Friday, August 31, 2012

Teaching teachers

Before school started, the art teacher and I worked together to present a 45 minute professional development session on media literacy, visual literacy, copyright, and DISCUS (our state's research database) during our teacher workdays.  Our art teacher did a great job sharing what she learned about media literacy during our district's SC Midlands Summit.  At the conclusion of her presentation, she had teachers participate in an activity inspired by Ken Shelton's visual storytelling session at the summit.  (To learn more about Ken Shelton's visual storytelling session, please visit media specialist Heather Loy's blog post about it here.  She took great notes.  I did not.)

In our PD session, the art teacher showed the teacher three slides:
slide 1. one picture - teachers had to give the picture a title
slide 2. one picture- teachers had to write a caption
slide 3. three pictures- teachers had to write a story

Our teachers wrote some hilarious stories and captions.  (I work with some really fun people.  Coming to work is never dull.)  Everyone had fun and walked away with ideas on how to use images and photography to help students write.

Here is a list of digital storytelling resources from our session & from the AASL's Best Websites for Teaching and Learning :

I followed up with information about copyright, fair use and creative commons.  My middle school librarian peeps pointed me to Ronnie Burt's blog post to help me with my presentation.  I also created a list of websites and web tools to help teachers learn more about copyright.

Over the summer, the South Carolina State Library held several training sessions to introduce the new research databases available in DISCUS.  I was eager to share this information with our teachers because the new databases are easy to use with our middle school students, include reference books, e-books, pictures and videos while including MLA citations for all of it.  With the focus on common core standards, I thought this was a great time to point out how the resources in DISCUS will help us provide students with a variety of reading & research materials.

I talked about the following research databases: Credo Reference, History Reference Center, Science Reference Center, NoveList K-8 plus, Bloom's Literary Reference Online and Newspaper Source Plus.

Discus 2012 2013 from Lorena Swetnam

As much as presenting in front of a group makes my heart drop down to my knees, it is definitely worthwhile.   Each time I've had to present about our school library, technology and research, it has opened lots of doors for new collaborations and learning relationships.

Hope your school year is off to a good start! 


  1. Have you participated in any of my "media literacy" workshops? If not, I hope you might consider inviting me to do some PD with your teachers.
    Frank Baker

  2. Wow! Thanks for the reference, Lorena! I'm WAY behind in my RSS reading, so forgive the tardy response. Love that you guys provided PD to your teachers on such important topics. Continually learning and sharing gives my life purpose and I'm especially thrilled to learn how others are learning and sharing!