It’s that time again when I begin to feel a tingly excitement about the all the possibilities of a brand new school year!
Last year, with the support of my principal and a new flexible library schedule, I focused heavily on collaborating with teachers and supporting them in implementing the Common Core curriculum. I will certainly continue that this year, but I also want to spend devote more time and effort to building a school-wide culture of reading. One of my most important roles as a school librarian is to be a “reading cheerleader” and I have several new ideas for doing that.
I have already noted a variety of local, national, and international reading events on my school library calendar (you will see them in red), and I will spend the next two weeks rounding up teacher and parent volunteers to help with planning and execution of these programs. Ideas that aren’t scheduled yet but that I’m working on creating include:
- a visit from Cocky’s Reading Express (“Cocky” is the University of South Carolina mascot. He travels around the state with USC students who read to school kids and share the importance of reading.)
- a Teacher Book Club that involves reading and discussing chapter books that would make good classroom readalouds
- a Family Reading Night that allows children and parents to enjoy reading activities together
- a Reading Partnership program between our students and students from the middle school next door
- Bedtime Stories at the Library for our Kindergarten students (and possibly a separate night for 1st graders)
- Wee Bee Reading – a monthly story time for the 2-3 year-old siblings of our students (the name comes from the fact that our school mascot is the Busy Bee)
- mandatory “sustained silent reading” time in the classroom each day to provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in pleasure reading
I also want to encourage students to participate more in online book discussions via my Book Buzz blog. I’m thinking about asking students to write guest posts for the blog to talk about their favorite books and authors. I’d also like to see more teacher participation in the blog, so maybe I’ll ask for some guest posts from them too.
What innovative ideas are you using to build excitement for reading at your school? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
April is School Library Month, and this year I’m celebrating by tooting my own horn! Today I placed one of these 4×5 cards in each teacher’s box:
If you want to do something similar, here’s a link to the printable document I made.
Feel free to download it, modify it, and use it any way you wish. All I ask is that you please replace the word picture with your own graphic. (This one belongs to Janelle Kelly.)
Oh, and I’d love to see your finished product, or hear what PR projects you have planned, if you’d like to leave a comment and share!
I went off the grid last week during Spring Break, and what better way to return than with the TL Cafe session for April! Tonight’s topic is The Connected Concierge in Your School and Classroom, hosted by Tiffany Whitehead (aka The Mighty Little Librarian) and Nick Provenzano (aka The Nerdy Teacher) at 8:00 pm EST.
Last time I tried to participate, I had technical difficulties with my computer. I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t have any problems accessing Blackboard tonight. See you there!
Updated 9:45 pm: No technical difficulties tonight! If you missed the chat, catch the archive here!
For the final post in my three-part series on my experience this year with blocked websites and the laws regarding Internet use in schools, I’d like to look at how these laws are affecting school Internet policy, and whether they’re being interpreted correctly.
My own reading of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) indicates that the law is primarily concerned with protecting minors – defined in the document as “any individual who has not attained the age of 17 years” – against “access through [school] computers to visual depictions that are obscene or child pornography.”
Computers used by adults are also required to be protected, but “An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the certifying authority under subparagraph A(i) may disable the technology protecting measure concerned, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.” This seems to leave it up to individual districts to decide whether or not they will restrict teacher use of the sites the filtering software is blocking. Certainly there is nothing unlawful about the sites I’ve been denied access to so far this year, and there is no content at any of them that is remotely obscene or pornographic!
It’s also important to note that in the newly-released CIPA rule revisions, the FCC has determined that social network sites do not fall into one of the categories that must be blocked. So if districts choose to block them, that is a local decision, not a CIPA mandate.
So what does the U.S. Department of Education have to say about all of this? Let’s consult an interview with their Director of Education Technology, Karen Cator. She says:
- Providing access to YouTube is not a violation of CIPA rules
- There is nothing that says websites have to be blocked for adults
- Broad filters aren’t actually helpful; we need more nuanced filtering
- She doesn’t know of any districts who have lost funding by allowing access to appropriate sites
- If sites are found that are deemed appropriate they can be unblocked
- Having the process in place for unblocking sites is definitely important
- Teachers need to impose their professional judgement on the materials that are [made] available to their students
So, what’s the takeaway?
- Knowledge is power. I need to stay informed about the laws and requirements for school internet use.
- The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to know what you’re talking about. My voice can be stronger now because I can speak with confidence about what is and is not required by law.
- The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If I want unrestricted access to valuable web resources I must be prepared to speak up, for myself and my students.
What’s your takeaway?
I have been wrestling with the issue of blocked websites in my district lately, partly because of my own frustrations with blocked content and partly because teachers are funneling their requests to have sites unblocked through me, which is proper procedure since I am the Technology Coach as well as the librarian at my school.
So far this year I have tried to use: Continue reading