Collaborative Hangouts


One of my fears, starting out as a new member of a new cohort, was that the experience of Cohort 21 would emphasize the use of tools (apps, programs, hardware) at the expense authentic interactions between us as professionals and us and our students.  Now, a few weeks into the C21 experience, I’m taking a moment to reflect and to relax!

Our first Face 2 Face session at the York School was about getting acquainted with the toolkit, and I was psyched to learn more about WordPress, Diigo, and some neat new tricks to make the most of Twitter.  But from that first meeting, this experience has been so much more than just technology and tools.  We’re so lucky in the independent school environment to have access to the space, time and hardware, and the emphasis on continually improving our teaching practice, that allows us to foster our professional learning networks.  I know this is also an essential ingredient of the Cohort 21 recipe.

The aspect of C21 I was most excited (and nervous) for was the opportunity for real collaboration.  All of these thoughts were swirling through my head last week during my first Cohort 21 Hangout, led by Les McBeth, on Google Hangouts.  (It was both on Hangouts and ON Hangouts, we gathered in front of our laptops to take part in a Google Hangout to learn about Google Hangouts.)  As Les led us through the features and capabilities of Hangouts, and everyone shared questions and experiences, I was struck by the myriad possibilities for collaboration this tool allows.

Here are a few ideas for us in the library at St. Clement’s:

Author visits – Logistically and financially, author visits can be quite difficult to arrange.  Last year we hosted authors from Ruth Ohi to Eric Walters and Anne Michaels, and I have seen how powerful and engaging these visits are for our girls at every age level.  An author visit on Hangouts could still foster these really meaningful experiences while removing many of the logistical and financial obstacles.

Reading programs – At SCS, we have a reading program called “Red Reads” that takes place each fall.  Similar in structure to Canada Reads, staff and students are encouraged to submit entries showing how their chosen book best exemplifies a theme, such as courage or compassion.  The entire school community votes on a shortlist of submissions and then reads the winning book together.  Next term we will also take part in the Ontario-wide reading program, Forest of Reading.  I’m really excited by the opportunity to Hangout with groups of students at different schools to chat about our top picks for Blue Spruce, and to make use of the archiving function of Hangouts to share live book reviews by students within the school.  This feature could also be used for submitting book reports, reader response and literature circles.

Professional development – The opportunities for collaborating with our PD are wide-ranging, but the first one that came to mind is communicating with my colleague librarians at other independent schools.  Often we are teams of only one or two and it can be really difficult to “keep in touch” over the course of a busy school year.  But we all face similar issues in similar environments, and collaborating with my colleague librarians has given me some of the most rewarding experiences, not to mention valuable insights, of my professional life so far.

Just some initial thoughts on collaborating with Google Hangouts.  I’ll look forward to sharing what we’ve done at St. Clement’s, and hearing what you might be up to, at our Next Face 2 Face in a few weeks!


4 thoughts on “Collaborative Hangouts

  1. Hey Laura!

    It was great to see your face on my computer screen last night and get to learn more about blogging with you and some other great members of the cohort.

    If you are curious about how to leverage the power of Hangouts, I would highly recommend touching base with a past Cohort participant and facilitator @jenbibby. Not only is she an incredible, warm, and knowledgable teacher at RSGC, but she was also experimenting with using Hangouts in her French class last year.

    While your departments are clearly different, I think that she might have some insights and “a ha” moments that could set you in the right direction.

    This is her final post after her action plan was completed:

  2. Hi Laura,
    It was great to “see” you on the hangout as well. I use the quotation marks around ‘see’ to emphasize that we weren’t in RL (real life), but rather mediated through digital technology. I wonder if our students see it this way? That is, I wonder if our students would feel the need to use the quotation marks…hmmm…

    I am really excited how you can already see the power of modifying your students’ library experience via Hangouts. This is a great step forward. To Celeste’s point. I would also encourage you, if I haven’t before, to connect with Sara Spencer (Cohort 13-14) and Tim Hutton (Cohort 12-13) who are both librarians doing some great things! Check out their blogs to start and connect with them on Twitter 🙂

    See you soon,

  3. Hi Laura,

    What I appreciate about your post is the recognition that technology is not really about apps or programs — although these tools are essential — but about community building. You identify opportunities to help SCS build connections with the greater community in ways that are authentic and meaningful. It’s not technology for the sake of technology, but technology in the service of who we are as a school community. I am excited to help support your ideas and vision for he future. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.


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