Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let's Get Busy Podcast

My good friend Matthew Winner just celebrated the one year anniversary of his amazing podcast, Let's Get Busy

I had the distinct honor of being the very first guest on his podcast in July 2013 and wrote about that experience here.  

Recently, Matthew invited me back on to the podcast to share about our last year.  As usual, our exchange was filled with lots of laughter.  It also included an "awwww" moment and a tiny bit of retching.  

Matthew wrote this lovely synopsis:

"Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic), teacher librarian in Rossville, IN and author of the Library Fanatic blog, stops by to talk about educational soulmates, building collaborative partnerships within the school building, and adopting a willingness to fail." 

I'd love for you to give it a listen and let me know your thoughts on educational soulmates!

Download for FREE on iTunes, using the Stitcher mobile app, or at LibSyn.

While you're at it, why not listen to MORE of Matthew's podcasts and subscribe on iTunes!  It will become the podcast you eagerly await each week.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ETK Voice of the Year Competition

I know I **should** blog about ISTE 2014, but 
this event...this night...this experience deserves a blog entry all on its own. 

It all began when I asked Matthew if he wanted to enter the ETK contest by recording a video...together  The answer was a resounding "no".  I understood it wasn't his thing.  (Truth be told, it really wasn't mine either.  Entering the contest was something I would NEVER do alone, but with my GeniusPal Matthew, it sounded...fun.)  A few days later I received an email from Matthew with a sample of a video stitched together side by side in garage band with the message "maybe something like this?"  He was warming up to the idea and even had a few suggestions of songs we could sing.  After several rapid fire emails, we decided to go for it and create a duet video of us singing Mario Kart Love song.

Our video entry to the ETK Voice of the Year contest:

 We had fun sharing the video with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.  Imagine our surprise when we actually made the cut for the competition!  The 20 eligible contestants would be performing live on stage with a band during ISTE 2014 at the Tabernacle.

We were sent 8 pages of songs that we could choose our top 3 choices to sing for the competition.  While disappointed we wouldn't be able to sing our amazing rendition of Mario Kart Love, we quickly warmed up to the idea of singing another song.  Many, many emails and texts were sent as we tried to agree on the perfect song choices.  We sent in these top 3 choices:

1.  Power of Love - Huey Lewis & the News
2.  Love Shack - B52s
3.  Forget You - Cee Lo Green

Again, we were surprised when our third choice was chosen, but we embraced the song and decided it would be tons of fun and would allow for plenty of theatrics! 

The line up for the night:

As the tenth act, it seemed like a good place to be.  Not first...not last...just right!
We planned via a google document as to how to split up the lyrics and talked of practicing at ISTE.  Yeah right.  Those of you who have attended ISTE know that there is ALWAYS something going on at ISTE.  The closest we came to rehearsing was the morning of the Librarians Network Digital Playground where we were presenting about GeniusCon.  Matthew turned on the video of the song, pulled up the lyrics, and we sang a bit...but not the whole song.

The night of ETKaraoke, we were both pretty nervous! There were even judges on stage! 

 The Tabernacle was an amazing setting/place for the party and competition.

Being surrounded by many, many friends made us both feel better 
as well as being in it together!  

We danced and sang along to the first 9 acts and then it was our turn to take the stage...

We DID it!  

I love this awesome .gif created from pictures taken by our friend Elissa Malespina.  

And if you didn't notice from the pictures above that Matthew and I both pointed and jumped around quite a bit, several of our friends captured videos of our performance.  Each shows a different angle/perspective.

From Nikki Robertson:

Okle Miller and Lindsey Hill also both filmed our performance, but I'll save y'all from all 4 angles...LMK if you MUST see the other 2! ;)

(A very special thank you to our super friend Lindsey Hill for watching out for both of us the night of the competition and doing her best to ease our nerves!  You're Wandoorific!)

If you can't tell, we had an absolute BLAST singing together and left our nerves behind as soon as we hit the stage.

We didn't win the competition (even though we received all 10s from the judges...just sayin'), but that really wasn't what it was all about.  In the end, I'm proud (as usual) of our collaboration.  I'm also proud that we stepped a bit outside of our comfort zone.  

Matthew and I now know, for sure, that the power of #GeniusPals is indeed EPIC -- even when singing karaoke!  I loved the experience of singing on stage together and love that we now have the videos to share with everyone.  Our silliness and friendship shine through and make me smile.

Life is definitely better with a Genius Pal like Matthew Winner!  

So very thankful for our friendship. :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wandoo 5

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being a part of something big...  24 hours of complete awesomeness.

