SC Midlands Summit

Today I attended the first annual (I hope!) SC Midlands Summit – a two day conference focused on Google Apps for Education (with some other tech topics thrown in the mix, too!)  I was excited to learn of this professional development “in my own backyard” (sort of!) as I am not going to be able to attend UTC this summer, but still wanted to attend some technology professional development.

Today’s keynote was given by Jamie Casap and focused on how to leverage technology in education to build essential skills our students need to function in today’s global society.  A couple “quotes” (’cause I could have mades some of it up!) are:

  • our current mode of education is isolation mode and we need to be collaboration mode (need to teach our kids how to collaborate EFFECTIVELY!)
  • we need to teach our kids how to process info, not recite facts
  • we need to teach our kids how to vet information, crowd source, and analyze!
  • only about 10% of the world’s info is online

Next as someone who has heard of Google Apps for Education, but never investigated it, I attended the “Google Apps for Education Overview” session given by Becky Evans.  I think this would be awesome for our school (and district, but that’s pie in the sky wishful thinking) – especially with the special project my principal has asked me to investigate over the summer.  Google Apps for Ed (and I think Chromebooks) would be a perfect complement to the project.

The third session I attended sure had a lot of media specialists in attendance!  I went to the “Google book Search, Book Lists, & eBooks” given by Carol LaRow.  You’d think I wouldn’t need this (and you’re right), but I was hoping to learn some more tips and tricks (which I did! – so the session wasn’t a washout!)

Next up I changed my mind from the session I originally planned to attend and decided to go to Donna Teuber’s session on “Hanging Out with Google+” instead.  While I have a Google+ account, I don’t really use it!  I was hoping to learn more, and I did!  I really enjoyed not only seeing Google Hangout in action, but also hearing how other schools across the country have implemented Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education.

The last session of the day for me was “Apple Configurator (I’ll Be Back)” given by Janine Sears.  What with having to manage 120 iPod touches at my own school, I was hoping to learn some “shortcuts!”  While we can’t use this right now as it requires iOS X Lion, I understand the district is looking into Lion and may upgrade next year.  Fingers crossed!  I liked how much simpler this seamed than using iTunes and the ability to “supervise” and assign iPods.  We’ve really got to look at our ‘checkout’ policy and use of iPods and make some changes next year.

That wrapped up today – although I am still disappointed I didn’t win the raffel of a Google Chromebook!  Maybe tomorrow!  I enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces and folks from my PLN.

SCYABA Voting

I just turned in my school’s votes for this year’s SC Young Adult Book Award Nominees.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  We have 300 students in our school.  I sent one ballot for every student to our English classes = 300 ballots.  The ballot asks students to circle the titles they have read and write the title they want to win on the line at the bottom.   This allows me to track which of the titles are being circulated as well as recording votes for the program.  I received a total of 32 ballots back, with only 10 containing votes I could record.  Sigh.  While the number of votes I can record is usually low, I typically get at least half of the ballots back with some votes on them.   Since the number I received back are so few, I can’t run any statistical analysis of the titles this year.

Now, I have to figure out what went wrong this year.  Two (of four) teachers emailed me back stating that the kids said they didn’t read any of the titles.  Hmm, but the books stayed off the shelves, so SOMEBODY checked them out.

We did all of the usual promotions:

  • Bulletin board outside the library
  • Display of the books at the circulation desk w/ Follet bookmarks
  • Books were taken to classrooms for the book swap activity
  • When kids asked me for a good book, I always talked up the YABA books before taking them to the shelves to find books

Possible reasons why “nobody” read them:

  • limited copies (only 2 per title)
  • our long circulation period (3 weeks) plus ability to renew means one person monopolized a book the whole time = highly possible
  • apathy = kids just didn’t want to participate (in reading them)
  • apathy = kids just didn’t want to participate (in the voting process)
  • not enough and/or enthusiastic enough promotion of the books

Possible solutions for next year (in addition to our normal promotions):

  • Purchase a class set of at least one title to use for book club and English novel assignments (budget permitting) – Two members of the YABA committee are from Aiken and I’ll get their recommendation on which one(s) to purchase
  • Have (ahem – MAKE) English teachers participate in the banner completion
  • Utilize the school’s website to promote (both front page and media center page)
  • Partner with the public library’s Summer Reading program (“Own the Night”) and have something special (sigh, yeah prizes) if students read a certain number of books from the YABA list AND write a review on our library’s blog 2 Read or Not 2 Read or comment on another person’s review with their own review of the book

What else can I do?  Have any suggestions, please comment!

ALA Annual – Personal/Food Edition

Okay, I would have written posts from ALA, but I still am not used to dealing with my iPad and it’s limitations – getting used to the onscreen keyboard and/or the Zagmate bluetooth keyboard is taking longer than I thought.

I’m really frustrated at not being able to upload my photos to Flickr from the iPad.  FYI, using the SD card photo adapter puts photos into an album on the iPad that are not accessible thru the Flickr app.  Grrrr.  Here are my photos.

