As we administer/monitor testing, I have plenty of time to thoroughly read through my rss feeds. It’s funny what things just jump out of my reader to grab my attention!
This one struck me as I have a child who is smart (now a college junior) that still absolutely flips out over assessments of any kind.
And then this one–more of a home flavor too–an editorial from none other than an area principal!! YES!!
Another discussion worth reading that revolves around testing–pay attention the the comments as well, and if inspired, leave one yourself:
Last, I can’t decide if I’m appalled or impressed, but I have to admit, I like it. Not a fan of testing pep rallies, which has been of discussion quite a bit in my reader, but I do like arts integration. So this one swings from aggravating to impressive on my radar–guess I’m a tad bipolar on this one.
We have 28 more school days, and 9 of them will tie the library up for testing. (HSAP, HSAP Makeup, and EOC) Guess that means finding creative ways to serve our students in the coming days during testing. Have a great spring testing cycle everyone.
This has been a reoccurring question lately in the library, and there is no shortage of dystopian novels to read. After reading other library related blogs suggesting titles, and factoring recent ones I had read too, I decided to create a display for our students that could help them select another read as enjoyable as Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.
Not sure what to call this collaborative idea one of my AP teachers and I are cooking up. The AP Lit class read George Orwell’s 1984, and among the novel activities done by the class, one was to create a visual representing a theme or themes from the novel. I heard some serious bellyaching from students. One group who did a very good video titled it something to the effect “dumbestassignmentever.” But I must say the projects I have seen are quite impressive.
"Sharpies and red scissor" by Jimmy Cardosi; Flickr CC
Cut, Paste, Glue, Insert, Save….
The day the projects were due just before spring break there were some kids still frantically building, taping, glueing, painting, you name it–it was happening. As their class presentations began, their excitement grew. Little did they realize how much work had been put into their creative thinking, and project after project kept raising the wow factor. So my collaborating teacher has asked if we could do a display in the library, and allow the students from the two class to come down and see the other classes’ work, and invite others in the school as well to enjoy them. Of course I want to support their creative efforts, but not all can be “hung.” Some must sit atop tables. One is a book that must be opened and unfolded to enjoy–sort of like a popup book. And yet again there is one that is a paper weight. We also have an interesting mobile and a video game simulation. I love that some are very traditional while others are tech-y. These kids were REALLY thinking outside the box with their creations.
These projects need an audience!
So we’ve brainstormed and here is what we are planning. First, we need something to go “with” each product. Wherever we display them, if students viewing the displayed work have not read Orwell’s 1984, they may not understand the significance of the product on display. So our plan is to make either a text, audio recording, or even video of our students providing an “explanation” of the visual. These will answer the questions surely to arise, like “how is this related to the book?” or “what theme does this represent?” These are going to be placed online either in a wiki or google docs or some online storage. Once they are posted, the students will create a QR code to display with their projects in the hall just outside the library. The classes will visit each other’s work, and “interact” with the displayed material. We will extend invitations to other classes to come and interact as well, and provide iPads for students who do not have a phone or device capable of reading QR codes. For those that must sit upon a table top, we will have pictures outside in the hall, with instructions to come inside the library to see those.
Is it a true “gallery walk” by definition?
Okay, so does this meet the definition of a “Gallery Walk?” I’m not sure. But we really believe we can get a little more discussion out of the groups as they see what other students have done and question the significance of choices in visuals. We hope ultimately to have some kind fo recognitions to hand out, like awards for creativity, thinking outside the box, and most unique.
I’m not ready to show any pictures yet. And this class has the ever important AP Exam coming up May 10, so they are focused on prep for that right now. I’m waiting to hear back from my collaborating teacher on the implementation of the virtual gallery walk if you can call it that, like our timeline (will it be before the test or after…sigh, yep, some things revolve around those darned tests.) I’ll keep you posted.
Ha!! I bet there are some out there that think I only surf the ‘net during my free time! Just to dispel that, I thought I’d post my books brought home to read during spring break. Since my spring break was a stay-cation, I filled a lot of time with actual reading!!
