Well, friends. It's the end of July. I can't believe how fast this summer flew by. It seems like just yesterday we were all thrown into the midst of a pandemic with only uncertainties to guide us through a new era of digital learning. Maybe technology wasn't your strong suit. Or maybe you wanted to pursue different applications but weren't sure where to begin. It's like this pandemic provided some learning opportunities that we might have not pursued otherwise. I used my summer to build my skills and take on learning opportunities that will guide how I shift my programming and lessons for a more digital-inclusive library—to ensure that it's implemented with fidelity and not simply because I "earned a badge". I also participated in and created some PD opportunities and I'm honored to say that RGV Library Squad hosted our very first RGV LibCamp this summer! We really tried to provide an open opportunity for librarians seeking some guidance on how they can implement new practices for the 2020-2021 school year. Along with an amazing virtual conference, I presented multiple times--RGV LibCamp, TxASL, TCEA, and NTX Lib Camp--and even had some amazing interviews with some AMAZING people such as Charlene Martoni (Feminist Librarian aka my new friend!) and Alfonso Mendoza (My EdTech Life). I even represented the Rio Grande Valley in ALA's Virtual Tour with ALA President Julius Jefferson! OH! & let me not forget-I have a YouTube channel now! Exciting!
This summer really led to some meaningful opportunities and I am eternally thankful for a profession that allows me to flourish in so many areas of education. Learning never stops. Teaching never stops. I wanted to hone my skills, so I also pursued different micro-credentials. Mainly, yes, because I'm a hyper-nerd and I love learning, but because I really want to advocate for my position and promote my services as a library media leader. As an educator, I like to lead by example and learn as much as I can. If I encourage my students to do this—to seek knowledge, to question, to participate in thoughtful discussion—then I must do the same. So, where did that lead me this summer? I am now a Certified Google Trainer, MIE Trainer, MIE Expert, Newsela Educator, Kami Educator, a Flipgrid Level 2 Expert, and I am pursuing my Newsela Trainer credentials. Yes, these courses take time and preparation, but it's totally worth it. I can't think of a better profession that integrates the use of technology to its fullest capacity. That love of learning doesn't just stop there, though. Lispy Librarian and I kicked off a live show called "Tech It Over" in hopes of centering discussions around women in technology roles. Will conversations get serious? Definitely. Will we have fun doing it? FOR SURE! I consider myself very lucky to have her by my side for this project and what I know will be an amazing journey together! Okay, but, why do any of it? Why go for it? Because—I know what I want my library and profession to reflect: a welcoming, inclusive, innovative, and engaging environment (both physically and virtually). How I begin to prepare for the incoming school year is definitely going to be different and a challenge, but I am 100% positive that my training and experience have prepared me for this moment. Thankfully, I am part of an amazing network of librarians that encourage each other daily. (Shoutout to my new friends Amanda Hunt, Deb Zeman, Jessica Fitzpatrick, and Kaitlyn Carpenter! Make sure to follow them!) If you find yourself feeling unsure of yourself, reach out! Engage with other librarians that share the same vision and that build each other up. This isn't a competition. We're not here to see "who wins the virtual library award". These are uncertain times and we should join forces to ensure the success of our communities whether we’re from the same region or not. Isn't that why we're educators? So, I leave you with this: Pursue opportunities that you feel will make you a better librarian, educator, leader, and colleague. Encourage librarians to join you in a planning session if you're feeling overwhelmed about where to begin planning for the incoming school year. Create checklists or calendars and take it ONE task at a time. Lastly, remind yourself that you're doing the best that you can with the situation at hand. We're not perfect and neither is this current state of education--but together we can provide each other with a support system to make our year less daunting. Also, by all means, never hesitate to reach out to me if you need some advice, encouragement, or a funny meme to get you through the day 😂. I'm always an email, tweet, or Instagram message away. I may not always have the answer(s), but I can always connect you with someone who might. This may be my last blog post for a while since I'm going to begin work and school soon, but don't forget--Be brave, be resourceful, & continue to advocate for meaningful change.
