I can’t believe its the end of another year of Cool Tools for Schools! I really enjoyed exploring and sharing what I learned again this year. Speaking of which…
What Did I Learn?
- How did I put what you learned into action at school? Personally? I was able to use several of the weeks tools in my classes in some way but far and large, the most popular was the month we spent exploring coding back in December. I missed Coding Week last year but this year I knew it was coming and made sure I was prepared for it, reading the Coding lesson and brainstorming ahead of time. The kids really enjoyed it and I loved seeing them focused and excited about their lessons. It gave me ideas for replacing that enthusiasm and focus in more of our lessons throughout the year! Definitely a must do again for next year. I also really enjoyed the challenge of putting together a resource guide for my teachers. I had been wanting to do it and Cool Tools was the kick in the pants I needed to turn it into a reality. I’m still struggling with keeping everything up to date and sending my teachers the reminder newsletter on a regular schedule but I put so much time and effort into the final product I also know I won’t be able to give up on it so it will absolutely be resurfacing next year. On a personal level, the best week of Cool Tools for me was Connecting with your Stakeholders. I learned so much about myself, my program, and my shortcomings with both but I also had an opportunity to brainstorm ways to improve. I’m really looking forward to continuing trying to brand our library program and improve what information I share with my stakeholders and how I share it with them.
- Did you expand your Personal Learning Network? Make new professional connections? During the week on Maker Spaces I was able to expand my PLN in a meaningful way. While reading the roundup of great Maker Space posts I noticed that one of them was from Pioneer Middle School. Pioneer CSD was my high alma mater and I was intrigued by the idea that the middle school and a Maker Club now. I hoped over their blog and was wowed with the cool ideas the current librarian has so, I reached out to her over Twitter and asked to pick her brain on setting up a Maker Club. Not only did she send my tons of resources and suggestions for creating a Maker Club, I now had a new Twitter connection and, a new school library blog to read that is full of great project ideas and inspiration on creating a fun library program. Check her out at Pioneer Middle School Library Happenings.
- What challenges did you face during the workshop? The biggest challenge I faced this year was the same one I faced last year and will probably face every year I choose to do this: TIME! Finding the time to read the Cool Tool posts isn’t usually a problem but, with all the great links and ideas I often find myself sucked down a rabbit hole of resources and ideas. Then, I have to find time to explore more fully the ideas that most appeal to me and then, plan on using or implementing some of those tools/ideas and finally, write a post that shares my experiences with that week’s tool. There are definitely weeks where I’ve spent much more than the estimated 2 hours on that week’s “Thing” and I’m not sure how to streamline my process and still get as much as possible out of each Cool Tool…
- Were there projects that didn’t work out well for you? Last year there were absolutely weeks where none of the topics appealed to me and it was a struggle to find something to explore and write about however, this year, I didn’t really have that problem. If a tool I started working on just wasn’t working out for me I just dropped it and picked one of the other tools available. And with three sections this year, it was easier than ever to find a tool that was fun and interesting to explore.
- Did you start some projects that you’ll be following up on this summer and next school year? Absolutely! I will be doing a Coding Month again next December, I will be keeping up on the library Pinterest page I created as a resource guide for teachers, I’m super excited about furthering developing my library’s brand and I can’t wait to implement some of the student response tools we learned about this year.
- Are you planning to share what you’ve learned with others? I will definitely by sharing with other librarians in our department and county about the branding/slogan idea I explored during the Stakeholders week and I can’t wait to introduce my teachers to Plickers next year.
- What other professional development projects will you be pursuing? As an extension of the ideas I read about and started kicking around during the Connecting with Stakeholders week, I’m looking to revamp the library website over the summer and I’m also looking to create a new teacher welcome packet (and possibly some kind of sub survival packet as well…).
Did I Like Learning This Way?
- For some of you, this might have been your first experience with this kind of independent, self-driven learning. Did this work for you? I did online classes at some point during all my semesters of college and in fact, took all of my SU grad classes through their online offerings so this wasn’t new or overwhelming for me. I actually enjoy the self direction and knowing where to find the info and when its due with the middle left up to me.
- What did you most value about the program? What didn’t work well? I love reading all the great resources Polly puts together for us and I learn so much more and in a much shorter time than I would if I had to do all the leg work on a topic by myself. So, all of Polly’s hard work and dedication to the topics is hands down the most valuable part of the program for me. As far as what doesn’t work well, time is sometimes difficult to find for the program and I always end up wishing we had more time but I’m not sure how that would be possible without losing some of the weeks of offerings and I definitely don’t want to see that happen! Also, I always have the best intentions of reading other participants blogs but I always fall flat on that goal at some point during the year. The blog posts I end up being most likely to read are the ones Polly links to right on the Cool Tools webpage so maybe keep up with the roundups of interesting posts next year on the Cool Tools site?
- Would you do it again? Absolutely!!! Try to stop me from signing up next year!