Final, finally.

checkbox-303113_960_720Finally done – whew!

Fellow Online 5 Course 5 members – let me congratulate you in a job well done! This part of our amazing learning journey is finishing, while a new journey as harbingers of educational technology and information literacy begins. Yay!! ūüôā

I’m stoked to share my final project with you: a journey to start a system of¬†badging in our primary school library.¬†They say you should never work harder than your students,¬†and I can say that¬†badging is a way to totally transfer learning into the hands of capable and willing kiddos. Whether you’re in a library or any other learning setting, badges are an incredible way to foster independence, motivate learners, and get important skills¬†into the hands and hearts of those who need them – i can’t recommend it enough.

Before you go any further though, let me warn you that this project does merely stand on the edge of technology. You see, after starting the process, I quickly learned that in order to even begin working with badging in the younger years (where only a small percentage of our students have a personal digital space) a physical element was first necessary.

But, in the work I’ve done so far, I know I’ve only touched a fraction of the possibilities, and thus comes my honest reflection: this project is amazingly limitless, and¬†with the¬†foundation of physical badges already in place, I’m ready, willing, and eager to see where we can go. Online book reports? There’s going to be a badge for that. Digital citizenship skills? Badge. Mastering research and information literacy as a 21st century digital citizen looking for the truth!?? There will be a¬†plethora of badges for that too! Students coming up with badge ideas, and creating badges to go with? Done and done.

And now, if you’ve got an extra 8:39 to spare, please sit back¬†and¬†relax, and enjoy the COETAIL badging learning journey with me.

So there it is, done and dusted without even really having begun. With my COETAIL community and other inspirational sources¬†to guide me, I’m ready to go on. I can finally stop lurking, and start doing, based on the great work of those who have gone before.

Good luck, COETAILERs! I can’t wait to watch us all change the world, one learner at a time…. ūüôā

Did Kurt Cobain Say It?

truthFor my third post, the ‘write about anything that’s relevant, interesting, and inspiring, but not-necessarily-related-to-the-Course-5-final’ post, I’m choosing to write about the truth.

But boy, is that hard to find these days.

Let’s just start off with the elephant in the room: I’m an American¬†who proudly¬†cast my vote two months ago for Hillary Clinton. Formerly a staunch Bernie supporter, I recognized Hillary as imperfect, yet electable. And according to everything I read leading up to the days of, I was confident she would win. So, imagine how I, and 59,916,415 of my fellow Americans, were startled to wake up¬†on the 9th of November to find Donald Trump our newly-chosen president-elect.

I know I am not alone in saying that I was a bit blindsided by it all, and I am learning¬†a clear lesson which resonates its importance in my work with young kids; the bubbles in which we find ourselves finding information can often keep us from knowing all sides. This hasn’t changed much since we were kids – instead of Facebook and Twitter feeds we learned our¬†opinions and views from dinner table conversations with family and friends, and our values quite often reflected theirs. As I grow older and begin having more mature ‘dinner table conversations’ with friends via Facebook,¬†I have also become very wary about posting opinionated pieces, because I am slowly learning that fact-checking and believability do not go hand in hand. Take the following article, Dear Democrats – Please Read This If You Don’t Understand Why Trump Won,¬†while although crass in some parts, succinctly explains how living in our echo chambers can severely affect our perception. And to go even further, if you haven’t checked out the Wall Street Journal’s¬†Blue Feed, Red Feed, it’s a must.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-9-01-34-pmAs the days pass, things for America aren’t looking good – at least on my newsfeed. But I’m also becoming sharply aware¬†of¬†how quickly an idea/story/photo can be grossly misinterpreted, and how Facebook algorithms can skew the information I see to form my opinions one way or the other (again, you¬†really, really should check out the WSJ article¬†also mentioned¬†above). Take the headline¬†to the right, which went viral in a matter of minutes. It sent chills down my spine (and the spines of many of my friends, from the looks of the comments).¬†Turns out, it wasn’t true. However, that was¬†debunked in this¬†article on, which I’ve actually learned could be a biased liberal blog as¬†stated by The Daily Caller, which is¬†an organization which¬†the Colombia Journal Review¬†has called ‘The Great Right Hype‘. **

In the end, I don’t know who to believe.

And thus, I think about our learners coming into class on Wednesday morning with their dinner table opinions about the American election (and yes, some of them, even second graders, feel very strongly about the outcome of this race). I wonder how we will ever be able to tell them who to trust, and to whom to look for the truth. Which sites can we send them to for being informed and finding the facts? How many sources do we have to find before really knowing we have the right answer, and which sources of information are the most pure? And to extend beyond technology, how do we help them remain polite and dignified when discussing personal opinions which differ from those around them? When I personally checked out the WSJ Blue/Red Wall (I insist! If you haven’t tried¬†it out – do!), and read the completely different set of articles that my right-wing friends would have been reading during the entire election, I can understand why they felt the way they did. Ironically, I couldn’t even tell if the journals and papers from which the articles came were credible ones, not knowing the sources personally. I then wonder, do my red friends think the same about sites I know and trust? Who is right? Who is wrong?

