Monday, November 28, 2011

Librarians as Leaders November 28, 2011

Question: What Do I Need to Be Doing to Lead the Media Center into the Future?

The definition/description of our job as librarians seems to be constantly "under contruction." Are we librarians? Media specialsists? Teacher librarians? Each title conjurs up something slightly different, and the fact that we can't settle on one title seems to indicate we haven't decided what our role in the future will look like. How can we? Ever changing technology challenges our vision of the future every day. We will still be acting in a supportive role for teachers and students in order to create effective and lifelong learners, but we must now see ourselves as leaders and advocates for teachers and students. Using the media center, we must offer ways to help teach students the necessary skils to be productive members of our society.
How do we become leaders? By being on the forefront of the trends in education and the needs of the community. Woolls describes a professional librarian as a future thinker and a visionary who develops specific long range goals for the media center. Students need to be seen as both local and global members of society, and planning needs to reflect this concept. By being a member of a professional organization, librarians can stay informed about new issues, trends and technology that will facilitate meeting the goals of the media center.
Leaders are advocates for learners, and librarians must be advocates for their media centers as learning centers. What is it that we do? How are we doing it? Transparency, according to Doug Johnson and Will Richardson, is a key component. Richardson links transparency with leadership. Show what you are doing to help students learn, with your successes and failures and struggles for all to see and help, but be out there! Do not hide. Move foward, visibly, and people will follow. Johnson believes transparency develops trust, and a leader must be trustworthy. Transparency is a wonderful way to advocate for your library program. Showing your budget, calendar, goals, statistics, expressing your educational opinions and opening the doors to your media center will go a long way to answering the questions of how you are spending your time and money. Being transparent will probably spark some heated discussions, but when you suggest new ideas or expenditures, people will know what you're about. Again, your vision for the media center (and the students) will be clear. Haranda and Yoshina's article gives a good tool for assessing library teaching methods that can be used to show how your vision is being met.
 Joyce Valenza describes this as being "fierce," being right in the forefront of education, and being a leader by supporting students and teachers in ways they didn't know were available. One of the ways that struck me was how much of a learner I was going to have to be, as well as a leader. I find this daunting, the continually modeling of learning new technology and educational concepts. Good to know, according to Joyce, I can be BETA, but I must also be my own trainer. Doesn't it seem a bit contridictory that I don't have to know it all, but I will never, it seems, know enough?
Am I going to lead by, as Seth Godin says, by being a guide through almost endless amounts of data? Is the entire point of the library of the future, as he thinks, a massive data bank? Will I be a golden retriever? I think this is too narrow of a vision for the role I will play, especially as a school librarian. I will be more of a border collie, gathering groups together, helping them move in a collectively agreed on direction.
So leadership involves transparency, self-education, being willing to take risks, have a clear vision and advocate for your media center. Because at the heart of it all, we are resposible for helping shape the future leaders.

Podcast CYA   Nov. 2, 2011  "Six Picture Books"
I chose this podcast because I thought it might help me pick out some books for my granddaughter (age 4 and under), and I was not disappointed.  "If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet" by Leslie McGuirk was the first book reviewed, and most people gave it high praise. The book used rocks that the author had collected over the years that looked like particular letters. For example, a rock that resembled the letter "V" also stood for the word "valentine," and the rocks would be shown "kissing." The reviewers thought that children would start using their imaginations with other objects around them. "Perfect Square" by Michael Hall also got high praise. Good for storytime or one on one reading, the story follows all the things that happen to the main character, a square piece of paper. Lots of vocabulary building in the verbs used (the square is folded, shredded, etc) on each day of the week. There's counting and colors used as part of the story. They saw this book as full of learning possibilities. Highest praise went to "Press Here" by Herve Tullet and "Shout! Shout it Out!" by Denise Fleming. Both books were described as highly interactive, good for group readings. These books were very appealing to one reviewer's children (which I appreciated hearing). Two books were not well regarded. "A Suitcase Surprise for Mommy" by Cat Cora and "This Plus That: Life's Little Equations" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, were both described as not well illustrated and either too specific in theme or too "cutesy" for the reviewers' tastes (although they acknowledge that the latter book was favorably reviewed professionally). I think I will check out "Press Here" and "Shout! Shout it Out!" at the library before I purchase one, but I have a good list to use.

