Engage everyday

March 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

A little while ago I blogged about a great project begun last fall by a group of dedicated and engaged Library and Information Science students. I’ve also written about my efforts to use social media to gain a better understanding of the teaching profession and its goals. For the past nine months, I’ve been participating in a webinar series via edweb.net (Using Emerging Technology to Advance Your School Library Program) put together by Michelle Luhtala, a fantastic teacher librarian from Conneticut.

What do all these things have in common? I think they demonstrate how you can use social media and other free tools to learn, and engage others in your field or area of interest every day.

TEP students, my advice to you is to engage with others in your chosen profession right now. Get started today.

Seriously. Today.

Join conversations on Twitter. Read blogs. Listen to what other teachers across the country and around the world have to say. Engage with them. Share resources. Share concerns. Share ideas.  Every day. Every. Day. Get started now. If you do, will not regret that you did.

I know it may seem like something that will be too time consuming, but really, it takes as much time as you want it to. If you have a Twitter account, start following teachers who inspire you. Here’s my list if you need a place to start. If you don’t have a Twitter account, here is a great video by 6th grade teacher Josh Stumpenhorst to get you started.

Use RSS to follow bloggers who inspire you. Here are some of my favorite teacher blogs.

Don’t forget. Get started now.

Join our students for a book party!

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

More challenges

February 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

For all of you who find this blog because you are searching for the reasons certain books are banned, here are a couple of new ones for you. These two books were both challenged due to “age inappropriateness.”

AIDS book pulled from school library after complaint

Central York will not remove controversial book ‘Stolen Children’ from library

According to Amazon, Stolen Children is a young adult novel. Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir does not give a level, and so I assume it is considered an “adult” book. We do not have either of these books in the Curriculum Library (though I swear I’ve seen Stolen Children around here before).

I’m always a little surprised at challenges due to “inappropriateness for age.” As I’ve mentioned before, leveling books for certain ages or grade levels is impossible. What is wrong for one student isn’t necessarily wrong for another (I was a precocious reader, and I definitely started reading more “adult” novels very young). In a library that spans six or seven grades, there will be books at all sorts of reading/content levels.

Parents, students, librarians, teachers, administrators: what is your reaction?

Thanks to American Libraries for posting these.

Hack the Lib?

February 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

I have followed the HackLibSchool project since the beginning. You may ask why, since I have not been an LIS student for nearly two years. There are two reasons.

First and foremost, I find the project particularly engaging and inspiring.  I love the conversations that have come out of it. I love the inclusiveness of the community. I therefore embraced the idea wholeheartedly, and never gave the particulars any thought.

Second, I believe that learning is never finished. I didn’t go to library school to learn all there is to know about being a librarian, and then go out into the world with my newly acquired degree, ignoring new developments or new viewpoints on old arguments. I readily admit that I often still don’t know which end is up; I am still in the business of making sense of the world and the issues in my chosen profession, and I hope I always will be. We are all still students.

Communities such as HLS are important to all dedicated professionals, but I think it is particularly important to engage in them if, like me, you find yourself employed outside of the profession, or unemployed for a time. Considering the most recent information about graduate employment, finding yourself in this situation is likely. In my life as an administrative assistant (who happens to be the sole staff member of a library), I appreciate reading fellow librarians’ blog and Twitter posts immensely because they keep the issues of the profession in the forefront of my mind. I learn everyday from the people who share what they are learning, reading and thinking. I participate in other fantastic communities, such as this one on EdWeb.net (where, by the way, they have also welcomed me, though I really don’t fit that demographic either). The beauty of HLS is it’s commitment to connecting across the profession.

I hope that everyone who is involved in this project will continue to engage other librarians on a similar level after leaving their respective programs. Being a new librarian is difficult at times. It can be frustrating. We don’t fit smoothly into scenes like HLS, and ALA can still seem too ginormous to contemplate engaging (although a few intrepid souls dive right in). We don’t have years of experience on the job, and are often encountering issues or ideas for the first time as a professional. Sometimes established librarians don’t engage with us readily. It is important to continue conversations like those that take place at HLS as we enter the field. If such participation cannot be in the form of HLS, perhaps a further effort on a similar vein is in order? Is the world ready for HackTheLib? Does such a thing already exist in all but name?

The Global Achievement Gap

February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my current endeavors is to figure out the goals of education. Yesterday, I finished reading The Global Achievement Gap, by Tony Wagner.

While I am always a little put-off by lists of skills or what seems to be the attempt to create a new buzz word, I found Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills to be a useful way to think about what every person should gain through education. I was reminded of Howard Gardiner’s Five Minds for the Future (which I intend to read again). Wagner is a little less abstract about the goals of education than Gardiner, but I think the gist is the same.

All this being said, I found parts of this book inspiring. I love the examples Wagner gives of new ways to organize schools, highlighting project-based learning. I also found aspects of the book unsettling. The examples Wagner cites come exclusively from charter/non-public schools. Wagner explains that his examples are “scalable” for all schools, since none of the charters has an operating budget larger than the average public school. However, he then goes on to say that one of the reason the teachers in these sample schools are effective is because they have only one-year contracts. I find it hard to believe that these one-year contracts have more impact on the quality of teaching than training, vision, mentoring and a supportive environment.

The Global Achievement Gap is available in the Curriculum Library.

Cybils: Winners of the 2010 Cybils Awards

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Check out this years’ top picks from children’s and young adult book bloggers:

Cybils: Winners of the 2010 Cybils Awards.

Books for [blank] grade

February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

I get a lot of questions from students (and sometimes parents) about where in the Curriculum Library they can find books for a child in a particular grade. I feel a little apologetic as I explain that the books are not arranged that way. I can’t just point to a section of shelves and say “Here is where you will find the books for fifth graders.” In fact, it is impossible to arrange a library this way, since any single book could be read by a child in any number of grades. Individual reading ability, personal interests, and purpose all play a part in what is appropriate for any given child. For students who expect to get an easy answer, this may be frustrating, I know.

So how is one to identify a book that would work for a particular child or a particular assignment in an education class (which in theory, should be focused on teaching a particular child or group of children)? When choosing a book for any purpose, here are a few things to consider before beginning your search in the catalog or the stacks:

1) Are you looking for a book that will fit the average reader at that grade level? The struggling reader? A challenging book for that grade level?

2) Do you want the child (hypothetically or actually) to read the book themselves? With help? Or do you want to read the book aloud to him or her? These choices make a difference, since children learning to read can understand stories far beyond the level at which they can personally read.

3) How are you planning on using the book? What kind of activities will you structure around the story, if any? Depending on the intended use of the story, a simple or complicated plot may be in order.

4) Is there a particular subject which you would like to use, or which you think the target audience would find particularly compelling?

Considering the answer to these four questions is the best place to start. If catalog searches and browsing prove unfruitful, I sometimes have luck with Google searches; however, it is best to consider the above questions first, since “best read-aloud books about dinosaurs for first graders” would produce a more targeted(though similar) list than “best books for first graders.”

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