The Learning Commons Showcase Showdown

Showcase showdown sign from the Price is Right TV GameshowLast year, I approached the art department about bringing in art installations or exhibits that showcase student work.  I was disappointed with the lackluster response, and have since had time to think about better ways to get students involved.

Then I saw fellow INFO233 SJSU iSchool student Thoai Truong’s recent July 18th post, “Art Displays in Library,” and was inspired by the resources and videos he provides. Thoai notes that the library is a fantastic place to exhibit student work and I agree!  This certainly accentuates the library’s role as a learning commons, where students have ample room to showcase their achievements (a key LC feature–see Carol Koechlin & Dr. David Loertscher’s 2014 Knowledge Quest article, “Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons”).

I like Thoai’s ideas about using the learning commons as a place to display work for finals, or use the exhibits for art competitions.  Then I got to thinking about The Price is Right game show and the showcase showdown.  In the game, the showcase showdown is between the two contestants who have gotten past three other competitions.  The primary problem with the idea of competition is that although winners are able to bask in the attention, is the purpose or mission of the learning commons to display examples of excellent work, or is its mission to be a place where ALL students have a chance to exhibit?  (On a related tangent, think of Mary Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, who is forcefully ejected from the pianoforte bench at the Netherfield ball to allow “other young ladies time to exhibit” (p. 105)).

I would argue that there may be space for both, but when it comes down to it, the learning commons is best served as an equitable environment by various student examples.  Our Art 1 teacher currently utilizes a small wall space in the main office to display best student work, and our Advanced Art class has small glass display cases on either side of the entrance to the library, but no more.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had art hanging from the barn-like central ceiling?  Or display boards where the art changes periodically over the course of the year.  Or even areas where teachers could set out student work from their recent biology experiments or Lord of the Flies units.

This is the point where I have to admit that I have been bad about communicating the possibilities and the lengths to which I’d go to house exhibits.  Our INFO233 professor, INFO204 professor,  INFO237 professor, and INFO266 professor have told us time and time again that we need to advertise to advocate!  Here’s to a new school year where I dive into meetings with the Art department (and other departments) to get the word out about showcasing student work.  Perhaps our version of a showcase showdown will be more in line with getting a great set of exhibits to work and generating community involvement rather than competing for the glamorous prizes, but building participatory culture is a pretty glamorous prize.

References:

Austen, J. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Scribner and Sons, 1918. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=s1gVAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=pride+and+prejudice&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjkl-CCzZjVAhWmwFQKHbqqCywQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=%22young%20ladies%20time%20to%20exhibit%22&f=false

Loertscher, D. & Koechlin, C. (2014, March/April). Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons. Knowledge Quest, 42(4) 14-15. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/urlsa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiAgJ6LvMrUAhVI6mMKHTqbAH4QFghQMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ala.org%2Faasl%2Fsites%2Fala.org.aasl%2Ffiles%2Fcontent%2Faaslpubsandjournals%2Fknowledgequest%2Fdocs%2FKQ_MarApr14_ClimbingtoExcellence.pdf&usg=AFQjCNE81kSXAozBfnmKvkhBXtq5dmvveg&sig2=G-VMICsHzL8_VxEu6Q68vQ

Showcase Showdown. The Price is Right Wiki. Fandom. Retrieved from http://priceisright.wikia.com/wiki/Showcase_Showdown

Truong, T. (2017, July 18). Art displays in libraries [Web log]. Retrieved from https://ischoolblogs.sjsu.edu/info/thoailearningjournal/

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Twitterer

697029-twitter-512I’m a social media dabbler. Not the kind of person who wakes up to check Facebook, sends tweets from conferences or author sightings, or takes fabulous Instagram pics for the school’s library site. Worse, I’m also not the kind of person who advances the library social media challenge to willing teacher’s aides. Actually, they’re usually not that willing.

Needless to say, I’m devoting this post to extending myself to Tweet world, or Tweetland, or whatever you Twittery people call it. My reason? It’s a network thing. I am always amazed by the contacts I get through Twitter. It’s awesome to attend a conference and get the handle for a great educator or inspiring librarian, and then see those tweets start coming in.

I am not a handle collector, and I never hope to be. However, it was somewhat gratifying to see that I follow 3 of the 15 (okay, 16) listed educational innovators from Laura Devaney’s (2014) eSchoolNews.com article, “15 innovative Twitter accounts you should follow.” I’ve been a big Alice Keeler fan since I attended a workshop session at a Google Summit a few years back–or was it a Computer Using Educators (CUE) conference? I also like seeing what’s going on in the EdTechTeacher world, and I love Ron Swanson. That one comes up as a bonus account in the article.

