Twitter Slow Chat: Let’s Discuss the New AASL Standards

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  Hey, school librarians! Do you have questions about the new AASL National School Library Standards?  Want to share your ideas for implementing them?  Did you attend a formal training and now you have some insight to pass along to your peers?  Or are you just eager to connect with other librarians who are digging deeper into what the changes will look like in our schools?  If you said yes to any of these questions, please join the AASL Standards slow chat going on in the Twitterverse right now!

Each Tuesday, Amanda Kozaka (@BoomshakaKozaka) posts a question about the standards to get us thinking and planning for the upcoming school year.  We’re on Week 3 of an eight-week chat, so there’s still plenty of time to participate.  Here’s our current question:


The slow chat format means you have all week to tweet your replies, and if you’re a newbie who is not comfortable posting on Twitter yet, you can learn by searching for the hashtag #AASLowchat to see what others are saying about the standards.  You can also follow the hashtag #AASLstandards as well.I use Tweetdeck (free!) to set up separate feeds for the hashtags I follow; I couldn’t keep up with multiple chats and timelines without it!


  You can purchase a copy of the book online, and you can download the Learner Framework – which includes the Common Beliefs – for free.

Are you involved in other online discussions of the new standards?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share!


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Blocked Websites Part Three

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Happy Banned Websites Awareness Day!

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?

  1. Knowledge is power.  I need to stay informed about the laws and requirements for school internet use.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?



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Blocked Websites Part One

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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

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Thinking About Thinking Books

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Can I convince teachers to allow students to create “book pages” like the ones shown in this post titled The Thinking Book at the Spicy Learning blog, instead of the standard book report?  I can at least try!
















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A New Chapter

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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!

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SKILLS Act Update

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Please take a moment (okay, a few minutes – it’s long) to read this post from the AASL blog.  More action is needed to get school libraries into the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) bill.  SKILLS only has 5 co-sponsors (none from S.C., for those who were wondering) which means it is vulnearable to being cut from the final bill.

Basically, we need to continue calling, writing, faxing, and emailing our senators to let them know this is important.

It only takes a few moments to call the senate switchboard, ask for your Senators’ offices, and leave the message:  SUPPORT SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN ESEA!  OUR COUNTRY’S STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOLS WITH SOLID SCHOOL LIBRARY PROGRAMS.

Click here to look up the contact information for your elected officials.

Update:  I forgot to include this quote from the article, which really surprised me when I read it:

Unfortunately, we have not had great support from the education unions and from other K-12 organizations.  We are competing with everything from literacy coaches to classroom teachers – even though we know that school librarians are both of these.  In the present political environment and the challenging budget climate, we have to cling to survival for our school libraries and, more importantly, the students they serve. 

Somehow I guess I expected that other professional education organizations “get” how important our school libraries are, and were fighting hard for us teacher librarians as well as for classroom teachers.  They aren’t.  It’s up to us to band together and speak out for our programs and our students.



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This is Why I Will Never Be Joyce Valenza

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They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the new Delicious interface, and if you read it you already know that I wasn’t thrilled.  The site looks different, and some of the features have changed, and there’s some new terminology to learn.

Did you catch those key words?  New.  Different.  Change.  Oh, how many times have we shaken our heads in pity over our less-enlightened colleagues who bemoan these very things?  (tsk tsk tsk)  I thought I was above all that.

The day after I posted my reaction, I read Delicious Stacks by Joyce Valenza at her Neverending Search blog.  (Go ahead, take a moment to read it; then meet me back here.)

As you can see, Joyce immediately embraced the positive aspects of the new Delicious and began using it with her students.  She didn’t waste any time freaking out over the unfamiliarity of it; she just plunged right in and made it work for her.  That’s why she’s Joyce Valenza and I’m just me.

So I’m taking this lesson in keeping an open mind to heart, and I’ll remember my own feelings of resistance next time I’m sharing a new way of doing something with an apprehensive teacher.  I think Joyce would approve.


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