About “Cool Tools for School”

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August 2020 Update: This online, asynchronous workshop for librarians, teachers and other other educators ran for the last time during the 2018-2019 school year (North America). The content is being retained, though only a few pages are being updated. The content will remain relevant for a couple of years, though some old tools will have disappeared and new tools will appear. Look at the comments at the end of each post to see if any new tools have been noted there. 

A group of New York State School Library Systems are sponsoring this online learning opportunity that will help you keep up (and catch up!) with many of the web-based services and networking tools that are currently available and explore how they can be used in a K12 setting. This is the 11th time we’ve offered this workshop and many participants have taken it multiple times. There’s always something new to learn!

Once again, the workshop will run in a Google Classroom this year. Course content will still be maintained on this public site so others can follow along and us the content for their own interests.

Interested in participating? If you’re in New York State, contact your regional/BOCES School Library System administrator or contact me: pollyalida at gmail.  This PDF has lots more information.

What does the program cover?

We’ll cover topics from blogs to online communities to news literacy and online learning and and much more! You’ll find the 2018/2019 list of topics on the main page of this site.

Each topic or “thing” will include:

  • An introduction
  • Some tips and ideas about how the tools can be used in school libraries, education and/or for personal use
  • Resources to explore
  • A short activity for you to complete.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for you to connect with other colleagues around the state. All this without having to leave your desk!

This project is self-paced and gives participants the chance to select topics most relevant to them, encouraging participants to take control of their own professional learning.  No classes or formal workshops are offered to support this program. Instead, participants are encouraged to work together, develop their own professional learning network and share with their discoveries, techniques and “how to’s” with each other, both in-person, through their blogs and in the online discussion groups. Most of all, we encourage participants to jump in, explore, play and have fun!

Why bother?

  • Learn how to use tech tools that will help your students succeed.
  • Help students learn to use the tools more effectively.
  • Build awareness of tools that you can draw on when a need arises.
  • Learn new tools that can help you at work and at home.
  • Become more comfortable exploring new tools on your own.
  • Take leadership in your school community by sharing your knowledge and skills.

Participating School Library Systems & SLS Directors:

(This list is subject to change. Double check with your SLS admin to make sure your region is participating.)

For Administrators

For administrators approving professional development participation

The Cool Tools for School workshop is an online workshop sponsored by regional School Library Systems and taught by Polly-Alida Farrington, a librarian with over 20 years of experience conducting in-person and online technology integration workshops for librarians and other K-20 educators. The workshop provides participants with the opportunity to explore technology tools that can be used in K-12 settings to support and enhance student learning, and improve productivity and class management.

Lessons are prepared and presented by the instructor.  Participants select either 5 or 10 lessons that fit their own professional learning goals. Each lesson includes an introduction to the topic, examples of best practices for K-12 educators, tools & resources to explore, and activities that participants will complete.

To receive credit for a lesson, participants must submit a blog post explaining/showing the work they completed, discuss the relevance to their professional work and reflect on their own learning experience.  Written assignments are reviewed by the instructor and SLS Coordinators.  Credit will not be granted for insufficient work.

The workshop is self-paced only in that participants can choose when, over the course of the 6-7 month workshop, they will to work on their assignments.  Opportunities exist for participants to interact with each other through the blogs where written reflections are posted and the group discussion on our course learning management system. The workshop meets the NY Teachers Center standards for an “Instructed Course.”

Big Huge Thanks

The project is based on many of the other Learning 2.0/23 Things projects that other libraries and library systems have shared. Particular debt is owed to the following projects:

  • 23 Things Kansas – Statewide program in Kansas (special thanks to Heather Braum in particular for cheerfully answering my endless questions)
  • 23 Things on a Stick – Minnesota’s statewide program
  • 23 Things Cambridge – University of Cambridge Libraries program.
  • SLJ Learning 2.0 – Program run by Michael Stephens for School Library Journal
  • and of course, Helene Blower’s original 23 Things project at Charlotte Mecklenberg (NC) Library

Like the work of all the other Learning 2.0 projects, the content here is also available for others to use and build upon. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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7 thoughts on “About “Cool Tools for School”

  1. Working with the International Space Station US National Laboratory and Bitmoji, a new series of space-themed bitmoji are being released! Here is the press release:

    Toronto Canada

    For most teachers, the school year begins by creating an exciting and engaging classroom experience. With the pandemic and many schools closed, many creative teachers we know turned to creating virtual classrooms with their Bitmoji avatars to fully engage their students during distance learning.

    Using Bitmoji as an educational tool has become one of the biggest trends in teaching. Thousands of educators across the country have tapped into Bitmoji’s incredible popularity with Gen Z to connect with students through the screen in a fun and personalized way.

    Space Station Explorers is a community of educators, learners, and organizations that make STEM learning fun and exciting through connections with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory.

    Working closely with education partner Magnitude.io and Space Station Explorers, Bitmoji is excited to announce new Bitmoji stickers to bring the wonder of space exploration to virtual classrooms everywhere! Starting today, six stickers will launch over the next week on Bitmoji and Snapchat that enable educators to transform their Bitmoji avatars into astronauts and take their lessons to new heights.

    “Teachers have embraced the power of Bitmoji to bring classrooms together even when they have to be apart,” says Ba Blackstock, CEO and Creative Director of Bitmoji. “We’re excited to collaborate with Space Station Explorers to further support educators and fuel exploration and discovery in the classroom.”

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