So, here are my thoughts on the titles I brought home:
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
He is rapidly becoming my favorite author of all time. He never fails to please me. As a friend on Facebook said, and I whole heartedly agree: ”Bruiser is one of my all-time favorites! I read it aloud last year to my 7th graders. Such a great discussion of so many topics!!!! And, the vocabulary, oh, the vocabulary.”
Legend by Marie Lu
Fantastic read. Action packed. I’d heard so much about this book, and then when it came in it stayed checked out. So when I saw it come in last week with no hold, I immediately checked it out. I can’t wait to tell one of my students about it. She is always looking for great YA that doesn’t have heavy duty controversial content (aka sex) and this one will definitely be an easy recommendation.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Let’s see, warlocks, vampires, shadow hunters, romance, historical fiction-ish and a tie to the Mortal Instruments? What more could a fan want? Even faculty and staff at my school have been talking about this one–yet another title that is popular with young adults and adults alike.
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Apocolyptic tale woven into a story of a girl suffering from Anorexia. It’s one of our SCYABA 2013 book nominees.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Quirky as all get out, a light read with lots of YA issues a teen can relate too. If they can get past the “pageant” focus of the story, I think many, even guys. will like it. Now I must talk it up!
Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
Well, I’ve been hearing a lot about him in the last three years or so and have read excerpts a plenty. Finally decided to bring home and read this one. I am not disappointed. I have been talking him up to the powers that be for hopefully a Gallagher invite to SCASL. Maybe not 2013, since I know that is potentially sealed up, but 2014? I’ll continue my campaign.
Just yesterday I was bemoaning that there are librarians everywhere who are simply satisfied as a gate-keeper of books, for all intents and purposes a specials class in the specials/planning period rotation, and are dismissive of the expectations AASL has laid out for the critical roles we are trained to fulfill in our schools. Administrators who for whatever reason choose to use the Master’s degree level professional in this way have truly paved the way for a budget cut, and we have allowed it to happen. After all, couldn’t a paraprofessional checkout books, have story time, and generate reports and rewards for a computerized reading management program (like AR?)
If we do not advocate for our programs, who will?
Buffy Hamilton in my mind is the epitome of the 21st Century SCHOOL LIBRARIAN–yes, embrace it people. We are so named by our very own professional organization as a school librarian. No matter our interpreation of that moniker, our duties we carry out everyday define the term. Buffy Hamilton is such a great role model for a 21st century school librarian. And guess what folks? She herself is feeling the pressure of staffing and budget cuts.
Buffy – let’s call a spade a spade
As I ran across this post from her blog, Buffy is questioning (my interpretation) School Library Journal for using an article about a school librarian who has left the school librarian profession for a tech position, a position where the person continues to serve in essentially the same role as the school librarian. As one of our top professional journals, the question that comes to mind for me is why feature and bring attention and possibly praise to one who has abandoned the job? I am stunned by the article myself, but couldn’t put into words my bafflement. Buffy very eloquently states the many thoughts, feeling, and even emotions I had in reaction. And bless my soul, my friend Diane Cordell left a comment too that is resonating with me:
School Librarian – We are evolving into an endangered species!
Where do you stand on this spectrum? "Raibow Walk" by Andrei Zmievski, Flickr
We now have to worry about both ends of the spectrum of a good and the bad school librarian. Let’s examine them:
At one end of the spectrum of school libraries/librarians are the ones who
refuse to embrace 21st century thinking,
are complacent in their role as a babysitter,
feel satisfied that their AR points racked up annually reflect a wonderful program,
and are very dismissive of technology, tools, participatory learning, and being a technology and collaborative learning leader in their schools.
At the other end of the spectrum are the ones who:
are striving to provide a 21st century program,
have transformed their programs into a technology rich information hub,
serve both their students and their staff as partners in teaching and learning,
facilitate inquiry and investigation based not only on curriculum standards but also interest,
and work tirelessly to be effective collaborative partners and designers of engaging curriculum.
