“Perfectionism means that you try not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.” —Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
As the mother of a toddler, I deeply appreciate these words. In our house, a fresh array of sippy cups, cereal, books, socks, cars, and blankies adorns the living room before 7 AM.
In the spirit of developmentally appropriate exploration, and to preserve my sanity, I tend not to pick up the mess as it happens. Instead, I try to delight in my daughter’s energy and curiosity, and do my best to avoid panic if she finds and eats a forgotten Cheerio. I straighten and clean when possible, and often, it’s not perfect before bedtime. If Anne Lamott says there is proof of a rich and full life in this pleasant chaos, then so it shall be. Some might call this patience, others sloppiness. Either way, I’ve found this approach to be a critical skill for getting through the day. I didn’t learn this secret as a new mom, though. I learned it as a school librarian. Continue reading “On Spring Cleaning & Evidence of Learning”
Have you been following the #OneWord2017 hashtag? I love this trend—people on Twitter, even teachers and their students, are proclaiming in just one word their goals, ideals, and hopes for the new year. The idea is simple, yet it isn’t—like that famous saying about wanting to write a shorter letter but not having the time or those January home magazines suggesting how easy it is to organize household mail if you only touch each piece once.
It’s harder than it might seem to be efficient when completing certain tasks or collecting certain thoughts. And distilling a year’s worth of ambition into a single word is no different. But I like the spirit of this exercise in nudging what might be a jumble of ideas toward a more focused lens. Too often with resolutions and to-do lists, we get excited and ambitious, and well-meaning plans end up diluted. Choosing one stream feels practical and attainable.
I like the one-word resolutions that could apply to many aspects of living and working—like “adapt.” Vow to adapt to the unexpected snowfall, request, or detour. Adapt when a website goes down, a student question brings surprise, or a new resource falls in your lap right before teaching. Continue reading “You and Your Library in One Word”
We’ve all the seen the photos of groups of our friends who worked together to try and get out of an escape room—some successfully and some not so successfully. Librarian Maddie Powell decided to see what the idea might look like in the school library in Frisco, Texas. Her goal with the escape room was to engage non-readers and bring them into the library. Students had 10 minutes to figure out whether a character in the story had jumped or was pushed out of a window. A series of clues and riddles led students to find a black light in the sock of the dummy on the floor, which was used to uncover the answer on the walls. There was a high rate of participation and excitement that got many non-readers into the library space. Demand was so high that teachers began bringing whole classes in together. School Library Connection’s own Carl Harvey talked to Maddie about the experience and her tips for others hoping to try their own escape room.
Carl Harvey: What was your motivation or inspiration to do something like this?
I love Christmas. I love Hanukah. I love giving gifts, the cookies, caroling and all the other festivities that go along with this December season. But…every time that Amazon ECHO commercial comes on television I turn into Scroogette incarnate. That’s right. The hairs on the back of my cybrarian neck just stand on end, and I begin to pontificate on how tomorrow’s leaders are going to be intellectually impaired. The same reaction ensues from the Google Home equivalent. Why in the world would we want to insert in our homes a thinking device, a data-miner, and a microphone that listens to every word we say…just awaiting her name to be called (i.e., the “wake up” word)?
Almost eighty years ago, Aldous Huxley wrote A Brave New World, in which he espoused that humans will come to love technologies that undo our capacity to think. Fast-forward 80 years and here we are embodying his theory. So here we are. We now have devices that can and do think for us. In the 1940s, what technologies did they have? The typewriter? Morse code?
Today, impoverished children have strikes against them. They are likely arriving into kindergarten having heard merely half the vocabulary as their peers entering school from an educated home, but dare we claim that in the future their brains might be a bit better off? Will they demonstrate resourcefulness? Will they have more experience problem solving? Once they catch up with language and other skills, will they exceed children from privileged homes where they don’t need to think and where the kids have spent the mornings on their iPad swiping away or asking Alexa how to spell or what the meaning of life is? Only time will tell. Continue reading “‘Tis the Season?”
I just ended a few days back home in Indiana attending the Indiana Library Federation. It was a great conference—good sessions, great keynotes, a full exhibit floor, and a well-organized and fun conference. But, I have to tell you my favorite part was networking with my friends. Sure, now that I’m living in Virginia, it is even more special to get together with my Indiana school library friends because it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it’s more than that. These are the librarians I “grew up” with in the field, and for that I’ll be ever grateful.
Over the last almost 20 years (good grief….where has the time gone?), these are the folks with whom I’ve shared my successes, commiserated when things didn’t work out well, and brainstormed the next great adventures. We’ve done that for each other countless times. They have been (and I’m certain will continue to be) invaluable to me.
School librarians are often the only ones in their building who do what they do. These types of networks and friendships are so important to the success of the school librarian and the library program. You need that support network to build and grow. Nowadays, we can have our PLN online with Twitter, Facebook, etc. These are wonderful ways to connect, but I have to admit my favorite is a table of friends, some good food, and wonderful conversation.
If you’re a new librarian, chances are you’ve just finished the hardest month of your working career. Take a deep breath and read on…
Thus concludes a month of figuring things out, extensive meetings, wondering if you’ll remember any names, skipping lunch, and staying late.
