Module 2: Learning Log 2

18 Sep

One of our assignments in Module 2 was to read a few chapters from the Fontichiaro text.  One set of articles I found incredibly to be incredibly helpful was a series by author Leslie Preddy on “Student Inquiry in the Research Process” (Fontichiaro pages 130 – 145).

A project that I love to assign (and in the end, students love doing) is an oral history (OH) project.  They pick a time period or event and then chose a friend or family member to interview that lived through the time period or event.  Next, students compare their family member/ friend to the historical record of the time period.  I’ve found students like to find out the “dirt” on their family members and as a teacher, it is so enjoyable reading papers that students clearly have a personal connection to.  While reading the Preddy chapters, I came up with a lot of great ideas to make the project better this year.

1) Have students keep a notebook/ journal of the OH project.  From the brainstorming phase (what topic or time period am I most interested in?  What questions should I ask my interview subject”) through the interview and reflection phase (how did my interview subject experience the time period?  Are they similar to other Americans during this time?  What do their experiences tell us about American identity?”) students have LOTS of papers floating about.  Purposeful organization would beneficial to them and me.

2) Model AND practice the interview process.  In the past, I have had another teacher come in and I mock interviewed her to give the students a look at the types of questions that would elicit the best results.  However, I should go a step further and allow the students to mock interview her (or a different teacher) as well.  Perhaps the interviewed teacher could give feedback to the students on how she thought the interview went.

3) Grade the process and the product.  Believe it or not, I have had students plagiarize their OH.  In one case, I had students make up responses that they thought a person may have had during the time period (I caught them because the responses sounded too generic) and in a second case, a student from a previous year allowed a current student to use a few of their body paragraphs (I caught them because the OH’s are very unique).  Perhaps other students slipped through.  By grading the process, students will be accountable for every step of the project

4) Allow students to chose their formatting.  In the past, the OH has always been a paper.  But for students who tape their interviews, creating a video would be a lot more powerful.  Other students could put together a visual with scanned images or photos from the time period of artifacts that their subject owns.  Allowing them to pick the format would give students more ownership over the final result.


Module 2: Learning Log 1

18 Sep

Another slow start for Module 2.  I don’t want to appear apathetic about this class!  I feel very torn by responsibilities at work, home, with friends (best friend from high school’s wedding this weekend, traveling involved) and a topic that really does interest me like collaboration in schools, specifically for inquiry based learning (which I want to feel more comfortable doing in my own classroom) for no other reason than to avoid the type of classroom environment in this popular SNL sketch.  (If you’ve never seen Jerry Seinfeld as a history teacher and David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley as his students, it is worth watching!)

In the beginning of the module, I read the article “For the Best Answers, Ask Tough Questions” by high school librarian and visionary Joyce Valenza.  Valenza encourages teachers to ask “fat” questions that require students to think critically, evaluate sources, and synthesize information rather than “skinny” questions that just require students to memorize facts.  At the end of the article, Valenza listed numerous websites teachers could use to develop their questioning/ inquiry skills with their students.  I wanted to take a look at a few, but found that many of the links no longer worked or the sites were out of date because the article had been written about 10 years ago.

So, I looked around to see if I could find some new sites that relate to the info/ methods in Valenza’s article:

Asking Good Questions” by Kenneth Vogler show how questions can be styled to fit the traditional and revised Blooms taxonomies.  He also explains 6 questioning “sequences” like “broad to narrow” or “narrow to broad” “relevant digressions” “circular path” etc. that could work with all grade levels and subject areas.

Concept to Classroom” offers teachers a step by step guide to implementing inquiry based learning in their classrooms, while offering corresponding theory to go along with the inquiry based approach.  One of the ideas I thought was most interesting is “while knowledge is constantly increasing, so is the boundary of the unknown.” I think older students would understand and appreciate this ever increasing area of knowledge and view it as a reason to inquire on their own.

Project Based Learning: Real World Issues Motivate Students” is an article by Diane Curtis for Edutopia.  Curtis offers a rationale for challenging students at a young age. She notes that benefits of PBL include higher levels of student engagement, higher test scores, and a greater appreciation for how their educations “fit in” with real world issues.  Three videos from different subjects/ grade levels are included.

