Library Advocacy – Research Studies

My principal asked me this week to supply her with current research demonstrating the positive impact that flexible library schedules can have on student performance.  Some of our parents and teachers are asking why we have adopted an open library policy this year, so we are putting some information together to show that this is a data-driven decision.  Here are the resources I’ve shared with her:

School Libraries Work! (2008)

Idaho School Library Impact Study (2009)

Study of Wisconsin School Library Media Programs (2006)

Delaware School Library Study (2006)

AASL Advocacy Brochures (for administrators, teachers, parents, and policymakers)

If you know of any other studies that make the case for flexible library schedules, please share them in the comments!

 

 

A New Chapter

Originally this post title was to have referred to the fact that I was leaving my job at Alice Drive Elementary School and doing something else.  I had become so disheartened at my failure over the years to institute any real changes in the library media schedule or program that I was ready to just give up and move on.

Enter my new principal, Mrs. Boozer.  In May I shared a heartfelt letter with her and broke the news to her that I would not be returning.  She responded to my concerns by letting me know that she had some of the same concerns herself, and that she wanted to begin making some changes that would set our Library Media program on the path to becoming a model program.  Did you hear that?  A Model Program!!!

Her first act was to take Library out of the related arts rotation, replacing it with a Math Lab.  It took blood, sweat, and prayers on her part to work out a way to staff the Math Lab, but she persisted in the face of district red tape and budget constraints until she received final approval for her plans.  Now our students are getting extra help and practice with math concepts, and our library is operating under a fully flexible schedule.

So, I want to publicly thank Mrs. Boozer for her faith in me, and to say that I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve our students, teachers, parents, and community in a new and more effective way.  I’ve rediscovered my passion for my job, and I appreciate the fresh start that this year has brought.

Let the learning begin!

 
 

The Conference Experience

As I was checking my feed reader yesterday, I saw a post by Mother Reader titled Kidlit Con 2010 Recap.  (By the way, Kidlit Con is a conference for children’s literary bloggers, authors, illustrators, and publishers.  Doesn’t that sound heavenly!)  I was interested to see what she had to say about the conference, but the opening paragraphs of her post are what really struck me:

I’ve been wondering why I’ve been having trouble writing up my experience at KidlitCon 2010, and I finally realized that I was trying to write about the wrong thing — the conference itself.

Please don’t take that the wrong way. The sessions boasted wonderful speakers featuring interesting presentations with useful applications for blogging. You’ll find helpful recaps from a variety of posts on the KidlitCon blog…. But though I enjoyed the sessions, the KidlitCon experience for me was the people.

That really resonated, because I have also been struggling this week to blog about my experience at the SC EdTech Conference, but I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult to write the post.  Now I understand that what made the conference so invigorating for me wasn’t merely the words of the speakers, or the resources they shared.  It was the ideas those words and resources sparked within me, and it was having the time apart from work and family to really develop those ideas and form a plan to put them into practice.  So actually, just sharing a description of the sessions I attended doesn’t tell the full story.

For example, in my post on Thursday I mentioned that Lights Camera Action shared many different ways to use video in the classroom, which is a great session topic.  However, with all due respect to Dennis Duszynski, the most important thing to me about his session was the cool video idea I thought of during his presentation!

So I’ll continue sharing my conference experiences with you via this blog, but to paraphrase Levar Burton, don’t just take my word for it!  Check out the links for yourself, view the presentation notes through the lens of your own mission and vision, and let your imagination lead you into brand new territory!

 

*In case you’re wondering what my idea was, our book fair starts next week and I’m going to make my own promotional video to display on my school website, since the book fair company doesn’t supply any online videos of their own for us to use.  Can you believe Scholastic hasn’t already thought of that as a marketing tool?)

Summer Reading

 

Our annual Flip Flop Book Swap began today in the ADE Library, and the students have been flocking in to participate!  Kids have the opportunity to bring in any books from home that they don’t read anymore (making sure it’s okay with parents, of course) and trade them for books someone else brings in so that everybody gets something “new” and different to read this summer.  We also sell books from the swap tables for just 25 or 50 cents each, for those who don’t have any books at home to trade. 
 
I’m also sharing information with students this week about summer reading programs going on at the Sumter County Library, the McElveen Library at Shaw AFB, and Borders (Waldenbooks) in the mall here.  (By the way, Barnes and Noble does a summer reading promotion, too, but we don’t have one here.)  Everyone who brings me proof that they participated in a summer reading program (a reading log or certificate) will be invited to an ice cream sundae party in August when school starts back.
 
Students will also be taking home a Summer Reading Fun brochure that I created to help parents understand the importance of encouraging their children to keep reading over the summer.  It includes lists of recommended reading, including next year’s South Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees. 
I’m determined to help our students beat the summer slide!  Have some other great summer resources to share?  Leave a comment!

Students Sharing Poetry

We have been celebrating National Poetry Month in my Library, and last week I read aloud a selection of poems from various poetry books to my 3rd grade classes.  They enjoyed the poems, a few checked out poetry books to take with them, and I considered it a successful activity.  This week I’m doing a Poetry Pass with my 3rd and 4th grade classes, which means I put a stack of poetry books on their tables, set a timer for five minutes, and allow them to read silently until time is up.  We switch books and repeat this two more times, so that each student samples three different poetry books altogether.

As an afterthought, I told the first group of students that if anyone came across a poem he or she would like to read to the rest of the class, we would have a sharing time after the Poetry Pass.  I figured there might be three or four kids at the most who would be excited enough about a particular poem to want to read it aloud, so imagine my surprise when nearly every hand shot up for sharing time!  These kids were thrilled to stand up in front of the class and read the poems they had discovered!