Screen shot 2011-06-30 at 12.43.42 PM

This post is going to be a recap of a more personal than professional nature so you have been warned!  See the previous post if you want my notes/reflections on the sessions I attended.

Joe Myers, Kathy Sutusky, and I arrived in New Orleans Friday evening after long delays from Columbia and Atlanta.  We missed all of the Friday events except for the AASL Affiliate Assembly (8-10pm!)  We ate dinner at a diner up from the hotel – I think it was called the Streetcare Cafe.  I got a shrimp po’boy!  Yum.

I spent all day Saturday at the Convention Center.  Attended a morning session then visited the exhibit hall where I picked up a handful of freebie ARCs.  We returned to the hotel to drop off our loot and ate lunch at the hotel restaurant, Bourbon House – expensive, but delicious – I had the shrimp seafood platter.

IMG_1184I had told Kathy and Joe that I would go and do whatever they wanted, but that I HAD to attend the book reading and signing by Nalini Singh – one of my favorite authors – and no, she is NOT an young adult author!  Hey, I’ve got to take a break from YA books now and then.  So after lunch I rushed back to the exhibit hall for the event.  Afterwards I walked some more of the exhibit hall then attended another session before heading back to the hotel.

Since Kathy had been invited to a vendor dinner, Joe and I walked down Bourbon Street looking for a good place to eat – we lasted for about four blocks before I’d had enough of the “sights” and we took side streets over to Jackson Square.  We ended up having dinner on the balcony of the Riverfront Restaurant where the food was good (some kind of meat/rice ball appetizer and the blackened chicken pasta entree), but the highlight was the BEST banana fosters bread pudding I’ve ever eaten –  it was HUGE!  Easily could have served three (or more!)  Good thing we had a good hike back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel Ida Thompson from Richland One had arrived and I visited with her while she had dinner at Bourbon House.  And, okay, I did order the bourbon BBQ shrimp appetizer.  I couldn’t let her eat alone – it would have been rude!  <grin>

The entire Sunday morning was spent at the second part of the AASL Affiliate Assembly (7:30 am – 12pm!)   For lunch Joe and I walked over to the Riverwalk and ate at their food court.  I don’t recommend it.   I attended one more concurrent session.  Since Kathy was attending the Newbery dinner, Joe and I were on our own again.  We had every intention of trying another restaurant, but it was pouring down rain and neither Joe or I was up to walking in the rain so we ate at Bourbon House again.  I’m so predictable, had the shrimp seafood platter again, but I did resist desert!  However, a couple of hours later I did have to head to the McDonalds to get a hot fudge sunday with nuts!  I was SOOO off my diet on this trip.  Don’t tell my doctor!

Monday, Kathy and I slept in a little and had the breakfast buffet at Bourbon House – which was ridiculously priced at $20 each!  If we’d know we would have gone somewhere else.  After breakfast we walked to Jackson Square so I could take some photographs.  It was HOT!!!!  I lasted about 30 minutes before I was ready to head back to the hotel.  We both were soaked, but I guess I can say I walked (and sweated!) off all the rich food I’d eaten over the previous days.

I was on my own for the afternoon so I returned to the exhibit hall to see what I could snag before they closed.  Picked up a few more freebies and bought two books for myself.  I decided to walk to the end of the convention center and eat at Mulate’s.  We’d passed it every day in the shuttle and it advertised authentic cajun food.  I got a shrimp po’boy (big surprise!)  Walked back to the exhibit hall to turn in my raffle slip and headed to the Wrap Up event where Pat DiNizio from The Smithereens was performing.  I didn’t win any of the raffle prizes, but I enjoyed the event anyway.

I headed back to the hotel and met up with Kathy, Joe, Ida, and @dianatc and we ended up at Deanie’s Seafood restaurant.  Instead of hush puppies or bread they serve spicy red potatoes that were delicious.  I wasn’t as pleased with my soft-shelled crab, but it was my own fault for ordering something other than shrimp!  Later that night Kathy and I ordered room service and I got a cheeseburger and we both ordered bead pudding!  The burger was HUGE and the bread pudding w/ praline sauce was delicious.  Again, don’t tell my doctor!  I deliberately didn’t check my blood suger the whole time we were there.

Joe and I had planned to attend the closing keynote, Molly Shannon, but the after eating at IHOP and waiting 20+ minutes for the shuttle we feared that getting the shuttle back in time to checkout would be tricky.  We decided not to chance it and just crashed in the hotel lobby until Kathy returned from the Caldecott breakfast.  Then it was off to the airport for a long wait for our flight.  There were two lines to the security checkpoint – one was LONG and the other had NO ONE so after a few people passed us in the long line, we followed them.  Turns out that line led to the body scanner!  After a weather delay in Charlotte, we finally arrived back in Columbia for me to have the long drive home!

There you have it – the “rest of the story” of my trip to NOLA!  Oh, all photos are my own, so no credit necessary!