 I was invited to be a member of  #Wandoo5 with Evanced Solutions: a Teacher-Librarian Think Tank.

The idea of a Wandoo Think Tank had been percolating with Rob Cullin, President and co-founder of Evanced, since the Banishing Boredom tour with Wandoo Planet began in the spring.  The Think Tank would be a way for the leaders & staff of Evanced to pick the brains of school librarians, not only about their products, but about the roles of school libraries, librarians, reading, and teaching in the future.  I was thrilled when Rob said he wanted to have this Think Tank in Indy at Evanced and bring some of my most favorite TL friends in from across the country.  (Pinch me!  I was included in this!)

Lindsey Hill (or should I say THE Lindsey Hill, in honor of her newly updated Twitter handle...), the Reading Engagement Innovator for Evanced (& former elementary teacher) acted as our hostess and guide, meeting us all at the airport (it was like a family reunion!) and helping us get checked into our hotel.  We enjoyed a casual evening out in Indianapolis filled with friends, food, and amazing conversations about everything under the sun.  Dinner with Rob and his wife Kimberly gave us all the opportunity to extend our conversations into the realms of public libraries, library design, and beyond.

The next morning, we all met at Evanced for a well organized day with the leadership and staff. After a few fun pictures (& breakfast, of course), our day together began. 

My friends are much more prolific in their writing and reflections, so please be sure and read posts about our time together from Matthew and Shawna. (I feel certain Andy and Shannon will also add their thoughts about Wandoo 5 in the near future.)  

Many thoughts were also shared on Twitter (which brought us together in the first place!).  Read the stream here:

My main take-aways from this day together:  

  • Evanced is a company that values the voice of others.  Their products which are marketed to public libraries and now school libraries and student readers became even more meaningful to me after spending time talking with their leaders and hearing their thoughts.  It certainly makes sense to illicit the input of the users, but I venture to say that many companies don't take this valuable step.  Evanced is all about children...readers...and doing what's best for them.  That's something I can embrace whole-heartedly!  Wandoo Planet, in beta, encouraged the banishment of boredom for readers.  After seeing what is up and coming, the ideas that are being implemented and tweaked, I know that Wandoo Planet will become something amazing for my students and yours.  I look forward to seeing what else Evanced has planned in the future.  
  • My voice is important!  This is a difficult concept for me to grasp.  I have so many amazing TL friends who constantly inspire me, it's often quite easy to not speak out because I feel my voice isn't of value.  How many of our students feel this way?  One of my goals in the library is to make sure our space is welcoming and that every student finds a place there.  I value the voice of my students and ask for their input daily.  It's truly their library and not mine.  The moment I begin to make decisions for ME and not them is when I lose my effectiveness and vision.  I need to remember that my voice is just as important in the library world and be sure to speak out and share ideas.  It was an amazing feeling to have others listen to me that day and to even write down or tweet my thoughts.  I need to remember that feeling and be sure to extend it to my students as I listen to their thoughts and ideas AND put them into action.
  • Our why is pivotal.  Knowing what keeps us going and pushing onward in our schools and libraries, embracing new ideas, trying new things, branching out, connecting, and doing more is crucial.  We ALL need to identify our why and check our actions with it regularly.  Many times, as educators, we want to do it all and try every new thing, but if it truly doesn't connect to our why and enhance our mission, it may become counter productive.  Do our students have a why?  As educators, it's up to us to help them discover their passions and motivations.  
  • Work isn't work when you're doing what you love.  Spaces should be flexible, colorful, and encourage collaboration and creativity.  Sure, I knew this about LIBRARIES, but I'd never been in an office that took this seriously!  Evanced Solutions modeled everything I'd like to have in my library spaces for productive, hands on explorations and learning. 

  • Everything is better with friends.  Finding my tribe in the past several years has been life changing for me, both professionally and personally.  I want to do everything I can as an educator to help my students find their tribes as well.  Whether it's a space in the library or a library sponsored activity or club, helping others connect with ideas and each other is a worthy and important part of what we do.

I'm going to quote my genius pal, Matthew Winner, to close:  "I guess what I'm trying to say is, the takeaways I experienced at the Wandoo Planet think tank were takeaways I could put immediately into practice in my own library program. It was an incredible day, and I'm a better person for taking part in it."

Yes indeed.  It WAS an incredible day that I will continue to reflect upon and I feel honored to have been a part of it.  

Thank you Lindsey, Rob, and Mark for your hospitality and your wisdom!
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