Were they all polished presenters of poetry?  Not by a long shot.  Did they all choose poems that the rest of the class was interested in?  Hardly.  Were they at least able to pronounce all the words in the poems they chose to read aloud?  Unfortunately, no.  But there was excitement there!  There was a feeling that they were reading for an important purpose – to find something worthy of sharing.  There were real decisions to be made – this poem or that poem?  There was a sensation of power standing in front of the class commanding the attention of all the other students, a flush of success when the audience laughed in the right places, and a feeling of triumph at the sound of applause at the close of the reading.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a teacher reading her favorite poems to the class, but the experience felt so much more authentic when it was the students choosing the poems to share.  And the scary thing is that the sharing component was only, as I mentioned earlier, an afterthought.  Yikes!  So my challenge from here on is to remember this “aha” moment when planning future Library activities, and to find other ways to let go of the power and give students more control over their own learning experience.

 

Putting Technology In Its Place

I just read two blog posts yesterday that echo some of the ideas I’ve been wrestling with lately concerning the place of technology in the classroom, and I’d like to share them here.

Background:  As my school’s Library Media Specialist and Technology Coach, I have a responsibility to provide appropriate resources to my students and teachers, and to make sure they know how to use them.  With so many useful (and free) technology tools available out there in cyberspace, I want to make sure I’m keeping up with them, using them appropriately, and sharing them with those who need them. 

However, I don’t want to become so focused on the “coolness” of technology that I lose sight of my ultimate goal, which is student learning.  I also don’t want my attitude regarding the importance of technology to become so overbearing that I alienate teachers who, for various reasons, are hesitant about using a lot of online resources or tech tools.  I need to balance my role as a cheerleader for Web 2.0 with my role as someone who assists users with what’s actually going on in the classroom.

Enter Jennifer Wagner and Joyce Valenza, two educators who are doing wonderful things with technology at their respective schools.  Continue reading

Don’t Integrate Technology Into the Classroom

Surprised by the sentiment expressed in the title of today’s post?   So was I when I read it in David Warlick’s book Redefining Literacy 2.0.  (See the accompanying wiki here.)  Since I became my school’s Technology Coach earlier this year, I’ve been concerned that we aren’t doing enough to equip teachers to successfully integrate technology into their classrooms.  So I picked up David’s book at the SCASL Conference last week, and here’s what he says in the introduction:

There is one call to education reform that will not be used in this book, a mantra that attendees to technology and media conferences often hear, that we should be integrating technology into our libraries and classrooms.  It is an idea that is not without its usefulness.  Integrating technology is a simple and inclusive way to describe the modernizing of our schools.  However integrating technology misses the point that technology has no special place in re-examining the pedagogy of teaching and learning.  It is merely a tool – the pencil and paper of our time.

So what should we be doing?  Read on: Continue reading

May You Live In Interesting Times

  screen technology

There’s no doubt that there are interesting things going on in education right now with regard to technology!  I think we will all agree that we can’t equip our students with 21st Century Learning Skills without incorporating technology into our teaching.  Serving as both the Library Media Specialist and the Technology Coach for my school, it’s my job to look at the issue of integrating technology into the classroom from four different perspectives:

1. What are “best practices” when it comes to using technology in instruction and with students?  What strategies will enable us to be more effective users of technology?  How can we make time for training, collaboration, and integration in an already crowded school day?

2. What are the technology literacy, media literacy, and information literacy standards that we should be addressing for each grade level?  How do our content standards mesh with these literacy standards?

3. What tools are affordable and available in my school and my district?  How much tech support can I manage at the building level?  How much tech support is available at the district level?

4. How can I ensure teacher and administrator buy-in for technology integration projects?  How can I involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation process?  How can I be an agent for change in my school and my district?

I’m struggling with the answers to all of these questions, particularly the last one.  That’s why I’ll be participating in a free webinar on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe.  The webinar is titled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology, and will feature Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier. 

Rodd Lucier I’m familiar with, since I’ve been following his blog (The Clever Sheep) and listening to his podcast (Teacher 2.0) for the past year and a half.  I’ve never heard of Ben Hazzard until now, but even a cursory glance at his website tells me that he’s someone to watch. 

You’ve probably heard the title of this post referred to as “the Chinese curse,” but you may not realize that it’s supposedly the first in a trio of curses.  The other two curses in the series are, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May you find what you are looking for.”  One can only hope….

 

Photo Attribution: “Screen Technology”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/11022910@N00/503238148

Life-Long Learning

I just finished viewing the 7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners video, which was interesting to me because it presents a different viewpoint of learning – putting the learner in control of the process and outcome.  Too many of us in education keep all of the learning “power” in our own hands, rather than allowing our students to make decisions.  Even within a set curriculum, there ought to be room to factor in the interests and strengths of the individual learner, perhaps in the topic chosen, the resources used, or the end products created.  Starting now, I plan to look for ways to give students more freedom of choice when it comes to projects.

The easiest of the habits for me is accepting responsiblity for my own learning.  I have always been willing to read and research new things, attend workshops and trainings, and play around with available technologies.  Although not a digital native, I attended college in the 80s when computers were beginning to be widely used, so I’ve used them enthusiastically throughout my professional life.

Ironically, the most difficult habit for me can be using technology to make my life easier.  That’s because sometimes it seems as though the amount of time it takes to become proficient with an application outweighs the time that will be saved in the end, or that the time to learn a new skill just isn’t available at all.  It’s probably Habit #1, Begin With the End in Mind, that will help with this problem.  If I can pinpoint a particular task and recognize that there is a more efficient way to accomplish it, then I can feel good about taking the necessary time to become familiar with the new way of doing things.