Thing 40: Final Reflections & What’s Next?

Another year, another Cool Tools session to wrap up. Let’s dive right in!

What did you learn?

  • How did you put what you learned into action at school? Personally?
      • While I struggled initially with the EBP lessons that kicked off the Track 4 Cool Tools, I think they have had the biggest impact on how I do things. I’m more aware than ever of all the potential evidence I could (and should) be collecting about what I/we do in library. I’ve started using my cell phone camera to snap quick pics of student work, students working, final products etc. Then, I’ve been using the Google Drive app to upload them right to special folders I created in Drive. It really doesn’t take that long and before I knew it, I had a nice collection of examples of what we actually do in library.
      • In keeping with the goals I came up with in my EBP writeups, I’ve also stuck with my fancy new monthly infographic wrap ups I’ve been creating for my principal. Next year, I think I’d like to find a place in the library and hang them month after month so everyone who has a few minutes of time could get a better sense of what actually happens in our space.
  • Did you expand your Personal Learning Network? Make new professional connections?
      • I did the Polly recommended double dip strategy for one of my writeups and used the DIY option as an excuse to sign up for the Learn 2 Tweet class I had been wanting to check it out. Through that class, I not only learned more about how to use Twitter more effectively, I also meet some great librarians and added them to my network of people I can reach out to when I have questions! I also learned about tons of great hashtags and regular live tweet sessions I can use to expand my PLN even further!
  • What challenges did you face during the workshop?
    • As always, time is the biggest hurdle to this class. I want to read and explore all the options in each tool, then I have to decide which ones I’ll actually want to work with, explore them, try to use them with actual classes/lessons, then finally, write up the whole process! The part I struggle with the most is getting them worked into actual lessons in a timely fashion that also leaves me time to report about how it all went.

What’s next?

  • Did you start some projects that you’ll be following up on in the future?
      • I absolutely plan on continuing all the projects I started during the EBP tools (infographic summary for principal, newsletter for teachers, recording evidence). I’m also really looking forward to using Google Classroom to assist with Battle of the Books next year. Finally, I can’t wait to use SeeSaw more next year and would love to be able to use BookWidgets for student assessment.
  • Are you planning to share what you’ve learned with others?
      • I would love to put together a professional development session for one of our superintendent days on using Google Classroom for our teachers. I’ve also been thinking about putting together a proposal to lead a book study on The Together Teacher in my district.
  • What other professional development projects will you be pursuing?
    • In part, because of what I’ve learned in this class over the years, and as part of my overall goals, I’ll be starting to pursue my goal of someday becoming National Board Certified next year. I’ll also be taking a one credit class in the fall through UB on being a leader in your building community!

Did you like learning this way?

  • For some of you, this might have been your first experience with this kind of independent, self-driven learning. Did this work for you?
      • I’ve always found it fairly easy to be an independent, self-driven learner. As long as deadlines and guidelines are clear, I usually don’t have any problems focusing on the work I need to do when I need to do it and sticking to a self-imposed schedule. I also like the challenge of the doing something just for me, not because anyone in particular is watching or expecting it from me.  
  • What did you most value about the program? What didn’t work well?
      • Hands down, one of the things I most value is all the time and effort Polly puts into pulling together all the resources and ideas for each tool! Often, they are all things I’ve wanted to look into more at some point but, never seem to have the time to do the research on it. Thanks to Polly, I can focus on the exploration and not the hunt and gather.
      • I struggle with the same things every year, over extending myself and at the end of the school year and getting crunched for time, and taking time to connect with the other participants. This year was no different but I’ll continue to work on it.
  • Would you do it again?
    • Absolutely! This was my third time and I have never regretted the time I spent on Cool Tools.

Cool Tools for Schools, Thing 32: EBP-Collecting Data



I’ll admit, I was disappointed when I first read through this tool. I was hoping for some cut, dry, concrete lists of data to collect and how to collect them. Of course, I knew it couldn’t really be that easy. If it was, we’d all be using EBP and wouldn’t need two cool tools devoted to the topic!

