Posts Tagged ‘Educator Profiles’

Educators That Rock!: Sarah Houghton-Jan

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Photo by Marc L. Gonzales, SFStation.

Last year, findingEducation spoke with Sarah Houghton-Jan, also known as the Librarian in Black, about her roles as a blogger, lecturer and the digital futures manager for the San José Public Library.

Houghton-Jan told findingEducation that when she’s teaching a customer or student something new, she tries to pretend she’s speaking to her mother because “the unknown is really creepy. And that causes me to show a certain level of respect and patience,” she said. “[M]aybe that will work for other people [but] only if you like your mother,” she added with a laugh.

Houghton-Jan was chosen as a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2009. She is also a consultant for the Infopeople Project and a member of the Library & Information Technology Association’s Top Technology Trends Committee.

fE: Could you tell us how you became the digital futures manager for the San José Public Library?

SHJ: I started out not even wanting to be a librarian, and not being very techy. I was just handed our library’s Web site, at the university where I went to library school, and they said, “You’re responsible for maintaining this part of the Web site. Have fun!” I had no HTML training. So I did just a lot of self-training. And I took what few Web-based classes were available.

When I got out of library school, I was looking to relocate to the San Francisco area and one of the jobs that was available was for a combination Web site manager and technology trainer.

I’d been a teacher for a while, and I’d also now managed a Web site, so that was perfect.

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Related Link Resources
Librarian in Black
San Jose Public Library
Library Journal: Movers & Shakers: Sarah Houghton-Jan
Infopeople Project
Library & Information Technology Association: Top Technology Trends

Educators That Rock: Lauren Pressley

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Photo ©Wake Forest University by Ken Bennett.

Lauren Pressley is the instructional design librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. In addition to her role as a librarian, Pressley is an author, a blogger and a frequent presenter.

Pressley was named a Mover and Shaker by School Library Journal in 2009, and was sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Board to participate in the American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. She also recently developed a very popular toolkit of short videos (two to three minutes long), which answer patrons’ frequent questions.

In a phone interview last week, Pressley told findingEducation about the impact online networks have had on her personally and professionally. “As a quiet person … I’ve been able to find my voice online,” she said. “It’s opened up a lot of doors that wouldn’t have been open to me otherwise.”

Learn more about Lauren Pressley at Lauren’s Library Blog.

fE: This past fall, Michael Porter and David Lee King published a collection of librarian essays for a project they called Library 101. In your essay, you describe the disappointment you felt after taking a personality test that listed librarian as one of the last possible careers for you to consider. What did it suggest you do instead?

LP: It actually said I should practice law or be a “professional philosopher.” I have no idea what that means. So the thing that is sort of interesting to me about that test is that all the qualities that it said that I had that would have made me a poor fit as a librarian were because they were assuming that the person needs to be really rigid and rule-following and not necessarily friendly. But the things that make me good at my job are actually the very things that that test thought would make me bad.

It’s indicative of how the field has changed, that people have such a clear idea of what librarians were and make assumptions based on that.

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Educators That Rock!: Paula Naugle

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Paula Naugle with the ISTE blue bear.Paula Naugle, now in her 35th year as a teacher, recently became an active blogger and tech lecturer. Naugle teaches fourth graders math and social studies at Bissonet Plaza Elementary School in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans), La.  A STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network (DEN), she was awarded a generous technology grant for her classroom last year.  She was also selected to attend the TEDxDenverEd Conference this past July.

In junior high, Naugle had an art teacher who let her express her artistic talent through knitting and sewing instead of drawing and painting. “I just remember thinking how relieved I was that I could take a class and do something that I really enjoyed doing.”

Paula Naugle with the ISTE blue bear.

Now that she’s the teacher, she says, “I’m always looking for more creative ways to do book reports, like making a sock puppet or bringing in a wrapped present and explaining why it would be the best present to give the main character in a novel.” In terms of technology, Naugle says, “If students want to turn in a handwritten report they can. But once they discover how much easier it is to correct mistakes, add pictures and make a very professional report with a word processor, they usually get on board pretty fast.”

fE: In 2009, you made a New Year’s resolution to expand your Personal Learning Network.  How did you do that, and were you successful?

