Frequently Asked Questions

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Welcome to our Cool Tools for Schools Workshop!

Please note, this workshop is an online workshop!

Unless your local school library system director has scheduled in-person  meetups, there are no scheduled in-person sessions. Though we do encougare you to work with your friends and colleagues if you’d like too.

How do I sign up?

  • NYS School Library Systems: If you’re in New York State, check with your regional/BOCES School Library System director. Many of the SLSs are sponsoring participants.
  • 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 will not be able use your G Suite for Education email account to join our Google Classroom. Google just won’t let you. You will need a personal free Gmail account.

How does the program work?

  • The workshop begins in December 2018 and runs through late May/early June. (NOTE: Participants from the Rochester City School District have a different schedule.)
  • Links to all the lessons can be found on the main page of this site.  We are aiming for about 30 lessons this year.
  • 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 choice of learning activities to complete.
  • After you’ve completed the lesson, write a blog post about your work and submit it through your Google Classroom.

How do I choose which lessons?

  • New to the program? Start with Thing 1: Getting Started to get your blog started. And then 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. 🙂
  • (Rochester participants: you’ll complete 5 topics during each workshop session that you sign up for.)
  • 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: Getting Started.
  • 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 10 lessons you’ll receive a certificate for 20 professional development hours. Complete 5 of the lessons for 10 professional development hours. Your School Library System will be awarding these hours.

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. The People tab in your Google Classroom lists who is participating in the workshop.


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

Have other questions?

13 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.

  2. Hi! Just to be clear, we only need to complete 10 of the 30 lessons for 20 PD hours? I was just going in order of the lessons but was wondering if we could jump around and pick and choose which ones we were interested in to reach our 10 lessons. I just wanted to clarify this. Thanks!

    • Hi Tori, That’s right. 10 lessons earns 20 PD hours from your School Library System. And yes, jump around the topics, whatever topics interest you the most! Enjoy!

  3. Hello! If I have signed up for one later in the year, does that mean I do 5 lessons now and 5 lessons later? Thanks!

  4. ok; so I’m just starting and have no idea of what I’m in for but I do have an adventuresome spirit….so let’s go:)

  5. I have just joined! When do I need to have all of the Topics completed by in order to receive PD credit?

    • Carolyn, welcome to the workshop. You only need to do 5 topics. And the deadline for the RCSD session of the workshop is the end of May.

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