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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept. 12, 2011

I went back to the CYA podcasts because I enjoyed the last one so much, and I was not disappointed. Listening to the conversations about young adult lit takes me back to why I want to be a librarian - the power of books to help define who we are, who we might become. Two books discussed: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Schulman and Legacy by Joshua Coleman (May 4, 2011). From the conversation I surmised Schulman's book is a fantasy set in a library where people could check out mystical or magical items that are organized in a Dewey style. At first the review was tepid (slow paced, sterotypical characterizations), but as they each remembered favorite parts of the book, the review was better. It averaged to a 3 out of 5. Legacy received a much better review (4+ out of 5). The theme is bullying, and the setting is high school, specifically the football team vs. the gymnastics team. A "must read," "powerful," "gritty," all the reviewers were on the same page except for how the conflict was resolved between the two groups of teens. Some thought the ending was realistic, a few thought it "hollywood." Be aware that a gang rape and suicide are parts of the plot, so read before you recommend. All the reviews end with recommendations by each member of the group. Some I will check out: Heads you Lose  by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, Hint Fiction by Robert Swartwood, Whiff of Pine, Hint of Skunk a Forest of Poems by Deborah Ruddell, and Modern Masters  published by Abbeville Press.

Bit by Bit by Bob Sprankle  "Who Has the Right?" Aug 19, 2011
Does a teacher have the right to ban a student from using _______________ (insert technology here) if it's an effective learning tool for that student? The piece of technology focused on in this blog is the Livescribe Echo, a pen, when used with special note taking paper, is also able to record the lecture at the same time the student is taking notes. The student can later point to their notes, and the recorded version of the lecture that matches that note will replay. The student can hear the lecture again to clarify their notes. Besides the issue of price, the most worrisome is policy and/or performance: would the teacher and classmates all have to sign consent forms? How could you keep the student from sharing so others don't have to attend class? How do you keep students from cleverly editing a teacher's/classmate's words and send on the Utube? Will the teacher/students alter their lecture/involvement in class because they worry about being taped? Does the help it may give the student using the pen outweigh the other issues?

Websites of the Day by Larry Ferlazzo Sept. 12, 2011
Again looking at the idea of how to help students listen more effectively (from last blog assignment), Larry had posted a link about that topic. Within that article was a 7 min TED talk by Julien Treasure about the importance of listening. He believes that conscience listening creates understanding, and it is a skill that is being lost: too much noise being produced, and filtering tires us out; connecting through technology deminishes the need for artful conversation (which requires listening to each other); we are impatient in today's world of now, now, now. His 5 tools to improve listening I think I will try to practice 1) 3 minutes of silence a day, 2)listening actively to all the channel of sounds that you hear, 3) savoring all the sounds that you hear, especially mundane ones, 4) change positions (active to passive, reductive to expansive, critical to empathetic) - don't stay in one mode, and 5) RASA: receive, appreciate, summarize and ask. Listening is the skill to connect us to the world.

Teacher 2.0 by Steve Hargadon "Personal Web Presence" Sept. 7, 2011
This is step #5 (I have to look up the first 4!), and he suggests that PWP's are important for both students and adults. Colleges are encouraging their students to create one for job application purposes to highlight their accomplishments, achievements, interests,etc., instead of relying on a google search or facebook account, which could both contain questionable material(I wonder if high school students are next for college applications); the same can be said for educators. These sites might become a chore to keep current, but worthwhile. I think that this idea could lead to a great discussion  with teens about what kind of web "footprint" they are leaving behind, and how it might hurt/help them in the future. Also, realizing this is going to be important in a job search, they may want to evaluate more seriously their current goals: What would my PWP look like? How/what could I do today that would enhance it? What would I include? I know it got me thinking about what mine would look like.

Quick interesting question posted-wondering if any of you have had to work around this: Animoto changed its user policy over the summer, and I guess a student must be 13 or older to use this technology. Poster wondered how this affected elementary librarians - has anyone had this come up?

