Friday, September 24, 2010

Why I Love Being A Teacher!

Yesterday I was showing the 5th graders the new Van Meter Elementary Library and Tech VOICE Google site. On the "Important Information" page I posted a video called Be The Change You Want To See, which I used in two library presentations last week. When the kids saw that it was a YouTube video of our library they all wanted to see it, so I played it for them.

As the video and Hey There Delilah started playing the students began to sway back and forth while singing the popular song quietly. When it got to the chorus, everyone of the students in the lab were singing the song without any hesitation with their sweet little voices. It was just beautiful to hear and to see how happy that song was making everyone of them.

I am so happy I got this moment on video. And the best part...everyday I experience little moments like this with the kids at Van Meter and with my own children. I might hold the title of teacher librarian and mom, but they teach me more than I have ever learned in a classroom, online, or from a book. They teach me to embrace spontaneity, to find fun in little moments, to be noisy, to smile even on the worst day, and most of have a VOICE all of your own!

And this is why I love being a teacher.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Start of Something Great...Connecting Students 1000 Miles Apart...The Student PLN Connect

Today this was posted on our new class blog The Student PLN Connect for #vanmeterbpchs.

Once upon a time, a superintendent, principal, and teacher librarian from a small town in Iowa called Van Meter met a very cool principal from Philadelphia on Twitter. After a little tweeting, the principal from Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School came to Van Meter with his superintendent, technology director, and one teacher. They learned about the 1:1 laptop program, connected with others, watched kids be creative and excited about learning, and most of all...experienced the Walking Taco.

This was the start of something amazing between these two schools.

And the start of something great for me as a teacher, learner, and most of all a person.

My name is Shannon McClintock Miller and I am the district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa that was lucky enough to be the one in this story. And let me tell you how the story continued.

Last year I developed and taught a PLN course to eight students the second semester. I watched these students find their passions and connect with others through social networking and other resources. Throughout that semester, I thought a lot about ways to create a network for our students in which they could express their creativity, thoughts, and ideas. Someplace that would foster a desire to move outside of the walls of our school and into the world to take their learning to a whole new level.

As the semester continued and the students connected to others, I also connected with my new friend Bill Brannick, principal at this terrific school in Philly. We discussed education, kids, and my PLN course. We talked about ways to get his school involved and decided to connect the two schools virtually and online to create an unique experience for all of us. Over the summer, Bill and I Skyped and worked in a Google Doc writing the course description and expectations. When I went to Philly for #ntcamp in July, we were able to talk face to face and this got me even more excited for school to start. I knew that we were onto something very special.

Our school years have now started at both places. Our classrooms have came together through Skype, Twitter (#vanmeterbpchs), Facebook (Van Meter/BPCHS Connect), and now through newly created student blogs (you can find everyones blog on the right hand side of this post). We have invited several creators of web 2.0 tools into our class in the last few weeks. We learned about Diigo from Maggie, had fun creating a Juxio with Will, and started a Van Meter/BPCHS PLN Webmix in Symbalooo with Kimmie. And we were lucky enough to have Tom Whitby, creator of Educator's PLN Ning and #edchat speak with the students about developing and the importance of their PLN. And it is only September 22nd....I can't wait to see what happens in the next eight months!

This summer I traveled to ISTE in Denver, Colorado. When I got home I wrote this blog post on VOICE called, Are Students Part of My PLN Too? . My students are such an special and important part of my PLN and now I have another group of students in Philly that are just as wonderful!

This might be just the start of something special but just wait....this is definitely going to be one group of kids that will show the world what they are capable of not just inside the walls of their schools, but outside too!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Announcing the NEW Van Meter Elementary Library and Tech VOICE Site!

This year I am teaching technology to 3rd through 5th grade at Van Meter School along with their library time. The students come to the library and computer lab for 45 minutes once a week for this collaborative time.

With these changes and a focus on technology in our district, Jen Sigrist, Van Meter Director of Teaching and Learning, and I have been working on my curriculum. The library and technology curriculum includes four different strands: information literacy, technology literacy, digital citizenship, and love of reading.

After a couple weeks of school behind us and lots of time working together in the library and lab, I saw a need for a new site just for the elementary. I have created a new Google site called the Van Meter Elementary Library and Tech VOICE Site. This site will be geared towards elementary students but has a ton of fun things on it for everyone! There are lots of awesome fun brain and game websites; reading and book resources; typing games; Iowa AEA Online resources; and much more.