Reading Valenza’s article and viewing these sites has made me think critically about the questions I ask my students.  As a future SLMS who hopes to collaborate with teachers, knowing questioning/ inquiry skills will be the foundation to building relevant projects for students as well as purposeful use of the library’s resources.


Module 1: Learning Log Final Post

11 Sep

As Module 1 winds down, I have a feeling that the next 6 weeks will be hectic.  Online classes tend to be more time consuming, but also require you to work harder because you MUST participate in everything.  One of the discussion board posts said it best; to paraphrase, in an online class you can talk as long as you’d like to think, post on the discussion boards, and finish assignment, whereas in a traditional class, sometimes the conversation moves too quickly, and even those who might want to add to it are left behind.  I think the first module set the stage for enriching posts and dynamic posts on the discussion boards.  I was really happy to be a part of it!

This module was all about setting the stage for instructional collaboration.  From comparing the Unquiet Librarian videos to the Fontichiaro text it became very clear that what one might consider to be “true collaboration” is very hard to achieve.  Buffy Hamilton of Unquiet Librarian is considered one of the best in the field, and I loved listening to the lessons she and teachers in her district collaborated on.  As a student in one of the classes, I am certain I would have gleaned a lot from each of the lessons.  From the comments on the discussion board about the videos, it seemed like nearly everyone viewed them as “cooperation” not “collaboration” but that could be okay, as long as student needs were being met.  Also, I think that as a project grows and develops, the teacher and the librarian become attuned to new ways to collaborate and plan together. As a teacher, when I start thinking about projects, they don’t really work out in my mind or on paper the first time.  When I try them with a “guinea pig class” I also pick up new tricks or tools that could make a project better.  Sometimes, I think a teacher and librarian must try an (imperfect) project first before finding ways to teach and assess it together as it best fits the needs of the students.

Another way this module set the stage for collaboration was the blog review deliverable.  Blogging is a great way to find new tricks and tools, as well as set up a strong net presence.  Blogging would allow librarians to communicate with others in their field (because at school, sometimes the librarian is an island, there is only ONE of her).  Blogging would allow newer librarians to learn from veterans, and experienced librarians to see fresh ideas.  Blogging and tweeting allows librarians to form global communities, which I see as a form of collaboration.

The hardest part of this module for me was the discussion board post about redesigning an existing lesson plan to better fit AASL and NETS standards.  I really appreciate AASL and NETS standards.  I think they are written in clear, easy to apply language, and if sought by librarians and teachers, push us to try new things and challenge our students.  However, when it came time to mix them with state/ national subject area standards, I just didn’t feel like I could get what I was thinking down on paper concisely and sensibly.  I felt like I needed little paper cut outs to manipulate, like this video from the assignment prep on Blackboard.  I am not a very good multi -tasker, and my brain felt like it was performing gymnastics!  I still plan on becoming more comfortable with the AASL and NETS standards, but now I’d also like to think about more ways to apply them to subject area standards, especially outside of Social Studies, where I am most comfortable.

Module 1: Resource Sharing Blogs

5 Sep

 Free Technology for Teachers was the 2009 Best Resource Sharing Edublog and is written by Richard Byrne.  I’ve followed him on Twitter, but never actually been to his blog, so taking my first look was exciting.

Purpose of the blog: Each post features idea or link for teachers and librarians to try.  I like that Byrne does not overload his readers with links.  In terms of the links that Byrne shares, many seem social studies focused, as he is a social studies teacher (like economic games or 60 second civics), but there are also many posts that feature new web tools like Draw it Live or tutorials on commonly used web tools like Google Chrome.  Finally, Byrne’s posts also encourage teachers and librarians to form PLNs.  His most recent post is about EdCamps.  I am going to EdCamp Harrisburg in November!!
Types of posts: Chronological, short n’ sweet, labeled for easy access.
Educational resource value: Byrne comes right out and says that the tools he features have educational value. Following the description of each tool is an “Applications for  Education” paragraph so teachers and librarians have ideas about how to make connections with the tool.  My favorite is a post about how to use Geocaching in the schoolyard as a way to have students practice sequencing, spelling, or solving math problems.
Other thoughts: A lot of ads makes the blog a little too busy for my tastes.  Since he links his posts to Twitter, I will continue to follow there.