Bob Sprankle  "Happy Thanksgiving! Please Pass the Purpose"  Nov. 24, 2011
First of all, why is this man blogging on Thanksgiving Day?
Sprankle is reflecting on what he's thankful for, and he decides one thing is his after school Tech Club that meets once a week. He's thankful for not so much the club (which runs itself with minimal guidance from adults), but the fact that the club is more interested in developing a purpose than talking about technology. The club talks about local issues (homelessness in the community) as well as global issues (school supplies in Africa), then decides which technologies would be best to address these issues. Sprankle wonders how many librarians approach technology use the same way. Find the technology that supports the purpose rather than shaping the need around a particular technology. Technology integration should be driven by purpose, not the bells and whistles of apps or hardware. I find this blog comforting because I feel, as I read some of our assignments, that technology is driving the way, and what, we teach.

Larry Ferlazzo "Why Teachers Shouldn't Blog...and Why I Do"  Feb. 25, 2011
Ferlazzo starts with a incident describing a teacher's complaint in her blog about how some of her students (unnamed) were "lazy" and "annoying." His main criticism of teachers' blogging, of course, is not being professional. The purpose of his blogs is sharing, reflecting, challenging and celebrating teaching. He also now starts sharing it with students: "sharing what I write about my students with my students is a clear indication that I really do think about them when I am not in school, that I valued what they say and think, and that I am proud and want to tell others about them." Of course I am reminded of the power of transparency.

Teacher 2.0 "You Matter"   Sept 7, 2011
Boy, did I need this post! I am feeling that I have no skills at all and that I have no skills to offer the students of today (technology wise). This post reminded me I have skills that are just as, if not more, important. Asked to list what they are good at, and a few mentioned their tech skills, but most teachers described skills such as enthusiam, leadership, motivation, respect for others, making connections with people, and creating a "joyful learning community." Those I have, and those will make me successful.

Connie Williams (Aug. 30, 2011) was calling for librarians to contact both Senators to ask them to support the SKILLS ACT - Senate Bill 1328), and to ask as many people as possible to do the same because the quantity of responses is what Congress responds to. This reflects what Woolls was describing in Chp. 15 as part of being leaders through political channels. I need to find out more about this, and keep current on future legislative action through ALA.

Naomi Bates (Nov. 15, 2011) gives a link for a good video to teach students the basic principles of avoiding plagiarism. The video is produced by Common Craft ( and contains a catelogue of instructional videos. You must pay to use them ($159 for an individual to use for a year; $2000 for a school population of 2500 to 20,000), but you can use them in the classroom and/or library. The video comes with a full transcript. The sample I viewed seemed very professional as well as entertaining.

Danielle Dunn (Nov. 1, 2011) gave a link to her presentation at the 2011 AASL Conference on how to use Google apps for advocating for your library:(
This slideshow gave a tremendous amount of information in 20 slides that I will download. I feel this can give me some ammunition in interviews as well as guidelines after I am hired to keep the media center relevent to all.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Policies Project November 14, 2011

Virtual School Library Media Center Management Manual

by Marjorie L. Pappas

Marjorie L. Pappas, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor at the School Library and Information Technology Online Learning, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. E-mail:
School library media specialists often post messages on LM_NET and other state listservs I monitor, requesting examples of information that I used to maintain in a management manual when I was a school library media specialist. I started my manual when I was a student in the organization and administration course we all take in library science programs and I kept it current with information gleaned from conferences, workshops, and networking with other school library media specialists. Manuals are easier to maintain today because of networking through listservs and the Internet. In thinking about the requests for information related to policies, job descriptions, cataloging, resource acquisition, etc., I decided a virtual version of this traditional paper manual might be an interesting and useful concept.

