“You’ll become a more interesting person if you’re interested in learning and sharing ideas from fields that are much different from your own.”
– Carmine Gallo Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the Word’s Top Minds
This year NYSCATE (New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education), a affiliate of ISTE, celebrated its golden anniversary in grand style. From November 22 to 24, the red carpet was rolled out at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester. The Oscar-themed 50th celebration featured a “Volunteer Stars” walk of fame and a banquet showcasing grant and award winners with musical selections sung by Central Valley Academy Chamber Choir from the Broadway shows Jersey Boys and Sister Act. Educators and administrators were inspired by keynote speakers Margo Day (Vice President of Microsoft Education), David Pogue (technology columnist), Jaime Casap (Google for Education), and Tom VanderArk (CEO and Founder of Getting Smart).
In addition to the pre-conference workshops and presentations, there were ample opportunities to meet and share professionally through meet-ups and social media. Moderating the social media lounge were author and blogger Tom Whitby, and host of “Coffee With a Geek” Andrew Wheelock. As a “maker librarian” with a makerspace and Genius Hour program in our library, I was excited to attend two events that featured hands-on interactive learning, the Rochester Mini Maker Faire and the NYSCATE xSTREAM Showcase. The 2nd Annual Rochester Mini Maker Faire, open to NYSCATE conference attendees as well as the general public, took place the day before the conference. Local makers and schools showcased their talents in areas from crocheting to computers. Although on a much smaller scale than the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science, the Rochester Mini Maker Faire exhibited the familiar vibe of the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.” Librarians will be glad to know that the NYSCATE committee acknowledges the importance of librarians and information literacy through the additional letter “R,” thus transforming the traditional STEAM into STREAM (science, technology, research, engineering, art, and mathematics). Educators demonstrated technologies employed in their districts such as Dot and Dash robots, the MakeyMakey invention kit, and the Osmo interactive iPad learning tool. A crowd favorite was the “Bling Your Badge” activity where attendants used LED lights, coin batteries, and other craft materials to personalize their conference name tags.
Popular sessions at the NYSCATE conference focused on communication, collaboration, and creation skills and how technology can transform them for 21st century students. With Microsoft in Education and Google Apps for Education web programs students can create documents, share, and collaborate with their peers. Learning management systems such as Edmodo, Schoology, and Google Classroom help to flip learning and to provide virtual extensions to the classroom. Educators can bring the world into their classroom through Skype and Google Hangouts. Unlike a few years ago where the focus on conference sessions around the nation was concerned with the Common Core Standards, now more open learning opportunities are explored.
Educators at NYSCATE learned about makerspaces and Genius Hour programs that promote personalized, independent, student-centered learning through discovery and exploration. Educators of all disciplines clamored to learn how to integrate gaming, robotics, iPad apps, and Chrome extensions into their curriculum to promote high order, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Considerations in growth mindset and teaching the whole child have educators thinking about new ways to teach their subject matter through low and high tech ways. With this renewed focus on the process over the project, school library media specialists will find that the educational climate is fertile for the informational literacy skills that we are certified to teach.
The metaphorical pendulum is beginning to swing, and we must be prepared to support our students, teachers, and administrators in the new educational revolution. Library advocacy can be achieved through advertising, by demonstrating to stakeholders the importance of school librarians and library programs to prepare our students to become active participants in our global community. How do we do that? By attending and presenting at conferences in disciplines other than library science, we can learn about the trends and concerns faced by other educators. With this information in mind, we can develop new ways to support our colleagues to promote opportunities for collaboration. Through conference presentations, we can also demonstrate how student learning can be transformed through robust library programs. Examples of library-related workshops at NYSCATE included “Using NYS NOVELny Online Databases With Your Students” by Jim Belair (Coordinator of School Library Services, Monroe 2 Orleans BOCES), “Connecting Technology With World Languages” led by Maria Muhlbauer (Library Media Specialist of Pioneer Middle School) with colleagues from her foreign language department Christine Marshall and Brenda McKenzie), and “Gallery Walks, Incentive Programs, and Technology Tidbits: How You Can Support Curriculum in YOUR Library” by Laura Penn (School Library Media Specialist, Akron Schools). Gina Seymour, school library specialist (Islip High School) and I also presented “Got SLIME: Adventures in Creating a Maker Expo), and I presented individually “Student Videos as a Means of Creative and Persuasive Expression.”