EmergingEdTech is a resource sharing blog created by Kelly Walsh who currently is the Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester in NY.
Purpose of the blog: The purpose of the blog is to keep teachers and librarians in the know with educational tech trends (10 Internet Technologies Educators Should Be Informed About: 2011)  and conferences, as well as reviewing the best of Twitter each week with Tweet Wraps.  The Post Index is a great way to find posts by topic, such as professional development, the future of education technology, and special needs students (one of the first blogs I’ve seen in my search for blogs for this class!  Here is an post about using tech to analyze data for special needs students)
Types of posts: Chronological, and easy to browse.  Once a post becomes more than a few days old, it becomes thumbnail size, which allows the reader to glance over the page quickly see if they’d like to finish the article.  Most posts contain many hyperlinked sites, so if a post really appeals to your needs, you would be able to explore it further.  For instance, here is 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter.  Though there aren’t 100 links, Walsh annotates the links he does use, and categorizes them to make using the list easier for the reader.
Educational resource value: Though Walsh’s blog is a little less conversational and and light in terms of style and topics, I liked that his posts stretch from K (Twitter in the Kindergarden classroom) to college (Seton Hill’s implementation of Ipads).  Any teacher or librarian at any grade level could find something they could use.
Other thoughts: I like the Tweet Wrap.  So many people post so much on Twitter that if you miss a day (or even a few hours) you’ve missed out on a lot.  To be able to look back at some of the best Tweets on Walsh’s feed makes me feel more in the know.

Open Culture is a culminating effort of 4 professionals in the education and tech worlds.
Purpose of the blog: Open Culture says it it is the “best free cultural and educational media on the web”.  The blogs purpose seems geared to educators with older students and professionals seeking to expand their knowledge base
Types of posts: Most posts feature videos or images and seem to be focused fun events, or throwbacks from history like predictions of the future in tech and fashion.  Students do tend to like seeing comical or insightful things those in the past predicted about us in the future.

Educational resource value: The section of the blog that would have the most appeal to educators and librarians are the lists of freebies on the upper right hand side of the page.  Free books, movies, and courses could be applicable for all teachers to hone their skills or expand their knowledge base, whereas specific sections for free science videos and language lessons might appeal to upper level science and language teachers and the media specialists in their building.  AP level students may also be interested in the free college courses for the AP classes they are taking.
Other thoughts: I don’t think this blog is really meant just to be for teachers or librarians, but it could be useful for quick cultural tidbits (librarians, check out Biblioburro), and for the freebies that are mentioned.  I also think it is probably more applicable to those who teach older students.  One dislike I have about the blog is the ads that fall in the middle of the page on the freebie sections.

How might you use resource sharing blogs to support your role as an educational leader? Resource sharing blogs contain posts with ideas and tech tools/ tips that I may not have found on my own, or known how to use on my own.  Using resource sharing blogs would encourage me to increase my repertoire of tech tool know – how and information sharing ideas.  It may be neat to have students weigh in on the resource sharing blogs they like, or to share the posts and new tools with them.  Serving student needs is the goal of teachers and librarians, and getting a student’s take on the blogs and resources in them could provide new insight on which blogs are the most helpful for your school population. 

How would you share these resources with teachers in your building and encourage them to give them a try?  Sending a email with a link with a blog post to interested teachers may be an option.  It might be beneficial to have teachers in your building subscribe to your Twitter feed (or similar blog feeds) to share ideas.

How might you use resource sharing blogs for professional development or collaboration?  Using blogs for PD and collaboration is supported by Derven’s “Social Networking: A Force for Development.  One of Derven’s points in the article is that social networking allows school districts to cut the cost of PD while increasing connectivity.  Blogs are free and open any school district up to new ideas and tech tips.  Blogs are also easy to share with other educators in your building using Google Reader, or educators in your building could save applicable blog posts to a common bookmarking site like Diigo.