Setting Up My Virtual Manual

My concept of virtual is paperless. Virtual manuals can be maintained without the challenge of adding pages and adjusting page numbers. Virtual manuals can include hyperlinks to information located on the Web. Before starting the development of my manual, I thought about who might access the manual besides the school library media specialist. Library assistants, volunteers, and, occasionally, substitutes should all be able to access this manual. Also, the library media specialist should be able to access the manual when working at home. The best way to achieve that flexibility is to post the manual on the library media center's website or on the school's network, assuming the network is Internet accessible. If a library media center website or network is not available, the concept is still feasible, but a little more challenging, because new versions would need to be loaded on separate computers. Once this decision has been made, the next step is to scan and/or key-in the existing information related to the specific library media center. Following are sections and weblinks to include.


Some policies need to be written to fit the unique needs of a specific library media center, for example, circulation policies that establish the time periods books circulate and the cost for replacing lost books. Other policies, like copyright, are based on federal legislation. Links to Web-based copyright information will be useful to supplement local policies.

Policy weblinks:


The school library media specialist's job description should be posted, but it also would be useful to link to job descriptions for student and parent volunteers. The Web provides examples of job descriptions for this section.

Examples of job descriptions:

Collection Development and Acquisitions

The purchase of resources and technology for the library requires access to information about producers and jobbers.

Useful websites:


Examples can help school library media specialists develop the forms for use in the library media center. This is a section that can be developed over time.

Examples of forms:

District Portal as Manuals

School library media services in larger school districts have developed excellent portal pages. These portals provide school library media specialists with both instructional and management resources and tools.

Examples of portals:

  • Indiana Learns. Office of Learning Resources, Indiana Department of Education. This website was developed as a companion to the book Indiana Learns by David Loertscher with Connie Champlin (Stenhouse Publishers, 2002).
 Maine Association of School Libraries. Comprehensive guidelines for managing a school library media center.

These virtual manuals and portals enable parents, community members, and other school library professionals to view how school library media specialists manage media centers and teach students to gather and use information. Now all we need is a portal page to the portals.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How Do Librarians Manage Information and Teach Information Despite Limited Time, Limited Staff and Information Overload?

I wonder, as I try to absorb our assigned reading, what profession I have gotten myself into. How on earth can you be all things to all people? The concept that keeps jumping out at me seems to be the idea of collaboration. Collaboration, used effectively, can help librarians reach the lofty goals we have set for ourselves.
Students, teachers, administrators and librarians need to collaborate in order to make the library, and the librarian, relevant. According to Empowering Learners, Chp 2, the librarian should be the facilitator for collaboration between all learning communities. Everyone is an active participant in collaboration efforts, so the librarian is one part of the process. Shared participation requires shared effort. The librarian can provide the "push" in a general direction, then hopefully students and/or teachers will take on the task of futher learning. To know the right direction, of course, is the librarians' job. Know your curriculum, know your GLE's, know your students and know your teachers and support them through selection of materials, access to the library, training of technology and how to use online resources (Woolls, Chp. 10). Librarians are able to see "the big picture" without bias, so they are in the best position to see opportunities for collaboration within the school. As Woolls explains, librarians are poised to blend the media center and classroom activities. Librarians need to show teachers how knew methods to teach (especially technology) can be useful and less time consuming. Anticipating needs and being there to serve that need before the patron realizes what he/she needs is a goal for all librarians. Once that need is met, hopefully the patron will take the ball and run with it (however, librarians will still be there to guide when necessary).
To be facilitators of collaboration, librarians need to spend TIME assessing needs. Again, know your curriculum. It's the beginning of helping students and teachers achieve their goals. Then ask them what they need to help fill any areas that are lacking. If a teacher feels he/she is weak in an area, help make him/her feel confident. Find a website, teach an appliction, draw attention to a technological device that will support the goal. Two reading assignments described the problems of accessing websites. Find ways to unblock them (if appropriate), or find appropriate sites teachers can use. Be an advocate for free access, according to Richard Byrne. Learn how to be a champion for teachers' and students' right to information. The more librarians do for their school community, the more they will do for their librarian. Hopefully, with shared resposibilities, the workload for the librarian can be lessened.