This fantastic video from Common Sense education can be a great start:

Luckily, finding out whether the absurd things we read are true are not can be a¬†pretty quick process, but I don’t wonder if we aren’t just as likely to believe what we hear long enough to enjoy sharing them with others, on our Twitter/Facebook feeds, in our conversations, as photos shared in texts. Maybe we figure, if someone else thinks/posts/believes it, then there must be SOME truth to it?

Maybe, maybe not…. ***


** Luckily in the end, this story has¬†(thankfully) proven¬†to be untrue by¬†more than one source. In trying to link a¬†truly pure and unbiased source to share¬†in this afternote, however, I couldn’t, with each source at some point being disreputed by another…

***At the time of this blog’s publishing, there was no concrete evidence to state whether Cobain actually DID say this, although part of me secretly hopes he actually did…


A Shout Out To My People (Being in touch in the final days of COETAIL…)

(Disclaimer – if you’re even remotely considering ever trying out badging as a project with your learners, you will be hard pressed to find as much inspiration as the links and shoutouts in this post will give. I give mad and total props to all my people, and hope that this post not only anchors all of my many resources for MY future reference, but can be a great starting place for anyone interested in having a go with badges as well….)

I won’t be lying when I say that, as soon as this COETAIL course is done, I’ll probably be much better at communicating than I am now.

To be honest, I love Twitter. It’s third on my list after Facebook (my guiltiest pleasure, and means of keeping up with current events/world news/interesting posts which keep me connected to family and friends) and Pinterest (where the inspiration for my life comes from), but the three, all of them, are vortexes for me. Just honestly black holes in which I get sucked for hours at a time (and don’t even get me started on #4 – YouTube). By the time I get home, put a kiddo to bed, finish the chores, and take a bit of time for myself (see #1 and #2 on the list), Twitter has lost it’s appeal, by the mere fact that I can’t give any more hours or energy. And so, the procrastination cycle goes on and on – I don’t¬†begin Twitter (or diving into the COETAIL blogworld, for that matter) because I know I’ll get so involved that I just can’t stop. As much as I want to connect, connect, connect through Twitter, I feel so overwhelmed by all there is to learn and take in, that sometimes I don’t have the courage to even begin.

I’ve stayed true to that in the last weeks too, and although a HUGE element of this final course is through community engagement, I’ve not spent a lot of time finding that on Twitter for the mere fact stated above. Here and there, yes; I’ve connected with Yolanda¬†(again) who is also badging and hooked me up with Brad Flickinger¬†and the hashtag #edbadges. I reached out to Barb Middleton, and was able to use a fair bit from posts and links on her blog as well. But other than that, I’ve been a lurker, and a mediocre one at that.

The start of a great partnership with Leah.

The start of a great partnership with Leah.

That’s not to say I haven’t reached out and taken ahold of inspiration from elsewhere…¬†Leah Bortolin has been my biggest treasure¬†– we’ve started a thread of emails back and forth to share badging (for me) and curriculum (for her); it’s a win:win because we can both offer something to the other.¬†Leah recently shared her Exhibition badging work¬†from her COETAIL Course 5 final, and I see it as the perfect next step, not only taking the students’ research skills further, preparing for exhibition, but also taking my physical badging to the digital level, so I am immensely thankful to her for, what are sure to be, my next steps.

Suzy Ramsden responded to my recent blog post, sharing her interest in badging (in the eventual) and I look forward to sharing new ideas with her once our Final Projects are finished and we can breathe a little more easily. Through a bit of searching in linked blogs, I came across Emily Kosmeck’s beatiful COETAIL blog, which also shares a final badging project. What I love the most about this were her super simple rubrics to go with each badge – I’ve created a rubric for my badges as well, but the simplicity and colors she’s used will stick with me as I move forward on this journey.

As always, Verena, my COETAIL buddy has inspired me to look at Jeff’s Google Ninja project, which I’m a little embarassed to say I didn’t look at more closely earlier, and with this great tip and resource I can go confidently forward with ideas in the digitalization of this project.¬†My BIS technology coordinator Kim¬†is inspiring badging on her campus through digital citizenship, a project she’s been working on with the Common Sense Media curriculum- it’s physical badging too, but I’m glad to have her on the badging boat with me.

Finding inspiration outside of COETAIL too.

Finding inspiration outside of COETAIL too.

