What I learned from my “Facebook fast”

A few Sundays ago, I saw this on my Twitter feed:

I responded:

She replied:

Oh!  I thought it’d be a week . . . but it was September 1 so . . .

I can’t say I have a big list of things I accomplished this month because I didn’t get on Facebook.  I didn’t start yoga, I exercised less than ever.  But being off of Facebook had some consequences:

  • I didn’t follow the news as much.  I like to listen to NPR, but my daughter doesn’t, plus I’ve been obsessed with Carolina Chocolate Drops so I listen to them in the car.

Don’t you love them?

I still follow the news of course – I get the Sunday paper, I get a daily email from the Des Moines Register, and catch things on Twitter.  Generally, I’m very well-informed.  But there’s no reason I need to read about the Biebs being carried up the Great Wall of China (?) or a TV show I don’t even watch – but if I was on Facebook, I would.

  • I got a subscription to Lumosity, which I’ve wanted for ages.  My brain profile has increased greatly since I began:


Though I’m stuck on level 8 of Train of Thought:


I woke up at 4 a.m. today and did get on Facebook (I did not wake up to get on Facebook, but since I had to let the dogs out, I took a second to check it).  And you know what?


I think I have better things to do!

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!

Conference Season

Last week I went to a three-day conference, Technology Integration and Instruction for the 21st Century Learner.  I’ve been to a few other conferences, the Iowa Association of School Librarians, the 1:1 Iowa 1:1 Conference, and before that, the Wallace Symposium for Gifted Education before that.  This week, the Twitterverse is agog over the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.  It’d be fun to take my daughter who is an ed tech minor to one of those yearly meetings, but since next year it’s in San Diego, 2013 in San Antonio, and 2014 in Atlanta, it will be awhile (too far, too expensive, too much traffic).  Why don’t they do these meetings in say, Omaha?  I can handle driving there.  Maybe we’ll go in 2014 then my brother in Atlanta can drive me around. HA!

Anyway, this close-to-home conference was really good.  I’m glad to see a wide variety of sessions, for the beginner to the seasoned ed tech professional.  I thought the keynote speaker, David Warlick, was fantastic, although his fascination with Second Life has me wonder.   🙂  The idea of a “flat classroom” is really where we are headed, isn’t it?  Oh and after the conference, a rockstar teacher tweeted me and would like to collaborate!  How cool is that?

Here’s a few notes I took down, things I want to stay with me:

*Some countries have much greater internet access than we have.  It’s sort of every man for himself here (my phrase, not his), and Warlick said that we have disaster looming in our country because of this.

*Warlick – “Perhaps the best thing we can teach our children today is how to teach themselves.”  Exactly!  This is what I see as the foundation of information literacy and what I want to accomplish as a teacher librarian.

*The best way to get students to respect other people’s intellectual property is to make them intellectual property owners – have them create and post online and copy using Creative Commons their own work.  Even put these in the library for future students to see.  (Reminds me of when my 6th grade teacher kept my report on the Brahman of India that I took poetic license on and wrote in the first person.  She said she wanted to use it for future classes and boy did that make me proud!)

*Start your lesson with something that you learned yesterday

*Anatomy of the long tail – apparently I should know about this!  Find out more.

*Lulu is great for self-publishing

*Information skills is about exposing what is true (reading), employing the information (math), expressing ideas compellingly (writing), and doing all this in an ethical framework

*Peggy Coyne (another keynote) – Universal Design for Learning addresses the variability of students in today’s classrooms

*Coyne – provide multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement – great for our PLN class

*Blogging is motivating to student writing because it becomes a responsive experience, not because it’s technology


Well, I know that blogging is motivating to me as a good way of keeping track of what I’ve learned at conferences.  HA!

Anyway, T-minus-4 (days) until I start my job as a teacher-librarian.  Yay!!!