"School Library Web Presence Seminar"
A great introduction to why and how to do it! But really overwhelming for a newbie, although several people were supportive of my type. I heard many urging to just start small. Maybe I will explore the concept of a wiki, which most seem to feel was the easiest to attempt. If I start a project like this, I may use a subject I am more familiar with - dog grooming, for instance - to get started. I need to get on each of these librarians websites to look around.

BOB SPRANKLE "Bit by Bit" May 12, 2011 "Let's Have Lunch"
Bob discusses how his free lunch time turned into a learning lunch time when students asked about the Khan Academy videos. These kids happened to be 3rd graders, so Bob steered them to "TED," and a discussion group formed, meeting in the library. The group was self-driven, finding videos at home to watch, watching one as a group the following day, and holding a discussion which Bob found was focused, personal, relevant, connected to the world around them, independent and evaluative. Videos should be reviewed first by the teacher (or librarian) before a group viewing, and Bob gives a link to a spreadsheet listing subjects and authors of "TED" talks:

LARRY FERLAZZO "A Few Simple Ways to Intoduce Reluctant Colleagues to Technology" 11-9-09
or "Do I Want to be Right or Do I Want to be Effective?"
First, before introducing a technology, build a relationship that accesses
needs. What frustrates them? What do they want to accomplish? Then find a technology that stresses two things: how does it help the teacher make his/her job easier and simplier; how does it add to student learning.
Technologies that may fit the criteria: computer projector; document camera, tools to create students work that can be viewed by a wide audience (Quiet Write, My Open Letter, Freedom Share, Crocodoc, Library Thing);Etherpad for a platform for collaboration. I went to a couple of these places and found myself wanting to use them, so I found a great source of information for a beginning for me, the newbie.

Liz Manguno July 8, 2011
Questions about collaborating with staff, staff development and collection building were answered by a host of people with some great ideas. One idea that has been suggested before- a wiki for collaboration. Also attend teacher meetings; document all collaboration to use for evaluation purposes; collaborate small, and your success will promote other collaborations which can grow. Staff development ideas included orientation for new teachers and paras; "Tech Tuesdays" for inservice teaching of websites or applications like twitter; how to use technologies like smartboard or laptops. Collection development ideas included matching books/websites to standards using Follett's titlewave; letting teachers take catelogues and circle what they feel will support their curriculum; asking questions at teacher meetings.

Christopher Young "K-8 shelving advice" July 7, 2011
Lots of advice on how to separate books by genre, non-fiction and fiction, and even age appropriateness. Nobody suggested shelving fiction all together, of letting kids go wherever they wanted or check out anything they wanted. Everyone had a system that "defined" the book in one way or the other. Interesting.

Pamela Thompson "Moonglass"
This was a book review (no comments or question) of the Book Moonglass by Jessie Kirby. It is her first novel and Pam highly recommends it for 12 and up. Themes include romance and mystery and contains nothing objectionable.
Learned that Pam's blog is now featured on Texas Library Association website. Good to have another review source I could look at. She's on blogspot.

Book this podcast is Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin. He's a well respected author of historical nonfiction books (written over 40). This book covers the event, and events before and after, of the Triangle Fire. The author does a good job of detaling the emmigration situation in the sweatshops, the fire, and the uprising of support for changes in womens' working conditions in sweatshops. Most of the reviewers thought the book was well-written and the format with photos and text very appealing, but the book had limited interest appeal (more suited for research than just to read for enjoyment).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Advocacy for the Teacher Librarian

Since I'm not a practicing librarian, I looked at this assignment more in terms of a question that might be asked of me during a job interview. In other words, in what ways do I see the job as a librarian as indispensible?

