Update from Self-Quarantine -Day 48

I saw this online this morning and the feels…

Via https://www.newyorker.com/humor

If you have been following along this month, you know I only made it to the letter “I” in the alphabet for the A-Z challenge. The reason for this is that it began to feel more like a chore than something I was excited about. Plus the stats were the same as when I was not posting. So I felt a little adrift in figuring out where to go from there. That is of course not to say I have not been busy.

We officially heard on Monday that my husband has finally been acknowledged by the Social Security Administration as being disabled. Surprisingly, he was approved not for his Sjogren’s Syndrome (which is a blue book listing), but rather because of a combination of health problems not the least of which is migraines. I plan to have another post with full details because it has been a three year battle and I have found that not many people talk about what happens after…

I have a meeting with my dissertation chair tonight. I had joined a group on Facebook that was hosting a challenge to get the dissertation written, but nothing has happened in the two weeks since my last group meeting with my chair. Again, it is that feeling of being adrift. I know I need to get more motivated and I should feel like I have all this time now to work on the paper, but I feel like I am busier than ever while still being at the least productive I have ever been. Anyone else feel like that? I tried describing the feeling to my husband, but he wasn’t understanding what I was getting at.

I am an introvert at heart, so I am not bothered by the fact that a month and a half has gone by since we began self-quarantine. I enjoy my coffee on the deck in the mornings. I keep up with my emails, and I am still teleworking for my full time job which means lots of virtual meetings and conference calls. Plus, I am prepping for the Summer quarter of the online graduate course I teach to begin. My family is healthy (well, healthy-ish). I may not feel like I am getting much done, but I know that I really am. I just need to stop comparing myself to what others are doing.

If you also find yourself adrift in this time of uncertainty, it is okay. Don’t let those with their baking, their house cleaning, their craft projects, and their sheer productiveness get you down. Remember that social media is only showing us a glimpse of what is happening in the background and everyone handles stress differently (mine seems to be by buying bulk snacks via Amazon). We are not quite superhuman, no matter how much we may try to be. So hang in there!

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A-Z Challenge Time!

Many years ago, I participated in an A-Z blog post challenge. In April, not counting Sundays, there are 26 days. So the idea behind the challenge is to post a new blog post each day in alphabetical order. April 1st would be an entry for the letter A and April 30th would be an entry for Z.

In years past, this has meant that I posted a potpourri of ideas, but I like the idea behind that because there is a creative aspect in coming up with each entry. Sure, I could make it more challenging by having a theme, but let’s face it, life is just crazy enough as it is without throwing that into the ring…so anything goes. I could post Instant Pot recipes or I could share pictures of my dogs. Could it be a book review? Maybe you will get a social distancing observation entry. You’ll have to stay tuned to see what comes next.

Are you a blogger and you want to participate in the challenge as well? Drop a comment with a link to your blog and I will keep a list here. Please, only family friendly blogs. Believe me, I have a mouth like a sailor, but my mother could be reading this…second thought, she would enjoy that too much. My third grade teacher could be reading this…let’s keep things clean for the Irish Catholic Parochial School teachers out there. 😉

Finding My Way Back On Track

If you were to only look at my site stats for November, you would see that I am having one of the best months ever…but I haven’t posted anything since the beginning of October. Most of my traffic is coming from recipe pins on Pinterest which makes sense since this is the type of weather where you just want to curl up with a bowl of soup or stew. In other words, it is Instant Pot weather and I have a lot of recipes for that. So why haven’t I posted anything? Well, it comes down to motivation and I have had a decided lack of it lately.Read More »

Goals for September

I probably should have shared this on Saturday, but the idea didn’t occur to me until after I had already posted and I didn’t want to have too many posts overlap, but I have seen a few bloggers post monthly goals and thought it was a neat idea. As someone who teaches productivity, I know that writing it down makes you more likely to follow through and if you are to share the goals, that makes it even more likely that you will achieve your goals. Creating SMART goals strengthens the likelihood even more, but well, let’s not go too far…

So this is what I hope to achieve this month, I will do a round up post at the end of the month to see where I stand on those goals:

1. Pass the IRB Committee Review

If you have been reading for a while, you know I am a doctoral student. I am at the final stage of my education: the field study. However, before I can send out my survey and schedule my interviews, I have to pass the institutional review board for my university. Basically, proving that I am not doing unethical research on humans. Usually, the process doesn’t take that long, but for some reason, my university has a backlog. So it took two months to hear that they needed me to make some edits to my study proposal. I am hoping that I hear that I am approved this month because well, I still have to pay tuition even though I am just waiting. Sounds fair, right?

2. Contact all the doctors

We actually have three doctor’s appointments just this week alone! And when I say “we” I mean my husband, but I go with him for most of his appointments because he has memory issues. Total this month I think there are five appointments not counting the weekly checkins with his counselor and the nurse practitioner. My husband has an autoimmune disorder on top of many other conditions, but we live in an area that doesn’t exactly have the best medical options. So we are trying to get him into a special clinic up in Baltimore that specializes in his condition. However, they won’t even schedule an appointment until they have all your medical records sent up to them. So we have a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, a pulmonary specialist, a neurologist, and his primary to contact to get his records. I have to say that the nurse practitioner at his primary’s office is awesome because she has helped me figure out the process for getting all these records released and who I need to get them sent up to.

3. Post at least one blog post a week

I know I have been slacking, but it has just been an overwhelming summer between the dissertation edits, being short staffed at work, teaching my summer graduate course, and a whole bunch of other things happening all at once. So I would like to get back into the swing of things. I really do like writing and I feel like as much as the statistics show you all like when I post my Instant Pot recipes, those post can be a little bit of a cop out because they don’t take much time or thought to put together (well, the cooking does, but I am just reporting on what I did). So I hope to get some more substantial stuff up on a more regular basis.

4. Upload a short story to Kindle Direct Publishing

I noticed the other day after looking at all my unfinished works in progress, that my inspiration tends to fizzle out once I get to twenty five pages or so. So I think I need to start smaller. I have been toying with the idea for a while of uploading something to KDP and I have a story that is almost ready to go. So after a couple more edits, I will try my hand at self publishing. Once I do, I will create a post here detailing how the process went and what my progress looks like. Might as well do it while I am twiddling my thumbs waiting for that IRB approval, right?

So fingers crossed that the next 30 days go smoothly! Stay tuned for updates and if I can keep to my monthly goals.

Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment

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Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.

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This is what mine looks like:

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I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:

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There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.

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Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.

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I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…

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Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like Lynda.com for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?