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Social Media- What is it good for?

Maybe it's not about the length of time you've known someone; 
maybe it's about the instant recognition on an unconscious level.
Our souls know each other.
~ S.E. Hall

Warning before we start... 

I think this post is going to be a rambling one. 
It'll probably back track and circle around all over the place.
It might not even make sense to anyone but me. 

But I know that I think best through writing 
so this is just me trying to put my thoughts to paper and to see if all the columns
add up to a cohesive thought for myself. 

I've also taken a bunch of screen shots of tweets that have prompted 
my thinking or given my pause and helped to clarify my own ideas.

So fasten your seat belts, it might be a bumpy ride.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

It's been an interesting summer as an educator who uses social media to connect with others, to grow in my understanding of the world and those around me, and to share my own thoughts.
I will be the first person to say that I tweet A LOT.

I like it.

I like sharing my learning journey with others.
I like learning about how my journey intersects with others on a
similar path or a vastly different path.
I like having my learning journey disrupted, interrupted, sent spiraling on a tangent.

I like "meeting" new people. I like engaging in conversations. I like thinking and hearing about the thinking of others.

This summer there are many people questioning the use of Twitter (and I'm guessing other social media platforms" by #eduknowns or #educelebs.
What is their purpose?
What are they attempting to drive their audience to do?
What might they be selling?

Can an #eduknown be part of your #PLN?
What do they offer to your learning journey?

What if all they post are questions and no replies?
What if there is a lack of true engagement?
Do #educelebs have a responsibility to engage and provoke on topics?

Why do you follow an #eduknown?

A big thanks goes out to Chris Cluff @chrisjcluff for really pushing my thinking on this topic.
We have been having DM convos throughout the summer based on
tweets, articles, Twitter threads and more.

Each time we chat I come away with new thinking and new questions.
Lots of #thoughfuel .

So why might I follow an #eduknown?

This summer has really opened my eyes to which Twitter users might be using the platform to push their own agenda (e.g. selling a book or tickets to an event where they are a keynote speaker).

Do I wish or think they should engage in more pressing matters related to education?

Can I control how they use social media?

Can I control who I follow and how I use social media?

These three posts really hit home for me and made me think.

Am I using my Twitter to "amplify those voices who may have been silenced"
as stated by Jenn Brown @JennMacBrown ?

Or am I creating an echo chamber where I hear more of what I already know and understand?

How many Indigenous Black or People of Colour am I following so I can better understand?
So I can confront my privilege? So I can learn and grow?

If an #educeleb that I follow is not engaging in these communities and conversations do I still want to follow them? Can I still learn from their posts and tweets?

What do I want from my Twitter feed?
What responsibilities do I have when using Twitter (and other social media) to engage in important topics? 

I want to follow people who will challenge my thinking and the thinking of others.

I want to follow people who are learning out loud and are sharing that learning with others.

I want to follow Indigenous, Black and People of Colour so I can learn and grow.

I want to follow people who are reading and watching and sharing the work of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.

I want to come away from every encounter with new questions.

Moving forward, I will be more intentional about curating my Twitter feed on a regular basis.

I will question the #educelebs I follow and whether their voice needs or deserves to be amplified any further.

I will consistently ask whose voice needs to be amplified?

How might I use the reach of my Twitter use to advocate for the voices of others?

And most of all, as with every thing we do as educators we must ask "And how are the children?'.

This thread by John Phillips @ByJohnPhillips presents excellent #thoughtfuel on this topic.

The reading, learning, watching, discussing, learning that I engage in is there
to make me a better person and a better educator.

I want to bring my learning back into the school community in order
to support my students to the best of my ability.

It all really boils down to one thing:

Is it good for kids?

And that's really the most important thing of all. 

What the Librarian Read- Part 3

The One With All the Middle Grade Novels...

Back again to share my reading from the year so far. To be honest... I'm pretty shocked as to how much I was able to read in the past few months as I completed my Teacher-Librarian Specialist, packed up our house to move next week and dealt with all of the end of the school year craziness.

Perhaps, as always, reading was my escape from the realities of every day life.

I did choose to read a number of middle grade novels that were new to the library before putting them out on the shelves so that might have skewed my numbers a bit as middle grade novels are shorter than my usual book choices.