First and foremost, I need to make it clear that I am a TEACHER librarian, not an aide or a technology geek or a babysitter during a planning hour or before/after school monitor. Unlike these others, my main focus is how to teach skills so students and staff will learn how to use what the library has to offer (not just be a warm body or lead them to an answer)in order to learn how to ask questions, how to search out answers, and develop ideas based on the information gathered. Teaching is my goal, and teaching is the most important goal any school has. As Mike Eisenberg explains in his Youtube Vodcast #4, I must develop the attitude that my job is essential, not an option. Without this, I can't effectively advocate for the library's role in students' education. Eisenberg advises "embracing the brand" as "library information and technology program" rather than "school library." Having an educationally trained librarian is crucial in redesigning the library's role in teaching the 21st century learner. Thus, my goal is to continually educate myself by following blogs, reading articles, attending workshops and professional meetings and asking questions as well as learning web2.0 skills.

Secondly, I will become an intregal member of the school teaching team. As an educator, I can help other teachers develop curriculum that incorporates 21st century media/digital skills available in the library. By holding open houses, after school seminars, and hands on learning experiences, other teachers will become more comfortable with technology, hopefully asking me more and more "What else can I...?" "What can I do with...?" "Where can I find...?" How can we...?" As a professional educator, I am knowledgeable about curriculum development and how to use technology to enhance the teachers' goals. In Teacher 2.0 Med Kharbach posted a link to "The 21st Century Skills Teachers Should Have" (Sept. 25, 2011)which describes the characteristics teachers need to develop in order be effective. Watch the videos, especially the one at the end of the post.

Next, I need to find people to advocate with me. Both Michael Eisenberg's vodcast and Doug Johnson's "4 Rules for Library Advocacy" (Blue Skunk Blog, Sept. 12, 2011) emphasize that I can't do this alone, nor should I. I feel not ownership of the library, but stewardship of it. Relationships among the library community are built one successful collaboration at a time. Success is the best advertisement for the library. Determining needs and then meeting those expectations will build a strong coalition. As a teacher librarian, I can show classroom teachers how the library tools can mmeet the needs of the 21st century learners. Students will be excited about new ideas and technology, and parents will notice the change in the studnets' enthusiam. I especially liked Martha Oldham's 2009 Annual Report for Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS showcasing student and staff involvement in promoting the library. Who else but a teacher librarian would see the value in including student and staff in the library annual report to parents, staff and administration?

Finally, after watching so many videos and reading so many written thoughts about advocacy for our job, the one common denominator I saw or read was the concept of the library as a community gathering physical space. No one was using the library resources in a bubble, but as a means of making physical connections. I would so encourage students/staff/parents, everyone in the community to visit the library by creating a warm, inviting, welcoming space for all to use. If people are in it, I have a captive audience to promote it! The library should be accessible for gatherings of many kinds: book clubs, PTO/PTA, student groups,author talks, art shows, staff meetings, seminars. Any group that needs a place to meet, the library can fit that need and be the place to share, to listen, and to learn. The community of Delray Beach, Florida, on their Youtube video shows the library as their community hub.

So do I believe my job is indispensible? Absolutely. A teacher librarian is passionate about education and firmly believes that is the focus all else follows. As an educator, my function is to understand where I am needed, and fill that need in order to give students and teachers the skills they must have to function in the 21st century world. The library is a necessary means to that end, and I know how to use its tools and spaces; I can't wait to show everyone what they can accomplish!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oct 10, 2011

BIT BY BIT by Bob Sprankle 7-15-11
Sprankle describes his daughter's first FB account creation, and how it compares to his own. He experienced networking in small increments because FB was just starting to build. When his daughter signed on, her described the reponse as a "shark frenzy." within 20 minutes she had 150 friends. This led him to wonder how do we justify blocking this site from schools? How can we ignore such a prominent part of their lives? Experiencing her social connectivity with her peers this way convinces him that this is a phenomena that cannot be pushed aside. Several resposes agree, but most still had reservations about privacy issues and how to deal with them. Most saw the advantages of a space to share, help, and give to each other.