So why keep up with Twitter, when there are so many other things to think about? Well, I asked my husband that question recently, and he said that he only uses Twitter for industry news and trends. This gels with advice I’ve seen elsewhere, as in Joni Nguyen’s (2017) Edudemic.com article, “15 top educators to follow in 2017.” Nguyen states, “Following educators on Twitter can help today’s teachers stay up-to-date on the latest trends and research in education as well as help develop innovative and fun lesson plans for various subjects.” So I’m challenging myself, starting this next school year, to up my game by checking my Twitter feed more often, and to Tweet more, myself.

As a social media site, Twitter is probably the most innocuous. I can easily substitute a fancy, time-consuming Tech tip email for a quick Tweet that shows up on the library site or the school’s professional development site via a widget. And it doesn’t have to be mine! I can retweet someone else’s brilliant idea, which, COME ON, is basically what we do when we share tips. We’re librarians! So all that time I spent worrying about the fact that I hadn’t a) thought of a useful tip, and b) sat down to write and click send, as well as the time actually used in those tasks, is SAVED, yes SAVED. If you’re interested in more ways to use Twitter, check out another Edudemic article, “The Teacher’s guide to Twitter.”

If you have comments about the way you use Twitter to save time in your hectic library-running, class-coordinating, tech-consulting day, please share!

References:

Devaney, L. (2014, June 17). 15 innovative Twitter accounts you should follow. eSchool News. Retrieved from https://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/06/17/innovative-twitter-accounts-365/

Nguyen, J. (2017, April 24). 15 top educators to follow in 2017. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/teachers-on-twitter/

The teacher’s guide to Twitter. (n.d.). The teacher’s guide to Twitter. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/teachers-on-twitter/

 

Hey everybody, let’s host a Human Library!

HumanBookIn reading the June 2017 issue of American Libraries, I came across the article titled, “If these books could talk” by Liz Granger.  In it, Granger talks about a recent trend called the Human Library.  A Human Library is one that checks out humans that are “read” by the patron in a 20-minute conversation.  There is also the option of checking out a human for a group, which may help those who are timid about asking questions.  For example, if I attended an event, I might check out a “book” titled Drug addict or another called Illegal Immigrant.  I would have a conversation with the human book.  What might we talk about? I’m sure I would have my own questions, but hopefully, the organizer has coached the human book and run through practice questions as one organizer, Megan Gilpin of Penn State University recommends (p. 23).  

Ronni Abergel, cohost of the first human library event in Copenhagen in 2000, trademarked human library in 2010 with the goal of helping people “confront prejudice and stereotypes” (p.20). (FYI, If a library or organization wants to host a human library event, they must apply for permission from The Human Library Organization, and if they are approved, they are given training materials that facilitate setting one up.)

So my thought is this: AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) mark the importance of supporting global citizenship. AASL 3.3.1 states, “Solicit and respect diverse perspectives while searching for information, collaborating with others, and participating as a member of the community,”and standard 3.3.2 states, “Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints.” As facilitators and coaches, we teacher librarians can host these kinds of events!  Think of the impact in just one day!  Speaking from my own experience, we teachers and school administrators have a heightened sense of awareness about the threat of prejudice in light of recent 2016 events.  One school in my district had to handle anti-semitic threats this past year which resulted in examining practices through work with the Anti-Defamation League. Our efforts to level the playing field and combat prejudice can be augmented by programs like the Human Library.

What if the Human Library could be an event conducted online?  ISTE Standards for Students (2016) state that students “use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.”  I can imagine a classroom where students interview a human book in the same way that they interview entrepreneurs and industry experts with Google Hangouts for business classes or career days.  Moreover, an online environment for the Human Library would encourage the global transaction–remote information made local.  In this case, the transaction is not only information, it hopefully represents socio-emotional growth.

According to another organizer, Abby Kasowitz-Scheer from Syracuse University Libraries, people who attend Human Library events are “inspired by the strength of survivors and by people’s ability to go on after difficult life experiences.” (qtd. in Granger, p. 23).  If a big part of our mission is to help students to empathize with others, the Human Library sounds like a great way to accomplish this, giving way more bang for the buck.    

References:

American Association of School Librarians. (2007) Standards for the 21st-century learner. American Library Association.  Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards

Granger, L. (2017, June). If these books could talk. American Libraries, 48(6), pages 20-21, 23.  Retrieved online from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/06/01/if-these-books-could-talk-human-libraries/ 

ISTE Standards for Students. (2016).  International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/Standards-Resources/iste-standards_students-2016_one-sheet_final.pdf?sfvrsn=0.23432948779836327

Why I’m not going to ISTE this year, and why I think you should care

Hello my name is badge sticker

Conferences, conferences.  Every professional has the opportunity to attend conferences for professional development.  Conferences are often run by industry groups or organizations. As teacher librarians, we are encouraged to become involved in various library-related associations (see 4 C  Blog “Top 10 reasons to join a professional organization” to understand why).  Encouragement for me has initially come from professors in my Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program through San Jose State University. Thank you, professors.   If you’re lucky, you have administrators that encourage you to take part in library-related associations.  I, myself, am a proud member of several of these.   First is the American Library Association (ALA), the big guns, along with two ALA divisions, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).  I am also a member of  the California School Libary Association (CSLA).  I have attended ALA and CSLA conferences, and will be attending the AASL conference this fall in Arizona. Yes, I know.  Sounds awesome.

I’m really not trying to brag, here.  In talking with other teacher librarians, I’ve found that most are part of 3-5 associations, and many of them even more.

Now, in my first post, if you read it, I talked about librarians wearing lots of different hats?  Well, one of the biggest hats we wear is the hat that I call, very unoriginally, “Tech go-to.”  We are that person at our sites.  As Steven Abram noted in his recent January 2017 Internet@Schools article titled, “What’s in the pipeline? Teacher librarians as STEAM vents,”  “The next phase of libraries will expand our role in schools and our communities into lending 3D printers, 3D scanners, drones, games, IoT devices, artificial intelligence and aug­mented reality tools, robots, robotics, and the full range of digital and other tools needed for successful learning.”  So yeah, better get up on all that. As a quick side note, Abram quotes the 2016 Thomas Frey Futurist Speaker article, “‘122 Things’ you will be able to do in the library of the future that you can’t do today,” which is a great read.  

See, inasmuch as the library associations mentioned heretofore help us connect, and actually do a good job in helping us keep up with technology, it’s wise to spread out and form professional attachments to groups that FOCUS on tech. To that end, I became a member of Computer Using Educators (CUE), the Silicon Valley offshoot (SVCUE), and the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE).  With CUE, I get out of the library box and into seeing how subject-area educators are using new applications.  ISTE pushes global awareness, and has developed up-to-date international student and teacher technology standards that echo the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

It’s hard to pick and choose which professional conferences you want to attend, if you’re lucky to even have that choice.  When I look over my year, I try to spread things out a bit, attending 1 library-associated conference and 1 tech conference.  I have experienced good and mediocre conferences.  The greatest takeaway at EVERY conference is network building. Yes, you learn about trends and technology too.  But if learned anything, it’s the acquaintances and friendships you strike up, because they will enrich you over and over again.

I’m not going to ISTE this year because it coincides with a much-needed family vacation.   Maybe I’ll go next year when it’s in Chicago.

Why should you care?  Well, if you’re interested in teacher librarianship, and you want to stay connected through attendance at conferences, maybe this post will pique your interest in the professional associations I listed above, but that’s not my main point.  My hope is that you, dear fellow teacher librarian, in your attempt to perch the many hats you wear atop your head AT THE SAME TIME, can read this little post and either say to yourself, “She’s such a lightweight!” or “Aha! I’ve found someone that’s just as involved as me.”  If you’re one of the former, I take one of my many hats off to you.  If you’re one of the latter, cheers!

References:

Abram, S. (2017, January). What’s in the pipeline? Teacher librarians as STEAM vents. Internet@Schools, 24(1), 8-10. Retrieved from http://www.internetatschools.com/Articles/Column/The-Pipeline/THE-PIPELINE-Whats-in-the-Pipeline-Teacher-Librarians-as-STEAM-Vents-116124.aspx

Frey, Thomas. (2016, October 26). “122 Things” you will be able to do in the library of the future that you can’t do today. [Web log]. Futurist Speaker. Retrieved from http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/122-things-you-will-be-able-to-do-in-the-library-of-the-future-that-you-cant-do-today/

McClellan, J. (2015, November 5). Top 10 reasons to join a professional association. [Web log]. 4CDesignworks. Retrieved from http://blog.cccctech.com/top-10-reasons-to-join-a-professional-organization/

 

Learning from Mistakes

Capture
For more great, laugh-inducing, cringey mistakes, click on the image to visit cakewrecks.com

I’ve been thinking about making mistakes in relation to inquiry-based design.  As a high school teacher librarian who currently (pushing for change, pushing for change) has limited time with students in a classroom setting (1-3 lessons in a year per class of freshmen), I have felt like my biggest impact is in filling each minute with instruction.  However, I realized, in my pausing to take a quick breath and a sip of water between class periods, students were leaving my lessons looking like zombies.

