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My First Presentation at a Professional Conference October 31, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday, on Friday, October 29, I presented at the Illinois School Library Association’s annual conference at Pheasant Run Resort in Saint Charles, IL. Here is the description of the presentation as it appeared in the conference program:

Web 2.0: Have No Fear!
Francis A. Feeley, School Librarian, Inter-American Magnet Elementary School
Successful curriculum projects using online tools will be showcased with student work products. Web 2.0 tools featured include VoiceThread (digital storytelling), Glogster (interactive digital posters), Wallwisher (online bulletin boards), Wikispaces (wikis), and online data collection (Google Forms). Connect these tools to your curriculum. Find out how easy it all is!                                        Room: Turquoise A                    Level: K-12

I submitted that description last spring before I had any real idea of what I would actually present. As the first quarter middle school project progressed I realized that if I covered the various tools utilized in the project and their  integration I would have plenty of material. And it worked out just fine. As a first-timer I didn’t really expect much of a crowd, but the ISLMA volunteer who served as a host at the presentation counted 70 attendees in total. I was stunned when I walked in the room to find it full already. I didn’t expect to be nervous, but I have to admit that I became a bit nervous when I saw a packed room. I am used to demonstrating technology tools in front of my students, but it was another thing to do it in front of colleagues.

The presentation consisted of overviews of the features and functions of Wikispaces.com, Voicethread.com, and Glogster.com. I demonstrated how to create wikis, voicethreads, and glogs and then showed samples of student work from last spring. I demonstrated how I am utilizing wikispaces to host a school library website. And I demonstrated how I am integrating the three featured tools in my current middle school project. I stated at the beginning that I didn’t have complete knowledge of all the functions and features of the demonstrated tools but that I would share how I have used them to support my projects and teaching goals. I received quite a few questions about details of the tools that were beyond my knowledge or experience at this point, but I felt comfortable enough in those moments to simply say that I didn’t know. I managed to  convey most of the major concepts I was hoping to get out there. Here is a link to the presentation handout.

In the afternoon I participated in a presentation about the Project Technology Elite (Empowering Librarians to Integrate Technology in Education) program given my Lisa Perez along with four other Project Elite grads. Lisa gave an excellent overview of the goals, rationale, and execution of Project Technology Elite. I had glanced through her excellent presentation (created using Prezi.com) before the presentation, but listening to her speak during the presentation I gained a better appreciation of the big picture of the program. The part that really struck me was that the selection of technology tools was driven by the following factors: safe, free, no downloads, uses available technologies (such as computer equipment that we already have in our schools), and supports teaching and learning. Those factors really put the E for Empowerment in the program. We were given tools that we could utilize with or without the involvement or support of other professionals. I was frankly amazed that we covered as much as we did in such little time. Lisa described the program as “technology boot camp,” and it really was!

Many thanks to Lisa Perez of the the Chicago Public School Department of Libraries and the Chicago Public Schools Professional Library for encouraging me to submit a proposal to present at the conference. I am suddenly very enthusiastic about presenting to other school librarians. At Lisa’s suggestion I am also drafting a proposal to present at the American Association of School Libraries’ annual conference in October 2011 in Minneapolis. The proposal submission due date is this Monday, so I will have to create the whole thing tomorrow. I started this school year by giving a presentation with my fellow Project Technology Elite grads at the CPS Department of Libraries conference. I gave presentations about online tech tools (including my library website and the new online library catalog) to my students’ parents at a recent family literacy night. I am presenting this Tuesday at a class taught by Toby Rajput at National Louis University (where I will give the same presentation I gave at ISLMA). I have also submitted a proposal to present along with the computer teacher at my school at an event called Tech Talk hosted by the Chicago Public Schools technology department on December 3.

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Fran Feeley’s Blog by Francis A. Feeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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Quarter 1 Ending Soon October 24, 2010

Posted by fafeeley in Uncategorized.
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My 7th and 8th students have two more weeks to complete their current projects. The effort and progress of individual groups has varied widely to date. A couple of weeks ago I became particularly concerned about whether or not most or all students would produce something respectable. At one point it looked like “Benchmark testing” (one of SEVERAL series of tests that interrupt instruction throughout the year at my school) would result in the loss of a whole week of 7th and 8th grade “specials” class meetings. However, I appealed to the principal and vice principal to schedule the testing sessions in such a way to allow those classes to meet, and they did it!

About ten days ago I provided each student a paper “progress report” to take home to their parents. The kids signed on the dotted line to commit to taking it home and returning a tear-off portion signed by their parents in which their parents indicate that they are aware of the project and will support the completion of it. Here is that document: 1 Parent Progress report letter. I also attached print copies of the detailed assignment and the assessment rubic, both of which can be accessed here: http://iamslibrary.wikispaces.com/7%C2%BA++8%C2%BA+grados-7th+8th+grades .

I conducted individual interviews with the small groups from the computer/library classes over several days. We reviewed the content requirements for the research wikis and the voicethreads. We applied the portions of the rubric related to the wikis to their research wikis as of the dates of those interviews. We established the effort level and the progress level (minimal, adquate, or outstanding) for each student’s progress report. We identified elements of the project that were incomplete and assigned primary responsibility for those elements to specific students.

The result of the interviews was good. The students apparently were awakened to the fact that the clock is ticking and that they will graded according to whatever they complete – no more and no less. I immediately heard from the computer teacher (who is supporting the same project in her program) that the groups were working more diligently in the computer lab. More students began working in a more focused and purposeful manner in my classes as well. The process also seemed to help smooth over some of the personality conflicts among students in the assigned groups.

The art students have begun to access information from their classmates’ research wikis. Last week many of the art students visited the library computer lab to consult with my students. Several of those students have acquired the information and inspiration for their final art projects of the quarter, many of which will be photographed and integrated into the final products (voicethreads) of the library/computer class students. For me this is where the rubber meets the road in terms of utilizing technology tools to support collaboration and communication.

I am confident at this point that there is going to be some great student work at the end of this process. I anticipate a mad dash to the finish line for several groups. I want them all to be successful!

I was really impressed with the outcome of the interviews and the issuing of progress reports. In the coming quarter I will send home all the information about the project (assignment, resources, and assessment rubric) on the first day of the project! Although I conducted interviews at the outset of the project with many groups to discuss task definition, I will do so in a more systematic way with all groups in the second quarter. I will issue progress reports again, but by then the parents will already be well informed of the project (as opposed to receiving the information at the mid-point of the quarter).

I am going to nudge a few specific groups to the finish line this week so that I have finished student projects to show at my presentation this Friday, October 29, 2010, at the Annual Conference of the Illinois School Library Media Association. Here is the description of that presentation as it will be listed in the conference program:

Web 2.0: Have No Fear!
Francis A. Feeley, School Librarian, Inter-American Magnet Elementary School
Successful curriculum projects using online tools will be showcased with student work
products. Web 2.0 tools featured include VoiceThread (digital storytelling), Glogster
(interactive digital posters), Wallwisher (online bulletin boards), Wikispaces (wikis), and
online data collection (Google Forms). Connect these tools to your curriculum. Find out
how easy it all is!       Room: Turquoise A        Level: K-12

Creative Commons License
Fran Feeley’s Blog by Francis A. Feeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.