Monday, January 27, 2014

A TL Appeal to "Frozen" Hearts

My family and I saw the movie Frozen in the theatre during the Christmas holidays. We enjoyed the story despite some plot holes (so if you don't want spoilers to the film, stop reading this blog post after the media clips) but what we really loved was the music. My daughter and son listened to the songs on YouTube and taught themselves the words to their favourite ballads, and we just bought the soundtrack CD. One of the scenes was so poignant that it inspired me to re-write some lyrics and dedicate it to one of the wonderful teachers at my school.

Diana Hong (@wonderoom on Twitter) is a fantastic teacher. She is innovative, enthusiastic, and energetic. She incorporates technology seamlessly into her teaching program. She even likes many of the books that I like! I often forget that technically she's been a teacher for less than five years, because she's so good at what she does. It's a treat to work with her - but we don't get the opportunity as much as I would like. I'm not sure what the reasons or roadblocks may be that restrict our collaboration. Diana is not as distant as Elsa from Frozen but I thought I would write this song for Diana anyway. I will sing (or will have sung) this song to Ms. Hong in person, but for those of you who won't be there when I do it, here is my version of "Build a Snowman".

Co-Teach With Me (lyrics by Diana Maliszewski, music by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)

Do you want to co-teach with me?
Let's see students, let's have fun!
I know it's hard to make the time
You earn your dime
Your work is never done!
We chat up in the staff room
But let's do more
Let's increase the things they know
Do you want to co-teach with me?
Collaborate and co-teach with me?
Yes or no?

Do you want to co-teach with me?
The library's a super space!
The possibilities are endless here
I never fear
That time would be a waste
(That's for sure, Di!)
When learning from each other
As we plan and mark
The students can think and grow

Teacher, please, we need each other
Alone, we're fine, as a team, we're great
In other places, their TLs are few
The doors are shut like glue
It's not too late.
We've got to prove it's worth it
Having both of us
Teacher and TL too
Do you want to co-teach with me?

This is my first attempt to use Google Sites to embed an audio-only file on my blog. Thanks go to this online how-to guide for the help. If you don't see it, I've inserted the movie version of the song (which has better singing, to be brutally honest) and my YouTube version cover of the song. (I built my primitive song studio and music video using Audio Memos, Drop Box, Windows Movie Maker, and YouTube.)

P.S. Teacher-librarians are good at media literacy, inquiry, and critical thinking. These are some of the "I wonder" questions that nagged at me as I thought about the movie afterwards...

I wonder: who was running the kingdom after the death of the king and queen? If Elsa was not crowned the new ruler immediately after her parents' untimely passing, then who was managing the affairs of the kingdom? Couldn't they have made the girls feel less lonely?

I wonder: why did Hans decide to go "full-out-evil" at the end? He could have simply gone through with his original plan to marry Anna and obtain the kingdom of Arendelle without any difficulty. Neither Elsa nor Anna seemed particularly interested in running the country and he didn't do such a bad job when Anna asked him to take over temporarily.

I wonder: how does economics and the judicial process work in the country? Visitors attempt to murder the reigning monarch (isn't that treason?) and they are sent back to their homeland - is that because of diplomatic immunity? Will the refusal to trade with Weseltown have ramifications?

I wonder: what was Elsa planning to eat while in her icy fortress of solitude?

I wonder: why did Anna never give up on her relationship with her sister, when she was shunned by her for so long?

I wonder: why do I think so much about animated movies when I have report cards to write?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Learning About Tumblr vs Flickr via Twitter

Twitter sure has been a source of reflection and writing topics for me lately!

Ironically, after Doug Peterson mentioned my blog post from last week and commented on the onerous task of copying and pasting Twitter conversations, I found on Lisa Nielsen's blog a reference to Conweets. Hopefully this will illustrate my point in a more efficient (and visually appealing) way.

It started with a random question and has led to an informal Professional Learning Network group between three educators that have never met in person with a self-made assignment and cross-blogging dissemination plans. I'll let the conversation speak for itself!