Gave a quick acronym for writing a response to reading a text (from Kelly Young): PQC. P=Point (make a point) Q=Quote (quote from text)C=Connect
(connect with other knowledge of personal experience). I teach dog training classes (which is really training owners), and realize I do this to an extent. It is effective. The text I quote is the learning manual or suggested how to manual I recommend. I give a ton of examples of other owner experiences. Both drive the point home.

Book recommendation I will buy: Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education by Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli giving ideas about how to use networking tools (Twitter, Google Reader, Blogger, Diigo) in the classroom. Patti Grayson describes it as covering the philosophy as well as applications for the use of these tools, but in a personal, easy to read style for the novice as well as the advanced user. Something I can use.

Carl Harvey opened a discussion (March 1, 2010) about popular comic books for the elemntary library students. Since we don't have a comic book section, I thought this might be a discussion I could foward on to my librarian. She could start her collection off with these suggestions.

On the same track (elementary students), I read a discussion started by a librarian (also March 2010) who was suffering from picturebook burnout. Several specific books and authors were suggested, and someone sent a link that contained great ideas.

In another discussion, a teacher was looking for bizzare/odd but legitimate websites for students to explore. what caught my eye was (about places/hotels/attractions that accept dogs). this doesn't seem odd to me, but I guess it's in the eye of the beholder! Other suggestions: and

CYA:Children and Young Adult Book Review Sept 29, 2010
"Clockwork Angel" by Cassandra Clare
The first of three novels in the Internal Devices Series, which are a prequel to the Mortal Instruments Series. I've not heard of ether, but the rights to the Mortal Instruments Series has been boought for a movie, so I'm sure I will. Set in the Victorian era, "Clockwork Angel" has a female main character and is steeped in fantasy. She is kidnapped and trained to develop her skills as a shapeshifter (which she didn't know she possessed). Characters include robots, a vampire, the "shadow haters" and "demon fighters." Tessa is the main characters; boys seem to be secondary. Plot and setting seem more developed than characters, but the reviewers seemed to like this author and her books.
One librarian recommended a site I briefly looked at but some of you might want to take a closer look: This is a site dedicated to helping anyone who suffers from depression, addiction, self-injury and/or suicidal thoughts. There's a lot going on on this site; it seems to have a wide following and legitimate support.

Reflections on text reading:
The idea of libraries as a third place was preaching to the choir. I felt that way 45 years ago. It's where I hung out, but in a solitary way, not as a group meeting place. I guess that is the difference today.
Wools gives so many ways a librarian must manage people and the library, but mostly is in a supportive way than as a top down style. I was interested in the concept of administrators not having a clear way to evaluate my performance (or usefulness) as a librarian, and the need to have that information before accepting a job. Be a helpful leader for students, teachers, and your principal! Empowering Learners made me think of a suggestion box entitled "If I only______ then I could______." For both teachers and students as a way to garner feedback.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Library Commons Budget Plan 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sept. 26, 2011