What is my worry?
The first group will cost me my job due to apathy–this one can be replaced with a paraprofessional quite easily. The second one will leave the profession for a different title altogether, yet again leaving me as a minority–one who is striving to be 21ST Century School Librarian. What remains is a majority of those who are apathetic or don’t care, and by and large administrators see that and so make sweeping cuts based on that sad majority. Sigh. It’s scary.
What to do?
If you are somewhere in the spectrum NEAR the first one described above, begin advocating for your program and your role in your school. Make every effort and work tirelessly to get your self OUT of the specials rotation. Collaborate with teachers for the purpose of curriculum design and engaged learning. PLUG in your resources to their units of study. Lead professional development. Educate your school and community with what you have been pedagogically trained to do. embrace blogs, rss, and all forms of participatory learning on a professional level, and extend it to the teaches and students level. Don’t fall victim to apathy. Don’t just lay down and take it without trying to make change. Change is never easy. But it is vital if you plan to make a difference in your school…and hopefully save your job as a school librarian.
Read it. Walk away with your own interpretation. Mine may be a little too “knee-jerkish” to some. But everyday that passes and I read about WONDERFUL Librarians whose jobs are already cut or on the chopping block, the more I fear for my own job…. and also the a harder I work at being an interwoven, vital part of the broad school program.
Some of our discarded books are planned for transformation!
So I’ve been dabbling in the stacks again, pulling old, outdated books. At one point in February, my colibrarian and I had five carts full to overflowing with weeds. Meanwhile I had been exploring Pinterest and a collection of pins done by my dear friend Diane Cordell. I kept finding these sites or pics and sharing them with a favorite art teacher at my school, hoping to lure her in with some downright unique and interesting uses of discarded books. YES! It worked. We were asked to donate some to the art department and a cart finally made its way down to her room. So currently we have two projects going on–one is a paper crane project slowly but surely evolving, and the other is wide open for student interest and interpretation. I cant wait to see these projects come to the library for display, and I’m so excited I’ve walked down the the art room a couple of times just to see the progress.
The class has an inspiration wall, helping inspire their creative juices. My inspiration is seeing what can be from old, discarded books.
Below is the flickr set of our progress so far. We are far from fnished but it is just too exciting to keep hidden. Even the “in progress” work is already taking form and is sure to surprise and please many!! SPECIAL thanks to my art teacher for allowing me to impose discarded books on her class!! As you look through the photos, note that they begin with the cart of discards, then the inspiration pics, followed by the beginnings of student work.
A post was in my reader this afternoon, one so moving, I popped out to go leave a comment of support. Apparently the post has been pulled down.
Ever happened to you?
Delete By Mixy Lorenz; http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net
How many of us have been on the other end of a Tweet, Facebook, or blog post as author and shared something, and then either number one, had second thoughts on the wisdom of the post and removed it, or number two, got the call from a higher authority to take it down? I must confess, I’ve done both. I have copied this post below, and purposefully removed any reference to a teacher librarian or school to keep it anonymous.
Bad News! Please Help!
via XXX on 3/23/12
It’s a bad week in the library. Not only has XXXX testing consumed the whole week (proctoring and fitting in every class for a reduced time has not given me a minute to sit down), but the budget cuts came in this week. It’s not looking good.
Line item number XX eliminates all library clerks (meaning Mrs. XXXXXX). It’s devastating to think of the library without her. While I am responsible for the teaching duties, technology, students, and cataloging books, (our clerk) is in charge of all things clerical in the library. She covers books/magazines, shelves all 800 books/week, runs the check outs, trains the students to use the circulation desk, organizes patrons, runs reports and basically keeps the operations moving while my time is spent with the students.
If “they” (the administration/school board) decide that this is not an important job, MY time will NOT be spent hosting book clubs/tech clubs at lunch, spending time with each student helping them to find a book that is on their reading level, working with small groups on research projects, providing lunch time tutoring, collaborating with teachers to make movies/teach lessons/pull resources/integrating technology, or developing innovative uses for the ipads/laptops/computers. My time will be teaching my classes, covering books and shelving books.