Last,¬†but definitely not least (and completely COETAIL-unrelated) is the library ListServe out of Syracuse University¬†which I’ve recently joined. This resource has proved to be the most fruitful new way of communicating with librarians for me. Again, not COETAIL related, but a new cohort, tribe, and group of librarians from whom I receive a heap of¬†emails each day with fantastic¬†questions and¬†resources. Although I only joined a couple of months ago, I was also able to search the archives to find two librarians who had attempted badging in the library and picked their brains regarding their work. Additionally, I reached out to the community to ask about badging, and of the 12 replies I received, 11 were curious requests for more information about badging, which tells me I might be on to something bigger here.

And thus, when I’m done, I will have just begun….

Let’s Get It Started (and please help?!)

Well, this final project is turning out exactly as i planned.

But also not-quite-exactly as i planned…

4854361154_5278bc5be7_oIn my course 4 final post I spelled out my need and desire to want to do it all. Hasty and ambitious, it was clearly a bit much. And so, unsure of where to even begin when it came to the new school year, I waited and waited for inspiration to strike. Eventually, out of necessity for helpers and independent library users, I went ahead with my most viable final project choice, physical badges. These¬†are earned through mastery of library skills, and have started¬†with students who can independently check-out peers during library time (thus freeing me up to help with all other search requests). My PYP coordinator wholly supports¬†the entire thing, even encouraging me to make badging¬†my appraisal goal for the year (two bird with one stone – score!). According to her, this aligns right up with the PYP ethos of fostering independence and responsibility, as well as developing a growth mindset. And so, my COETAIL and professional project, ‘Learn it, Earn it, Badge it,‘ took off.

checkoutBut, this is also where I’m stuck. Although it really IS taking off, and the kids have total buy-in (the intrinsic motivation to want to be able to be responsible for what is normally left for adults to do is super high), it’s not striking me as very ‘digital’ nor as closely related to the ‘ETAIL’ part of COETAIL. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely techhy designelements; we’ve already created and issued a pair of design badges for two students who mastered presentation skills. The reward for earning this badge allows badge-earners to help create new badges, as well as become poster creators for the weekly digital information screen. And although it’s bit of a stretch for the argument of using technology, students who learn to use and teach the OPALs system to others (badge: search master) as well as those who responsibly use the system to check books out (badge: check-out) are learning some pretty rad skills.

But, is this enough? Is it ‘redefinition’ of a task? Does it really show how I’m applying what I learned in four COETAIL courses to enhance the library? I think yes, but I still have my concerns.

I ran these concerns by Rebekah, who encouraged me to take it to Twitter, to reach out to communities, and to¬†run the idea by my dear readers here. So please, help, advise, and weigh in – what do you think? Does this goal meet the mark? Do you have tips, suggestions, or connections that could help? Can I digitalize this in any way, without completely changing the nature of what’s already working well? Any prior experience with this in which you could lend a tip or two?

Comments posted here, emails (, and snail mail all are welcome!

In fact, I’m already looking forward to hearing from you… ūüôā


Badges ‚Äď flickr photo by KayRay¬†shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Check-Out and Design badges Рcreated for the CC library by Wendy Foreman

Doing It All (for My Course 4 Final)

lego-minifigs-juggler-747937-lEver felt invincible? Like you can do it all? As if the world were your oyster, ripe for the picking? Like you could just juggle everything all at once?

Well that’s¬†kiiiiiinda how I feel when I think ahead to the next course, and thus, planning my ideas in this final. But instead of ‘can’ do it all, it’s more that I would¬†LIKE to do it all. As I peer ahead to Course 5, I know I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. In a new role where my job encompasses more than one¬†set of subskills, I feel like I’m driving enough wheels already.

So for the next course, I’d like to create two unique facets to my final work. First, since I’m having such a hard time deciding, I want to try to merge more than one of¬†these ideas into one large set of awesomeness, all of which will help and inspire me to make the library a truly welcoming and learning place.¬†¬†Second, I want to do what we’re so often encouraged to do in COETAIL, and that’s be inspired by the good work of others. I’ve been collecting ideas of what I could do for this upcoming course, and going about finding exactly who can be my support as I go through this. For this, you’ll see that I’ve added an 8th question to each subset,¬†‘Who will help/inspire you through this learning journey?’¬†And in this way, I might not have to reinvent any wheels (perhaps, just mix them around instead?).