Conversations between @mzmollytl & @mdhs_librarian

Sort conversations by oldest first

Started by mzmollytl on Jan 17, 2014
Sort tweets by latest first

Anyone else mix up Flickr & Tumblr? That's not like mixing up Star Wars & Star Trek, is it, b/c that'd be a big oops!mzmollytl tweeted on Jan 17, 2014 06:02Reply
@MzMollyTL All I know is that my sts all talk about Tumblr and I don't get it. Yet. It is high on my list of things to learn.mdhs_librarian replied on Jan 17, 2014 06:11Reply
@MDHS_Librarian @MzMollyTL I find my visual learners are all over it. Others really don't get it.nobleknits2 replied on Jan 17, 2014 06:49Reply
@nobleknits2 @MzMollyTL Mine tend to use it whenever they are asked for an assignment using blogging; many also use it for entertainment.mdhs_librarian replied on Jan 17, 2014 06:55Reply
@MDHS_Librarian @nobleknits2 So can you clarify the dif b/n Flickr & Tumblr for me? Thought I had both accounts, only have 1, do I need 2?mzmollytl replied on Jan 17, 2014 06:57Reply
@nobleknits2 @MzMollyTL Flckr lets you save your own photos; Tumblr is a visual blog.mdhs_librarian replied on Jan 17, 2014 06:58Reply
@MDHS_Librarian @nobleknits2 In the spirit of "no dumb Qs", can U read Tumblr blogs w/o joining? How can it differ from reg blogging w/ pix?mzmollytl replied on Jan 17, 2014 07:06Reply
@MzMollyTL @nobleknits2 You can read without joining. I don't know the difference b/w Tumblr and blogs with pics, but want to learn.mdhs_librarian replied on Jan 17, 2014 07:08Reply
@MDHS_Librarian @nobleknits2 Can we do a mini-PLN on this? We can cross-blog on our findings. DM me if you want to arrange privatelymzmollytl replied on Jan 17, 2014 08:23Reply
@MzMollyTL @nobleknits2 sounds like a great idea to memdhs_librarian replied on Jan 17, 2014 08:25

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ice Storm Fury and Tweaking Twitter Thoughts

Last Tuesday, the weather in Ontario was especially cold. Some school boards closed for the day. Others, such as mine, stayed open. What I didn't realize until much later was that this decision launched an avalanche of Twitter tirades. Some of the tweets were actually quite inappropriate and/or had harsh things to say about the school boards.

My school board took a rather unique approach to the furious tweets - they responded to each one. I was actually pretty impressed that they used humour and I said as much online.
However, a fellow Twitter user brought a different perspective in reply. @inquiringminds9 has protected his/her tweets, so it doesn't look like I can replicate them through embedding, so permit me to paraphrase. S/he respectfully disagreed, because s/he said that the most important ways to deal with trolls are to ignore, block, and delete posts. He/she also said that boards have outed students and publicly mentioned the schools that angry tweeters have attended, which is a policy he/she is uncomfortable with. S/he also felt that "sassy" responses from a school board were not professional. After reading and considering this point of view, I had to concede that it did have some merit. We do teach our students that ignoring and blocking offensive emails or texts is the proper way to handle cyberbullying. I'm not sure if the rules should differ based on if the target is an individual or an organization. This was my last exchange with @inquiringminds9, although I wish we could have continued our conversation. It challenged my thinking in a good way.

Many people were talking about the Twitter tirade between school boards and irate students. Doug Peterson and Tim King both wrote wonderful blog posts about the issue, and I thought to myself that I wouldn't need to say anything else about the issue on my blog, since they did such a wonderful job articulating the main ideas. However, a Twitter interchange between Andrew Campbell and Cal Armstrong led me back to the topic. Their discussion was civil but spirited, and just as I thought that the situation had been resolved in my head, Brian Woodland interjected with a valuable point. Here's the exchange:

The reason why I eventually decided to write a blog post about this series of events was not to cover the same ground that Doug and Tim (or even Andrew, Cal and Brian) did. My "big idea" is that Twitter can be used for respectful discourse that involves disagreement. I was surprised to see how my opinion could alter based on the few concise words of friends or strangers. I want to focus on the positive aspects of this news story, and for me, it is the possibility of interacting with others in a way to invoke changing minds and hearts. I'm still disturbed by some of the ugly ways some people chose to express themselves, but that's not the way it has to be. Let me end on a truly positive note. Remember last week's blog post about how delightful it is to interact with authors online? I happened to mention to my intermediate students that several of their favourite authors are active on Twitter, and one of the students decided independently to attempt first contact. This was the result: