Friday, August 23, 2013

Sleepless, Sweaty & Satisfied Teacher-Librarian!!!

Several sleepless nights agonizing over lack of class meeting space in my new library.  Two sets of low shelves allowed only three tables in area with view of projector screen.  Was warned in advance that no projectors or other electrical or technology items could be moved.

How would I be able to invite classes into library? Many options crossed my mind, got measured and reviewed and eliminated.  Nothing would work without moving projector and screen.  Nothing would work . . .

And then inspiration hit!  I was in the building by 6:45am.  I had measured and committed by 7:15 and was working up a sweat before 8am.  By ten I had every cart and most of the tables covered with books and the shelf units moved into new position.  My plan was going to work!!!

How many times have I created a plan in my head and discovered after hours of labor that I did not have enough shelf space in one area or another to accomodate needs?  (Many, I assure you!)  NOT THIS TIME!!!!  Everything went back into new configuration better than it came out!!  Ok, I eliminated some stuff, but I, who hate to get rid of anything, had no problem with this purge.

It looks great!!!  I created an area to highlight and spread out my graphic novels making room for more purchases this year.  I moved both biographies and short stories to more accessible areas.  I achieved my primary goal of space in front of projector screen with comfortable room for six tables.  As a bonus I was able to maintain a barrier between this and the front of the library to allow additional students to work even with a class in progress.

Principal walked in as I was finishing up (shortly after noon).  Had to be reminded of previous layout but very complementary once he realized what I had accomplished.  Patting myself on back now, while I can.  I know it all gets harder once the teachers and then students get into building.  Looking forward to it though.  Can't wait to use my new class space!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Employed in Henrietta NY !!!!

Oh so happy!  I was finally offered and signed a contract as a teacher-librarian!  Six years training as a Tech Integration Coach and Teaching Assistant in our high school library, a Masters Degree in Library Science and two months as a long term substitute at our stand alone Ninth Grade Academy Library last spring and voila, finally, complete with interview process and suggestion that I might not get the job, I got it!  I got it!  I got it!  I got it!!!  I am so excited!!!!!

Ok, its been a year since my last post.  I will be busier now than ever, but, perhaps, on my own and on stage, I will focus more on this blog.  My apologies to anyone who has followed in the past but hopes that you may continue in the future.

"New teacher" orientation next week.  I have already been in library every day this week and am wishing I had two months before school starts.  So much to do to try to get ahead of the curve and the oppressive knowledge that as soon as teachers walk through the door I will be behind and probably won't catch up all year.  Ugh.  I know it will be fun, but am sure it would be more fun if I felt prepared . . . . . Oh well . . . . Ready, Set, Go!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Libraries and Transliteracy blog: Gone, but not forgotten!

I am very sad that to read that Bobbi Newman and the crew at the Libraries and Transliteracy blog are closing shop.  In most parts of the country we are just opening the door to Information Literacy and have so many more battles to win before we offer true support to Transliteracy.  We will dearly miss the guidance and support they offered through this blog and can only hope that the void this departure leaves will be filled with motivational visionaries dedicated to this cause as a beacon for librarians into the future.

Below are some favorite presentations posted recently to the Libraries and Transliteracy blog and below them, excerpts from a February 2011 post by Bobbi introducing the concept of transliteracy to beginners.














Beginner’s Guide to Transliteracy

Where did the term transliteracy come from?
 . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thomas, et al, posit a very specific origin to the term transliteracy:
The word ‘transliteracy’ is derived from the verb ‘to transliterate’, meaning to write or print a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language. This of course is nothing new, but transliteracy extends the act of transliteration and applies it to the increasingly wide range of communication platforms and tools at our disposal. From early signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV and film to networked digital media, the concept of transliteracy calls for a change of perspective away from the battles over print versus digital, and a move instead towards a unifying ecology not just of media, but of all literacies relevant to reading, writing, interaction and culture, both past and present.

What is transliteracy?

Sue Thomas and her group use this working definition:
Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.
The definition of transliteracy continues to be expanded and refined, but, as Ipri points out:
Basically, transliteracy is concerned with what it means to be literate in the 21st century. It analyzes the relationship between people and technology, most specifically social networking, but is fluid enough to not be tied to any particular technology. It focuses more on the social uses of technology, whatever that technology may be.

How is transliteracy different than media literacy, digital literacy or technology literacy?

