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EdTech Update





#GoodNewsCalloftheDay: Guest post by Mary Casserly-Smith

When I saw Mary's first #GoodNewsoftheDay tweet, I was reminded of a practice shared by a librarian on LM_Net some years ago. She made a habit calling a parent and sharing a positive thing that has happened in the library with that parent's child the last thing she did each school day. Ah, a reason to look forward to seeing the school in the caller ID!

Anyway, Mary has taken this a step further using Twitter and I asked her to share on the Blue Skunk as a guest post. In Mary's words:

My first tweet was August 18, 2009. The reason I know this is because it was about Brett Farve signing a contract to be the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings.  My tweet was something about how we would now be able to win that elusive Super Bowl championship.  Well, we now know we didn’t, haven’t, probably never will, but I digress.

I have long since deleted that tweet. What I did keep is my participation in Twitter. I am a Digital Learning Specialist in an elementary school and I have found it to be a very useful tool in my profession.  It is a convenient professional development tool. I have learned a lot of innovative ideas that I could implement in my classroom almost immediately.

Also, I have also found it to be a great way to connect with families by showing what we are doing in my classroom and school.  Last year I noticed my former principal tweeting what she called a, “Good News Call of the Day,” or in Twitter language, #GoodNewsCalloftheDay. She took a picture with a student each day, wrote in 140 characters, or less, what fabulous thing that student did that day, and then made a phone call home to tell the family about it. She said it was the highlight of her day, so I decided to give it a try this school year.

She was right, it is the highlight of my day. The students love getting their picture taken with me, they beam with pride when I tell them why I chose them, and then the icing on the cake is the phone call to the family.* The first minute or so is always tense. As I am telling them who I am the the silence on the other end is deafening. I can only assume that they are waiting to hear some sort of bad report, and when I tell them the reason for my call it is pure joy and happiness. I am thanked over and over for the call.  

No, we still don’t have a Super Bowl championship but I am having so much fun using Twitter it feels like I won something!

* I do check our student information system to be sure I have parental permission to post photos of the child.

Mary Casserly-Smith


Where would you be now if ...

... social media existed when you were in high school? I, for one, may well be sleeping on a Salvation Army cot.

A sobering incident involving a racist social media posting at our high school this weekend had me asking that question again. While I believe this particular student's act is a good example of Hanlon's razor (never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity) in action, it none-the-less, I'm sure, caused distress among many of students and their families. 

Those of us who grew up in the pre-Internet era, certainly had plenty of ways to do injury to ourselves and to others. Beer, gossip, sex, guns, knives, jumping off high places, and reckless driving all existed, my children, even in those medieval times of the 1960s and 1970s in rural Iowa. Our adolescent brains were no more adept at making good judgements that those young cortexes of today.

What we did not have was a means of making our idiocies immediately known to the rest of the world. With any luck, we kept our foolhardy stunts to ourselves and our hurtful comments were not recorded for later review.

Thank heavens. Our footprints were left in mud and snow and air, not digits.

If anything good can come of an incident like the one linked above, it is that it may prove to be a "teachable moment" for our students and our community: this "digital footprint thing" that teachers and librarians and parents harp on isn't just an abstraction, but reality. And once we know that our online activities can have negative consequences that will stay with us forever, perhaps we can then turn our focus on how to build online reputations that are positive and helpful to our careers and community.


BFTP: The library's first contact with parents

This question was recently posted to LM_Net:

Do any of you send a letter home with students at the beginning of the year that explains library rules, routines, info, etc..?  If so, could you please share so I could generate some ideas. Thanks in advance.

Ah, the first thing our parents hear from us are our RULES! 

Why not hit them with our SERVICES in that first communication instead?

Rather than...

Dear Parents,

Please be aware of the library's rules:

  • Your child is allowed to check out two books each week.
  • Books must be checked out and returned on the specified library days.
  • If a book is not returned, no additional books can be checked out.
  • Fines will accrue for late books.
  • Lost books must be paid for by parents before report cards are issued.

Your librarian


Dear Parents,

The library program has some exciting opportunities in store for your child this year:

  • Our curriculum will be promoting the very best of children's literature to your child with activities designed to help student's enjoy the stories even more.
  • We be doing our very best to get (or keep) your children "hooked on reading" by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • At each grade level, students will be learning research and computer skills specifically suited to their developmental needs. 
  • The new iPads in the library will be available for reading e-books this year!
  • We have a lot of special events being planned, including author visits, a book fair, and reading contests.
  • If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let me know. We'd love to have you.

Your librarian

Parents can and should be our greatest advocates, but this will only happen if we communicate the positive. Sure, it's OK to communicate library "rules." But what priority should this communication be given? Think about it.

See also

Original post August 10, 2102