Three things from the provided readings and tools stood out to me.

Stand Out #1: Jeri Hurd’s quote from the readings, “Basically you will need three types of information: Data, examples and stories”. This simple quote and the examples provided made me feel better, less stressed and overwhelmed by the idea of collecting data for EBP. Spreading EBP over three types of information means that I’m not relying on any one type of information to carry all the weight of proving my lessons have impact. Spreading it over three types of information also erased images of me constantly creating and checking pre/post assessments to get my data. It also made me feel like I’m already on my way to collecting data for my EDP because my lessons naturally have examples of student work and student stories (I just have to start collecting them on a regular basis and in a more organized fashion!). More than anything else I’ve read in these first two cool tools, this quote made me feel like I could actually do this EBP thing. 

Stand Out #2: Ross Todd’s article, Irrefutable Evidence: How to Prove You Boost Student Achievement.  I liked this article because it gave me plenty of doable ideas for collecting the third type of information I’ll need, data:


  • Simple checklist strategies:Check students’ levels of information literacy skills, technical skills, knowledge, and attitudes before and after the library instruction.

This is such a quick and easy way to figure out what my students know, need to know, and learned. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about using it for my own EBP though. Using it to drive my instruction and assess how it went, sure. But, after the lesson, I would either pass it along to the teachers with their monthly reports or recycle it. Not any more though, now I know how valuable it can be.

  • Rubric strategies: Evaluate students based on a set of criteria that clearly defines the impact of your lessons.

Rubrics are everywhere online! I don’t even have to create my own every time-why haven’t I been using these more!!!! I’m currently using a K-2 opinion writing rubric I found online to grade 1st grade writing pieces for a project we’re doing in our elementary school libraries. Again, something I’m already doing that technically, is EBP and I didn’t know it. I’ll be sure to scan these into my Google Drive along with the writing pieces instead of just giving them to the teachers at the end of the project for their writing grades.

  • Conferencing strategies: Devise activities where students can reflect on their work, their skills, and the benefits of the library instruction.

I’m taking a class on Explicit Direct Instruction right now and we just talked about the importance of giving students opportunities to self assess and reflect. During that night’s class, I realized I don’t build enough of these opportunities into my lessons. I’m still working on identifying some that will work for me and my classes but, I’m even more motivated to find some know that I realize that it could double as EBP data.

  • Journaling strategies: Document your instruction and the outcome of your instruction.

When I first read journaling strategies, I thought this was going to be another way to have students reflect on their learning but this one is worded for me, the teacher to reflect. I’ve done some classes and research into becoming National Board Certified and self reflection is one of the pieces of the process. Again, I like the idea of incorporating this into my routine. It will help me prepare for that part of NBC and counts as part of my EBP data-score! Plus, reflection really does make you a better teacher. I make little notes in my planner after lessons sometimes but again, I could make an effort to do this with purpose and on a regular basis.

  • Portfolio strategies : Gather samples of students’ work over a period of time and match them to your school’s curriculum goals and information-literacy requirements.


Stand Out #3:  Lyn Hay’s & Ross Todd’s EBP Action Plan & Program Plan Templates. This was such a great thing to find! I personally love lists, charts, templates, planners etc. Nothing makes something feel instantly more doable and achievable to me like writing it down in some kind of organized fashion. One of the things I’m noticing in these two cool tools is that I already have some things in the works that could be turned into data for EBP. But, I need a plan to take them to that next level where they actually are part of my EBP. Sitting down with these templates could help me do just that. I like also like that you can plan out individual goals as well as quarterly goals for the school year.

I have a tendency to go big and get overwhelmed but I’m going to try to heed advice from one of the readings and “start small” with this one. Since I’m already in the middle of a project that is trying to assess the library’s ability to impact student writing, I’ll do a template for that to start. Filling out the template after the project is started isn’t ideal but, it might help me find some gaps/issues/weak spots/overlooked issues etc. The 5th grade classes always do an end of year research project so I think I’ll use the template to come up with an assessment plan for that project as well.