PLN: Actually, it started in 2004, when I went to an educator conference in New Orleans. I spent three days asking myself, “What are they talking about? What is this Web 2.0?”  And then I started hearing this PLN acronym batted around.  And I thought, “What’s PLN, besides my initials?” I found a blog that Sue Waters wrote called PLN Yourself and I pretty much followed the steps.

My 2009 New Year’s resolution was to work more seriously on building my Personal Learning Network. In January, I created a Ning for the fourth grade teachers in my district.  And then in February, I joined Twitter. I learned how to follow people and to see who they were following.  Before I knew it, I actually had some people following me back. Now I have over 1900 followers and I’m on over 100 educator lists.

fE: Because of your PLN and Twitter, you were able to bring the Miller family to your school. Can you tell us about that experience?

PLN: I learned about The Millers through Twitter. This is a family that stepped up the homeschooling concept from just sitting at the kitchen table to actually going out and exploring the world.

When my friend Chris Johnston tweeted that they were going to be in New Orleans, I got in touch with Jennifer Miller and invited her to the school. She said, “Sure. We’d love to come.” They gave a really great presentation about the family’s travels in Northern Africa and parts of the Mediterranean. (Read more about The Millers’ visit on Mrs. Naugle’s Classroom Blog. )

fE: You’ve done several joint projects with a partner school in Kansas. Can you tell me about how those got started?

PLN: Jen Wagner out in California has a blog called Jenuine Tech, where she outlines a couple of project ideas and teachers sign up to do them. I began talking with Jan Wells in Kansas who was already planning to read, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” with her class because the movie was coming out. But she wanted to do a collaborative project. So, we decided to do a choral reading (reading aloud in small groups or pairs) of the book over Skype. Her kids would read one page and mine would read the next.

Then, we created a Google form that we sent out via Twitter, which asked people to share the weather in their town. We got close to 250 responses, even some from New Zealand, Australia, and Africa.  It was so cool!  Jan’s class and my class also did a collaborative choral reading and Voice Thread recording of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, where we had kids draw pictures to go with each stanza.

fE: Have you planned any interactive lessons with any other schools?

PLN: Last year, three schools interviewed my students about hurricanes, and of course they wanted to know about their Hurricane Katrina experiences.  But my students were four and five when Katrina hit, so I knew they might not remember a lot. So, we talked about it and they talked to their parents. And we discussed where people went and for how long.  Then I had two or three students sit in front of the camera—so no one would get stage fright— and do the interview over Skype. At first, I wasn’t sure this was something we wanted to drag up, but it was a learning experience.  And my students grew increasingly confident with practice. I’ve seen such a difference between the mannerisms of other students compared with my students who now feel totally comfortable in front of the camera.

fE: What is the OREO Project?

PLN: This is one of Jen Wagner’s projects. You have to place one cookie on top of the other and see who can build the highest stacks. You have to do the math, such as finding what the class average is. We also built a ramp and actually rolled our cookies down it, and adjusted the size of the ramp, and then took measurements to see how far our cookies traveled.  Over Skype, my students and Jan Wells’ students battled to see who could build a taller stack.  And of course they all got to eat the cookies at the end.

fE: You attended TEDxDenverEd this summer. What an honor!  Besides the Polyvision Eno Whiteboard that you won in the raffle, what were your favorite parts of the conference?

PLN:  I was so surprised when they announced that I won the Eno.  But because I was awarded a technology classroom grant last year, which includes a new Promethean board and ancillary equipment, I’m giving the Eno to a first grade teacher that I work well with. She will love it!

As for the speakers, Brian Crosby was my favorite. He teaches fourth grade in a poor area of Nevada, where there are a lot of transient workers. He started a project called High Hopes High Altitude Balloon project,  which involved a hot air balloon and a video camera, and a payload the students built themselves. Around the country people submitted their “high hopes,” to put in the balloon.

When his students started fourth grade, some of them didn’t even know which city they lived in. Now, as sixth graders, they’re blogging and skyping and corresponding with students around the world.

Dafna Michaelson was my other favorite speaker. She decided last year to visit a different state every week for 52 weeks and to talk to people about different social change projects they started in their communities. Now she’s writing a book.

fE:  Do you have any advice for newbies to the Web 2.0 world?