On top of that, having too many options¬†means the odds are in my favor to¬†ace at least one… ūüėČ

Now, for the big reveal (and don’t hold your breath!):

1. Badges for digital citizenship / new command of library skills
2. Gamifying the library through QR codes and interactive learning methods
all through the medium of  Visual litearcy / infographics (and all that CRAP)


  1. 16224910474_93e761cc3a_zDescribe the project: What will your students do? I love the idea of badges. Love. For this, we’ll mix a combo of teaching infographics (see idea 3 below) to create badges for students who reach certain skills. For example, badges for mastering how to shelve books and keep the library organized, as well as badges for digital citizenship, which come with incentives.¬†
  2. How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL? I wrote about this in Week 4, and am still jazzed about the potential of finding the experts in different literacy and digital fields with natural privileges given as a reward.
  3. What goals do you hope to achieve with this project? To help library patrons become more autonomous within their library use, as well as to generate a new set of experts to assist in the day-to-day running of the library, and to produce a more organic learning environment in which eventually, learners can come in and out and do their work more flexibly.
  4. Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project? This is incredibly unique and relevant to my personal learning/teaching environment. Teaching independence is very near and dear to my heart Рit was one of the first things I imposed on my first graders every year, in order to make them more autonomous learners. Additionally, there is a whole world of potential 
  5. What are some of your concerns about this unit? The chicken and the egg, or namely, which comes first Рbadging, or creating badges (again, see idea 3 below). I am glad to have the rest of this year and the summer to jot down my first few ideas for possible badges to get me started, not only for the physical care of our library, but as I delve through curriculum dealing with digital citizenship and skill mastery.
  6. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you? I’m definitely going to have to learn to let go a bit – once my experts are experts, I’m going to have to really give them the independence they’ve earned, all while trying to keep the library in balance – let’s see how that goes!
  7. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
    Skills: accepting responsibility, cooperating, aquisition of knowledge, application
    Attitudes: commitment, confidence, independence
  8. Who/what will help/inspire you through this learning journey? Barb MIddleton, Web Junction, ForAllRubrics

Gamifying the library

  1. GameBasedLearningDescribe the project: What will your students do? Building on the high hopes I have for my digital badge earners, I’d like to create a set of students who can expertly teach about the library as well. Through the creation of QR code scavenger hunts, video tutorials, and possibly even badge development / AR+ (!!).
  2. How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?¬†It’s got a little bit of everything; flipped classroom/gamification, project based¬†learning, data visualization¬†and more!
  3. What goals do you hope to achieve with this project? To make the library a more autonomous and indpendent place where learners can be engaged or find what they are looking for without necessarily needing my help.
  4. Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?¬†I’m super into making this library navigable; I am constantly adding little details to help learners find what they need, and carefully talking them through how we’re organized so that they can optimize thier library experience. By creating unique and fun ways for them to make this more real and personal, we can really take this to a new level.
  5. What are some of your concerns about this unit? Time, and the creation of games. 
  6. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you? Again, I’d say releasing responsibility, although gradually, will be a challenge. I’ll start with some sample videos, but getting learners to really produce quality work will take some effort, patience, and a lot of trust in their process.¬†
  7. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
    Skills: synthesis, speaking, presenting, planning
    Attitudes: confidence, creativity, enthusiasm
  8. Who/what will help/inspire you through this learning journey? Andrea Norman, American Library Association, College and Research Libraries, Jan Holmquist, Iain Crummie

Visual literacy / infographics

  1. your-eyes-hereDescribe the project: What will your students do? Because we are living in such a visual world, I want my learners to understand the same principles. Course 3 was by far my favorite COETAIL set, and I loved the element of learning about visual elements, style, and how to present yourself / ideas effectively. This set of skills will merge into the two above ideas in both the badge work (layout/display) and gamifying (presenting effective games/videos/puzzles that are both engaging and informative), all while helping learners grow their understanding of visual literacy and effective information.
  2. How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?¬†All of course 3. ūüôā
  3. What goals do you hope to achieve with this project? To help learners become aware of the visual rules which make our work/presentations more powerful. 
  4. Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project? This is only a part of the project, a side-element which only adds value and visual fluency to both badging and gamification.
  5. What are some of your concerns about this unit? None Рthis is the easy part!
  6. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you? I’m¬†looking forward to renewing my own understanding of the elements of effective visual literacy, as well as expecting them from our learners; we often just let them work on a project and call it ‘good enough’ because they tried, but with some real rubrics and defined expectations (following CRAP and other visual frameworks), I can imagine we’ll see a real change in the way our students share information.
  7. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
    Skills: viewing, non-verbal communication, spatial awareness, observing, organizing data
    Attitudes: creativity, confidence
  8. Who/what will help/inspire you through this learning journey? Canva/Piktochart, Kathy Schrock, Teachers First

Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas?!?


Lego Juggler – flickr photo by Kosmolaut shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Expert Key
¬†–¬†flickr photo by GotCredit shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Gamify Word Cloud shared respectfully with full credit to
Your Eyes Here shared permissibly from the COETAIL blog of Jason C.

Tech (and kids) Today

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.18.18 PMWe, the people, LOVE to multitask. Studies say it’s bad, but with the wealth of information
overload available to us on every page we read, it’s no wonder we’re left with little choice. Three out of the five articles on the left grabbed my attention while reading the above article alone; the Washington Post is doing well to propagate themselves, with many interesting stories aimed at precisely what I want to read (Cookies, much?). Naturally, this makes¬†the job of staying on task a new task in itself. So, trying to keep kids on track when they’re bombarded by ads directed just at them? No chance!