Module 1: A Review of Three Library Blogs

4 Sep

Castilleja School is a private school for girls in grades 6 through 12.  This blog won the Edublog for best library blog in 2010, and I was drawn to it immediately because the  layout is easy to read, visually pleasing, and colorful.  However, one caveat: the blog hasn’t been updated since last school year, which I found surprising.  The New Books section is also infrequently updated, in some cases three months go by before an update.
Purpose of the blog: The purpose of blog seems twofold.  Displayed more prominently are links disseminating school information (new students and faculty members, class trips, and interesting community events, like this play that students can participate in) and as a place to display student work.  In smaller letters at the top of the page is library information, like links to library resources, databases, and student book reviews.
Type of posts: Unlike many blogs, the posts are organized by type (and can overlap, for instance “Seniors Investigate Cancer Biology” is in Cool Stuff, Recent, and Student Work) not chronologically.  Though I agree with using tabs/ categories on blog posts, I like seeing a sense of chronology on blogs.  I noticed that students, teachers, and the librarians posted on the blog (scroll down the Featured section, which has examples of each type of poster), which is nice because it gives everyone a sense of ownership in the blog.
Other thoughts: This blog proves that the library is the hub of the school.  Teachers, students, and librarians post class projects and school accomplishments on the blog.  Usually these announcements are relegated to the school’s main website or individual teacher websites.
How does the blog assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy: This is one area of the blog that I believe is missing.  Though the MLA page (under resources) does explain the importance of citing your work properly (AASL 1.3 and NETS 5) there is not much information on information literacy.  In regard to collaboration with teachers, there is a lot of evidence of “final products” on the page, but nothing about the steps that teachers might take to collaborate with the media specialist, or what the media specialist might be able to offer reluctant teachers.  However, an interview with new faculty member Mr. Chiang says that “Mr. Chiang’s focus will be on working with faculty to enrich the curriculum with opportunities to use technology in the classroom in meaningful, transformative ways.”  Maybe we will see more about integrating information literacy on the page in the future.

The Daring Librarian is certainly a more edgy, punky, in – your face library blog.  I love it!  I don’t think the Daring Librarian is meant for student use, especially younger student use because there is some questionable language.
Purpose of the blog: To keep librarians and teachers in the know about new web and tech tools, like the Back to School Special: 7 Web Savvy Starts, which features Slideshare, school Youtube sites, Twitter, and Edublogs.  These tools are fairly mainstream for most educators, but The Daring Librarian goes further by also posting about tools and ideas that may be more underground.  Post I liked included how to use (and what the heck are) QR codes, and Pencast book reviews.  Granted, not every teacher or librarian will be able to make or use QR codes and pencasts tomorrow, but I think the goal of the Daring Librarian is to introduce newer ideas in a casual way.  The Daring Librarian’s second purpose is to inspire other librarians to be daring!  One of my favorite posts is “Lady GaGa Librarians Unite!” about who more librarians should be like Lady Gaga: Try new things, don’t ask for permission, and be a vibrant light for your school/ community.
Type of posts: Chronological, feature pictures or cartoons, she had many followers, so it is also neat to read the comments.
Other thoughts: I’m subscribing!
How does the blog assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy: This blog can assist teachers with integrating information literacy by giving them new ideas to try, or as a starting point for a conversation with a their school’s librarian.  For example, a teacher might notice a new tool the Daring Librarian is plugging, or a post about a project involving Twitter (like Twitter – style book reviews) that she is considering.  She could bring the post up with the school librarian and they could discuss the post, and how it could work with her classes together.

A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet is a blog by Julie Geller, a 20 year veteran in the library profession.  The layout is neat and clean.  I like that there are not to many widgets and images on the sidebar.  Ms. Geller also updated with a new post as I was reading the blog, which was neat.
Purpose of the blog: The purpose of the blog seems to be to provide teachers and librarians with the “best of the web” with posts that contain lists, like “Icebreakers“, “Holidays” and my personal favorite, “Infographics“.  Many posts go further than listed links and also contain embedded videos like “Differentiated Instruction“.  Ms. Geller also seems like a realist in a time of economic stagnation providing posts on what to do if you budget is slashed, and how to fundraise.
Type of posts: Chronological, but tabs on the top also provide info for different grade levels, for new teachers, and for reference.
Other thoughts: Though I dislike the looooooong lists of links (too many links seem overwhelming) I would subscribe to this blog for some new ideas. I also already Tweeted a few of the lists to #sschat
How does the blog assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy: Teachers and librarians could find LOTS of web resources as jumping off points for projects.  Separating links by grade level, or by subject (examples for games and videos) also helps teachers to use this site.  Just like the Daring Librarian, I think teachers or librarians could approach each other, using Ms. Geller’s posts as a jumping off point for collaboration and student project ideas.