PLN: Get out there and really give it a chance. Do as much reading as you can. Establish a very good digital footprint.  You’ll be amazed at the response you’ll get.

Find a mentor.  There were two people who helped me the most: Beth Still in Nebraska, who helped me learn about Twitter, and Sue Waters in Australia, who helped me establish my PLN. I actually stayed up until 2 am to attend one of her sessions online.

When I went to a conference in San Antonio in 2008, I went by myself. I went to my sessions, went to my hotel, went to dinner, and then did the same thing the next day. When I went to a conference in Washington D.C. in 2009, it was such a different experience. I got to meet people face to face that I’d been chatting with on Twitter for six months.  I got to meet Beth Still and Sue Waters. And what’s your reaction? You go up and you hug each other like you’re old friends, because you feel so connected to each other and you feel so passionate about the same things, even though you’ve never met in person before.

Paula Naugle’s favorite sites:

Twitter

Edmodo

Skype

Glogster

Google (everything Google)

Related Link Resources
PLN-Not Just My Initials
PLNaugle Class Wiki
PLN Yourself
Edventure Project
Mrs. Naugle's Classroom Blog
YouTube: TedxDenverEd: Brian Crosby
YouTube: TedxDenverEd: Dafna Michaelson
Jenuine Tech
Nebraska Change Agent

Educators That Rock!: Bill Reilly

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Bill Reilly in Saudi Arabia.

As the founder of the Global Coalition Project, Bill Reilly has united classrooms around the globe through his vision to promote peace and global understanding. A social studies teacher at Bethlehem Central Middle School in Delmar, N.Y., for the last 16 years, Reilly was named one of Disney’s Educators of the Year in 2006 for his exceptional ability to teach “real world” lessons. Two years prior to that, he was chosen by the American Councils for International Education to represent the United States in a Eurasian/American teacher exchange in Azerbaijan.

FindingEducation met Reilly while attending the New York State Council for the Social Studies (NYSCSS) conference last week. Reilly described watching his students meet another group of students in Belize for the first time through an online video conference. “It was like two groups meeting aliens for the first time,” he said. “They were such different and diverse cultures, and they had such an interest in learning about each other.”

fE: What made you become a teacher?

BR: I was an archeologist for a few years and then an owner of a rare coin store. So I always had a love for history. I then walked into a children’s home one summer, thinking that I would work with kids for a summer until I decided what business to go into, and I never left working with children after that. I teach ancient history to sixth graders.

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Related Link Resources
Disney Teacher Awards: The 2006 Honorees
The Global Coalition for Peace, Education and Cultural Awareness
ePals

Educators That Rock!: Michael Ryan

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Michael Ryan is an 11th-grade English teacher at Wilsonville High School in Wilsonville, Ore. He earned his master’s degree in education at the University of Florida and has been teaching for eight years.

When it came time to cover transcendentalism in class, Ryan was looking for a way to truly engage his students and make the material relevant to their lives. The Right Action project was the perfect answer. Developed by his friend and fellow Wilsonville High teacher, Jay Rishel, the Right Action project focuses on the principles of transcendentalism and asks students to make a positive change in their lives or their world.

“The kids LOVE this project, although it’s a test for many of them,” Ryan said. “They see their lives and identities as not being static but something that they have a great deal of control over.”

fE: What aspects of transcendentalism do you cover with your class?

MR: We study Thoreau, Whitman and Emerson and focus on the three principles of the transcendentalists: Unity (”We are part and particle of God and the universe”), Inwardness (”Self-Reliance” in all its forms), and Right Action.

fE: How did the Right Action project come about?

MR: The transcendentalists believed that action was more important than contemplation. The highest form of man was one who 1) accepted oneself as you were, 2) cultivated the observational powers and talents within you, and 3) believed in the self as the highest authority—’trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string’—we know what is right and wrong for us and within us.

So as a fun project, we challenge the students to trust themselves to make a positive change. They can select something that they know needs to be changed in their lives or in their world.

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Educators That Rock!: Marilyn Johnson

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Photo by Margaret Fox.