Happy New Year, friends! 2019 flew by so fast I feel like I'm still catching my breath. Let's raise a glass to new beginnings! I'm making it a point to stick to documenting my reading journey on Goodreads. I've even joined the 2020 Reading Challenge and set a realistic goal of 50 books this year. It seems that January is synonymous with the word "resolutions" and reevaluating our habits to make room for personal growth. As a librarian, I like to refer to my yearly reading goals as "readolutions". This is something I love to share with my students. One of my favorite lessons at the beginning of a new semester is brainstorming what makes a good reader, making lists of what kind of reading resolutions are attainable, and deciding on what readolution is best for us. Students then create a visual of their readolutions using Buncee. We then add everyone's individual creations to a "vision board" and share with the class. The lesson example is below.
My goal for this month is to make their projects into an interactive bulletin board using Buncee's QR code feature. Feel free to make a copy of the lesson if you'd like to spark a discussion with your readers about the importance of reading for pleasure and setting attainable goals. You can also use the free bookmarks I have listed at the end of the post if you'd like them to jot down their ideas first. I also use these to write down books people recommend or quotes or words that resonate with me while I'm reading. If you happen to create your own readolution Buncee share it with me on Twitter by tagging me @cuethelibrarian. Until then, I wish every single one of you a wonderful New Year and hope it is filled with many opportunities and blessings!
I'm just going to cut to the chase on this post, because my attention will be elsewhere in a minute. So, here's the deal. I've experienced hardcore cabin fever since I am on maternity leave and although my motherly duties call for my attention every five seconds (lol, I love my kid this isn't a complaint) I needed something to keep my brain occupied. So, in the spirit of Halloween fun and free treats I'm adding a download for some October bookmarks I created on the app Procreate using my iPad. I like to doodle and sketch when I feel overwhelmed and it's given me a sense of calm these past couple of days. I'd also like to dedicate this post to all the badass working librarian moms and dads that go above and beyond for their campuses and have the extra superhero strength to give their personal children their all. This is entirely a new experience for me and I hope I can instill a love of reading and learning in my son. So far, he's had a really great reaction to some high contrast board books which is awesome. If you have any personal favorites that you loved reading with your little ones, please drop me a comment so I can check them out! I'm also in search of a really good mystery read so if you know of a really great one please let me know! Have a great October, everyone!
Free download link can be accessed here , the banner, or the preview below.
Ukuleles in the library. That's music to my ears! One of my major goals this year is to begin a Donor's Choose project to fund ukuleles for my library. I've played classical and electric guitar since I was a kid so learning ukulele was a fun and unique challenge. I was trying to figure out how to incorporate my love for music, but make it fun and easy to attract patrons of all ages. Last year I went on a trip to Hawaii with my family and came across a ukulele store and I knew that's what was missing in my life! Upon careful selection I chose my uke. I named her Makai and have learned and created countless songs on that beauty. Although, at the time, playing was solely for my pure amusement, a major life event has spurred my interest in learning more songs for children. With that also came the idea and possibilities of creating fun ukulele programming for my library. However, how do I even begin? Well, I began with asking questions and reaching out to librarians via social media. I've slowly compiled some resources on a Wakelet collection and continue to add as I come across fun resources. In this collection you'll find my posts about my ukulele in libraries inquiry and librarian responses about the topic. In addition, you'll find links to different social media groups and people to follow, articles about the benefits of ukulele programming, beginner guides, and simple songs to get you started. I hope to add more to this collection and can't wait to see how this resource collection grows! If you have any additional resources you'd like to add to this collection, or any additional suggestions, feel free to comment on my block or reach out to me via social media! Until then, happy strumming!
Trouble viewing the collection? Click here!
I am so thankful for my district's public relations department because they do such a great job at highlighting what our library department does for our community. I experimented with Wakelet and compiled a collection of news clippings that highlight some of my accomplishments as a librarian and my library. Check it out!
Karina Quilantan-Garza (aka Q./Cue) is a middle school library media specialist in the Rio Grande Valley. She is an award winning blogger, social media enthusiast, book reviewer, and technology lover.