Perhaps there’s a bigger issue here, to repeat again, and it has to do with flow. When we’re doing things we WANT to do, we often stay focused; it’s only when you’re up to do something you don’t want that you realize how much your house is in need of a good clean, right? As Rebekah noted in this week’s blog, we all want to take this into our teaching and make our lessons¬†exciting enough that kids WANT to learn, distraction free. And so we come around again question of how. Luckily, this course has been full of the new and innovative ways teaching and learning has and will change through the years, and inspiration hasn’t been hard to find.

IMG_4990 (1)As a mom and a teacher, there’s no right or wrong answer, we are simply raising kids in a digital world. It’s unlike nothing we’ve ever done before, just like raising/teaching us was for our parents – they didn’t know what the heck they were doing, and we all turned out fine. And just like them, we’ll do the best by the littles in our care until they turn out fine too. They’ll just do it a lot more electronically than we did (lucky little buggers!). You know, we were ‘kids these days’ once too…

But perhaps the better answer is not to focus on being¬†distraction-free, but teach/learn to manage time more wisely, as well as tuning in to what we really love to do. If we instead encourage learners¬†to use and rely on all of the different strategies and kinds of productivity devices we use each day in order to do what needs to be done. Desktop stickies, alarms, reminders, and the like, can really work for a certain kind of people. Working while listening can really work well for others. Teaching students to prioritize, learning about deadlines and consequences, knowing¬†when¬†to take breaks if¬†necessary. I’m no better at being focused; mid-thirties and can hardly keep my attention in one place myself? Who am I to judge?!

Kids these days? Maybe we just need to come to their levels to see eye to eye instead…

Multitasking shared permissibly according to the Terms of Service on

iPhone baby photo by Wendy Foreman

School Puts a Spin on Distraction to Train Kids on Multitasking shared respectfully through a YouTube standard license

Badges and Buzzwords.

Badges. They’re not just for Girl Scouts anymore!


Initially, from the very first moment of learning about badges I think that it sounds cool. Consider a few pros, cons, and questions (and do feel free to chime in below if you can add more to any of these ideas!):

  • Pros: In our ever-visual world, a badge would help you quickly identify your areas of expertise or knowledge, and I can totally see this working well in any educational setting, with or without tech. I do also see HUGE value in badges releasing responsibility or privileges to recipients; if you work hard, you get rewarded for what you know/can do, and I appreciate that (especially in a setting where I work soely independently to organize an entire library; I could really use some ‘experts’ to count on…).
  • Cons: Extrinsic reward system? If created and set up¬†well, a badge can earn privileges, but if not, if given too easily, could they be looked over as ‘just another thing to collect’?
  • Questions: Are there a standard set of already-created badges out there to award? Can anyone/company just create badges? If there are pre-made badges, who can award them and to whom? How does it differ from a logo?

BadgeBut there is huge potential here. Badges can be used, for example, to show accomplishment for particular genres read, to show¬†new skills and accomplishments, or when you’re just darn good at something and can be counted on to lead/teach expertly (see the badge I sampled making,¬†left). It may seem like a small thing to recognize, but with this kind of autonomy in the library, I could be freed up to do so, so, so much more…


Let it be known that I would love to earn a COETAIL badge, by the way…

Now for the real question from this week’s assignment;¬†‘How will you be teaching in 5, 10, 15 years time?’ It’s an incredibly thought-provoking question, especially coming from a course such as this. But before I answer, allow me to divert…

As a member of our school’s recently implemented ‘compensation committee’, I had the opportunity to sit down with a board member to work out our stances¬†on the positive/negative impact of a handful of teaching qualities/factors.¬†¬†The idea behind this was twofold: a) the board member and I could learn to see a bit more eye-to-eye through enhanced discussion before starting compensation¬†work together, and ¬†b) to¬†evaluate how a particular set of ranked skills could positively or negatively affect teaching, thus compensation. As I answered to a few of the statements¬†with my opinions, I had to carefully explain my ‘teacher stance’ (thus, the point of the exercise, right?), and listen to the ideas he brings about teaching from the viewpoint of a parent/board member.

One of the best examples that stuck¬†out to me was a statement about praise, whether or not¬†it positively or negatively affects teaching. I think of praise and grit and other buzzwords in education and how they fluctuate in popularity and come and go with the times. I shared my understanding that, while praise can be good when it’s specific, research also shows that constant praise and the feeling of accomplishment can be negative. Likewise regarding grit; for all the attention it has gotten, it’s gotten somewhat of a bad rap too, not because teaching kids to be gritty isn’t amazing (it is!), but because people grab the buzzword, try it out, and adopt¬†it, without even really understanding what it actually means. ¬†And in a third example these days, even Twitter is being questioned¬†for its role/relevance in our rapidly-developing digitally-enhanced world.

