More Choice…Less Rules


Today in school I spoke with a group of sixth graders about creativity in school…and here’s what they said!

Can you share a class or a project, which gives or gave you the chance to be creative?

These students happen to be knee deep into a science project in which they were given free choice in how to present their learning about plate tectonics. All that I spoke with referred to this project; two of the girls were creating an animation in scratch. They also shared a social studies project, when they were asked to research any ancient civilization they wanted and recreate an artifact to represent their chosen civilization. When I asked if they could think of anything else, they all agreed on art class. One student added that they are allowed to be creative in most of their presentations. When I asked her to be more specific, she said with posters and slides.

Do you think that choice inspires you to be creative?

They all agreed…yes. However, they were definitely more definitive when considering their current science project. Some said that their parents needed to help with their social studies projects and so they weren’t as creative.

Do you think that being creative helps you learn?

They all agreed…yes, with respect to their science projects especially. Some weren’t sure, with regards to other projects they had mentioned.

Do you think that technology helps you be more creative?

They all agreed…. yes, “because you can make videos, posters and games”

Do you like using technology for learning?

Most students said yes, but a couple said that they like hands on projects better.

What would you do to make learning a better experience?

We would have more choice and less rules!

A Plan for Focus

Yes, January 1 is the time of year when we consider doing things “better” than we have in the past. Seeing what I can do better; yes, I do this with over rated ease. Whether due to my critical “Why did you do that?” Italian up bringing or a simple lack of confidence, which I can’t help to think stems from the same pessimistic familial attitude, I live my life always looking to do better.  On that note, I do find reflection extremely helpful, but going forward, I plan to turn the negativity  I overly associate with what I should have accomplished, with an optimism for the possibilities of a focused future.

Let my calendar be my guide. Limited time, truly the one known variable we all share. However, this year I plan to change my “there’s never enough time” attitude to a “this is the time I have and I will use it wisely” attitude by filling in my google spreadsheets calendar with not only scheduled classes but also items from from created short purpose based lists, as suggested by Peter Bregman. My lists are in the form of Desktop stickies with the following titles:

  • Resource Management & Development,
  • Reading Advocacy & Promotion,
  • Info Fluency Instruction,
  • Curricular Development & Support,
  • Library Space: Physical & Virtual
  • Personalized Learning Programs
  • Professional Learning and Sharing
  • Documentation/Data Collection

I plan to try my best to NOT plan on getting other things accomplished when my time is best spent attending to student needs,  in my case during lunch and enrichment periods.  Because I like the idea of having everything work related in one place, I plan to use the same Google spreadsheets calendar for after hours work related items, such as learning opportunities and planning times.  My hope is that using my calendar effectively will not only serve as a focusing tool, but also as a way to document what it is that I do!

Just do it. Do what I “need to do” first & fast, especially if it makes someone else’s life easier. For me these tend to be the paperwork and detail type items that I avoid like the plague! By getting these done from the start, there will be more “quality” time for spend on what I think is important! Just realizing that this bullet and the next are also a time thing..obviously something I struggle with!

Schedule Necessary time for planning in advance.  Winging is not effective and makes others feel uncomfortable. Repeat. Repeat.

Some things are best accomplished at the moment of inspiration, but others aren’t I realize that this one doesn’t quite fit with the whole calendar mentality thing above, however, through past experience, if I don’t get it done when I’m inspired to do it, such as writing a blog post, it never gets done, takes longer or doesn’t get done well. Since I do a lot of thinking while driving, I plan to record my thoughts on my phone, listen to them when I get to work and if they require time, fit them on my calendar, even if it means moving something else to another slot. However, that being said, I plan to not let other people’s inspirations determine how I spend my time and I won’t expect my inspirations to determine how others spend their time! Yes, my job by nature often requires on demand needs which don’t fit into the whole calendar scenario. However, if these needs can equally be met in the future, schedule them. The same goes when my needs require other people’s time, request to schedule it, whenever possible.

Write it down better yet on one of those purpose lists I mentioned above! This school year also marks the year I turned 50 which along with the wisdom and experience that number exemplifies, it also means that I forget stuff-a lot of stuff! Along with writing it down goes “putting it down” where it goes! I ode to not become my mother by spending my time constantly lo0oking for stuff!

Keep it all in perspective. Yes, this is especially difficult when you believe in the power of education and the value of your chosen profession, because it totally rocks!  It’s even more difficult when your PLN is plain old amazing and keeps moving at a leaps and bounds pace! However, I need to truly know that I can only do what I can do and although I won’t give up on what I see as important, I do need to be realistic about my limitations whether personal or professional, by working with them, not against them.

Proceed with confidence and don’t let your emotions lead or get in the way Enough said.

Train your mind to think about the outcome. I will do my best to schedule more time and energy on those things with a larger student learning outcome and less time and energy on those things that don’t.

Schedule social learning: Twitter, Feeds etc.  Another time management item! Plan a set amount of time for each, in your calendar each day. When doing so, keep a tab open for Weebly editing and my latest http://www.wanna’ share Smore, so that I can add to these worthy of sharing with LHMS Community. Plus don’t freak out about all you’ve missed if you don’t get to it!

Plan your driving time effectively. Have audio books and podcasts lined up. Listen to NPR News for part of the ride each day to keep up with current events.

Reflect on what you’ve accomplished each day because there’s power in the positive!

