Cool Tools for Schools 2018/19

Quick Update!

We will be running Cool Tools for School one more time during the 2018/19 school year. There will be fewer lessons than in past years.

2017/18 LESSON ARCHIVE: All of the lessons from last year (2017/18) will remain available in this archived list of lessons.

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

Cool Tools will start soon!

We’re getting ready to launch this year’s Cool Tools workshop at the end of November 2017.  The lessons are still being updated and reorganized. And the Google Classroom is starting to take shape!

For details on how the workshop runs, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page.  And if you have questions, please leave a comment on that page.

Public Lessons, Private Google Classroom

This year, we’ll be using Google Classroom for turning in assignments and sharing ideas.

  • Public Lessons: As always, the lessons, or “Things” as we call them, for the workshop will be housed here on this public website. That makes the leson pages available to anyone who is interested. Our lesson pages get lots of traffic from people not in the workshop!
  • Private Classroom: Participants taking the workshop for continuing education credit will participate in discussions and submit assignments through Google Classroom. This is the first year that Google Classroom has been available to educators outside of K12 schools. I’m excited to see how it will all work out. I’ll be learning along with you all.

Picking Your Topics

Cool Tools 101 (Things 1-10) is designed for people who haven’t participated in this (or a similar) program before. You’ll pick 5 or 10 topics to complete. The place to start is with Thing 1: Blogging where you’ll get your blog setup. You’ll use the blog to write up your reflections through the workshop.

You could pick all your topics just from the first 10 Things if you like, but feel free to pick topics from the other tracks if they interest you more. There are also the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflections” topics that everyone is encouraged to do.

More Cool Tools:  These lessons used to be split up into Tracks 2, 3 and 4. But those labels have lost any meaning as we are continually reorganizing, adding, updating and deleting topics.  If you’ve participated before, scan all the lesson titles and pick out the topics that appeal to you. Don’t forget the extra “DIY” and “Final Reflection” topics as well. Everyone is encouraged to do these.

Repeating a Topic:  Since most of the lessons have lots of options and there are always new things to explore, feel free to repeat topics that you’ve done before. Just be sure to dig in deeper and truly explore some new aspects or try new tools.

AND REMEMBER that your assignment posts should include:

  • Reflection on the readings and/or information you explored.
  • Any projects you created, embedded in your post if possible or provide a link.
  • Thoughts on how the topics relate to your work as an educator. It’s great to include fun, personal ideas too if you like, but don’t forget the educational connections too.

Gearing up for 2017-18

photo by unsplash CC0 Pixabay

This site will start shifting about as we prep content for the coming school year. None of the content is going away, but topics might get shifted about a bit and some new topics will be added.

While we’re reorganizing, the easiest way to find content might be through the search box on the sidebar.

If your region, state organization, school district or other group is interested in participating, please let me know. You can email me at pollyalida on gmail. There will be a limit on how many registrants we can handle, so please get in touch by August 20. Thanks!






Is it about the tech? About the learning? Or both?

Image CC0 by geralt via Pixabay

An interesting read to start off the next Cool Tools workshop

Actually, It Is About the Technology: Why “It’s not about the tech” is actually a potentially dangerous perspective  by  John Spencer

In the article, the author argues that the tech AND the learning are both important.   Of course, we shouldn’t be dazzled simply by “all the new shiny toys” and try to find a way to shoehorn something into our lessons, just because. But at the same time he warns not to fall into using “it’s not about the tech” as an excuse to dismiss learning about a new tool or platform.

Many tech tools make things possible that weren’t possible before, so in a way, yes, it is about the technology. Twitter lets me connect in ways I never could before, get help and share ideas in ways that weren’t possible. Students writing blog posts for a worldwide audience give them a totally different experience than writing just for their teachers. So yes, it is about what the tools allow you to do.

And this is why we offer the Cool Tools for School workshop. While you won’t find a place in your teaching and professional practice for all of the tools you consider during this workshop, you will gain awareness of a wide range of tools and have the opportunity to examine whether these tools can help you improve how you do things, whether it’s your teaching, professional development or productivity.

Things we hope you’ll gain from this workshop:

  • Confidence in exploring new tools: No longer be afraid to dig into a tool, “push all the buttons” and see if it might be useful.
  • Develop a larger PLN (Personal Learning Network): people near and far who can help you develop ideas, help troubleshoot issues and share expertise.
  • Stronger collaborations with classroom teachers through sharing ideas: Share what you’re learning with other teachers, hold some PD sessions for staff.
  • Enhance your leadership role by making more connections with students, staff, admin & parents. And take advantage of tools that will help you communicate how the library fits in with the school’s mission.


Cool Tools for Schools 2015-16 Concludes

heart clouds sky
CC0 Pixabay: oo11o

Thank you all for participating in Cool Tools this past year!

This year we had 65 active participants from 15 regional School Library Systems. 45 participants completed the program and earned a Professional Development hours. 590 PD hours were awarded and on average, each PD hour cost $11. Not a bad return on investment.

