Failing forward with flipping

Next week, a colleague and her students will be visiting the library to print Six Word Memoir spiral bracelets. They’ve yet to use the 3D printer, and so, I’d like to share some background about 3D printing before they create something. My idea was to create a “jog through the web” kind of scenario. I found the information I wanted to share, organized tabs in a way that made sense, and using Camtasia Studio, I screencasted my way through the web.

Dare I share with students

What resulted, I’m afraid, is a boring and way too long video about a topic which originally had the potential for being anything but boring! I may be better off using What is 3D Printing and How Does it Work, adding some additional thoughts, in addition to explaining the activity.


My first year as a school librarian, I distinctly remember sharing flipped instruction with a colleague who happens to be a math teacher. And I also remember her reply…”How will I know if my students watch the video?” In addition to access to technology issues, which existed in the district seven years ago, it was not going to happen.

It seems in education that conversations ebb and flow-I haven’t heard about flipped learning in a while and was surprised that the conversation is still a lively one. I’m also glad that the flipped model has moved to something which looks more like a blended learning approach. No matter, the concept fosters student agency and allows for quality instructional time.

My personal experience with flipped instruction is in creating “how to use a tool or resource videos”, which I actually do quite often, (and often on the fly). My plan is to “professionalize” these resources and embed them in my library website. Through video, each student can decide what works best, whether listening to the whole thing before starting, or stopping and starting through out a procedure; either way, they can re-listen whenever they want. In addition, I’ve  used tools such as edpuzzle to annotate content related videos, (created by others!), to emphasize particular thoughts or add thinking questions. Often I’ll use tools such as Versal, to upload annotated videos and add google forms for feedback where appropriate.

Creating engaging video content is far from easy! First thing I learned is the need to create a script, which I obviously failed to do. Not only would it keep me focused and save wasted rerecording time, but hopefully it would also keep me from over annunciating words! Agh!

I’m so glad to know that  Vlog Brother’s videos require a professional studio and professional studio people to create their videos. The good stuff isn’t easy!

Librarians, Curation and OER

Shadowgate. Carnavalet Museum. Aug, 2013. Flickr Creative Commons.

This morning I was assisting a teacher with using Newsela, an educational platform which “levels” news articles to meet the needs of students with differing reading abilities. The teacher seemed overly concerned about the content contained in Newsela articles, and shared that she had heard that a parent had complained about the “one sidedness” of the articles in a particular Newsela text set.  With a quick investigation, I found out that the parent’s complaint was about something else altogether, however, my interest in the need for sharing “balanced” content with students, and my curiosity about the best way to make that happen, was already piqued.

As a school librarian, I am responsible for providing and promoting access to information resources which meet the needs, and stimulate the curiosities, for members of my school community; curation is something I do on a continual basis. I curate physical collections by creating feeds for choosing and purchasing new and noteworthy books; adding extra value through displays, recommendations and promotions; and implementing shelving scenarios which make sense for our patrons. I curate virtual collections on our library’s website by creating pages which share and promote: subscription databases by subject area, information sources by topic area, web tools by purpose, book recommendations sites by age level and teacher resources by need. I curate for my profession, using tools such as Scoopit, Symbaloo Storify and Educlipper.  Because I serve the needs of many, with many needs, I keep up with all that is new a noteworthy, via blog feeds, Twitter, webinars, google groups and more. Because I know that the best resources are not easily found and not always remembered, I tag, bookmark and annotate resources for later use, using diigo and Evernote. This is what librarians do.

That being said, I still often “go to” master curators and curation platforms when trying to make sense of it all.  For example, before sharing a best tool for a particular purpose, I’ll double check Richard Byrne’s blog first, to see that I haven’t missed anything better. When curating resources for a particular topic, I’ll begin with libguides, to see what other librarians have already shared. As Ross Dawson presents, these curators create “high value” information, by filtering, validating, synthesizing, presenting and customizing information; (Jarche, 2012) they help us make sense and create meaning, which in this age of information overload, has become an incredibly difficult task.

Because I am “always interested” it’s especially difficult for me to chose one topic to research and present. However, in light of curation, in addition to wanting to practice curating for balanced content, I would like to further explore the movement towards OER (Open Education Resources). I am interested to see how schools, districts and individual educators are reacting to the DOE’s push for OER content, especially in making their own content free and open. I am always blown away by the contingent of educators who are not open to freely share; in order to fairly research this topic, I may need to do my best to empathize with “where they’re coming from”. In addition, I’m especially interested in the role of librarians for curating resources.

To find content related to this topic, I will begin with DOE sites, news type articles from a variety of venues, the #OER twitter hashtag, Edutopia, Edweek and the like. In addition to articles related to OER, however, are the platforms educators are using to share OER content. Search and evaluation of web resources is something I am continually trying to refine, more for my students than myself. I do not understand why we don’t spend more time in schools on this vital learning skill. For example, the 7th grade LA teachers at the school where I’m currently working allowed me to work with their students for four class periods. These students had zero background knowledge; they did not know how the internet works, never even considered how to create a search query and thought the site at the top of a google hit list was always the best and most credible source. How could we think that they they could learn all that’s necessary about search and evaluation in four class periods, when it takes that long to unlearn what they already think and do!