Since the has been taken by the Van Meter Library VOICE Site, I asked the students at Van Meter what address they thought I should look for at A few suggestions were littlevanmetervoice, vmvoice, and voice. We decided on for the Elementary VOICE site. This will be easy to remember and share with everyone.

The Van Meter Elementary Library and Tech VOICE is a great place to connect, create, collaborate, and be HEARD! So check it out today and please let me know if you have suggestions of other wonderful resources to add to VOICE.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Edison, New Jersey and Van Meter 6th Graders...Let’s Build a Bridge With Shelfari!

Have you ever read a really great book and wanted to share it with everyone you know?

Have you ever wanted to start a book club, but didn’t really know where to start?

Or if you are like me, have you ever wished you could take every cool book that you have read and keep it on a shelf in your room?

Well, I have a Web 2.0 tool that will give you the power to share, connect, and keep a neat little shelf of all the books that you read in one place. It is called Shelfari! Shelfari is an amazing global community of book lovers. It is a free social network where users can create a virtual bookshelf to feature books they have read, see what friends are reading, and most of all discover books they want to read through collaboration with other friends in their network.

There are several unique characteristics that make Shelfari stand out! Shelfari members can add other individuals as “Friends” to their network and create or join “Groups” that interest them. In the photograph above, you can see my Shelfari Friends that make up my network. If you look closely, you will see Mr. Poole is a friend of mine in my Shelfari network. ☺

Books from your shelf can be critic-rated and reviews can be added to share with others in your network. Once you start building a virtual shelf it becomes important and personal with the beautiful covers and extra details like “read it, plans to read, or is reading now.” It is also fun to show off your shelf with a Shelfari widget on a blog or website.

Last Sunday, Mr. Poole and I were talking over Skype about how we could connect our students in Edison, New Jersey and Van Meter, Iowa using Shelfari. We decided to create a Shelfari Group called “Kids Bridge.” This will be an exciting place for all of us to connect, collaborate, and share our favorite books, authors, and most of all our thoughts.

Although we are in two schools over 500 miles apart, Shelfari will give us a place we can all come together to share and learn. Next Monday, we will be connecting our two schools through Skype. Once we meet, Mr. Poole, Mrs. Prouty (our 6th grade reading teacher at Van Meter) and myself will explain how to sign up for Shelfari and start adding to your very own shelves. You will also connect to Mr. Poole’s Shelfari , Mrs. Miller’s Shelfari, and the other students at Herbert Hoover and Van Meter. As you build your network, you will discover others that enjoy the same books and authors as you, get ideas on what to read next, and have fun letting your voice be heard through book discussions and critics.

We look forward to seeing where this bridge will take us and having Shelfari as a place to come together will make it an even more exciting journey!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mrs. Miller...Look at What My Dad and I Created On My Laptop!

This weekend I received an email from one of our 6th graders that I have in technology class. It was entitled "My Dad's Messed Up Animal." She wrote, "Mrs. Miller. Look at what my Dad and I created on my laptop! This is my Dad's messed up animal. We started laughing so hard because it looks really funny and funky." She also attached the animal that her Dad and her created. On Friday I showed the class Switcheroo Zoo where you can create mixed up animals and learn all about them. You can even name the animals and write a short story. It is a website that everyone loves. It is very fun and educational too.

It made me smile to think that she had taken home something she had learned in my class and shared it with her Dad. Later that same night, I got emails from two other 6th graders creating amazing mixed up animals at their homes too. I also received a Facebook message from a parent thanking me for sharing Switcheroo Zoo with their son. It had entertained their family on a Friday night.

I was so happy they were having fun creating animals on Switcheroo Zoo and other sites they found on the Van Meter Library Voice Google site, but the thing that I loved most was that they were connecting with their families through technology, creativity, and collaboration.

The MacBooks that our students have at Van Meter School have brought change not only into the school, but also into the homes of our school community. In our house, I have sat with my daughter Brianna many nights as she creates amazing iMovies using her laptop. I have stood by smiling as Brianna and her brothers laugh so hard as they take crazy pictures for an oral history project using PhotoBooth. I have watched my five year old Hagan use Skype to show his uncle Mike something he drew in preschool last year and describe the picture to him all the way in Texas. All of these experiences have made their learning more personal to not only Brianna, Brady, and Hagan, but also to our family. It has given all of us a way to connect and learn together.

My goal is for every student to collaborate, teach, and create amazing products with their families and friends using the laptops and technology. I will continue to connect my students at Van Meter to resources and experiences that they can share with others in hope that these interactions will be meaningful and special to them too.

And most of all, I hope that our students and families will have stories to share like Kacie's.