Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Ready..

I have spent the last few days at school, ordering supplies, moving furniture and starting to think about lessons and plans for the upcoming year. I love being at school when it is fairly quiet, I get SO much done, but I really can't wait to have the kids back!

In a follow up to last weeks post about too much technology, I had a technological encounter that made me think that all this technology IS worth it, although maybe in smaller doses.

One of my followers on Twitter gave a @ shout out to one of her followers, someone I did not know, but thought I would check her out. So I followed her (buffyjhamilton) and then when I went to her Twitter page, I noticed she had a blog - so I checked it out and - wow - I found another Georgia Media Specialist. The blog is The Unquiet Librarian , and she has a great blog post up now about how she put together back to school packets for her teachers. Of course this inspired me and although I don't have time to get free stuff from vendors like she did, I am working on getting something similar together for my teachers - so thanks Buffy for the ideas!!

So many of the teachers and librarians I am following on Twitter seem to be using Twitter in schools, even if it is just using it as a networking tool or as a notification tool for parents/students. My problem with this is, Twitter and all social networking tools are blocked on our district servers. While I am glad that Facebook is blocked (would be WAY to tempting for me during the day), I do see the benefit of using Twitter and other social networking sites (Flickr is another one that would be great to use in schools). So how do I go about preaching to the technology powers that be in my district to unblock these sites?

I am thinking of offering a Web 2.0 workshop for some of my teachers - basically just to teach them some basics of blogging, podcasting, what social networks are and how to Tweet, I just don't know how I can do this without access to most of these sites at school.

Back to school tomorrow to work on the studio and make sure all is up and running for the first day of school broadcast!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Well, I guess I should count my blessing that I still have a job...

Last week Sonny Perdue, the Governor of Georgia told school districts that they had to furlough teachers 3 days this year due to the State's money woes.  Some districts are getting by without having to do this, unfortunately my district is not one of them.  

So I can *technically* not go into school Aug 3 & 4th (teacher pre-planning) or on October 9th (a scheduled staff development day), because I will not be paid for those days, but as anyone who has ever worked at a school knows, it takes a lot to get everything ready for the year, and since we still have an open house for the students scheduled on Aug. 6th, I will still be going into school on those days to get things ready to go.

I know things are tight all around and I should be counting my lucky stars that I have a job, but I have seen how much money is WASTED in the public schools.  Just the other day I received from the State a cardboard bookshelf and a box of books that was sent to every elementary school in the State, it was to promote nutrition in our schools, or something like that - I can just imagine how much this cost - and it is something that I will not even put in my media center (well, the bookcase, the books I will add) and don't even get me started on useless technology that has been put into the schools or how much the school districts/State would save if they eliminated some of the mandatory testing that is in place.

I am scared not only for the morale of my work environment but also the attitude of my children's teachers this year.  I know I am MAD about losing money and I can't help but think how it will affect the overall school environment this year. I think if Governor Purdue had announced this in May or June teachers and school districts would have had an opportunity to process the information and maybe make some changes before we had to take the furlough days. To do it just a week before teachers come back to school is just bad planning.

I can't help but wonder what other things will be lost this year due to budget cuts and funding woes.... I have a feeling I will not be ordering too many new books this year, I just hope I can keep the author visit I have planned, because it is going to be FABULOUS!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Unplugged summer

Well, that statement is not entirely true - but I was without Internet access for most of my 3 week trek through Massachusetts - but right before I left I got a new toy - a Blackberry pearl phone - through which I was able to keep up with my e-mail, Facebook obsession and Twitter, but found it too hard to type whole blog posts - but I am sure with practice I can update the blog too.

Of course while I am somewhat obsessed with this new toy, I do have to wonder if it is all too much. Do I REALLY need to be connected 24 hours a day/7 days a week, even while at the beach?? One of the strangest things I saw this vacation was at Nauset Beach on Cape Cod, the snack bar area had a picnic table set up that had a sign on it that said Free WiFi - I never saw anyone sitting there with their computer, but gee, if you can't unplug at the beach, where can you? I found that even my kids were feeling technology deprived while we were internet-less - especially my 11 year old daughter (she does not have a phone, so texting was out for her, her 13 yr old brother texted to keep up with his friends). I would love to try and go TOTALLY unplugged one weekend, but truthfully, I am really not sure if I could do it.

This got me thinking about how much technology is too much. I have found that I do tend to spend too much time checking Facebook/Twitter/chatting online at night when I used to use that time to read, but then again using my phone to keep up with e-mail and things while sitting at football practice has been a great thing.
On another note, I am scheduled to give the teachers a short talk during pre-planning (which for me starts Aug 3rd) about what is new in the media center and also give them some technology tips that they may be able to use in their classrooms this year. Not sure yet what I am going to talk about - if you have any great websites/equipment that I might want to take a look at please leave a comment!

Even with my Blackberry obsession I did manage to get some reading in over vacation and I think that we really lucked out and had the best 2 weeks that Massachusetts has seen all summer (it is raining there today - again!). Here are some pictures from our trip.

on the boat going to Martha's Vineyard

Gay Head Cliffs, Martha's Vineyard

Tall ships, Boston Harbor

Jason Varitek up at bat, Fenway Park