Sunday, October 14, 2007


"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"-Henry David Thoreau

In a recent post, Stephanie Sandifer
challenged bloggers to ask themselves:

What? (…is going on with our work, with our blogging, with our exploration… OR …new tools are we discovering, playing with, trying to find classroom uses for?)

So What? (Who cares? Why is this important? Why is this not important? What does it matter? Will it ever matter?)

Now What? (What do we do NEXT? What kind of gameplan do we need? Do we need a game plan? Do we collaborate, start over from scratch, quit doing whatever we are doing altogether, or disappear somewhere deep in Second Life? Seriously — WHAT NOW?)

Here is my response:

I'm becoming more comfortable with Twitter, was a bit intimidated by the rapid pace of the Fireside Chat (but plan to dive headfirst in to the K12 Online Conference offerings), have experimented with ToonDoo, Animoto, Voki, wikis and nings. Can't live without Google Docs and Google Reader, TinyURl, Flickr, and my own two blogs (Journeys and A Hundred Echoes). Most of the above are blocked where I teach, but, depending on the circumstances, I am able to have the IT unblock them for class use. I try out tools I see mentioned in the blogs I read, with varying levels of success.

So What?
Ah, there's the rub! I care very deeply about my responsibilities as a Teacher/Librarian. The kids in my district live a relatively sheltered life (due to location, not income levels) and I want to broaden their horizons. I spend my free time blogging and attempting to keep current on emerging technologies; if I'm no expert, at least I'm aware of the possibilities.

Our administrators and BOE support the concept of preparing our students for the 21st century world that they'll inhabit, but theory has not yet translated into practice. Professional development is still a top down model with isolated training and little follow-up. Most of the teachers are struggling to meet mandates and prepare classes for standardized testing and show no interest in the new skills I'd like to share with them. Tech resources are unreliable and spread too thin. I do what I can on a student by student basis, but we're failing these kids as a group.

I learn because I love to; I'll continue in this mode into retirement and beyond.

Now What?
My Currents Events class only has nine students, but as we get rolling on some tech-enhanced projects, we may be able to generate some positive buzz and create a demand for similar courses next year.

I've been seeking out teachers for some impromptu collaborative planning, trying to expand my boundaries beyond the library's physical space. There are one or two teachers who are at least open to suggestion as far as technology goes. If I can show them tools to make their life easier and their classes more interesting, I may be able to make a few converts.

I'm getting close to retirement. I hope to expand my part-time online job and maybe even return to my school as a consultant or volunteer. I don't think I'll ever stop blogging, since it links me to a community much richer and more diverse than any other professional group I've encountered. I want to learn and share what I've learned. I want to explore and experiment and have fun doing it.

Thanks to Patrick Higgins for pointing me to Stephanie's posting.

"The real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking questions."
-Mandell Creighton

"Puzzle BomBoy" by Zedwee


Cathy Nelson said...

Kudos Diane--we are never to old. Retirement for me is a mere 6 years away, but I feel like I'm just getting started. 2.0 has breathed a whole new life and motivation in me.

Carolyn Foote said...


You always find the most meaningful quotes to fit your posts--always gets me thinking.

I lately have been feeling a little frustration about sorting out ways to share these great opportunities for learning with my own staff. Time is always critical, and so it takes some creativity to figure out how to "share what you know" in a way that works.

Last year, we did some weekly workshops, 15 minutes once a week. We shared the tools, thinking that teachers would take off with them once they got to see what they could do. For the merry band who came every week, that's been true, but it was a small part of our faculty.

I do think though, you start where you can, and eventually the seeds you plant begin to grow when you don't even realize it.

For myself, I feel energized by all the learning I have been doing this last year--fascinating stuff.

diane said...

Cathy and Carolyn,

Maybe the best thing we can do is model lifelong learning for our staff and students.

Maybe we've planted a few seeds that will sprout years down the line.

At any rate, we'll be the brightest and sassiest senior citizens the world has ever known!

(me a lot sooner than the two of you, of course!)

Nick said...

Love the Bomboy. I also like the quote about busyness. So many people rush around like lunatics never asking themselves if their frenzied activity is necessary or what precisely it's achieving.

I like the other quote too. The ability to continually ask questions is so vital when we're daily bombarded by dubious statements and downright lies from politicians and public figures. If you don't have a well-honed critical faculty, you can drown rapidly in a sea of nonsense.