Transliteracy is an over-arching concept that is not meant to replace any of the other more specific studies of format-specific literacies. It sits on top of these other literacies in an attempt to understand the relationship among them. As Thomas, et al write, transliteracy
offers a wider analysis of reading, writing and interacting across a range of platforms, tools, media and cultures, transliteracy does not replace, but rather contains, “media literacy” and also “digital literacy.”
They go on to posit that
transliteracy calls for a change of perspective away from the battles over print versus digital, and a move instead towards a unifying ecology not just of media, but of all literacies relevant to reading, writing, interaction and culture, both past and present. It is, we hope, an opportunity to cross some very obstructive divides.
Unlike many literacies that have a particular focus, transliteracy attempts to be all-inclusive. According to Thomas
transliteracy is not just about computer-based materials, but about all communication types across time and culture. It does not privilege one above the other but treats all as of equal value and moves between and across them.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Check out the archived Libraries and Transliteracy blog for the rest of this post and many other even more compelling ones.  Thanks Bobbi, Tom, Anthony, Lane and Gretchen for your leadership.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beyond Google Translate!

The world is flat and language is not a barrier!  On the other hand, how great is it that we, as librarians, can research a topic in our native language in newspapers or the web in foreign countries and then, once discovered, can print or send a link to the untranslated version, as written, to our foreign language teachers.  They will think we are geniuses!  Unless, as I plan to tomorrow, we tell them about this great trick!!

This video describes how to search the foreign web in a fully translated format.  Yowza!


Disclaimer: Again, I post this video only with hopes that Google will allow me to display for my own use and yours despite the fact that it was created for a registered user only online course. My apologies if at any point in the future this video becomes unavailable.

Google Timeline gone, but not forgotten

I am loving the "Power Searching with Google" class.  I have been sad for a long time that Google eliminated the timeline feature.  I would have students use this to isolate periods of change or conversation regarding the issues they were researching.  It was very helpful for this purpose and to quickly identify the key thoughts at certain times in history.  While Google Timeline has not been replaced, this video demonstrates how to manually create the same results.  The problem, of course, is that most students don't know what time periods to search but, at least with this tool, once they can figure that out, they still have a way to search within the chosen time period.


Disclaimer: Again, I post this video only with hopes that Google will allow me to display for my own use and yours despite the fact that it was created for a registered user only online course. My apologies if at any point in the future this video becomes unavailable.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Common Core is marching in!

My apologies in advance for this presentation of disjointed thoughts.  I have had a full day and a half of PD already this year on DDI (Data Driven Instruction) and the Six Shifts to the ELA Common Core.  While the DDI concept seems totally logical, understanding how it can drive differentiated teaching and learning is incredibly motivating.  Even more motivating was working with groups of teachers who are in search of "challenging" non-fiction texts to encourage "close reading" for understanding!

I see the Common Core marching in and am glad to be an usher at the event.  The downside, of course, is that it would appear our educational colleagues are being directed to the literature without mention that we are here to support or guide them.  Nobody is speaking up for us if we don't speak up for ourselves!  They will find articles on their own - somewhere, and of unknown quality.  Some will be good and some not so good.  If we can't step to the front and make ourselves heard, with supportive offers of guidance the process will happen without us and more librarians and the services that we can provide will be lost.

We can find articles in specific lexile ranges.  We can find articles on both sides of the issues.  We can order magazines or books to support the curriculum.  We can find articles specific to the curriculum instead of just, "something that will work."  We can and we must! 

The College Board announced today a redesign of the AP U.S. History program.  Though it will not take effect until fall of 2014, it's three objectives focus on alignment with current university requirements, a narrowed volume of required knowledge, and greater flexibility for "teachers and students to focus on the close reading and analysis of primary and secondary source material, and the development of the skills practiced by historians, such as argumentation and periodization."

"The increased flexibility of the redesigned course will provide teachers with time to help students use the knowledge they gain to practice the work of a historian. Rather than simply moving rapidly from topic to topic, AP U.S. History students will regularly engage in sustained, close reading of historical source material and the development of written arguments solidly grounded in such evidence."

For years our best students have been restrained from deep study of U.S. History and development of history research projects because the demands of the curriculum left no time for these follies.  Finally, these advanced students may get the opportunity to engage in these essential practices.  We have two years to align this program and an endless variety of opportunities. 