Now, to the topic at hand – I’m not even the least bit embarrassed to admit that before this week I had never heard of MOOC (funny, because I am taking part in one right now!), was pretty sure badges might be what Girl Scouts earn for good deeds and accomplishments (see above), and knew connectivism¬†because I blogged¬†about it in course 1.

Buzzwords from my course 4 blogging

Buzzwords from my course 4 blogging

At the same time, though, I knew it didn’t matter that I didn’t know,¬†because we are all learning¬†that what we know isn’t always important as what we’re able to learn when it’s meaningful or relevant¬†to us. I have loved every minute of this COETAIL course for that exact reason; I know I’m not here to ace the exams or even become an expert at ALL THINGS TECH, but to be exposed to all the new buzzwords and ideas which are truly changing the face of education. More importantly, though, it enhances my role as the harbinger of these new styles and types of teaching and learning, while keeping my feet on the ground and my vision

Just like the RSA video from Robert (Re-Imagining Work) notes, we’re going to have to completely rethink the way we are teaching in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years from now, and the steps we take along those paths (hello, COETAIL, you beautiful example!!) can help us continue to be the flexible, ever-changing, mindful and inspiring teachers we would all like to be.


Girl Scout badges, Wikepedia, using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
NF Expert badge created via
Course 4 buzzwords created via

Flipping the library? Game on!

IMG_0093If you count the library as a classroom, I’ve got the biggest, best, and best-resourced classroom in the school! Currently,¬†the¬†bane of my existence is helping my budding readers learn how to use the library well. We talk all the time about ‘coding’ the library, that is, to understand how the codes on the spines of the books are like little maps to tell us where to go. This has been and will be my ongoing project as the librarian, and I love how systems of organization is transdisciplinary in the sense that the way we structure and organize is a transferable skill to other areas of our life. Plus, I’m a neat freak and can have it no other way. ūüėČ

As the lone librarian, I am learning about our library systems myself. It’s day-to-day, on-the-job training at every turn, and although it’s exhausting, it’s exhilarating too. I am passionate about teaching our learners to understand the library in the way I do, and so this week’s challenge appealed to me.

Flipped Classroom

But flipping the library? That’s tough. And I mean that because my students aren’t really required to have library skills, and they certainly aren’t assessed on them. On top of that, our library time is limited to 45 minutes each week, and that has to include browsing and checkout, plus a beloved 10 minutes to read a chapter from whichever chapter book we’re currently in.

There are ideas out there, though, and although they don’t follow the traditional ‘flipped’ model, they do really scream to how libraries today can be flipped to make them¬†more aaccessible to¬†learners. Scroll right to minute 00:50 of the following video; de-dewefying the fiction is where I’ll likely start, as I love this idea.

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Also, how great is this video?

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Again, it’s not the traditional sense of ‘flipping,’ but it does lend itself to a more depthful understanding of the library for some, presented in simpler terms for others, and re-watchable for all. What a valuable, student-created, and simple way to share how our library works.


Now, how exactly does one ‘gamefy’ a library?

Although I’m going to have to do a lot more research on programs like SCVNGR, LibraryGame, and¬†LemonTree, I do get the sense that they require purchasing (money we don’t have at the moment) and advanced system overhaul (which I don’t have authority to do). ¬†And to be honest, this is a different kind of gamification than I had expected. These programs tote more of an incentive program (imagine FourSquare in a library setting), are¬†slightly invasive (i.e. tracking your patron history and knowing you in a ‘cookies‘ sort of way), and appear to be really tailored towards higher education and academic libraries.¬†More of what I had in mind would be¬†LIbrary Quest, which is tailored to younger learners, is uniquely adapted to your own library system, but which still comes with a high cost.

screenshot-2014-02-23-11-33-09There are other ideas here though. Notice the Bitstrips in this¬†Gamifying the Library article; our library learners could TOTALLY make these. In college, I might have rolled my eyes, but I think our kids would go gaga over it. Creating these as part of understanding the library would be an awesome activity for our older children. They’re so into comics and graphic novels right now anyway – this could be a great, easy bridge to begin, and includes an understanding of how the library works, as well as a production process, and technology integration.

Or what about the Level Up Book Club site, which tasks teachers with interesting gaming challenges, and provides rewards for the best entry. Not only will I use this website personally, I like the premise. I personally like to be rewarded for what I do, and for students who thrive from recognition, a simple set of tasks in the library could combine authentic learning and problem solving and hand out incentives along the way.

Of course, I’m going to tinker with AR and QR, creating and using both.

The Prezi below shares a handful of relevant and age-appropriate ideas for gaming a library, and although the online sources might not lend themselves directly to how you want library learners to understand their own library, there are some general ideas/games here which are really superb.