Books 22- 37 of 2019

22. The Moscow Club by Joseph Finder

23. Ghost by Jason Reynolds*

24. A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese*

25. Homes: A Refuge Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah

26. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

27. Gracefully Grayson by Amy Polonsky*

28. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling*

29. Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson*

30. Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green*

31. You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino*

32. The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

33. The Unteachables by Gordon Korman*

34. Ungifted by Gordon Korman*

35. Supergifted by Gordon Korman*

36. The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

37. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card 

Something I have always found interesting in the ebb and flow of reading patterns. Obviously as I was doing my AQ course and reading/ viewing all sorts of different PD texts I wasn't drawn to add in any PD books to my personal reading. This entire list is narratives.

There's also a large portion of middle grade novels because as I said before they are shorter than my usual reading material but also, I think, chosen as a way to escape the grind of relentless PD reading that occurs during an AQ course. I suspect (well, I know since I can see my to be read pile) that this summer's list will contain a lot more PD focused books.

(I have marked all the middle grade novels with an *)

Must Reads....

If you are an educator, parent, have children in your life please get your hands on Gracefully Grayson,  Locomotion, A Drop of Hope, You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P, and The Unteachables.

These are the types of books that make me wish I was still in a classroom so I could share them with my students through the magic of read alouds. I will be creating a display with these as recommended reads in the library once we start back at school. Can't wait to hear what the kids think.

If I had to pick one book to pass on...

I can never pick just one book but I'll try for two.

I'd say that Homes: A Refugee Story is an important read for our time.
We need to see each other more.
We need to try to understand each other more.
We need to share in our humanness more.

For the second book, probably The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton. Her books never disappoint and always keep me on my toes wondering how the narrative will play out.

Biggest Surprises...

So The Moscow Club was passed on to me by my mother-in-law and I picked up The Woman in the White Kimono from a sale table at a bookstore. Both were riveting and very enjoyable. Highly recommend.

Here's the summer and lots of time to read!
Can't wait to get started.

Looking for my other posts:

What the Librarian Read: Part 1

What the Librarian Read: Part 2

Podcast PD?

"Listening is an attitude of the heart,
a genuine desire to be with another 
which both attracts and heals."
~L.J. Isham

So an interesting question or idea has been bouncing around in my brain for a week or so now...

Can podcasts be considered professional development?

I first started thinking about this after listening to the DeCodEd the podcast by Rolland Chiadic and Chris Cluff and they were discussing this idea from the side of being podcasters and creating their podcast.  (Season 2- Episode #35)

Does having a professional conversation with another educator count as professional development?

It's a very interesting idea. 

I am not a podcaster, but I do listen to a lot of podcasts. 

Which then leads to another question...

Does only listening to podcasts help you grow professionally or do you need to be "in" the conversation?

In the past year or so I have really developed a love affair with podcasts. I like to listen to them while I drive to school each morning, while I am walking the dog or doing work around the house. 

I like being involved in a conversation that challenges my own thinking, 
that presents a new idea I haven't thought about, 
that teaches me something, 
that helps me to understand other people, 
or that extends my current thinking.

I especially like listening to podcasts that introduce me to new people, new books, or new viewing.

As I started to thinking more on these questions it of course led to more... questions!

Has listening to podcasts made me a better educator?
A better person? A better listener? 

I'd like to think that the answer is yes, to all points. 

I have found that the podcasts I enjoy have really opened my eyes to things I didn't know before or to humanity and how we interact with each other. I also think that listening to other people share and explain their thoughts has made me a better speaker and better able to articulate my own thoughts when speaking. I've always considered myself a better writer than speaker and if I need to share my thoughts via speaking then I will write a script for myself. But through listening to podcasts I think I have actually become a better speaker.

I'm more comfortable with voicing my opinion of things and not feeling like I have to apologize if it's different than other people's opinions.

I'm more comfortable with pausing if I need to think about a question, to mull through an idea, to ask for clarification.

I'm more comfortable with asking questions and to probe for more information. This has been a great addition to my skill set as an educator. Asking students questions about their thoughts, their work, their process is a necessary skill to hone for all educators and by listening to conversations on podcasts that are centralized around asking questions I feel that I have really been able to develop a deeper skill set in this area. 