With regard to curation tools, I will start with Participate Learning because it works well for curating a variety of information platforms and from what I’m seeing, is quickly becoming a popular tool for educators. That being said, the curated content does not have the “shiny” appeal found in other platforms such as Pinterest or Flipboard; there are tradeoffs.  For me, choosing a curation tool depends on the platform of information I’m curating, in addition to audience and collaboration possibilities. For example, Scoopit works well for curating articles and posts, it allows for comments, is extremely easy to use, offers like content functionality and following features;  I personally have created “Scoops” for  Library Spaces, Teacher Librarians and  Maker Culture, Education and Spaces.  Symbaloo works well for younger students and like content, in addition to browser dashboards; I’ve created this Symbaloo for Making Sites.  Storify is my go to resource for curating tweets; I tend to use this tool for curating my own conference tweets and twitter chats. Edshelf works well for curating web tools and applications.  I personally find Flipboard more about finding content than curating it. For example, I remember hearing  Eric Sheninger saying that he finds most of the content he tweets via Flipboard. Interestingly, he wasn’t exactly sure how it worked; Eli Pariser may shed some light for us on that issue. Similarly, I used to use Paperli to aggregate Tweets, but  could not find information on how they choose what to emphasize; I no longer use this tool.

With regards to my interest in providing balanced information, there are databases which already do a good job of this; for example, Gale’s In Context suite.  However, I am still on the lookout for a process for making this happen on my own. My first thought is to begin by identifying stakeholders surrounding a topic or issue, and reading information from each of their viewpoints. This is something that I like students to do for gleaning all sides of an issue, however, it’s not exactly doable for all topics a librarian needs to curate.  If you have any thoughts or ideas to share, about a process for finding balanced resources, the OER movement, information curation and the need for teaching information literacy skills and dispositions…I’m, as always, interested!

Jarche, 2012. “PKM as pre-curation”. Harold Jarche: adapting to perpetual beta.


Teaching Civil Discourse…?

At yesterday’s after school staff “Monday Meeting” we heard about an incident at the town’s QuickCheck market involving a student from our school. The incident itself was somewhat minor, however it quickly became a community wide issue due to the accusatory and heated social media discussion posted mostly by adults, and mostly parents, living in town. I went home that evening and shared Common Sense Media’s Family Resources with our principal, thinking that if the school spoke with families about their student’s interactions on social media, some of it might rub off on themselves. Tonight, while working through my own social media feeds, I happened upon a list-serve post entitled, “Helping Young People Embrace Civility in a Society Gone Nasty!” The post shared a Washington Post article about a group of Iowa High School students who were using Donald Trump’s image and chanting his name at a basketball game, as a means of taunting minority players on the opposing school’s team, as a means for highlighting a new program to help young people foster positive relations in school and Embrace Civility in the Digital Age.

“I am continually blown away by students’ disrespect and lack of care; it gets worse every year”  –anonymous educator

In the district where I’m presently working, class periods are shortened one day each week to allow for an additional period at the end of the day called “Character Ed”.  Two teachers with one group of students, from one grade level, meet for the purpose of strengthening students’ characters. A loose range of activities are provided, covering topics such as: respect, citizenship, trustworthiness, responsibility, caring and philanthropy. Considering the sentiment in the above quote, you would think this program would be well received by staff. However, I soon realized that teachers “despise”, (their word not mine), Character Ed, so much so, that when a teacher calls in sick on a Thursday, there’s a 70% chance that the “sickness” has been Character Ed induced!

“…and I blame the parents” -anonymous educator

Whether teacher ambivalence to ours school’s Character Ed program is do to the subject matter, the lack of a defined curriculum, or the fact that by 10th period, the kids and teachers have both “had it” for the day, there is definitely a lack of accordance, in the education community as a whole, about the need for the implementation of character education type programs in schools. According to Maurice Elias, the Director of Rutgers Social and Emotional Learning Lab, resistance comes from: parents, who believe character education is best taught at home; teachers, who agree with parents, (as observed in the above quote); teachers, who don’t feel qualified to teach these understandings; and districts, who are pressured to forego learning that is not directly related to tested subject areas. (Elias,2013).

That being said, there is evidence for both supporting the need for social and emotional intelligence for academic achievement in school in addition to the effectiveness of programs which foster these understandings. One such program is the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, with results including students choosing nonviolent solutions for disputes, exhibiting less aggressive behavior and achieving higher test scores; according to a Columbia University National Center for Children in Poverty two year study of 5000 students and 300 teachers (NCCP. 2003).

Last semester, in a Digital Media class, graduate students held a lengthy discussion about teaching cyber ethics and digital netiquette practices in school. Most students saw it as necessary; a few thought that it was best taught at home. In my humble opinion, the discussion remains the same with regards to in school learning of conflict resolution, citizenship, responsibility and the like -whether in face-to-face or virtual environments. I also believe that these understandings are best learned “naturally” as integral to the learning process no matter the discipline. However, without a formal time set aside for this learning, how will we ensure that it is happening? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Aber et all, (2003). Changing children’s trajectories of development. National Center for Children in Poverty.

Curtis, Diane. (2003) Fostering emotional intelligence lets learning happen. Edutopia.

 Elias, (2013, Jan). Overcoming resistance to social and emotional character development in your school. Edutopia.