I am somewhat remiss about not writing a New Year’s post about advocacy and the need to concentrate on all things that work to show my value with respect to student learning.  This IS a necessity, especially evidenced by our professions’ shameless dwindling numbers. However, on a more personal level, I do believe that by planning for focus, I will be more effective at what I do and what I do is all about students and learning.




Caine’s Arcade and the power of PLAY
Love this video and the Power of Making things!
This year, one of the Lounsberry Library’s goals, is to create an environment that supports a  participatory culture by inviting creative play and making things! This  makerspace concept is highlighted by Maker Faire’s in the San Fransisco Bay Area, NYC and all over the world.
According to Makerspace, makerspaces are:

“Modeled after hackerspaces, a maker  space is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. It could be embedded inside an existing organization or standalone on its own. It could be a simple room in a building or an outbuilding that’s closer to a shed. The key is that it can adapt to a wide variety of uses and can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ creative goals.”

Its inclusion in libraries was conceptualized by those developing progressive public library programs who’ve implement 3D printers, high end video creation equipment and photo editing software in their programs. School libraries quickly followed their colleagues’ lead and see the need for Makerspaces in their own library spaces. Buffy Hamilton, Teacher-librarian from Creekview HS in Canton, Georgia, believes that Makerspaces support the need for Participatory Learning and the thoughts conveyed in “PLAY”, the acronym for Henry Jenkins New Media Literacies Project.

At Lounsberry, we host a student run K’nex club, with the guidance of teachers Janine Latella and Jim Sagniec, that meets twice a week during 5th period lunch. Their creations are awesome and we’re thinking about incorporating an understanding of the design process as they work. Student run clubs, which support student interests and  informal learning, have become so popular in our library, that our guidance department has stepped in to help coordinate their timing. With the success of our Pumpkin Making activity, we’re thinking about running  regular makerspace “making something out of nothing” activities. Minecraft and Portal  will soon be available in the library and we’re desperately looking for a robotics platform that is both manipulative and programming based but doesn’t involve all those sure to get lost and hard to keep organized tiny parts! Students may create video and stills with cameras and video editing software available in the library and are encouraged to use various production based web platforms.

You may ask, “Why in the age of Standardized Testing would we make efforts to emphasize learning that seems far removed from standardized curriculum?” In actuality, Participatory Culture supports standards emphasized in NETS, P21, AASL’s Standards for the 21st C Learner, and Common Core State Standards including: Collaboration, Creativity and Multimedia Literacies. In addition to the Habits of Mind which support successful life long learning. In all honesty, I truly believe that creativity and creative problem solving is our strength as a nation, (See Dan Pink and  Dr. Yong Zhao), I also believe that students truly do want to learn, however in order to see that as educators, we need to let go of the barriers that stifle their learning. We need to give them more room to learn how to learn , (including failing), and more time to develop their personal interests, understandings, and passions. I only wish it was this easy. I’m afraid our teachers are working their tails off to do all that is asked of them and the number one complaint from all of them is that there’s no room for fun. There’s no time to let students’ passions lead their learning. If it is our goal as educators to foster life long learning and eager to go to college students, then students need to be given the needed “room” to develop the skills and disposition needed to learn to learn and the capacity to enjoy the process; learning at its best is PLAY!

What Does Reading Do for You?

Love this video found on ESPN’s website. At the start of last school year many students at Lounsberry created a Reading Plan. Part of that plan required students to consider “why they like to read” or “why they want to like to read“.  Readers shared their thoughts and although the idea of calming came up many times, no one discussed that that sense of calming could actually help with focus afterward! Who knew? I think I’m sensing a new trend! Although Lebron’s best performance occurs on the court with a basketball in hand, this librarian thinks he looks way cool focused on reading in the locker room!

Duct Tape Creations for a Cause

The Duct Tape Creations’ Club has decided to sell their creations to support an awesome charitable organization called She’s the First. They even decided to sponsor a scholorship  at Kopilaa Valley Children’s School in Surkhet, Nepal. In sponsoring a student,  the club will pay
for a year of tuition, a school uniform, a year of lunches and school supply’s. Duct tape creations will be on displayand  for sale in the display case next to the library entrance.  Pkease support a great effort and by our students and a great cause!

HacKid Conference, Really!

Today in school a student told me about a teen-age neighbor who shared with him a hacking video game site. Although the student seemed impressed with his neighbor’s knowledge and abilities, he didn’t seem to think that “hacking” anything was a very good idea. After school I was going through my RSS Feeds and saw a post entitled “License to Hack: Kids are getting into hacking in a whole new way. And that’s a good thing“. It seems that the term “hacking” which many of us consider as illegal and dangerous behavior, is now something educators may actually encourage??

So what exactly is hacking? According to software advocate Eric S. Raymond—it’s “the practice of modifying the features of a system in order to accomplish a goal outside of the creator’s original purpose.” Because those goals have stereotypically been malicious in intend, Hacking has received a bad rap.

Currently, our curriculum at Lounsberry includes using tech tools and web based platforms for learning. However, we are not learning,  even the basics about building and/or updating these tools ourselves. What do you think? Should we be using tools such as Scratch, which teach the basics of computer programming and design? Should we encourage hacking at Lounsberry?


This video started as a poem written by Todd Alcott. How does it make you feel? Do you think that television can have this kind of hold on people?

For the Girls

Project Girl is pretty awesome! I’d love to know what you guys (girls!) think after watching “Meet the Girl”. Does buying things really make you happy? I’m also wondering if these kinds of messages are meaningful for you. Please share your thoughts, and this site with your friends. Thanks!