Twenty years ago, I walked into my first elementary librarian position hoping to change the world. Or, at least the school. I was uber-excited, passionate, appreciative of the opportunity, and in love with the students. I was wearing rose-colored glasses, and yet the year did not disappoint me.
SLC is delighted to feature this guest post from author and school library luminary Randi Schmidt. Make sure to check out the links to free excerpts from her latest book on guided inquiry and the humanities research project at the end of the post!
Recently I saw the documentary film, The Music of Strangers, which explores how and why the renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, gathered together a large assortment of accomplished musicians from across the globe to form an ensemble and perform as The Silk Road Project for the past 15 years in various parts of the world. The group first came together at the Tanglewood Music Center in western Massachusetts during the summer of 2000. However, September 11, 2001, changed everything and transformed how people viewed the world and the interaction of different cultures. Yo-Yo Ma saw this as an opportunity for the Silk Road Project to use culture and its diversity to create positive and trusting transformations.
Yo-Yo Ma discussed the nature of culture in the film and how culture essentially provides meaning to all human lives. As the world experiences increasing intersections of different cultures through the proliferation of media, multicultural societies, conflict-driven movements of people across the globe, and other forms of globalization, humanity is provided with numerous opportunities to examine the essential nature of culture as it is differentiated across the globe. Continue reading “So, What Exactly Is Culture Anyway? (And How Should We Teach It?)”
Flying home today from a visit with family and friends in Indiana, I’m sure the people around me were wondering why I was fighting back a few tears. While home, I picked up a book at my favorite children’s independent bookstore called Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson. I don’t want to give away the ending, but let’s just say it was a tearjerker. This middle grades book focuses on the relationship of a teacher to the student and the power that one teacher has to make a difference. … sometimes without even realizing that is what they are doing.
Reading this book made me think about some of the teachers I had over the years. I remember fondly my German class in high school, where I know our teacher was often much more concerned about us than whether we had learned to speak German fluently. I think back to the computer coordinator who took me under her wing and eventually led me to the path that put me in the world of school librarianship—not that either of us really knew that was what was happening. I think back to the class birthday party that we planned for my 3rd grade teacher as a surprise. If only I hadn’t dropped the cupcakes as I walked out the front door that day! (Cookies were an acceptable alternative, thank goodness!) I think back to my Kindergarten teacher who showed up at my Grandma’s 88th birthday party…. some 25+ years since she had any of the Harvey kids in class because she always said our family was special. These are just some of the teachers that pop to mind thinking back over the years, and it makes me feel pretty lucky that I had so many “Good Ones.” Continue reading “The Good Ones”
School Library Connection’s own Paige Jaeger reminds us that in this political season of change, pontificating, bloviating, orating, and more…the truth gets buried deeper than normal.
Now more than ever we need to teach our students to make informed decisions— based upon evidence—and ensure that they see the link between history and real life. Now may be the best time to ensure we understand the new College, Career, and Civic (C3) readiness.
Swept up in the tsunami of educational standards reform, the National Council for Social Studies completely overhauled their teaching framework so that social studies content is aligned with the Common Core (CCSS) reforms. Even if your state has not adopted the Common Core, it’s likely that they have been influenced by it. State education departments use the national standards to inform changes at the state level and it often takes a few years for the aftershocks to be felt by the students. Be ye hereby warned: The changes are massive.
It’s likely that your state will be, is currently, or has reviewed their state Social Studies Standards for alignment. Here are a few thoughts to ponder as you start the school year and begin to review possible social studies (SS) projects for alignment with new national standards.
The Arc of Inquiry
Storytelling may still be alive, but lecture is dead. There is no doubt about it—new standards want students to manipulate content, get down and dirty with the past, draw informed conclusions, and deeply uncover, discover, and understand the why behind our (hi)story. In fact, the crafters of the C3 put it up front and center in the change. If you are not familiar with inquiry-based learning, now is the time to embrace this learning model that fits the learning styles of the NextGen students who want to be in control. The inquiry model is defined in “dimensions,” where students are asking questions, researching, deliberating, and making claims, all wrapped up in a knowledge product, thus making them more capable of taking informed action. Continue reading “Are Your Seniors Ready for College, Career, and Civic Life?”
Looking for some great summer reads? School Library Connection’s own Paige Jaeger challenges you to look beyond those light-hearted, easy-to-read, beachside paperbacks and instead try a little “reading up.” Tweet us @SLC_online with a picture of your own challenging book for the beach this summer with the hashtag #ReadUpChallenge.
There’s this (unofficial) librarian law that says, “When a movie is released, you are not allowed to see it until after you read the book.”
We’ve all been there. So, last winter when the movie In the Heart of the Sea was released, I resolved to read the book before seeing the movie and I also decided to re-read Melville’s Moby Dick. They were my “beach reads” for a winter vacation. There was also an element of wanting to go back and remedy the error-of-my-ways as I recollect taking the short cut for Moby Dick in high school.
Both books were a challenge for me. Although I did not find them difficult, it was predictable to have to look up a word on every-other page in Melville’s book—and I like to think I have a large vocabulary. Some of the sea-faring tier-three vocabulary was new to me, and cultural references of the 1800s I had to ponder. At times I felt “out of my element.”