I also ask more questions of myself.

What else do I need to consider?
What don't I know?
Whose perspective haven't I considered?
What will I listen to, read or view next that will add on to my learning?

I think this line if thinking and questioning lends itself to considering how we interact and have conversations with our colleagues. 

How might we use the conversations we have with our colleagues to springboard into further professional development?

How might we use our listening skills to develop questions that will further guide our professional learning? 


My Current Podcast List

Revisionist History- Malcolm Gladwell

Armchair Expert- Dax Shepard

I Wish I Knew EDU- Ramona Meharg

Against the Rules- Michael Lewis

Broken Record- Malcolm Gladwell

WorkLife- Adam Grant

This Week in Ontario EduBlogs (Live)- Stephen Hurley and Doug Peterson

DeCodEd- Rolland Chidiac and Chris Cluff

The Year End Report

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on.
~Hal Borland

This is my second year as a teacher-librarian and my first year creating a year end report for the library learning commons. It was an assignment for my Teacher-Librarian Specialist AQ but I won't lie... I really enjoyed making it!

First of all, Canva is absolutely one of the best things out there. It's so fun and easy to create a really professional looking product like an infographic or year end report.

Which I did! LOL

Secondly, I have come to discover that I am a data nerd. I love looking at the numbers that relate to how the library space is being used by the school community and how the data can help to inform our practice moving forward.

The areas of focus. 

I chose to focus my report on 5 main areas:

*Collaboration/ Inquiry
*STREAM/ Maker Culture
*Circulation and Collection Stats
*Visits / Events / Presentations
*Fostering Literacy

and I included a Moving Forward section at the end.

Inspired by...

I originally started by creating an infographic that was modelled after the one shared by Leigh Borden (@msbordenTL) on Twitter. I liked the concise nature of the infographic for sharing snapshot of the data and a summary of the report for those stakeholders who may not have time or inclination to read a multi-page report.

I like the clear and succinct picture that an infographic offers.

But I want it all...

After viewing a few examples of different long-form year end reports for my AQ course I knew that it would be a great way to tell the story of our library learning commons and the transition that we have undertaken in the last two years. A big part of me REALLY wishes that I had done a report at the end of last year, my first year in the TL role, but I didn't really even know about year end reports then.

I did then what I knew how to do. 

Now that I know better, I do better.

~Maya Angelou

What really jumps out at me as I look over the report is the pictures of the learners interacting with the space. 
The multiple ways the space has been used.
The numbers of educators and students willing to take risks. 
Willing to try new things. 
Willing to say "yes, and".

Some of the numbers are staggering to me to look back on.

We are given 190 school days each year and hope that we make the most of it.
Hope that we fill each and every one of them with as much learning, questioning, wondering, making, thinking, reading and fun as we can.

We hope we connect.

When I look at this report I see a community of readers,
of makers, 
of problem-solvers,
of "doers", 
of writers,
of creators,
of tinkerers,

of learners.

And I'm so very lucky to be a part of it. 

And so here it is....

The Year End Report. 

Sharing the LLC Space- An Advocate's Infographic

It is true not all has been accomplished that the earnest advocates would desire, but a start has been made. Frank B. Kellogg
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/advocate

I am currently taking my Teacher-Librarian Specialist AQ and one of our assignments was to create something to promote the use of the LLC to one of our stakeholders- the learners, the educators, the caregivers, etc. I ended up creating an infographic aimed at the students that use the space and the uses available within the space. I think this could also be aimed at caregivers who might be unsure of the direction the LLC is going, at staff who are new to our building, and to advocate for school libraries in general.

It also got me thinking that I wanted to create a second infographic outlining the co-planning, co-teaching, collaboration from an inquiry stance opportunities available to educators who might be interested in teaming up with me (or their teacher-librarian) to help develop students #InquiryMindset.

Advocate. Promote. Share.  

After creating the first infographic, I shared it on Twitter (because that's what I do with pretty much everything these days...) and it got a lot of attention and it really began to make me think. Why do we share our pedagogical journeys on Twitter, or on a blog, or on a podcast, or or or...

Why do I tweet?

I tweet and share my journey in the LLC because not only am I proud of what my school community has accomplished in transitioning to a Learning Commons space and the risks that are being taken by learners every day but to pay it forward. 
I was helped along my journey. 
My questions were answered. 
I was given support.