Today, tomorrow & next week we must focus all over our buildings.  We must somehow present ourselves as ushers to higher quality information.  In many buildings this means first removing the stereotype that we are trip hazards as we suggest books and databases that take longer than a quick Google search.  Our future and the future of every other librarian and aspiring librarian is in our own hands right now!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A book challenge to celebrate Banned Book Week!

Perks of Being a Wallflower, (Chbosky) has been used in our 11th grade classes for years but two challenges this semester, this week, may drive it from the curriculum.

I am a strong supporter of parental involvement in student access to media of all kinds and of student awareness of the potential content of books, movies, songs and games they consume.  I believe teachers, even more than librarians, need to consider the content and tone of media assigned in their classes.  And yes, librarians should build collections to meet the needs of their audience, BUT . . . . .

While librarians should focus on their audience, the goal should not be to stifle, but to enlighten and expand.  For every book there is a reader and for every reader, a book.   In every audience there are varied interests and needs.  Inevitably, to support the interests or needs of one group will eventually offend another.  While librarians should attempt to fill shelves with books that will speak to all segments of our readership and even stretch beyond the limits where feasible, we should also be aware and sympathetic to the limitations and expectations of those readers we assist or guide in selection.

In the video below, John Green suggests that more often than not, what people find offensive in books is exactly what the book is actually arguing against.  I find this and the comments and Banned Book Choices of others being interviewed in this promotion for the BBW Virtual Read Out very interesting.


So, what are my thoughts about the challenges to Perks?  It has been a long time since I read the book.  I don't remember it being offensive beyond any literature that has been taught in schools for years.  That said, if a parent or student truly finds it offensive, I tend to support the opportunity to choose an alternate text.  I do wonder, in saying this, how those same parents and students react to discussions and readings in health classes or even social studies.  Luckily, it is not my job to guide people's thoughts or beliefs, but only to provide them with books that they can connect with in a way that others can also find books that fill their needs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why do we bother with library orientation?



OK, I understand not everyone will agree with me, but really, why?

I'm not talking about elementary school or about real library orientations ... where stuff is, how to access it, who the staff is, what we can do to help.  I'd even like to pursue a little "shocker" lesson to earn students' attention - something to display either, how little the majority of our students know about research, or how we are able to help.

What I am tired of, at the high school and possibly even middle school level, is the multitude of creative and not so creative ways we try to re-package and push "library rules" down our student's throats.  They got the same basic list of rules every year in elementary school.  Perhaps students listened to them then and, developmentally, probably needed to learn in this way.  They get the same basic list of rules from every teacher in every grade the first few days of school and probably from a principal within the first week or two.  I am not so naive as to believe that every teacher has the same expectations but the tone for the school should be set before most of us get an opportunity to do library orientations.

Are we really asking for anything more than common respect in the library? Respect toward others, respect for materials, equipment and the common space, respect for ourselves, and student respect for themselves . . .  If we are asking for more than this, is it really necessary?  More importantly, if our focus on rules, regulations and punishments lasts more than ten minutes, is there any evidence that students will adhere to the standards any more carefully?  Is it possible that excessive discussion about rules, fines and punishments actually deters visits to the library or even provokes inappropriate behaviors among a larger set of students?

I have not done my research on this topic.  No literature review, no combing of the Web or other blogs.  Perhaps I am out of line.  But, in my humble opinion (IMHO to the text savvy), if I expect students to respect me and my space, I need to begin by respecting them!  I need to assume they have a basic understanding of library expectations and, with minimal review and appropriate delivery, they will act appropriately.

What is appropriate delivery and will this really work?  It certainly will not work all of the time.  But then again, reviewing the rules ad nauseum doesn't work all of the time either.  Appropriate delivery?  It definitely begins with respect and modeling appropriate behaviors.  Perhaps a bill of rights that indicates things that are allowed and expectations / responsibilities?  Perhaps a short list posted discreetly around the library and handed out on library orientation day, but overshadowed by the really interesting "shocker" lesson discussed above.

I did not do my homework.  Please help by commenting your feelings regarding library orientations, alternative options, or perhaps suggestions for that "shocker" lesson.  Feel free to post also if you think I am off my rocker and traditional conduct and procedure orientations are still necessary at the high school level.  Please let me know what you think!  Thanks, in advance for feedback!