Marilyn Johnson was first introduced to libraries in high school, when she worked as a page at the Chardon Public Library in Ohio. She loved climbing into the attic to get back issues of old newspapers, but quit after being refused a nickel-an-hour raise.

Years later she wrote “This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All,” examining and extolling the unseen faces and facets of the library world, and tearing down long-held stereotypes.

“[T]he truth is, with all librarians that I meet, if you think you know what type they are, if you stand there and talk to them for a little while, they’re each spectacularly individual,” Johnson told findingEducation.

Through her profiles of missionary librarians, virtual librarians, specialist librarians, archivists and even anarchist librarians, Johnson proves not only that librarians are each one of a kind, but also that they are truly irreplaceable.

To learn more about Johnson and her work visit her Web sites: This Book Is Overdue and MarilynJohnson.net.

fE: While researching your first book, “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries,” you were consistently drawn to the stories of librarians and found the seed for your next book. Why librarians?

MJ: I read a ton of librarian obituaries, and every one was different. I read about a music librarian who served the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a British librarian who helped get films online. There was also a librarian who was a sailor on the Maine coast, and she remembered people’s favorite books 50 years after they had come to her library. She was the heart and soul of her community. (Read about more of the librarian obituaries that inspired Johnson.)

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Educators That Rock!: Buffy Hamilton

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Photo by Sandi Adams.

FindingEducation was delighted to spend some time chatting with Buffy Hamilton, also known as The Unquiet Librarian. We met Buffy after attending her presentation at the Internet@Schools conference in Washington, D.C., in early April. Hamilton has been an educator in the Cherokee County School District, an hour north of Atlanta, Ga., for 18 years, and a librarian for six.

Hamilton talked about the Media 21 project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary project she and her colleague Susan Lester developed in their school. Hamilton examined the impact this project has had on her students. “There’s one student who was in that group that was out of their comfort zone. She didn’t have a lot of confidence [before] and she has just blossomed … Even if you only impact a few students that way, it’s very powerful.”

Hamilton, a frequent speaker, blogger and thought leader, earned her graduate degree at the University of Georgia. She tweets @buffyjhamilton.

fE: What brought you into libraries?

BH: In the beginning of my career, I taught high school English. After seven or eight years, I took a position in our district’s technology services department where I got exposure to a lot of schools and age groups, but I also missed being attached to one school.

Around 2000, I realized that being a librarian would be the perfect marriage of my love of reading and books as well as technology. I’ve been a school librarian a little over six years. People often ask me do I miss being in the classroom. (I actually did teach English classes at night school up until last year.) I love being a classroom teacher but it seems like as a librarian, I’m more able to be a change agent. I can be an avenue for helping teachers introduce inquiry and help them to see that you can address the standards for learning and improve student achievement, without necessarily having to be tied to all those traditional ways of learning. I’m not saying that the traditional ways are bad but you can add to the learning toolbox.

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Educators That Rock!: Rachel Borchardt

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

FindingEducation met Rachel Borchardt, a science librarian at American University, at the 2010 Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C. She and Jason Puckett, the instructional technology librarian at Georgia State University, gave a presentation about podcasting.

This week, we chatted with Borchardt over the phone about why she loves teaching, how her library is taking information literacy to the next tier and what podcasts can do for libraries.

Along with Puckett and Anna Van Scoyoc, a librarian in Mercer County, N.J., Borchardt hosts the monthly podcast Adventures in Library Instruction. “All three of us left [Emory University] to work in other libraries. We miss each other a lot, and we all enjoy bouncing ideas about teaching off each other. So Jason thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we start a podcast?’”

Borchardt earned her master’s degree in library science at the University of Pittsburgh, then worked for three years at the Emory University library in Atlanta, Ga., before coming to American University.

She tweets @butternutsquash.

fE: What preconceptions did you have about librarians before you became one?

RB: I thought that we would just sit at the desk all day and answer questions, which I was really excited about. I had no idea that you would spend so much time in meetings and at your cubicle working on other stuff.

I also thought there would be a lot more introverts. So it surprised me when I went to graduate school and everyone I talked to was super outgoing.

fE: What made you choose to become a science librarian?

