Sunday, October 25, 2009

13 point checklist for principals

Doug Johnson is so good at putting a lot of information into easily used formats. This is a checklist that I want my principal to see. First, I'd like her to realize that much of what is being done already is important, even if it doesn't seem like it. Second, many of her decisions are limiting the effectiveness of the LMC and LMS. In addition to the building principal, though, our district admisistration should also see it...specifically this...

8. Telecommunications
Is the school linked by a telecommunications network for distance learning opportunities for students? Are there interactive classrooms in the building?
Does the library media program coordinate programming which can be aired on the local public access channel?
Does the library program coordinate in-house video broadcast programming?

There's something other than Google?

Joyce Valenza is a big proponent of Richard Byrne's "Beyond Google: Improve Your Search Results." I am emailed this article to myself and will use it very soon. I know Google can provide useful results but it is certainly not the only option. I get highly annoyed when educators say "don't use Google at all." Google has a lot to offer. So do other sites. I need to do a better job "selling" databases, etc. and teaching HOW to search effectively.

Martha Oldham "Facebook" Oct 25, 2009 LM_NET

My school has a "no public access" policy...or at least that's what I call it. None of the schools have Web pages and no LMC pages are accessible and teachers are not supposed to have class Websites. One of my colleagues has a wiki anyway where he posts class news updates, lesson plans, assignments and communicates with any parents who have Internet access. It is not a place where students can interact with him nor does he post student work. I am wondering if having a "teacher" Facebook page would really be a problem. Student comments will have to stay on topic and follow school expectations. If parents allow their students to have a FB page in the first place, adding a page to remind them of homework assignments should not be a problem. My big question is do I ask for permission first or potentially ask for forgiveness later?

Anne Corsetti "Animoto" Oct 25, 2009 LM_NET

Apparently I am not the only one tyring to use Animoto for creating my own book trailers as well as having students create them. I am currently trying to get all of my students to complete one before parent teacher confereces. Some of my students are done, some are close, and others have nothing... typical. I thought this assignment might actually be one where every student would get it completed. Wrong. They love watching my videos; they love looking at videos done by other students; they were all very excited when I introduced the activity; some still have nothing. My problem is that many of my students have no email address so they cannot set up their own account. So, I paid for an unlimited video account and let the rest of them use mine. I don't know if that is an ethical problem but my thought is 1)they could have their own free accounts if I insist they set up an email account OR 2)Animoto gets my yearly fee and students are exposed to their product... I picked door number two. This is causing problems, though. There are too many projects working at the same time and students end up with other's images in their video... I am loving the ones that are done but it has certainly not been without headaches. I was going to use MovieMaker, but Animoto is SO much simpler to use. Anyone have suggestions or other options?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nancy Willard " A Librarian by any other name..." Oct 16, 2009 LM_NET

Nancy Willard is advocating a new title for...librarians/teacher-librarians/library media specialists. She argues that, given the actual requirements of this job, the title should reflect the technological expertise of the position. The term "librarian" carries too many stereotypes and images of gray hair in a bun (or balding man), with horn-rimmed glasses always scowling, stamping books and repeating "shh" ad naseum. I understand her point. However, I completely disagree with her. There are too many titles for our position already. We need to pick one and make it standard. We still have libraries, although they may look different every decade, and we still have librarians. Our job needs to evolve as well as our skills, but our title does not. Teaching looks very different today from fifty years ago, but we are still called teachers. We still dial a phone although I dare you to find anyone under twenty who can tell you what a "dial" is. The title is not the issue...advocacy and education is.

Melissa Techman "Copyright" Oct. 17 LM_NET

Ms. Techman shares a great idea about promoting books that, unfortunately, violates copyright law. I find that this happens ALL THE TIME in schools. It is just so easy to copy pages for a class set rather than use precious funds for a class set of books. The LMS is clearly the person most knowledgeable about this issue in the building, although every teacher should be aware of these laws. Most people just don't care. The truth is, I'm not sure how I would tackle this issue as a LMS. I have mentioned to colleagues that they are blantently violating copyright and the response is the same as my students' - "So what? No one will ever know and I need this." Teachers will often pull the "it's for the kids" arguement. I am a rule-follower but I am also practical. How do I convince teachers that copyright violation is unethical and illegal and THAT should be reason enough not to do it? Furthermore, is it even possible to enforce this in your building?

Facebook Faux Pas

Doug Johnson links to some articles about how adults need some serious help deciding what to post on social networking sites. We spend a lot of energy discussing the use of Web 2.0 in schools and how important it is to instruct teenagers to use it ethically and responsibly. We all know that people will inevitably make poor decisions. Do not consider me an elitist when I say that sometimes people are just dumb. Social networking blunders could, arguably, fall into the "situation unknown" category simply because the technology comes at us so quickly. Yes, as we learn from others' mistakes in using these sites we need to be developing sets of instructions and "how-to" processes for our young people. However, basic thinking skills should be enough to guide anyone in their use of any new technology. This is, in my mind, more important than any specific Web 2.0 skill.