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?  Using blogs in the library can support collaboration with teachers and parents.  One of our discussion board articles was Robin Ludmer’s “Making the Most of Fixed Schedules” describing the challenges many teachers and librarians face when planning projects.  If a librarian posted new web tools on her blog, as well as their applications for grade levels and subject areas, teachers could comment on ways that they want to use them, cutting down on the need to meet face to face or to organize a common planning time.  Also Hauser’s “Be the Web  Go To Person for Parents” may also be easier with a blog.  Castilleja’ s site offered many ways for parents to see what their students are up to, as well as ways to view library resources from home.  In terms of professional development, it would behoove teachers and librarians to view each others blogs and Twitter feeds as a way to see new web tools in practice and be up to date with web/ information trends. 

Module 1: Learning Log 2

4 Sep

Prior to doing any of the other readings or assignments for the module, I read through the Fontichiaro text readings.  One reading that struck a cord with me was Betty Marcoux’s “Levels of Collaboration: Where Does Your Work Fit In?” Marcoux created a continuum for teacher, librarian and student use of the library from consumption (students “consume” library resources like reading books, creating photocopies, and typing with no help/ insight/ response from teachers or the librarian) to collaboration (teachers and the librarian jointly plan, implement, and assess the lesson).

I think most of the time that I use the library as a teacher I fit in the cooperation –> coordination stage.  I ready my students for the library with background information and the assignment at hand.  I alert the librarian in advance and discuss some of the outcomes I’d like to see and we work together to come up with research methods and materials.  Usually, she will present these materials to my classes and work with them in using the materials.  I don’t think I’ve ever shared in the assessment of my students with my school’s librarian.

One of our discussion board questions was to evaluate three lessons where school library great Buffy Hamilton collaborated with teachers.  After viewing each of the videos, I had the same inkling as many of my classmates.  First, true collaboration (as described by Marcoux) is really challenging, even for prominent school librarians.  Second, varying degrees of collaboration among teachers and the librarian may be beneficial, depending on the class, the project, and time constraints.

Module 1: Using Tools for Collaboration

3 Sep

A tool that I have only recently started to use from Joyce Valenza’s “Fully Loaded” is Google Forms.  Google Forms makes it incredibly easy to create surveys that are accessed and tabulated online.  One of the best features of Google Forms is the results can be viewed in an Excel – like list or as a series of charts and graphs.  If you wanted to show the results of a survey as a presentation, the charts and graphs would be great for an audience to view.

Google Forms would be a really efficient way to communicate with stakeholders because the forms can be made relatively quickly, and filled out at the participant’s convenience.  The graphs and charts would be great visuals to interpret with the group of stakeholders once all of the results are tabulated.

I think Google Forms might best be used by a librarian in the preliminary and reflective stages of a project.  Here are some ideas:

– For teachers: Forms that ask about teacher’s readiness to use the technology already in the school.  The librarian could then meet with like groups of teachers to and present tools/ ideas that meet each staff member where they are.  Then, a follow up form could be sent out later to see if teachers feel that their readiness levels have changed.  A librarian could also poll teachers about types of projects they would like to try with their students to amass resources/ ideas to prepare for these projects.

For students: Forms about favorite genres, authors, periodicals, even library seating arrangements would show students that the library is really about their needs as learners and readers. A form could be made for students when they finish a project using library resources about what worked well for them and what didn’t.

For parents/ administrators: Forms could be made about what parents/ administrators expect  from  school librarian.  The librarian could then present how she is meeting those needs and know other areas where needs may be unmet.  Librarians could also show the results of student and teacher forms to parents and administrators as a way to illustrate aspects of her program.