How Google Works!

So . . . I'm taking the Power Searching with Google certificate course.  Hoping to learn a few tricks and really hoping to pick up a better vocabulary and teaching method to describe the tricks I already know and use.  Right out of the shoot, in lesson one, I am very excited about the video by Matt Cutts, engineer in the quality group at Google, who describes how spiders and page ranking lead to the results we see.

It is an "unlisted video" on YouTube, and as such, am not sure if they will let me re-post, but until they tell me I can't, hope it will stay here for my future reference as a teacher and dedicated Google searcher.  I hope it is helpful to others as well!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In the sweet spot!

Joyce Valenza hits it on the nail again!  "Co-presenting a session at educational technology leader Alan November’s 2012 Building Learning Communities (BLC) conference on July 19 with Shannon McClintock Miller, district librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Schools in Iowa, Valenza outlined five areas in which K-12 schools should turn to their librarians to empower learners with valuable 21st-century college and career readiness skills."  Librarian's ability to support teachers and students with digital curation, citizenship & compassion, creation, connections and the Common Core place us squarely in "the golden age of librarianship."

Goldenview Middle School mashup with the library at Melk Abbey
Read the article in eSchool News for full description of the five C's that place librarians "in the sweet spot of education." My apologies to Valenza, McClintock Miller and

Curation: "Notebooks, bibliographies, and research papers, [are] inadequate for the digital landscape."  "School librarians, with their specialized training and background in collecting, organizing, preserving, and disseminating information, must now teach their patrons—students and educators alike—to" "use emerging technologies to showcase their progress as they acquire, organize, contextualize, and archive both existing content and new learning. Transparency is a critical component in growing what media scholar Pierre Levy calls knowledge citizens. The presenters stressed the value of teaching learners to purposefully contribute to society’s collective intelligence."

 Citizenship/Compassion:  “'With great power comes great responsibility,' said Valenza. Building society’s collective intelligence requires contributors to respect its infrastructure. This is the essence of digital citizenship.  Students must be taught how to publish their work for the real world, with their real identity (not anonymously), to build their digital footprint with purpose."  They discussed importance of accountability, compassion, awareness and potential repercussions along with the need for supervision and guidance.

Creation:  "The participatory nature of 21st-century culture emboldens students to create and publish content—all kinds of content, but particularly multimedia content. Given the opportunity, students will transform work into play. Audience fuels their creativity, not standards and rubrics." "Valenza and Miller described the importance of granting students permission to experiment and explore, and the time to reflect and process their learning, to make it into something new. Students need to take ownership of their learning before it becomes relevant to them. Librarians, who have always served as matchmakers of sorts—pairing books with readers, resources with research questions, and, more recently, problems with tools to solve them [digital and multimedia options for publication]—should be the “go-to person(s)” to support learners as they construct their knowledge."

Connections:  Twentyfirst century literacy is incumbent upon connections and the development of personal learning networks.  Ideally these connections include a blend of experts, collaborators and audience.  While not all connections are reciprocal, collaborations can occur in real time or asynchronously as needed and available.  Collaborations can be built within classrooms, between classes within a school or around the world, or, as students become more motivated and involved with their own learning, with experts and collaborators they seek out on their own. 

Common Core:  "According to Lauren Davis, senior editor at Eye on Education, there are five things every educator should do to meet the Common Core State Standards. Her list includes focusing on process, publishing for real audiences, and engaging in discourse. Valenza and Miller explained that curation, citizenship & compassion, creation, and connection embed experiences into instruction that make the CCSS gel for learners. They make learning authentic and relevant. They are the Common Core."

Curation, citizenship & compassion, creation, and connection also fit exactly into the definition of information literacy with it's focus on students' ability to locate, evaluate, ethically use, create, share, and synthesize information.

It has long been recognized that many of us learn by writing and teaching.  The process allows us to synthesize topics that may at first be confusing.  These focus areas are only the progression from writing in a vacuum or a box for an audience of one or two to writing on a stage with an audience of many.  Today's students who can communicate with the entire student body and friends and strangers around the globe instantly, see little value in writing or even learning without an audience.  

Note:  "The following curation tools were referenced during the presentation: Diigo, LiveBinders, Paper.Li, Pinterest, PearlTrees, Posterous, Scoop.It, Sqworl, Storify, Symbaloo."