This is not the role of a 21st century media specialist. A cut in staff is a cut in service. XXXX Library will go from an innovative, creative, collaborative space to an “old school” check-out-and-go type of library. Who will meet the technological needs of the students? Is this really what we want in XXXXXXX School?
I plan to speak at the school board meeting on Monday. If you value the full library/technology services, I encourage you to do the same or send an email to our school board members. We need all the help we can get.
Cyberspace never forgets
Either way, it’s been posted and is out there in “internet cyberspace” in various formats, and the one I stumbled across was in the form of an rss feed. I’m protecting the author’s identity since it was removed for some reason. Why would this post stand out to me? I know in our own state our SCASL organization’s Advocacy Committee is working diligently to collect as much information in the form of data, anecdotes, and as strong a tie to curriculum (and test scores) as possible in an effort to provide every teacher librarian in our state proof that our contribution is a much needed part of the complete school program.
Who is the target audience?
Notice I said provide this to the “teacher-librarian.” Not administrator. Not legislator. Not board member. Oh, don’t get me wrong, those ears are important, and will receive data from the Snapshot Survey. But teacher librarians are our primary audience. We are, for the most part, single voices in our schools. We need to educate everyone in our school community. That way when our very vital program takes a hit, the ripple effect touches every stakeholder in the building, in the district, and maybe even in the political circles of the school. Yes, gather your information and appeal to the powers that be. But it is so easy to dismiss one voice. Get the many voices that are touched by a quality program to accompany you in your efforts to retain and maintain a great library program.
The bottom line
I love our SCASL Brochure created from collected datat last SNAPSHOT Day, but I certainly don't think this or even SCASL can alone save my job or my program.
The end of the plea says more to me than much of the rest. I know the impact of the teacher librarian. As a TL, I recognize and acknowledge that everything mentioned above is true. That program will suffer if the clerk is lost. But hear me out and consider this. DO THE ONES MAKING THE DECISION (to make cuts, be they personnel or worse) KNOW THIS? And now to my SCASL and even non SCASL friends: What are you doing to ensure your program does not suffer similar cuts? Are you educating the ones who make these difficult cuts? Do they know what it means to offer a quality program? What can you do? EDUCATE them. Make your monthly reports available to all these potential decision makers. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE all the wonderful ways you make a contribution to the big picture at school. For all intents and purposes, by nature we do not draw the spotlight to us. But we MUST draw the spotlight to our programs. If your admin (or those making severe cuts) do not know why you have a dynamic program, then you’ve got work to do. Start by actively participating in our SCASL Snapshot Day(coming in April, YOU choose the day) which is open to EVERY SC LIBRARIAN. The information collected there will be turned into advocacy tools for YOU to use. Yes, it will be shared with administrators and legislators, but it needs to be shared collectively in a grass roots way, too, on your own homefront. Shout daily to your school so everyone knows what your program is all about. Nothing speaks louder than the students, teachers, parents and more who daily gain from a dynamic program, and who stand to lose from severe cuts. You are a lone voice. Make it a collective voice. Make it the voice of the program heard loud and clear. We cannot afford anything less.
If the real author will come forward…
This is a special note to the actual author of the above shared/removed post. If you would like for me to take your orignal post down, just email me at cathyjonelson -at- gmail. It is painful for me as an outsider to read of your situation, and I merely want to draw attention so it may help others. I think you were so brave for posting this, and I applaud your attempt to bring on board support in the form of stakeholders who stand to to lose the quality program that is apparently offered now. If you took this post down due to second thoughts, that’s okay. I certainly would have been too chicken to post in the first place (I’m such a coward.) If it is gone due to a higher authority’s demand, then PLEASE allow me to wave this banner drumming up support and reminding TL’s around no one is safe. It is the perfect model, in my opinion, of an authentic reaction. I pray the target audience will respond with demands to, in the least, help your school offer the status quo in your programming. Nothing less is acceptable. Your school community will suffer greatly if this position cannot be saved.
