This year’s NCCE Conference was inspiring, educational, enriching, and innovative. With my professional learning focus on innovation in libraries, new practices in elementary tech, makerspaces, and digital citizenship, here are my ten takeaways for elementary teacher-librarians.
1. “What does it mean to EMPOWER voice?” Andy Plemmons, elementary t-l from Athens, GA, is dedicated to creating a library program that allows the student’s voices to be heard. From student-led book budgets to student projects shared over social media, he inspired attendees to reflect on the true meaning of EMPOWER.
2. Sharing our work online is vital. Using blogs or school websites, Twitter or Instagram (or all of the above), Plemmons prompted us to share the happenings in our library on a daily basis. Because we have to tell our stories and share our learning. If we don’t, who will? #ProfessionalLearningComminity
3. Who sees and learns from student work? Teachers know that we are teaching children to be global citizens. Plemmons urged us to think beyond teacher-as-the-audience assignments and explore ways to connect students learnings and creations with others across the globe. How? Read on…
4. No Excuses. In today’s tech age, there are No Excuses. With one device – just one – we can connect, share, and ultimately empower our students. The one device could be your smartphone. And if you’re lucky enough to have multiple devices, imagine the possibilities…
5. Global vs Snow Global Keynote Kevin Honeycutt echoed Andy Plemmons in his urging for us to take our stories global. With the question “Who should tell our stories and the stories of our students – the teachers or the politicians?”, he inspired many to start sharing the teaching, learning, challenges, and celebrations that envelop the world of education. Because we live in a GLOBAL world. And we should model this global philosophy with our students instead of raising them in a snow globe-esque world, where no one outside the school knows about or celebrates the learning of the students.
6. Who monitors the Digital Playground? Kevin Honeycutt challenged thousands with this simple question. Kids are monitored and taught rules for interacting with others face-to-face. Recess in particular has adults on duty, watching for signs of bullying, humiliation, name calling, and more. Who is monitoring, teaching rules, and watching for trouble signs in the ever-expanding digital playground, where many of our young students interact on a daily basis.
7. Going to the Dark Side…of Apps. Dark Apps are social in nature, but less publicized for good reason. Keeping secrets, hiding picture and more, these are apps students successfully use to conceal activity from parents and teachers (who are trying to be the Recess Monitor, above). Trying to block the app use is like trying to put water back into a hose – it will never work. Rather, educators and parents must teach and model social media safety and digital citizenship skills.
8. Tinker to Create. With hands-on time in the Makerspace lab, loads of time was spent playing with and learning about newer, kid-friendly technologies. maKey maKey (left) to Ozobots (right) were just right for the elementary t-l and student. Fun, intuitive exploration. Just what the library needs!
9. Seesaw…not just a playground toy. Two of the hottest sessions highlighted the FREE Seesaw learning and sharing module. Designed for iOS, Android, Chromebooks and desktops, this freeresource allows for student-driven digital portfolios. Remember the push toward sharing learning globally and empowering students and building an audience outside of the school? This is the purpose of Seesaw. Perfect for a K-2 classroom, I was beyond impressed. I see Seesaw working best in a 1:1 setting. (Click here to get the whole presentation!)
10. Make time for Makerspace! Addressing one of the top concerns of the Makerspace movement – a lack of time in a packed, fixed schedule – Julie Hembree showcased project-oriented learning that blended the maker movement into a regular library class time. This was the low-tech Maker workshop (no 3-D printers in sight!), which was both appreciated and valued by the audience.