Hard to believe that this is the 8th time that we’ve run this program for K12 librarians and classroom teachers since 2011. In that time we’ve had over 700 participants.

We’re already committed to offering the workshop again this coming year and hope to see the project expand as we welcome our first out-of-state group of school librarians this year. See you in the fall!



List of people who have finished

This is the list of people who have filled out the Final Log Form and have officially completed the workshop. I still have lots of names to check, so don’t worry if your name isn’t listed. I’ve been working through the list based on the earliest SLS deadlines. I’ll update this list as I check more blogs! Amazing work everybody!!!

(p.s. – Final Log Form – For those of you who are just finishing up, don’t forget to fill out the Final Log Form when you’ve finished all your blog posts.)

List last updated: June 13 @ 2:00 PM

Last Name BOCES SLS Region Your Blog URL
Abdul Capital Region
Buckley Capital Region
Curry Capital Region
Gable Capital Region
Kirkpatrick Capital Region
Molle Capital Region
Berner Dutchess County
Cohen Dutchess County
Green Dutchess County
Morton Dutchess County
Sasvary Dutchess County
Coady Nassau BOCES
Babbie OHM: Oneida/Herkimer BOCES
Keck OHM: Oneida/Herkimer BOCES
Bell Oswego
Kowalski Oswego
McHugh Oswego
Waldron Oswego
Duffy Questar III
Berky Rochester City School District
Daitz Rochester City School District
Daly Rochester City School District
Kelly Rochester City School District
Kendrick Rochester City School District
Leckinger Rochester City School District
Mohney Rochester City School District
Ortiz Brazak Rochester City School District
Paris Rochester City School District
Quinones-Dunlap Rochester City School District
Robillard Rochester City School District
Rosen Rochester City School District
Satta Rochester City School District
Tilley Rochester City School District
Useda Rochester City School District
Gladle St. Lawrence-Lewis
Hoag Sullivan County
Fronhofer WSWHE
Nemeth WSWHE

Final Log Form – You MUST Fill it out!

Cool Tools deadlines are coming up quickly for some of your School Library Systems.

  • Check the list of deadlines for your region. If your SLS isn’t listed, please contact your SLS administrator for more info.

Final Log Form – Even though everyone has been pretty good about logging work throughout the workshop, please fill out this one last log form indicating which topics you expect to get credit for. Your SLS admins and I will be reviewing your blogs to make sure we assign the right PD credit.

p.s. – I’m still reading lots of posts and commenting. I’ll leave a note on each blog when I’m done with your posts. Will also make a list here of everyone who has finished. Be patient with me though! 🙂  Thanks!

How to finish Cool Tools in a flash!

JourneyThe end of the Cool Tools workshop is sneaking up on us. (Check for your SLS deadline here.) And I’m still catching up on reading blog posts. So if you haven’t heard from me in a while, I promise I haven’t forgotten you. Some of you have already finished. Congrats!

But for those of you who might be feeling a bit behind schedule, don’t give up! Here are some ideas for how you can finish Cool Tools and make sure you get your PD hours. You’ve all started your blogs already, so that’s 1 Thing done. Yay! That leaves 4 lessons to go to get the minimum of 5 topics done.

Some ideas:

  • DIYNo doubt there is something you’ve spent time pondering and exploring during the school year. Maybe a project that you worked on with a colleague? Or a special program you ran with your students? Tell us about that in a DIY post.
  • Curation Tools: Love Pinterest? Spend too much time there already? 🙂 Then indulge yourself and put together a board of great ideas for a project your want to do next school year. Or set up a board of great resources to share with colleagues when school starts up.
  • School Library Web Presence: Were you planning to spiff up your website but didn’t get to it this year?? Explore the resources in this lesson and start planning for next year.
  • AppPalooza – What apps are you using all the time? Share your favorite apps with us. Check out the AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2015 and try out something new.
  • Online Learning & DIY PD – Do the “double dip!” Watch a webinar from, earn PD for watching and earn PD for completing Thing ??. Both the Tech Tools for the Classroom and Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program communities have tons of great (free) webinars to choose from.
  • Productivity Tools – Is there a productivity/organizational that you already love, but would like to explore further? Dig into that tool and share your tips with us.
  • Final Reflection: Sum up what you’ve learned through this program and how you’ve put the knowledge to work!

Remember – this is YOUR professional development – do the work that is most important to you. Pick topics that really interest you and will help you out the most.

Thing 39: News Literacy

news-literacyMy apologies for this last Thing taking soooo long to prepare. But Thing 39: News Literacy is finally posted.

And with that, all the lessons are posted. Things 1-40, plus a bonus lesson. Hoorah!

Hope you’re all starting to think about wrapping up your posts for the year. Check out the Final Deadlines list to see when your SLS deadline is for the workshop. You’ll need to complete 5 or 10 Things to receive PD credit. If your SLS region isn’t listed, please contact your SLS administrator.