So, there’s an awful lot to do, and still, I have a lot to learn. Matthew Winner, co-founder of the Level Up Book Club notes:

‚ÄúRead the literature first. You do not already know ‚Äėhow to do‚Äô gamification. It‚Äôs not easy. It‚Äôs not just playing games. It‚Äôs not simply handing out badges or putting points on a leaderboard. It‚Äôs a thoughtful and time extensive application that pays off big when done right.‚ÄĚ

So, now from you – any librarians out there, or teachers who have seen amazing libraries, and have other examples of how this has worked at your school? I’m quite keen to be in touch if so!

* Biggest, most-resourced classroom in the school, photo courtesy of Wendy Foreman
* Non-fiction and flipped library videos shared respectfully using a Standard YouTube License

* Bitstrip sample shared respectfully from the Infoliterati blog
* Prezi created by Sandra Bebbington and shared freely on


*BAM* This week’s readings hit me! As a PYP teacher with a hefty amount of PYP experience, I immediately¬†recognized the transdisciplinary nature of Project-Based Learning and thought, ‘Well, maybe I know more about this than I thought I did!’

Because isn’t Project-Based Learning actually Transdisciplinary Learning in disguise?

(PYP coordinators of the COETAIL world, rejoice!)


credit: Wendy Foreman

Take this as an example: In my¬†new role, there are moments of absolute insanity where I realize I know nothing about what I need to be doing. Or at least, not nearly enough. But knowing what I don’t know drives me to learn to know what I need, for example, how to catalogue books into¬†our system. As we are the smaller cast-off of a larger school, I was informed¬†that I wouldn’t be given the responsibility of cataloging new and donated books for my campus (a blessing and a curse, I assure you) as it would all need to be done centrally at the big campus. But the inconvenience of that alongside the need to know got the best of me, and so I sought out an expert in my field (and a dear friend and inspiration) who knew exactly what I needed to know. She gave me the tools I needed to begin, but the task itself proved to be daunting (especially because I couldn’t make mistakes which would give me away). Trying it out and finding out what I didn’t know and indpendently looking for the answers has given me an increased understanding of the system in which I was never meant to decode. When the day came in which I was asked to finally begin working with my own books, I was ready, and proud that I could offer my help confidently. ¬†On top of that,¬†stuff like this is what I would consider¬†‘flow‘ – I not only enjoy cheekily taking on a¬†task of¬†which I was not given direct permission, but which is very valuable for the continued increase of books in our library. It’s authentic learning driven by need, is transdisciplinary in nature, worthy of my attention and effort, and required me to be clever to find answers to little problems that weren’t easy to solve. My success was self-driven and¬†required¬†communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

My partner, on the other hand, works as a computer programmer. He is given ‘projects’ all the time. Projects that don’t interest him, which have no real meaning for him, which aren’t authentic, and which he hates. There is no ‘flow’ in what he does, other than the constant flow of mundane questions, bug fixing, new glitches in the system, and new projects.

I can totally see the difference.


Meme by Wendy Foreman, Flickr photo by Abode of Chaos, both shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Real questions and authentic problems create a perfect storm of discussion, curiosity, and intrigue, and require real-world skills and application (hello, 21st century learners!). Whether it’s making a budget for your personal expenditures, planning a holiday away, building IKEA furniture without a tool you need, learning a foreign language, or understanding the metric system when you’ve been using imperial your whole life; all require tackling what you don’t know to reach a goal, lend to mistakes and growth, and bring you to a better, more relevant, and appreciative understanding of how the world works. Even if you don’t know what you don’t know, you learn quickly through the process and determination of figuring out how to get where you need to go.

Now, how do I see the¬†library fitting into successful project/problem-based learning? Easy! I’m lucky enough that our school provides weekly¬†iTime (a.k.a. Genius Hour, which is the younger and slightly-more-open-ended cousin to PBL), and the role I’ve been tasked in for this is as research specialist. During iTime hour each week, groups of 5 kids from every class can come to me when they need more than what’s available in the classroom. Need to know how to draw cartoons? Let’s look up some tutorials. How does one grow beautiful and healthy orchids? It just so happens I ordered a book about that last week! Want to teach a friend how to use Blender? Let me get that downloaded for you.¬†In the beginning,¬†my role is largely to lead, but I am confident the students will learn to approach these challenges more independently over time. Although slightly more open-ended than PBL, iTime is a nearly-perfect example of how transdisciplinary thinking coupled with all the right tools and resources can take student learning to a whole new level. (Check out an additional article about¬†Genius Hour and PBL here.)

I had never really made the connection of the transdisciplinary nature of PBL but see it clearly now, and look forward to the opportunity to change my lens of thinking to lean even more towards the real, attainable, authentic opportunities of transdisciplinary practice in planning meetings, classroom collaborations, and directly in the library itself.

