Advocacy in Advertising: Student Icons

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student-created display, from liquidliteracy.wordpress.com

As I’m getting ready to begin the new year, I’m moving into preparing the library for patrons.  That is a concrete job that showcases the learning commons’ resources.  In my role as library advocate, I have to spend time on signage.  I was chagrined by my lack of time to put into displays this year–there was funding last year for new textbooks, so I spent this week adding them and generating barcodes in Destiny instead of working on displays.  I shared my frustration with the principal (she used to be the TL), and she reminded me that I will have plenty of time to get displays up in the first week of school. This encouragement helped me to remember that the STUDENTS have been the display creators in past years, and they do really well.

Two years ago, students from the Virtual Enterprise class took my print orders and made beautiful copies that I laminated and used for signage.  I have since discovered a wealth of help creating gorgeous signs and displays from student aides and the Students for Literacy club.  One student aide made a bulletin board for books that will be made into movies.  My last student aide put together an origami border for the digital citizenship board, and another lovely fanime board.

Sometimes it’s hard to let students take on this job.  My aesthetics approach to lettering involves peeling off stickers and sticking them to designated spots on a penciled-in line.  Two years ago, one of my students spent an inordinate amount of time cutting out lettering for a graphic novels display.  Despite the fact that the Gothic font was a bit difficult to read, and the letters were smaller than I would’ve done, I was at least thankful to delegate a job that needed doing, thereby supporting participatory culture.  According to the 2006 MacArthur Foundation/MIT publication, White Paper: Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by Henry Jenkins, “Our goals should be to encourage youth to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical frameworks, and self-confidence needed to be full participants in contemporary culture” (p.8).  In addition, YALSA’s (2014) publication, The future of library services for and with teens: A call to action  exhorts us K-12 educators to “Listen to teens and seek out ways to affirm [student] identities through connected learning opportunities with libraries that build upon academic, digital, critical literacies, etc.” (p. 27).  What better way to engage students than to grant them the privilege to not only contribute to the running of the library, but also to build community?  And what a great way to move a job from the librarian’s shoulders to the place where it naturally goes?

For those of us who either have trouble removing our hands from the task, or have students who want to help but can’t draw a straight line, there are places to go to get great, free, images.  As I was searching the web for my last post, I came across the July 17, 2017 Knowledge Quest article by Becca Munson titled, “The Noun Project: Find icons for all your needs” .  The Noun Project, located at thenounproject.com, contains “over a million curated icons, created by a global community.”  And if they need ideas, have them check out Pinterest boards like this one by KarinSHallett. For lettering, if you want students to conform to your expectation of readability and coloring, you can go the sticker route, or you can get die-cut letters from your local RAFT (Resource Area For Teaching) store.  I challenge you to let them take the reins, though.  There is cooperation, and then there is collaboration.  If you hand over a job and say do it this way (here are the letters, use these colors, etc.), the student cooperates by completing the job to your specifications.  If you ask your student to come up with some display ideas and plans that you review and ask about (What font size do you plan on using? Do you need me to purchase supplies?), that’s collaboration.

Do any of you have go-to sources for images and lettering that you’d like to share?

References:

Jenkins, H. (2006, October 19). White Paper: Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.  MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.macfound.org/press/publications/white-paper-confronting-the-challenges-of-participatory-culture-media-education-for-the-21st-century-by-henry-jenkins/

Munson, B. (2017, July 17). The Noun Project: Find icons for all your needs. Knowledge Quest. Retrieved from http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/noun-project-find-icons-needs/

Young Adult Library Services Association. (2014, January 8). The future of library services for and with teens: A call to action. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yaforum/future-library-services-and-teens-project-report

 

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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/