So what is the result of my teaching?  It’s probably not heads filled with educational, information-rich, meaningful learning.  If anything, they probably paid attention at those moments when I said, “Okay.  This is really important, and you’ll want to write it down.” Beyond that, I’m lucky that their teachers have me teach on a yearly basis in the remaining three years of high school to get refreshers.

So if learning comes best, as most teachers are aware, by doing, and if we are encouraged to collaborate and function as facilitators in order to support student learners in the 21st century (see AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner), then we must seek to transform our practice, as educators like Patricia Montiel-Overall suggest in her 2013 LMC article, “Students as global citizens: Educating a new generation.”

This transformation requires some shifts that may be pretty darn uncomfortable. Speaking from my own experience, I decided that my impact was being undermined by time constraints.  Thanks to help from a fellow educator, and from an inquiry-based lesson on data literacy by Tasha Bergson-Michelson at the 2017 California School Librarian Association conference, I decided to pull back on content.  I took Tasha’s lesson and modified it for my purposes, creating an inquiry-based lesson on evaluating resources.  I’m not going to go into the full plan, but suffice to say, it was an uncomfortable transformation.

Mistakes were made.

If I learned anything, it was this: the cake may look bad, but that doesn’t mean it tastes bad.  In other words, after that first lesson was taught, I thought, “Well, at least they gave me a round of applause, and there was that big ‘aha!’ moment when the students came up with the list of traits a good resource should have.”  But it felt weird, too.  I didn’t have that tidy, all-wrapped-up feeling like I usually do after covering content.  It felt more like observing chicks hatching, or a newborn calf standing up for the first time.  The key word is observing.  I wasn’t wiping my hands and saying to myself, “good job.”   I was telling the students that.

Diana Laufenberg, in her November 2010 TEDxMidAtlantic talk titled, “How to learn? From mistakes,” notes that “always having the right answer doesn’t allow students to learn.”  She was talking about students learning from their own mistakes, but I’m here telling you that they learn from yours, too.  AND IT’S IMPORTANT!  It’s not only important to make mistakes, but it’s important to admit that your lesson is sloppy, or that you need a hand.

In “Learning from mistakes: Confessions of a flawed librarian” by Linda Braun in the April 2016 issue of the Voice of Youth Advocates journal, the author notes that “Most people would agree that everyone–even professionals–make mistakes, and most would agree that some of the most significant and profound learning comes from those mistakes” (p. 40).

If we’re to make transformation happen, where students come out of our lessons feeling like they have learned something, we need to embrace the messiness of the transformation.  Our mistakes benefit those 21st learners.

References:

Braun, L.M. (April 2016). Learning from mistakes: Confessions of a flawed librarian. Voice of Youth Advocates 39(1), 40-41.

Laufenberg, D. (November 2010). How to Learn? From mistakes. [Video File with transcript]. TEDxMidAtlantic.  Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/diana_laufenberg_3_ways_to_teach

Montiel-Overall, P. (2013). Students as global citizens: Educating a new generation. LMC 31(3) 8-10.  Retrieved from School Library Management, 7th edition [Kindle version].

 

 

Bibliodidaskalos-ity?

This is my newest blog, and this time, it’s about making connections.  I have another blog, Bibliocity, where I do reader advisor book summaries.  I call it Bibliocity for two reasons.  First, most people are familiar with the Greek root “biblio” which means book.  I chose “city” because it means “a place or situation characterized by a specified attribute” (Google definition).  Combine the two together, and you get a place for book summaries.   Second, I was a teenager in the 80s when The Police came out with Synchronicity and Bibliocity made me think of great music AND connecting things.

220px-police-album-synchronicity

For Bibliodidaskalos-ity (biblio-di-das-ka-los-ity), I inserted didáskalos, which means teacher in Greek.  To get technical, I think I am a didáskalissa, but that would have meant the blog’s name, which is already crazy, would end in “issa-city”  and I prefer the sound of “os-ity”.

So connections.  Teacher librarians have to be really good at this.  They connect students to information, teachers to information, and often wear other hats besides.  They are tech coaches, professional development leaders, curriculum developers.  They have to be up-to-date with subject area standards and technology.  They are reader advisors, champions of all kinds of literacies.  That makes them superstars and superheroes on school campuses.