The time is now for school library media specialists to get involved in local, state, and national conferences that offer opportunities for professional development beyond the bookstacks. Now is the time to demonstrate our expertise in integrating print and digital resources in the classroom. Advocacy begins with students, parents, educators, administrators, and other stakeholders realizing the value that robust school library programs add to learning.
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian
Bunhead With Duct Tape
PRAISE FOR "HACKING SCHOOL LIBRARIES"
"Hacking School Libraries is the practical book that I have been waiting for a teacher-librarian to publish! This is the book I will be recommending to school librarians who want constructive and attainable suggestions on how to not only transform their library space, but also their library practices and in turn, their school. The stories and ideas from Stony, Kristina, and other respected colleagues in the school library world spotlight tried-and-true practices that have transformed school library programs across the nation."
"I really like the quick reading style and the focus banners for each hack. This is a very useful guide for new school library professionals or those thirsting for easy, practical, and inexpensive ideas to revitalize their school libraries. My highest praise is that it's written by practitioners FOR practitioners."
The book is clear and understandable and helps put their "hacks" into perspective by introducing a problem and possible solution. I especially like the "What you can do tomorrow" section and even though I am not a new librarian, I plan to incorporate some of these ideas tomorrow!
"WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK IS THAT IT BREAKS EVERYTHING DOWN INTO MANAGEABLE SECTIONS. IN THOSE SECTIONS YOU ARE GIVEN SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY! SUCH AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE ESPECIALLY AS MEDIA SPECIALISTS ARE ALWAYS STRUGGLING TO STAY RELEVANT. THIS BOOK REALLY HELPS!" - CATHY CASTELLI
"THANK YOU! THANK YOU FOR SEEING INTO WHAT WE ARE AND OUR MISSION! WELL WRITTEN AND GREAT IDEAS THAT SUPPORT OUR STUDENTS! I LOVE THIS RESOURCE!" - CAROL EVERHART CRITCHER
"THIS BOOK IS INVITING, WELL-ORGANIZED, AND CONTATINS IDEAS THAT ARE EASY TO IMPLEMENT. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? FROM THE SKETCHNOTE-LIKE ICONS ON THE COVER TO THE CLEAR TABLE OF CONTENTS, THIS INFORMATION IS ON THE RIGHT track for school librarians. no offense to phd candidates, but i'd rather read something that gives me quick usable ideas i can use right now than someone's research dissertation on learning commons model. i have students to help, teachers to collaborate with, and a million other things I am juggling and trying to keep in the air at the same time. - CHARITY S. HARBECK, School Library Media Coordinator/Digital Literacy Coach at Franklinton High School in Franklinton, NC
PRAISE FOR KRISTINA'S WORK
"I am super excited to learn about both high tech and low tech ways to promote literature.
I feel that over the years, I lost myself and my students with the primary focus always being on research. I want to go back to book talks and making library enjoyable (again).
Thank you for your inspiration!"
- Cara Lauber, library media specialist
"Kristina is a librarian's librarian!"
- Ali Schilpp, 2018 SLJ School Librarian of the Year
"Kristina is an engaging guest speaker who offers rich and varied approaches for participants to take part in and contribute. My graduate students leave the classroom feeling motivated, excited and ready to put their learning into practice in their own classrooms."
Dr. Karen Megay-Nespoli, Director of the Literacy and Cognition Graduate Program,
St. Joseph’s College, Patchogue
"i have followed kristina holzweiss on social media for many years. she's always on the cutting edge of the newest tools and activities in education. she was one of the first school librarians i saw who had her students using flipgrid, breakout edu, bloxels, and so many other great resources. i am awestruck by her ingenuity and her passion for helping students and educators thrive. i also appreciate her ideas for empathy and diversity." - tonya fletcher