For teachers of older students, this is an inspiring video. What struck me the most is that this appears to be a very normal school, without a lot of fancy classrooms, buildings, equipment; much like a middle- or upper-school many of us would work at. Even without overly-innovative and super-high-tech spaces to work, the outcomes are incredible, and truly authentic.
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Letting kids have unlimited screen time (but only when their chores are done)? It’s an interesting concept experimented with here and here. Although more geared towards parents, my ‘grand scheme of things’ mind thinks this be an eventual idea for an open-styled classroom plan! The beauty of this is that it, too, kids are making choices (let’s even consider ‘chores’ as each parent’s kind of ‘standards/benchmarks’), and these two moms tell of pretty amazing results. I hate to ask before giving it more consideration, but Rebekah – would/could there be potential for a Course 5 final project somewhere in here, even for a librarian??

Librarian, defined.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of a librarian:
1. a person who works in a library (simple); 2. a specialist in the care or management of a library (full)

My personal (and day-to-day) definition of a librarian:
1. teacher librarian; 2. book orderer; 3. wish-list creator; 4. duty-vest wearer; 5. returned-books shelver; 6. check-out/circulation pro; 7. media specialist; 8. default administrator, 9. keeper of the laptops; 10. information technologist; 11. donation acquirer, 12. curriculum mixer;  13. pseudo-Genius Bar employee; 14.beggar; 15. library volunteers organizer; 16. reading strategy expert; 17. password provider; 18. book enthusiast; 19. records manager; 20. label maker; 21. redecorator; 22. classroom contributor;  23. sharer of stories, 24. research guru; 25. iPad go-to; 26. extension 635; 27. mo willems fanatic; 28. humble learner

The City Campus Library, Day 1

The City Campus Library, Day 1

Going into this role, I was asked, ‘How do you plan on managing it all by yourself? Where will you begin?’¬†My honest answer: ‘Well, I guess I’ll start at the beginning, and do my best from there.’ ¬†True to form, I’ve had no other choice but to do just that. As the lone Teacher Librarian and Media Specialist (and I do mean LONE – our new, small school doesn’t¬†have or share the mother school’s staffing/resources), I wear a lot of hats, and on a daily basis, I juggle more balls than I ever imagined I could. Aside from making the library a warm, inviting, welcoming place (all from scratch!), I desire to and succeed in assisting with and in classrooms, working on the digital and technological parts of curriculum and trying desperately to catch kiddos up on important skills which have not always been attended to (research in and out of books, online searching, paraphrasing and summarizing new information, typing without looking at your fingers; the list goes on!). With our amazing and knowledgeable PYP coordinator at my side, I’m slowly re-writing curriculum to more closely mirror the kinds of authentic, techie learners we want our students to be, all while single-handedly organizing, re-organizing, stocking, shelving, ordering, (and sometimes begging/borrowing/stealing) for an entire PS library. Whew!

Because I was a Grade 1 teacher with a generic skill set¬†of technology (through the iPad trial program) in my former life, I consider my self an enthusiast more than an expert, per se. Aside from this course, I’ve never had much formal training in tech pedagogy or content, and as there’s no in-school expert to¬†directly¬†support, I often feel limited in what I know and can offer. Because my main daily role/responsibility is as a teacher librarian solely in charge of maintaining an entire¬†library (!!), and my time at home at night is dedicated to being a mom,¬†it leaves me very little time to work on learning more about different technologies.

I am eager. So eager to help, to learn, and to be able to teach others. I am also, however, wary of toting and tooting the SAMR model as the absolute goal of technology transforming learning, and in saying that, I really appreciated the following article from ICTEvangelist Mark Anderson, SAMR is Not a Ladder. Like Mark, I’m not putting down SAMR as an framework¬†to help us think about the ways in which we are using technology (authentically, as tools to enhance learning), but agree that TPACK (or as he minimizes it, PCK) is a better way to understand the pedagogy of instruction, and how to return our thinking to the basic ‘how and why’ are we using this technology to enhance our everyday work. ¬†Especially for someone who has a whole lot of pedagogical learning to consider before I can start climbing that ‘ladder’ to redefinition, which to me, looks like the¬†seamless and effortless inclusion of technology into our learners’ hands and minds.PCK-from-Paper-1024x768

Technology integration simply works better in some schools than others. A recipe for success includes a variety of technological tools used freely and frequently, well-trained and professionally-developed staff, amazing technology leaders who are knowledgeable and free to share their learning, and a rockstar budget that provides all of the above. As we are a starter school (with giant dreams, and projections to easily fulfill those dreams¬†not-so-distant school years), I think we’ll get there. For now, I am doing the best I can wearing my 29 hats, and learning so much as I go along. Bring on COETAIL Course 4 – I’m ready to learn, so give me all you got!

Mark’s PCK from Paper¬†diagram is respectfully shared with permission through¬†a¬†Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.