RB: I worked in a science library my freshman year as an undergraduate, and I really liked it. After college—I graduated with a degree in neuroscience and psychology—I worked at a cognitive psychology lab at Carnegie Mellon doing MRI research for a couple of years, but it wasn’t really my thing. Being a science librarian seemed like a good way to be involved in science, without having to do the same thing everyday.

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Related Link Resources
SlideShare: Computers in Libraries 2010: Podcasting
Adventures in Library Instruction
Adventures in Library Instruction: Episode 3
T is for Training
Emory University Libraries: Library Survival Guide Podcast
Arizona State University: ASU Libraries: The Library Channel: Library Minute: Academic Articles

Educators That Rock!: Geeta Rajan

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Geeta Rajan always knew she wanted to be a teacher. As an English teacher at St. Mark’s Public School, Meera Bagh in New Delhi for the last 16 years, Rajan has focused on making her instruction relevant to current issues while reaching out in a global environment. Through ePals, she’s involved in the Global Coalition Project, started by Bill Reilly in 2001. Right now, her students are working on a low carbon diet project with a school in Singapore. Last year, her students attended a Climate Camp in Copenhagen through an organization called Bright Green Youth.

“For me, my students are my inspiration,” she told findingEducation. “My organizing committee is designing a poster for Earth Day, and they won’t let me sleep until I approve of the changes, additions and deletions. We will have a good end product and that makes me happy, being part of kids’ excitement. I love their energy. And when I see them charged up, I get charged up too!”

fE: What inspired you to teach?

GR: I have always loved teaching. I spent a lot of my time with a neighbor’s family, which had three sisters who were older, and all were teachers. I also used to play teacher to the smaller ones in the neighborhood. I liked the writing on the blackboard, the use of chalk and then making lines to walk kids to their music classes. And if they weren’t around, I used to just act all by myself. Height of passion it was!!

fE: Why did you want to teach English?

GR: The three sisters—Shyamala, Kamal and Jaya—always used to get nice English books and magazines for me, hence I fancied English

fE: Describe some of the projects your students are involved in right now.

GR: Right now we are doing projects on climate change and sustainable development. We are planning eco cities for the future. The students will be ready with their presentations by April 23, when they will finally be judged by noted scientists. The purpose of the project is to encourage youthful ideas on preparing a more livable city. No pollution, more comfort, less diseases.

And we are sharing our information (with other schools) on a low carbon diet that focuses on how students can eat more nutritious food. No junk food. The students are doing this project with a Singaporean school.

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Related Link Resources
The Global Coalition for Peace, Education and Cultural Awareness
YouTube

Educators That Rock!: Lauren Pressley

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Photo ©Wake Forest University by Ken Bennett.

Lauren Pressley is the instructional design librarian at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. In addition to her role as a librarian, Pressley is an author, a blogger and a frequent presenter.

Pressley was named a Mover and Shaker by School Library Journal in 2009, and was sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) Board to participate in the American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. She also recently developed a very popular toolkit of short videos (two to three minutes long), which answer patrons’ frequent questions.

In a phone interview last week, Pressley told findingEducation about the impact online networks have had on her personally and professionally. “As a quiet person … I’ve been able to find my voice online,” she said. “It’s opened up a lot of doors that wouldn’t have been open to me otherwise.”

Learn more about Lauren Pressley at Lauren’s Library Blog.

fE: This past fall, Michael Porter and David Lee King published a collection of librarian essays for a project they called Library 101. In your essay, you describe the disappointment you felt after taking a personality test that listed librarian as one of the last possible careers for you to consider. What did it suggest you do instead?

LP: It actually said I should practice law or be a “professional philosopher.” I have no idea what that means. So the thing that is sort of interesting to me about that test is that all the qualities that it said that I had that would have made me a poor fit as a librarian were because they were assuming that the person needs to be really rigid and rule-following and not necessarily friendly. But the things that make me good at my job are actually the very things that that test thought would make me bad.

It’s indicative of how the field has changed, that people have such a clear idea of what librarians were and make assumptions based on that.

(more…)

Related Link Resources
Lauren’s Library Blog
Library Journal
LITA Blog
Wake Forest University
Vimeo