One of the speakers I was excited to hear was Shannon Miller (@shannonmmiller). Shannon is so gracious with her sharing. She has been one of the key people I have learned from as I've moved from the classroom to the library world. I have heard her speak before (Educon) but never on her own and about her own program. So I was thrilled to attend her session about social media and the ways her students are benefiting. Shannon works in a K-12 school so I need to study some of the tools she mentioned to think about which make sense for my elementary students.
I was amazed at the number of projects Shannon has going at first. It seems that she is constantly adding something to her already full schedule. But after hearing her talk, I can see how it works. She networks her own teachers with others she meets and creates lots of projects that seem too good to pass up. I imagine the people on her staff trust that any project idea she has is worth the time and effort. Her understanding and respect for the children and adults in her school and her easy personality helped me make sense of how she does all that she does. (still in awe of it, but I do understand how she is so successful a bit better now!)
Shannon shared several ways that she uses Skype with her students. She has invited authors to talk with her kids, experts on various topics, other classes and more. Skype seems to be a natural part of what kids expect at Van Meter and the idea that they can connect with whoever it is that they need to connect with is a powerful one. Many of the people that Shannon sets up Skype visits with are people she knows from Twitter. She has found that if she approaches people about Skype, most will be very willing to pop in and talk to kids. She has no fancy set up but is really focused on the experience for the students. You can read about some of the Skype sessions (that happened all in one day at Van Meter!) in her blog post
A Day of Connecting at Van Meter. I have been hesitant to get started with Skype because I was not sure where to begin. Now, I see I can just jump in with whatever makes sense and build from there.
Shannon talked about her collaboration with John Schu and their blog Two Libraries One Voice. By getting to know and working with another colleague, many projects have begun. The blog captures the ways that the two schools work together on projects. Read Across America was one of the highlights she shared.
Shannon is very clear about the purpose of her Van Meter Library Voice blog. She wanted to develop a voice for her library and school and the students understand the idea of voice and what the blog creates. Her blog is a great place to keep up with all that they are doing at Van Meter. She also starts blogs for any project or club that is part of her work. She talked a bit about the photography club, Club Click and how much it has grown globally because of the blog.
Shannon mentioned several other tools that I want to check out:
Voki allows you to create animated avatars--almost like animated podcasts. I have played around with this one but want to look at it again.
Shannon taught me the importance of taking advantage of lots of opportunities for our students. She has a great vision for the kids at her school and is gracious about sharing. Her students are definitely learning this global sharing piece from her. Shannon's presentation showed me the power of these global colllaborations as well as how many opportunities there are if we pay attention. Can't wait to dig in.