I find it interesting that the Unquiet Librarian posted this during the week that we, in the Administration class, are talking about that very issue. Ms. Hamilton is using her Flip video camera to gather feedback about users' opinions about the library. Both videos she has posted are students answering questions that begin, "What do you like about..." This is a great marketing tool. It certainly builds a positive image of her LMC. I have no doubt her LMC is wonderful, but I certainly hope this is not the only data she relies upon to assess her program. (I would bet it is not)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to be Superwoman...that is the question

Joyce Valenza posted this list of her favorite news magazines now available online. I love it when someone else compiles lists, and links, to useful resources that I can use. Every time I see Ms. Valenza's name on anything, though, I get slightly depressed. I think "How does this woman find the time to do all these things...and do them so well?" and "There is no way I will ever be able to do that." This sounds very negative but, honestly...are we all supposed to be so prolific? I hope not. I am typically a bit of an overachiever and hold myself to a pretty high standard, but I do not want to work ALL the time. I ask the question because I assume she knows something I don't. I want to know how to be influencial in my profession as well as have a life outside of it.

Wi-Fi and the Community

This post by David Warlick does not at first seem to be relevant to school media centers, but I am reminded of the article I read about Valerie Diggs and her Learning Commons at Chelmsford High School in Massachusetts (Teacher Librarian, 36.4). She used the "Starbucks" model of coffee shop-as-meeting place to bring students together in the library. This, according to the article, has worked very well. I wonder, though, as I push for wireless Internet in my building, whether our we will find that our students become more interested in their own community or less. Will the availability of instant communication across the country and globe make our small community less important and just plain boring? How will we, as educators, bring the world to our students and still keep their interest in their immediate community. I've noticed my students are already more likely to have "conversations" through texting or some kind of instant messaging than face-to-face. How do we emphasise the importance of personal communication in addition to all the exciting cyber-communication? Just some food for thought.

Sara Robisch "AR in Elementary" Sept. 28, 2009 LM_NET

As I read through this compilation of opinions about using AR (Accelerated Reader), or other similar programs like Reading Counts, I get so frustrated I need to post a rant. When I take a position as LMS, I will fight these programs' widespread use with everything I have. As a teacher, I am fighting is as much as I can, which is, unfortunately, not much. I am having trouble seeing where the value is in them. I see censorship. Librarians are pressured to acquire only "testable" books instead of simply acquiring the best collection possible. Books are then labeled by color that represent their Lexile or Reading Level. Students now choose books by looking at colors on the spine instead of interest. Teachers requiring students to read on a certain "level" are limiting their students options and lowering the likelihood of their finding a book they really enjoy. Lower readers are now ashamed of their books that boldy show off the low level. High-low books are not so effective all of a sudden. Advanced readers have even more problems. Books in their level are often not at all interesting or even available in elementary libraries. Why should a student, who is clearly a good reader, be forced to read books at a level their teachers do not even read? I read the Mark Twain and Truman books for fun (and to keep abreast of what is available to my kiddos). Am I becoming a worse reader? Do I need to read Jane Austen and Dickens in order to keep my reading skills acute, improve my comprehension and learn to enjoy reading? I do enjoy Austen; I do not enjoy Dickens. So, I read Austen when I'm in the mood and I never read Dickens. This should be how we teach students to choose books. "Here, try this. If you like it, great... if not, let's try something else." How does reading become fun when it is a chore to find a book with the right color and the right number of points. The fact that most students choose books based on these two things proves that they are not reading for fun. They are reading for a grade.

I really could go on and on...I pretty much hate AR and RC...this will not be something I will willingly incorporate into my LMC programs.

Louise Gorvett "Teacher Resources/Digital Divide" Sept. 28, 2009 LM_NET

In this posting, Louise asks whether teacher use digital or print professional resources more often. This is a good question that probably depends on the demographics of the teachers in a given building or district. Her next question is the one that should be considered first.
"And, on a related note, do you find that the "digital divide" applies to
teachers? Are your younger teachers more likely to embrace e-books and
online databases?"

Although this is certainly not accurate across the board, there is a "digital divide" based largely on age. I am sure we could all think of an older, or more experienced, teacher who does not think of using databases or teaching Web 2.0 skills. They are not necessarily opposed to new technologies but are comfortable with what they have been doing and often do a great job without them. Younger teachers have grown up using digital technologies and have been taught to use them during under-grad. I see older teachers whose attitude is more "how is that any better?" rather than "I can't learn how to use that." This is always a good question. Nothing should be used "just because." Younger teachers will answer, "this is WAY more fun (and a lot easier)!" Teacher-librarians should answer, "these are the skills students will need when they graduate. We need to teach them how to use them properly, ethically and responsibly."