So as an educator, it's my job to help others on the same path as much as I can.

So if even 1 tweet finds its way to someone who was looking for help, then I have added some good into the world.

I also feel that in our current educational climate any and all advocacy for school-libraries is important.
I want to shout from the rooftops about the importance of a school library. 
I want to share every good news piece, no matter how big or how small, with every person I pass on the street.
I want to reach policy makers and care givers.
I want to reach skeptical educators.
I want to preach to the choir of teacher-librarians so they will also advocate.

Advocate for their space, for their learners, for our future.

And so in that spirit I share here my infographics.
Free to "copy" from, "borrow" from, modify and re-share.

Always re-share.

What the Librarian Read- Part 2

Goodbye Reading. Hello Coursework. 

I started my Library Specialist AQ on Monday, April 15th and I'm super excited about it... but I also realize that it's really going to cut into my reading time.

Oh, I'm sure I'll still be reading lots- but it will be articles, posts, and discussions. Valuable of course, but not books of my choosing.

So what did I read while I was still reading books? Here are books 12 through 21 for 2019.

12. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

13. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

14. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

15. In Conclusion, Don't Worry About it by Lauren Graham

16. I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb

17. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

18. Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia

19. By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz by Max Eisen

20. The House Girl by Tara Conklin

21. In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Reconciliation by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail

Some thoughts on these books... in no particular order.

Two books that I would consider to MUST reads for all educators and parents right now are Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story and This Is How It Always Is. Both books provide an honest and open look at the heartache and pain that individuals who are gender non-conforming or transgender face. This is a piece of our community that has been ignored, left-out and hurt for too long. When I speak to my daughters about their experiences with a classmate who is gender non-conforming and their utter acceptance of this child and the child's choices in clothing, activities, passions and humanity I believe that we are headed for a beautiful future. e

I want that future for us.

But it will take work and that work starts with reading, and learning and reading some more.

I am ashamed to say that Brown Girl Dreaming and Harbor Me are the first two books I've ever read by Jacqueline Woodson.  A good friend of mine is always raving about her writing and how much his daughter loves her books so I knew I had to give them a try and wow, have I been missing out. In the past few years I have really grown to love books that are written in poetry. The words slide through your head and create these beautiful pictures as you are reading. I'm finding too, that many of my students enjoy reading noels written in this form as there were two of them in this year's Silver Birch selections. Harbor Me was just WOW. The topic. The characters. The depth of the storylines and the connection to the world we live in today. If you have a middle grade reader in your life, get them this book and read it together.

I read In This Together over the course of the last few months as part of a book chat among educators in my school. Once a month we have been meeting to discuss three sections at a time as part of our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and learning more about the true history of Canada in relation to Indigenous people. I found some of the sections in this books to be thought provoking, eye opening and provided me with the opportunity to face my own history and role in colonization. Since it's split up into fifteen different sections, written by fifteen different authors it's a great introduction for those just starting on their journey of unlearning to relearn as we move towards reconciliation in this country.

I am currently working my way through a spy thriller to offset the amount of professional reading I'm doing for my AQ and hoping to regain some momentum with my reading again soon, but with everything there always needs to be a balance and I think for the next little bit reading books might not be in the cards for me...

Maker. Space. Inquiry. Place. What might be the connection?

Maker Space. Maker Ed. Open Making. 
Maker Opportunities. Fab Lab. Maker Culture. 

There are many names and motivations behind implementing 
maker learning with your students. 

The maker movement and its benefits for student learning has been an ongoing focus of the Library Learning Commons transformation over the past two years. The staff at my school have been working to implement curriculum focused maker learning to help both students and other educators see the value of hands-on maker learning as a way to work through the process of their learning, to integrate 21st century competencies into their every day work, and ignite a passion for making and creating. 

Maker Culture: A Place to Start

Last year we created a Maker Culture PLN to develop our understanding of the Maker Movement, to attempt maker opportunities to explore with our students and to share our learning with the staff in our school community. Our learning over the course of the year culminated with an opportunity to "hack the staff meeting". We shared our learning with the staff by creating a carousel of maker stations for the staff to tinker, play, and explore with their grade level teams. 

