Today’s Contributor: Mary Stewart Miller
I am a librarian in my eighth year at Ortega Elementary. I taught science in middle and high school, as well as in museums and nature centers.
I am comfortable with gross things. I once received a gift of a sheep’s eyeball dissection with my son for Christmas. But I am not comfortable with technology, especially in education. However, I recognize many places where librarianship and technology dovetail. I wanted a challenge, and that’s what I got when I volunteered this fall to be our Campus Innovation Coach.
I’ve had to do lots of things I don’t like. I’ve had to be frustrated. Who would anticipate running out of room on a tablet, once you’ve finally gotten the 5th graders in place to take the pictures they need? I’ve had to be on a very steep learning curve. Our campus made smorgasbord choices after the last tech bond—a little of this, a little of that. Consequently no one grade level has all of the same classroom devices. Now I’m trying to get up to speed on how to use the Chromebooks, Dell View tablets, and the Ipads, all of which operate a little differently. I’ve had to ask for help, admit that I don’t understand how something works, and keep asking questions. I’ve had to be humble. I do a lot of Googling how to do things and showering everyone I know in the Technology and Library Media Services departments with emails. Being a librarian means you’re practiced in finding the person with the answers.
I feel the focus of my first year (on top of trying to introduce BLEND to our campus) has been to learn how my faculty uses technology with our students. How can I help so that it’s easier for them? Sometimes this means assisting a colleague exasperated with student logins or being an extra adult in the computer lab with kindergarten (and calling in heat tickets).
I do see successes, however modest. learned how to use Twitter (thanks, librarian colleagues.) I got the homepage set on our Chromebooks to the library catalog for easy access to the databases. I worked with the kindergarten team to introduce Myon to the youngest readers and played around with storytelling apps with first grade. But all of this takes time, the most precious resource in education. Time to learn how to use the devices. Time to troubleshoot. No attempt to use technology with students has been without unexpected snags. Why is the picture we took for our story video facing the wrong way? But I’ve learned to pilot test with individuals or small groups to minimize frustrations. Here is an example of a 5th grade project from the fall. I used Screencastify last year, but this year wanted the students to make instructional videos for frequent student tasks. It’s been maddeningly slow to get everyone to make their videos, thanks to the abovementioned roadblocks. But every time I try something new, I push myself, and our students, forward just a little bit.