we’ll have to use Go Animate . . .  (click on the picture – why can’t I get embedding to work in WordPress!)



My calendar has been full lately.  Trip to Des Moines, TICL conference, now it’s the IASL Leadership Academy, tomorrow night is my 25th high school class reunion, and we leave Saturday for ISTE!


Dance card from the USS MAYFLOWER’S second annual ball held in February 1906, at the Washington Navy Yard.

Then when I get back, it’s back to work.  I’m not going to ALA in Chicago, though I probably should.  The 150th anniversary of Gettysburg is from July 1-3, and I thought we would be going to that, too, so I knew I couldn’t do ALA too.

And back to work means starting the building project at the elementary, proceeding on the bookstore model at both schools, getting together the 1KB4K project . . . plus international students, getting together a TAG curriculum (I’m teaching that for a year at 7-12), doing PBIS videos with the guidance counselor, and work on the high school video production studio.  (Oh yes!  We got the ITEC grant!)

And for fun, here’s our first PBIS video, which for whatever reason, I can’t get to embed here.  So click on the “Try something” link . . .

Try something
by: csturgeon


Naval History and Heritage Command.  “83.36.52 Dance Card, USS MAYFLOWER.”  Retrieved on June 20, 2013, from  Creative Commons License.



The second project on my summer to-do list is:

One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten!

I first heard of this type of program last year from this blog post by the librarian blogger over at Bryce Don’t Play.  It’s mostly a thing that public libraries do, and it runs much like summer reading programs.  I did a similar you-read-and-log-your-books-and-maybe-win-a-prize type of program in my first year at MNW (I guess I never blogged about it!  It was called “Read Around the World” and we tracked the number of pages that our students “traveled” – one page equaled one mile).  A reprise of that didn’t interest me much, because how we had it set up, Donna and I were the ones who did all the work (well, except the reading, of course!).  There had to be a better way.

But when I did more research, I found this handout from the Colorado State Library, which included this link to a Massachusetts school and how they did the program.  Eureka!!  So we’re basically doing what they’ve done.  We will have 100-120 bags of ten books each available for checkout to children and families ages 0-5, not yet in kindergarten.  They will check out a bag for up to two weeks, and we will keep track of what bags they’ve checked out.  Parents will get a tracking sheet to keep at home.  When they’ve checked out 10 bags (100 books), there will be a small prize, then at 250, 500, 750, and at 1,000 books, they get a trophy and their picture in the newspaper.  The  benefits of this program are many, but the big one, of course, is that we better prepare students for kindergarten.  The program is open to all the families in our district, including homeschooling families (I homeschooled my kids!), and also families who already open enroll here.  We want to have this ready for the preschool open house in the fall, so, we better get to it!

The steps so far:

*Get artwork made – The intrepid Josh Anderson made this fabulous logo for the initiative.  Isn’t it fantastic??

1kb4k logo

*Send out letters to businesses asking for donations – Feel free to donate, too!  (We’ll send you a receipt for your donation.)

*Order the bags (Graphic Edge in Carroll – isn’t it great on the blue?)


*Figure out the logistics of the program – getting the books (Scholastic Book Fairs is helping provide those), creating the tracking sheets, building the space to keep the bags not checked out

There’s a lot more to be done, but we’re getting there.  I can’t wait to roll it out officially with parents and children in the fall!

Summertime fun

How has it been over a month since I blogged??

It’s summer – finally!  For the first time ever (as a student, mom, and teacher), school went into June, what with all the snow days.  But never fear, Donna and I are finally able to get to work on our summer projects.  The first one is:

Bookstore Model

And not some squishy way like I did before.  I mean, the kids loved that – it made it easy and fun to browse the nonfiction.  However, I was the only person who could put all the books away!  Since we hadn’t changed any spine labels, it was more art than science.

But after going to IASL and hearing about the success at Waukee Middle School and North Liberty Public Library with BISC, I’m going whole-hog.  I’d always been hesitant to do it, because – hello! – I can find any book I want in a public library but always need help at Barnes and Noble.  But the way WMS and NLPL did it, it made so much sense!  I’m starting with fiction, though – I think NF might have to wait until fall.  I’m starting at the high school too, where I think it can have the most affect.  See, here are my fiction shelves:


Which look fine, right?  I’ve done a lot of weeding over the past two years (remember, it used to look like this) and the collection has definitely improved.  But as I reflected on it, I realized that I would never look for a fiction book in my library.  When I go to the public library, I never browse fiction.  Maybe new fiction, but I never, ever, browse the fiction stacks.  I’ll look for favorite authors (but I don’t need to check out Carl Hiaasen’s new book, Bad Monkey, as I have it from Amazon and am loving it!), but that’s about it.  Yet I expected my students to browse fiction?

I mean, look at this shelf:


So that’s Harry Potter (fantasy), then Storm Catchers (horror/thriller), Someday Dancer (historical fiction), next to realistic fiction, next to a mystery, next to humor, next to romance, next to graphic novel . . . you get the idea.  Chaos, pure chaos!!

I mean, it’s not like the high school students are racing to the circulation desk to read these.  But if anything is going to help, I think putting books by genre is it.

So, that means, new spine labels!  So for The Catcher in the Rye, it will say, Fiction/Classics/Salinger.  That’ll be a lot of work, but I believe in efficiency – for now, it’s weeding and sorting, then when I know the categories are solid, we’ll do all the spine labels at once.  Then, the fiction books will be placed back on the shelf, first alphabetically by category then alphabetically by author.  For example, Adventure then Classics then Fantasy then Romance then Science Fiction then Sports.  Within Classics, it would be Alcott then Austen then Bronte then Dickens then Fitzgerald, etc.  I expect we’ll have about 15 different categories.  It will be interesting to see where the gaps in the collection are once I get the books organized this way.

Watch for updates, and posts about our other summer projects.  What’s on your to-do list?