Overall, I feel so much better about EBP after doing these two cool tools. It doesn’t feel as daunting and overwhelming as it did when I first started reading about it. I’m hoping to gradually add this to my library life and turn it into a regular habit. After all this reading and reflecting, I really don’t have any excuses not to!

Cool Tools for School, Thing 31: Thing 31: EBP–Getting Started



I was so excited to see that Track 4 would be tackling EBP and annual reports this year! These are two areas that I know I could be tackling better but just don’t know where/how to start. I do send my principal monthly library reports (yay!) but they are the same template I got from a librarian I subbed for fresh out of college and they emphasize circulation stats, most popular book etc (boo!). I’ve also made gains in showing people what I do in the library. On the suggestion of a colleague, I send the teachers a quick end of month report that showcases what we did in library, what CCSS we hit, and any physical/digital work the students produced (yippie!). But, since I don’t give grades in my district, I never thought to make copies/scan any of the students work for my own data/evidence of what I do (double boo!). Clearly, I need some help and direction when it comes to EBP.

I think one of the hardest parts about getting started with EBP, for me, is just sitting down and thinking about the who, what, where, when, and how of EBP (the why is the easy part-because it’s important and makes your worth in the school indisputable). So, after tackling some of the activities and jotting down some notes, it was time to tackle the “think about” questions.

  • What’s your school mission, primary focus, goals?

Like many schools, we’re really focused on raising our students test scores and getting more of students to perform at grade level in math, reading, and writing. We also revamped our PBIS program and started implementing the Leader in Me program this year.

  • What is important to your principal, school board, other teachers?

I think the above goals are the most important to my principal and fellow teachers. I think these things are also important to the school board but I also know that the district is stressing technology, getting our kids ready for the real world.

  • How does your program help meet THEIR goals?

This is the big question isn’t it? It’s also the most difficult one for me to succinctly answer, even with all this time dedicated to thinking about how to answer it! By making reading and storytelling fun and enjoyable I can encourage reading, and reading more helps make better readers. I can work more writing activities into our class time to help make them stronger writers and editors. We can even work some math and number skills in to our activities. We can improve their research skills and increase their awareness of the need to be safe and skeptical online-which helps prepare them for the increasingly digital future. I’ve been trying to work the critical academic vocabulary into our lessons when possible. Seeing, hearing, and working with the critical academic vocabulary in as many subject areas as possible will help them become more comfortable with vocabulary they need to address the CCSS.

  • What measurable data can you collect that will show the library’s influence on student success?

I could revamp the library centers and library center worksheets I’ve used in the past so that I have some kind of pre-assessement and use the worksheets as a post assessment of what they’ve learned/I’ve taught. I’ve done more writing projects in the library this year and I’ve been keeping all of the planning, rough draft, edit pages etc. When we do any compare/contrast activities I could take pictures of the charts we fill out together at the beginning and end of the unit. I could track the tech skills that I teach students with pre and post assessment activities.

  • What stories, anecdotes and personal stories might you collect from students and staff? These help support the quantitative data.

This is definitely something I could do a better job keeping track of! Students say things about what they’ve learned or enjoyed about library all the time and I don’t ever make a note or write it down! I need to get in the habit of making a note in my phone/iPad or planner. I’ve been thinking about getting a special notebook and at the end of each day taking a few minutes to jot down the crazy/funny/silly things they kids say and do every day. Maybe this could do both jobs…

Some final ideas I got from the readings:

  1. start using exit tickets in the library
  2. use Kahoot! more during the school year (my students love this-I think we’d ace the state tests if they were presented in Kahoot! format)
  3. add Nearpod into my smartBoard presentations/lessons
  4. use Google Forms to survey more than just my 6th graders (and more often than at the end of the school year)
  5. start using the SeeSaw app as soon as possible (IT is working on getting this installed on my iPads)
  6. focus on knowledge created/gained, focus on the students

Whew! That’s quite the start-feels good to get some of this out of my brain. Can’t wait to get some ideas on how to actually start collecting the data (and some ideas on what data to collect).