"In the Spirit of Benjamin Franklin: 13 Virtues of the Next-gen Librarian" by Andy Burkhardt, Catherine Johnson and Carissa Tomilson
 1) Courage: act not from fear, but in spite of it
 2)Flexibility: prepare to be adaptable
 3)Service oriented: pay attention to your people more than your emails
 4)Balance: between budgets, time, technology, and user needs
 5)Collegiality: learn and share with colleagues
 6)Curiosity: be excited to learn and discover; don't be the person with all the answers
 7)Creativity: using the 21st Century technology to solve the 21st Century problems
 8)Thoughtlful: be a critical thinker of new educational "bandwagons"
 9)Playful: don't take yourself too seriously
10)Collaborative: find opportunities to collaborate with everyone
11)Direction: set goals and achieve them. Turn vision into reality
12)Passionate: spread excitement and enthusiam
13)Assertive: be an advocate for libraries!
These are not meant to be a checklist, but a guide for professional development.

Kidtopia  Dr. Michael Bell (
A great site for elementary librarians to find search engines for elementary age students. All sites are evaluated as safe and effective. Graphics are excellent. Colored pencils contain subject matter (Language Art, Science, etc.). I choose Language Arts, and my choices included Illustrators, Stories, Writing, Vocabulary, etc. I choose Authors and was given sites such as Yahoo Kid Author, Author Spotlight and Literacy Web. I will bookmark this site.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aug. 23-29, 2011

In what ways do schools still need brick-and-mortar libraries and librarians to run them?

When faced with the task of learning something new, I quickly think of "where" I want to be to effectively learn "what" I will be learning. I want a space that is comfortable for my mind as well as my body. I want a place that has the ability to give me access to the information I need in the format that best presents the information, surrounded by people who have the same general quest for knowledge. And I want a person who is able to help me in my quest, whatever technological roadblocks may come my way. My kitchen table is my most easily accessed learning environment (my office), but I often find myself driving to the public library's computer terminals or the Lee's Summit UCM annex to do research. I need this common space, this shared experience of learning, and a librarian to help me manage the every increasining information that is infinite, it seems. How do I find it? Once I find it, how do I evaluate it? What if a link is broken? Can I find another way to access it? Is there a better/faster/easier way to accomplish my search? I want a hard copy (and my home printer never seems to work). And I NEED a librarian to help me. The constantly changing face of technology highlights that a professional trained to use all the tools available is not a perk, but a necessity for every library, whether public or private. Keeping up with this technology is a full-time job that students (or any libray user) cannot be expected to do, but using this technology is a skill most jobs in the near future will require. A librarian will be essential in teaching not only tech skills, but how to use the information that is found. Service is the most important role of the librarian in the future. One blogger's response to the question was to describe the librarian as "someone on their side," showing "subjectivity, empathy, clarifying questions," which no terminal can duplicate. I know my doesn't.

Blue Skunk blog
As I read Doug's list, my own list developed (since I'm not in a school setting and won't be for a while) in my head after reading our assignments:
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started the Media Specialist Program
1. The entire field of library science is in the middle of a digital makeover.
2. The title "media specialist" is more appropriate than "librarian."
3. That I should have taken a community course on web 2.0 .
4. That I would be learning as much about basic technology as I would concepts of librarianship.
5. How much time would be devoted to keeping up with changes in this profession.
I'm both excited and daunted by this job. I had the stereotypical librarian as my role model when I decided on this career, but instead of backing away before too much time and money is invested, I've decided to embrace this new idea of librarianship.

Bob Sprankle "Bit by Bit"
Sprankle discusses what he misses about paper books and what he would like to have in ebooks. I agree with some of the things readers lose when they are using only ebooks:
-no one can see what you are reading, so it loses its value as an easy conversation starter.
-the gradual loss of books off your shelves in your house. Like the loss of good friends.
-the inability to easily lend books.
-I also marvel at the simplicity of a paper book: the batteries never die, it needs no intruction manual  to use
  it, I will never need to worry that the technology of a paper book will become obsolete, and it will never
  break down (unless the spine is worn out from multiple uses - a good reason to break down).
Sprankle would like a way for ebook users to, in "real" time, connect with each other over the internet. While two people are reading the same review on Amazon, for instance, how could they engage in a discussion at that moment? Like a chance discussion in the same section in the bookstore?

Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo
A follower posted the question on "How Can We Help Students to Develop Better Listening Skills" Aug. 25, 2011
There were two comments, mostly supplying links to helpful sites, and Ferlazzo plans to revisit the question Wednesday after more input. I will keep up with this. Listening must come before learning (in most structured cases), and I feel I can learn much from this discussion.

Teacher 2.0
Posted the question "Do you keep a professional blog for yourself (separate from your students)? What is its value?"
Most people (as I would expect) answer yes. The value for each was a little different, though. Some see it as a way to "brand" themselves, some others described it as a professional presence on the web. Other see it as a marketing tool in the shifting job environment. Some use it as a way to connect to others who share the same interests within the library community. Some use it as a way of personal reflection, or a diary. I have heard job search experts stating that to be competitive in finding a job, you should have a professional web presence, so I think I must give this idea serious thought.

I found a site entitled "Suggestions for Successful Internet Searches" by Susan Beck at New Mexico State University. She gives several good guidelines including being aware of the disappearing websites; hard copies are always a good idea; have students evaluate the search process; never assume what the student already knows about internet searching; and collaboration with teachers is paramount for a successful learning experience.
I also found  Awesome Library, and am eager to spend more time here. It linked me to BCK2SKOL lesson entitled "A Class on the Net for Librarians with Little or No Net Experience." There are over 20 lessons that include email; listserv; searching disciplines such as humanities, fine arts, social and other sciences; netiquette; gopher and other terms I don't understand. I hope this will help me become more literate about the web world.
Awesome Library also directed me to a site that helps figure out the MLA style for web sources. I'll use that often. Enough said.

Children and Young Adult Book Review
My first experience with a podcast, and I didn't know how to evaluate, so I just closed my eyes and picked.
The book chosen for this review, Mockingbird, by Daisy Whitney, was reviewed by three people. I have no idea who they were except they were librarians. I feel to get the most out of this review I should have read the book, but the conversation did get me interested in checking this book out. The author loosely based the story on her own experiences with a date rape while attending Brown University (1990). Set in a boarding school on the east coast somewhere, the main character is date raped, and the book, it seemed to the reviewers, not only followed the main character's journey through this ordeal, but also the formation of the "mockingbirds," an organization, I could only guess from the discussion, which helped her through her ordeal. The reviewers thought teens would be drawn to the themes of date rape, the power to overcome life's adversities, and how you can make a positive change in your life as well as helping others do the same. They thought the characters were well developed, although the administration of the school was mostly one dimensional. It's the author's first book, and her style is described as easy, but interesting. The book was compared/contrasted to another book, Speak, several times.
Another section of the podcast discussion centered on librarians as reader advisors and how best to do it. Emphasis was given to knowing your library collection across all genres; a librarian should not rely on using key word searches. Just because a student's last favorite book had a dog in it, doesn't mean that was the reason the reader enjoyed it. Careful questioning is an important skill to learn to help a child chose the next book to read. Also, don't be overly enthusiastic about one particular book you happened to love. Pick out several the child may be interested in, then give them the space and power to chose one book on his/her own.
Finally, the reviewers had the chance to promote a book or gadget that they found interesting. One reviewer recommnded a nonfiction book, Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter, and a graphic novel, Alice in Sunderland by Brian Talbot. The latter is described as a nonlinear, collage and mixed media complex story set in the Sunderland District of Great Britain that centered around Lewis Carroll. I feel I must look this book up. Another reviewer picked a Moleskine as the best Christmas gift she received. I need to look this product up, also. It is a book journal (although there seems to be several types of journals available). She never described the item well, but her enthusiasm for the product was catching. I want one even though I'm not sure what it is! She urged going to the website were there are several videos showing how people have used the product. Going there now.