PODCAST: Children and Young Adult Book Review  July 20, 2011

I chose this podcast because of the title of the book, How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy, by Crystal Allen; the review did not disappoint. All the participants of the podcast gave the book a 4 out of 5 rating; all of them just loved the book. For those of you looking for a book that a boy would want to read (10-14 years old), this would be one to recommend. Humorous main character, great writing in terms of theme and style, conflicts and concerns a boy will be able to identify with-all seem to be wrapped up in this book. Lamar (main character) learns to "bust a slobber" with a girl. He has conflicts with his big brother, Xavier (school basketball star, whereas Lamar shines at the bowling alley); and conflicts with his dad (who seems to favor Xavier, plus is having issues with being a new single father after the boys' mom dies of cancer). Lamar and his friend Billy share some of the same family issues, but make different choices on how to deal with them. These conflicts and resolutions are important "undercurrents" throughout what seemed to be a generally enjoyable read.
Second half of the podcast discussed an article out of the July 1, 2011 issue of The Library Journal entitled "Radical Change: As Libraries Reinvent Themselves, Are We Losing Our Leaders?" by Margaret Tice. I haven't read the article, but the podcast members seem to think that the author worries that coordinator positions for library childrens' services at the highest level (national, state or multi level organizations) are going to be eliminated since several of these positions were in New York state. Again, didn't read the article but the general consensus of the panel was that coordinator positions were very relevant, especially in our age of technology. Small libraries or single librarians rely on coordinators to sift through all of the information concerning digital media and children because, simply, they don't have the time to do it themselves. The panel also wondered if what happened in NY was due to budget problems or an example of a trend (as Tice seemed to suggest). They did agree that support may be best gotten from the local levels rather than the national levels.
The opening question was What is your literary boggart? Panel noted several character types (what is it with clowns, anyway? Everybody hates them!) and authors (Stephen King, et. al.). Mine happens to be A Clockwork Orange (hidious movie, but not sure if it's a novel?) and anything by Hemmingway - a horror for me to read (I feel guilty, but it's so).

BIT BY BIT by Bob Sprankle Sept. 22, 2011
Sprankle highly recommends  Web Literacy for Educators by Alan November as a resource for educators learning "the inner workings of search engines and how to fully control them to do your bidding." It is a must read to teach students how to use search engines effectively for Internet research.
He also recommends Google's game "A Google a Day" for both educators and students. Google asks a question and then times how long it takes the searcher to find the answer; Google then shows the path taken to get to the answer. Great for teaching search skills. Teachers/students can track their own progress or classes can compete in search competitions. Questions and answers could also lead to deeper researching on the topic.

WEBSITE OF THE DAY by Larry Ferlazzo  Sept. 19, 2011
"Simple, Great Chart to Show All Students" contains a graphic of the path to success. This blog contains a link to the graphic and the responses to it. I enjoyed this because it is a great reminder that progress is a messy business ( and I don't like messy. I like A is followed by B, which is followed by C....all in a straight line heading's predictable and comfortable, which most progress is not). Two responses I liked: "So do we encourage people to fail so they can grow? No, we encourage people to grow, which means they will fail." (Lance Griggs) and "Reminds me of the image of a swan on a lake: on the surface, so peaceful and graceful. Below the surface, paddling like hell." (Mykal Hall). I feel like a swan.

TEACHER 2.0 Posted by Med Kharbach Sept. 25, 2011
Med led me to an article I might be able to use for the budget proposal (to gather support for the plan): "The 21st Century Skills Teachers Should Have" . Teachers must effectively share and model the use of current internet tools; participate in professional workshops; provide sufficient learning opportunities for students to become digitally literate; and inspire every child to be quality digital global citizens. Teachers need to be skilled adaptors, communicators, learners, visionaries, leaders, models, collaborators, and risk takers. But the best part of the article is the 5 minute video by The Pearson Foundation ( showing professionals (university professors, corporate CEOs) expressing their ideas about what kind of learning today's students need in our tech world, and how education must change to met that need. Two comments that jumped out at me: students need to learn two skills 1)complex communication and 2) non-routine thinking; and they need to move from learning all the right answers to asking new questions. It's a great video for supporting the need for acquiring technological tools.

Laura Bowers suggests a great website with great websites (PBS, National Geographic for Kids, Kids Discover - there are so many I will use for elemetary students.
For Banned Books Week,  Sept 20, 2011 article by Rocco Stains "Ten books About Censorship for Kids and Teens" gives several suggestions for kids to read concerning censorship. Newest is Americus which concerns Christian groups trying to ban fantasy themed literature.
"Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope" by Robert Lipsyte discusses the continuing diffuculties in finding fiction that boys will read. Why? Publishing is driven by commerce, and girls buy. Most books deal with emotions boys don't relate to. And 'edgy" books that so interest boys are more likely to be banned by principals or teachers. Until educators are willing to address these concerns, boys may not have much to entice them.