After sharing with our teachers about Pinterest recently at school, I’ve been sending pics of artwork I come across to my art teacher via Pinterest. (Check out Diane Cordell’s pin board on this topic.) Annually we weed books to make room on our crowded shelves and get rid of old, ugly, outdated books. Some fo these books are just downright filled with what is now misinformation, and it would be wrong to do anything other ethan toss them. My art teacher (Susan E.) loves to explore options for art projects–truly one man’s trash is another man’s treasure to her. So I’m delighted to share an exploration into an art project from a set of our discarded, weeded books. Beautiful!! She has others in her room the classes are working on, so I’m thinking it’s time to go down there and have a look. I love when we inspire one another with the smallest of things, even weeded books.
SCASL allowed my committee (the Information Technology Committee) to sponsor a Learning Commons at conference. We took it upon ourselves to advertise, solicit volunteers for presentations, and make it a go. We wanted to loosely base it off the one I had seen and experienced first hand at AASL in Minneapolis, MN in October. I had a framework to build it from, and so the idea was born, fed, and developed. I was pleased as punch when Conference Planning Chair (and president elect) Heather Loy gave me the okay to pull this together. I also received a checklist that was easy compared to many others on the conference planning committee, so set out to focus on the Learning Commons, my biggest assignment.
Conference Have Changed!
Over the years ed-conferences I attend and present at have begun to provide things like screens, projectors, and even sound in the room if it is needed. This has been a nice progression, as in the last few years all I’ve had to show up and do is connect my laptop and present.
It’s in the back….in the corner.
Google Docs Schedule-Click to open
The SCASL12 Learning Commons was planned for the back corner of the exhibit hall. It was scheduled to be opened any time the exhibit hall was open, but there was a rough schedule for Thursday from 1:00-5:30PM up on a google doc for those wishing to contribute. They simply needed to visit and add their name for a scheduled time. I put it out there using the communication avenues we had access to (Regional Network communications, our email listserv, our website, a webinar, the Facebook Page, Twitter) and solicited teacher librarians all around who planned to attend to make a contribution to the Learning Commons. The scheduled portion was broken into twenty minute sessions, and folks could pick a time that suited their planned agendas for conference. I had already decided I would fill in any gaps left myself, which is why I appear mutiple times.
Set up seemed to be conducive to a Learning Commons atmosphere.
Setting up the LC Upon arriving, I was pleased with the layout. We had about eight large tables that included table cloths and seating for eight to ten per table. At least two of the tables had taped down (translated OSHA approved and not a tripping hazard) power strips available for presenters and attendees to plug in and recharge. I saw MANY attendees take advantage of the opportunity to recharge various devices.
The actual day of scheduled sessions in the LC presented its own challenges. I needed to get over there and set up the equipment I brought:
portable wireless microphone (handheld) and speaker
two pretty long surge protectors (8ft)
a long drop cord (15ft)
flip cameras (2)
cables of all kids (to connect whatever kind of device my LC presenters needed to connect to the projector)
three tripods and three display boards (okay so two tripods and two boards were for the Exploratorium sessions that stayed up the entire conference, but though it wasn’t used in the LC, it was still part of what all I lugged in.)