The stations were well received and many educators began to seek out time to co-plan and co-teach maker infused lesson in the Library Learning Commons. 

Make. Literacy. 

Another attempt to integrate maker learning was through our Forest of Reading program, specifically Blue Spruce and Silver Birch. In the 2017- 2018 school year, both programs were run primarily as classroom based activities. Teachers were invited to share an inquiry bag with their students to spark interest in the books prior to reading. Each bag contained an item or theme word related to the book that could be used as a Minds On for students. Educators and students would then read the book together and explore a maker task or inquiry prompt together related to their reading. 

A collection of these maker inquiry prompts from the 2017-2018 school year can be found at bit.ly/TinkerInTheForest under Archive/2018. 

We adopted a similar program for the the 2018-2019 school year with one small tweak- the Silver Birch program is running as an open book club for students in Grades 4-5 who are interested in joining. Students have been invited to explore their own making interests as they connect to their reading by creating artifacts to share at our Museum of Learning. This has also provided an opportunity to explore badging and the concept of attaching success criteria and goal setting to our making. 

Open Making. Genius Hour. Passion Projects. 

One of my main goals in exploring maker culture and the maker movement has been to provide students an opportunity explore their own maker passions and maker inspirations OUTSIDE of the curriculum. I am a full believer in hands-on learning and the belief that students (and adults!) learn best through doing and so we should look for opportunities to uncover the curriculum through making. 

But I also believe in making for the sake of making. 
Making for the joy of making. 
Making for the learning about making. 
Making for the beauty of making. 
Just making. 

And so the Genius Cart was born. 

Part open making. Part genius hour. Part passion project. 

And as it turns out...part inquiry. 

Behold... the Genius Cart. 

I wanted to provide an opportunity and a space within the Library Learning commons for students to explore making that interested them outside of their classroom activities. After combing through many posts (and of course, Pinterest!) the idea for the Genius Cart was born. 

As educators we love to approach things from an If - Then stance in order to measure or gauge the success of our endeavors to improve the learning of our students. I developed this If - Then statement as way to promote ongoing reflection of the Genius Cart and the success (and failures) as we worked to develop the students' capacity to work in an open making atmosphere.

I launched the Genius Cart by first presenting the idea to the staff at my school and providing time for the educators to explore the cart and discuss how this make opportunity might help to support the maker learning happening in their classrooms.

You can access the slide deck I used for this initial launch by visiting 

bit.ly/GeniusCart . 

Additional slides have been added since that first launch as we reflected and refined the use of the Genius Cart.

And then we launched!

A few observations about this initial stage of the Genius Cart:

  • most staff were interested in bringing their entire class for an orientation activity involving a design thinking task
  • a few teachers had thought ahead and booked the library space to integrate their ongoing maker activities with the Genius Cart
  • many of the students who were coming during our scheduled open making periods did not come with a project in mind
  • there was a lot of repeat making based on what had already been explored in class (e.g. structures)
  • many, many, many students equate making with using a hot glue gun!
  • students needed a lot of prompting to develop a plan prior to making, most wanted to jump in and "see where it went"
  • at times the making appeared "purposelessness"- students were not engaging with the materials in order to learn a "maker skill" or to create a product, but mainly to tinker with the materials

Now what?

Moving forward we will be exploring the intersection between inquiry, design thinking and the maker movement during our time with the Genius Cart. To begin our exploration I developed a Zip Line challenge after consulting with another teacher-librarian who explored a similar design thinking in her LLC. Students were invited to work their way through the launch cycle by examining photos and videos of zip lines and sharing their ideas on an inquiry chart. A Wonder Wall documented the questions developed by students were recorded as well.

Students created plans and materials lists for their carrier designs and then we built, tested and shared our success. I documented the process, student observations and discussions as we worked through the iterations of their designs and testing on the zipline. You can see the video and photos I shared with our school community by visiting our virtual library learning commons

I'm still working through the qualitative data I collected and hope to share my thoughts and observations around the challenge soon before we head into a second Genius Cart inquiry. Stay tuned...

I used the following resources/educators to help me with my planning:

Inquiry Mindset: Nurturing the Dreams, Wonders, and Curiosities of Our Youngest Learners


Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student


Jenn Brown, Teacher-Librarian


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