Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Cool Tools for Schools Workshop!

How do I sign up?

  • NYS School Library Systems: If you’re in New York State, check with your school district or BOCES School Library System director. Many of the SLSs are sponsoring participants.
  • Individuals: If you’re not in NYS or your SLS isn’t sponsoring people, you can join on your own. The fee is $150 per person. You’ll need approval from your own school district for awarding the Professional Development hours. (NYS: note that I am not authorized to award CTLE hours.) If you sign up on your own, you’ll be able to join the Google Classroom, have you work reviewed by the workshop instructor and participate in class discussions.
  • Free DIY option! The content for the workshop is all on this website. Anyone can use the content, do the work independently and submit it to their own school district for professional development hours.

What do I need to get started?

  • A sense of curiosity, an interest in learning and an email address.

Your email address

  • Is your school a G Suite for Education (Google Apps) school? You won’t be able use your G Suite for Education email account to join our Google Classroom.Google just won’t let you. You will need an alternative email address.
  • If you need an alternative email address, sign up for a free Gmail account. Or use any other email you want to use.

How does the program work?

  • The workshop begins in late November 2017 and runs through late May/early June.
  • Links to all the lessons can be found on the main page of this site.  We are aiming for around 40+ lessons again this year.
    • Cool Tools 101 (Things 1 to 10) is for folks who haven’t participated in this (or similar) project before.
    • More Cool Tools (things 11 and beyond) are for those who have participated in the past and are looking for new topics to explore
  • Each lesson will cover a different topic and will include:
    • An introduction to the topic & tools
    • Examples of how those tools can be used in schools & libraries
    • Resources to explore
    • A short exercise to complete.
  • As we did last year, we’re aiming to have ALL the lessons posted by late January. So check back often to see what’s new.

Can I do activities from any track?

  • Yes!
  • New to the program? Start with Thing 1: Blogging to get your blog started. We suggest you try topics from the first 10 topics. But if you’re already an old-hand at some of those areas, feel free to choose topics from the rest of the topics.
  • Participated before? You can do new topics or dig deeper into topics you’ve done before.

How many topics do I need to do? 

  • You must do 5 or 10 topics to receive PD credit. Not 4, not 3, not 8, not 9…. there is not god of partial credit. 🙂
  • Your School Library System will award Professional Development credit hours as follows:
    • Complete 5 topics for 10 PD hours
    • Complete 10 topics for 20 PD hours

How do I let you know I’ve completed an exercise?

  • After you’ve explored the tools for a lesson and completed the exercise, you’ll write a blog post about what you learned, your reflections on the topic and links to any activities that you completed.
  • If you don’t have a blog yet, we’ll be covering that in Thing 1.
  • Then you’ll let us know you completed an exercise by submitting your work via our Google Classroom.

How much do I have to write in my blog posts?

  • Each blog post must describe the activities you completed for each lesson.
  • Reflect on your experience learning about the topic (easy, hard, impossible!), ideas about how you can use this in your library or school, and any other comments, tips, ideas that you want to share.
  • Remember to explore something new to you. While sharing something you’re already doing is great and can be helpful to others, you must explore something new to earn the PD hours.
  • While we don’t expect a dissertation on every topic, we do expect thoughtful reflection and active participation that is clear in the post.
  • Remember, you are earning Professional Development credit for your work. Think about what you would expect from your students for similar assignments.
  • Credit will not be awarded for inadequate work.
  • Excellent models from past years:

How much time will it take?

  • This depends on how much you want to do. We estimate that you’ll need 2 hours for each lesson. Completion time will also depend on your previous online experience and your interest in the particular tools featured.
  • All of the topics are self-paced and can be completed as your time allows.
  • There are no deadlines for individual lessons, though there will be a deadline for completion of the workshop. But don’t fall so far behind that it becomes a burden to catch up.

What if I need help? Who can I call?

  • There will be lots of ways to get help! If you’re partnering with a colleague in your school, try working through the lessons together and share your tips and ideas.
  • Also check to see if any of your friends and colleagues are participating and can help you out.  This is a great way to develop a “personal learning network” that will last well beyond this program.
  • Interacting with each other in the Google Classroom.
  • We have a Facebook group for the project and participants can share tips and ideas there as well.
  • Reading other participants’ blogs can be a great source of help too. And you can also post comments on the lesson pages here on this site. That way we can all try to help each other by sharing our questions and solutions.

What about continuing education/professional development credits?

  • Yes! If you complete all the lessons you’ll receive a certificate for 20 professional development hours. Complete 5 of the activities for 10 professional development hours. Your School Library System will be awarding these hours.

I have to drop out

  • If you find you can’t participate after all and haven’t started your work yet, let your SLS admin know before Jan 10, 2018. NOTE – There is no refund if you’ve already started your work. 

Any other tips?

  • If tools are blocked at your schools, try working on the exercises from home. We’ll try to provide a variety of tools so this might not be a problem.
  • Don’t stress! You don’t have to read and explore absolutely everything in each of the lessons. Do what you can and have fun!
  • Find out who else is doing the program. Share your successes and ideas with them. And ask them for help when you need it. Make connections with other participants through their blogs.

AND….. 

  • Reward yourself for completing each lesson. For me that means chocolate. YMMV (Your mileage may vary!)

Have other questions?

3 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Hi there – just to clarify, if we did the Cool Tools class last year and already blogged can we use that blog for our work this time around? Or should we set up a new blog this week?

    • That’s right. When you register your blog, I have to copy and paste the blog addresses into another spreadsheet. That way we’re not sharing your full name, email address, etc. on the participants list. It should be there now, I’m doing this once or twice a day.

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