Made for a crazy day
That Thursday morning I arrived to attend one breakout session at 8:30, my sole opportunity to hear Donalyn Miller since I had opted out of her midday keynote to keep the LC open. Then there was the first general session with Bob Berkowitz and the SCASL Business meeting. Following that was the author signings, immediately followed by our Awards Banquet (Media Specialist of the Year, etc.) I did not get a ticket to attend the banquet because I figured I would be in the LC finalizing set up. I hunkered down in the LC and ate my bagged lunch from home. Part of my committee’s responsibilities was to take photos of the authors at the signing, and confession–from the pictures posted it looks like I was the ONLY one to snap a photo, and it was just one. I had asked my committee to please take on some of the “roving reporter” responsibilities that included interviewing attendee and taking photos or shooting various videos. We have very little to show for these responsibilities, which I find disappointing. Most of the pictures that were posted were done by me and committee member Susan Myers. But Susan Myers is also the Public Awareness committee, so the picture taking part kind of fell to her as well–sort of like a shared responsibility. I didn’t even take a decent camera-just used my camera on my phone. Needless to say, getting all the equipment I brought pulled out and set up, I barely had thirty minutes to wolf down my lunch before launching the LC. I did my very best to drum up interest, announcing each session so as to draw attendees away from the exhibitors and to the commons–with mixed results. There were times when we had quite a crowd, and other times where I had myself as the audience to a lone presenter. Even my own first contribution was myself and one friend (Fran Bullington.) Thursday from 1PM to 5:30 was the planned/scheduled portion of the learning commons, with yours truly hosting. I had asked my committee to serve as facilitators so I would not have to stay the whole time, but for some reason, I felt the need to stay even if my volunteer facilitators showed up. I wanted to make sure everything went well.
Not a single “no-show”
Everyone that signed up to give a session showed up!! I filled in empty slots as best I could, but I have to confess, sometimes they broke down into chatting sessions and were very informal. But that’s okay because that is the beauty of the LC.
How to improve? What would I do differently?
Let go. I was so determined to make this work that I sacrificed an invitation to sit at the head table for the Donalyn Miller Keynote in the second general session with SCASL Board members, giving up essentially what could be considered the best seat in the house. It was my only chance to sit at the head table at conference (not really a deal breaker to me) but listening to my friends talk about the keynote told me I missed a wonderful and inspiring message. Action Items for next year:
Do not run “scheduled” LC session during the keynotes. (Not only did I miss it, but those who signed to present missed it too. And that was a time of our poorest attendance at the LC.)
Let committee members and volunteers shoulder some of the responsibilities (like facilitating.) Action Item:
Ask for and set expectations that the group will help make it successful. I missed a portion of the conference while I manned the LC.
Have some of the committee members shoulder the responsibility of bringing equipment we can’t get provided by the venue.
Don’t try to bring in all the equipment! Action Item:
Ask that some equipment be secured by the conference planning committee (Speakers, screens, and projectors come to mind as something that may have been provided at the conference–perhaps some of the other equipment too.) If our organization liked the LC concept enough, then they should shoulder some of the responsibility of making it successful. I have given a solid overview at my own physical and mental expense to show what it is and how it works. If it was valued, then for next time, some additional resources in planning and equipment should be forthcoming–at least I would hope so.)
Click to see a larger view of this one.
Advertise! I had many tell me they were completely unaware of our SCASL 12 Learning Commons going on. Apparently our committees (Information Tech and Public Awareness) did not advertise enough. I almost felt we were beginning to sound like a broken record, but we did not meet enough ears. Action Items:
Make additional signs to display around the conference center–in the areas where people congregate (registration area, exhibit hall entrance, keynotes, etc.)
Make fliers to stick in the bags. People actually look at the contents of the bag right when they get them.
Have announcements made at genreal sessions either by SCASL Leadership or committee members reminding attendees of the Learning Commons. Other than my lone sign displayed in front of the Learning Commons, I’m not sure I saw or heard any other reference to it.
I want to thank all the Learning Commons presenters who shared expertise, ideas, and challenged our traditional thinking with their impromptu, informal sessions. Some of these have been shared in the digital handouts section of the conference resources at SCASL.net. If you missed any part of the Learning Commons, here are the ones that were shared digitally. (* indicates SCASL IT committee members that presented in the LC.)
Was the SCASL Learning Commons a failure? No, I think not. But there certainly is room for improvement. If leadership decides it’s not worth the worry for next conference, I won’t be devastated. I tried to bring a different element to our conference experience, and provide those who have material to share but don’t want an hour long session a perfect venue for that content. It was an experiment that still has me processing its overall effect. This reflection is a good start on deciding that overall effectiveness.