‘Tis the Season?

via flick https://www.flickr.com/photos/43089317@N04/8239376115/in/photolist-dy5XsT-qc8DpX-9eoN3Y-7oJC9Z-pEx4vg-puDANL-dJPoiC-aX4v9i-qeHUD-5MFdMa-4dEjTW-5Kdy93-bWiDEZ-5LkDKj-4zrYnA-bsQWGP-iBcPXb-dNadaE-vdEdsG-dybxDc-4wRe18-dxCmZZ-6Gz6jq-jr5CLZ-dD5QrL-9W586C-dog7nD-7prbXw-7EePs-4cisDD-pG8pee-aXabFR-7oW5NL-dCZry2-9Df3TD-Nz6tF-5KAysh-8YQdSQ-7bX7yM-jr7ym1-86mdJs-6XqgBt-du8LbC-9KxTHB-92NZHC-5KEAZs-8Rwdw2-4cDnWL-dJ2DxA-cDmR
“Humbug” by SK via Flickr Creative Commons license

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)?

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

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?”

Sneak Peek: Teaching Leadership

Think you’re not ready to be a leader? Too late, you already are! Gail Dickinson explains, “You decided to be a leader when you decided to become a school librarian.” As you will learn in her new video workshop, “Leadership is part of everything you do.”

In this six-minute sneak peak from her workshop, Gail Dickinson focuses on engaging parents in your school’s leadership curriculum. What do you want to ask of parents? How do you engage them in student learning in a meaningful way? Gail discusses how to identify what you want from parents and how to include them in building a culture of leadership at your school.

 

SLC subscribers can view the full workshop here.


dickinsonGail K. Dickinson, PhD, is associate dean of graduate studies and research at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She earned her master’s in library science from the University North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Virginia. Dickinson is a past-president of AASL, was editor-in-chief of Library Media Connection, and is the author of Achieving National Board Certification for School Library Media Specialists and coeditor of the seventh edition of Linworth’s School Library Management.

From the Archives: Joyce Valenza on Digital Curation

 

With an Svalenza1LC @ The Forefront  seminar coming up with Joyce Valenza and Brenda Boyer on December 15, now is the perfect time to revisit Joyce’s article from 2012. In it, she talks about the importance of digital curation and its place in school librarianship.

Sign up for “OER: Issues, Possibilities, and the Promise of Curation” on EdWeb here.

The Internet firehose analogy rings even truer today, twenty years after Internet access saw its beginning. Each of us is now not only a consumer but also a potential media producer, and it is easy to be drenched.

Human Filters Help

Digital curators can prevent oversaturation by filtering and diverting the onslaught and by directing what is worth sharing into more gentle and continuous streams.

Blogger, author, and NYU professor Clay Shirky, in Steve Rosebaum’s Mashable post, “Why Content Curation Is Here to Stay” on May 10, 2010, describes the problem with traditional search and identifies the issue of filter failure:

Curation comes up when search stops working. [But it’s more than a human-powered filter.] Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.

[Part of the reason that human curation is so critical is simply the vast number of people who are now making and sharing media.] Everyone is a media outlet. The point of everyone being a media outlet is really not at all complicated. It just means that we can all put things out in the public view now (Shirky in http://mashable.com/2010/05/03/content-curation-creation/).

Human filters make a difference. Librarians can be filters in the best sense of the word. Librarians can synchronize communities.

Curators make sense of the vast amounts of content that are continually produced. They are talented at scouting, identifying relevance, evaluating, classifying, organizing, and presenting aggregated content for a targeted audience. They create what Allen Weiner calls “informed playlists” (http://curationchronicles.magnify.net/video/Clay-Shirky-6#c=M5ZX2G2S2CH2LNGS&t=Allen%20Weiner%20defines%20curation).

Perhaps Albert Barnes was the ultimate curator for the pre-digital world. His suburban Philadelphia art collection and educational facility was unlike any other. Barnes was known for his visionary scouting, and for his careful selection of art work before the world discovered it as great. Known for his thoughtful juxtaposition of paintings, Barnes created wall ensembles for his students. One section of a gallery wall might contain works of different styles, periods, and from different parts of the world. They were gathered strategically so they might be contextualized, compared, and studied. His goal was for these wall ensembles, these highly curated works, to inspire learning. Continue reading “From the Archives: Joyce Valenza on Digital Curation”

Learning from Rock Star Librarians

This month’s One-Question Survey asked our readers to name the ‘school library rock stars’ who are the biggest influence on their work and what it is that makes these individuals stand out. The resulting word cloud of school library luminaries is certainly fun to view but really not too surprising—much more intriguing are the explanations of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that set these individuals apart. What can we learn from these rock star librarians? decwordle4_616x
This month we asked the question, “What ‘school library rock stars’ are the biggest influence on your work?” followed by the sub-question, “Why do these individuals stand out for you?” Our underlying purpose in asking these questions was to better understand what sets a school librarian leader apart.

The 347 responses identified 174 leaders with an additional 14 general responses (e.g. the students I work with, teachers, other librarians in my school district, etc.). The list of school library leaders, displayed in the word cloud, is certainly of interest and fun to view but really not too surprising—we all know that Joyce Valenza rocks this profession!!!

Much more intriguing, on the other hand, are the explanations of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that set these individuals apart as leaders in our field. Continue reading “Learning from Rock Star Librarians”

November Author of the Month John Coy

John Coy tells us that he decided to become an author after, on a whim, he typed his name into the library catalog and got zero results. “That,” he explains, “is when I realized that if I wanted something to come up, I needed to write.” Today, his fans are certainly glad for those zero results.

Be sure to look for our review of his new book, Gap Life, which received a highly recommended rating in the November-December issue of School Library Connection. Subscribers can see our complete archive of reviews on reVIEWS+.

coyJohn Coy loves writing, and sharing that process with students is one of the things he loves the most about school visits. “It’s so different compared with what many of them imagine, with lots of false starts, mistakes, and rejection,” he tells us. “It’s an amazing process to start with nothing other than an idea and turn it into a book. I love inspiring students to see reading and writing in new ways.”

He also encourages teachers and librarians to try their hand at writing: “Many teachers and librarians enjoyed writing when they were younger but don’t get many opportunities to write for pleasure now. I’ve been in schools lately where teachers and librarians have set up writing groups where they write together and read their writing to each other. These groups have many benefits including giving instructors a stronger sense of what students are struggling with as well as students being able to see their instructors as writers. With writing, we’re all in it together, all of us trying to become better.” Continue reading “November Author of the Month John Coy”

Pop’s Finger

canningjars
The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. https://www.loc.gov/resource/highsm.26720

In his November editor’s message, Carl Harvey shares a story to remind us of the importance of primary sources. If you’re sharing Thanksgving with relatives this year, be sure to ask them about their stories, look for the primary sources that go with those stories, and be sure to ask about that jar at the back of the cupboard!

Our November issue is all about primary sources. All kinds of primary sources. Subscribers can view the issue online here. Not a subscriber yet? Click here for information on how to become one. 

When I was in high school and college, my mother and I used to work on our family genealogy. In the years that have followed, we’ve continued to do that but jobs, family, and life seem to keep us from spending as much time on it as we might like. Through all our searching, primary sources have been so powerful. We’ve been able to prove—and disprove—so many myths and legends in the family because of the information we’ve uncovered.

One of my favorite stories (and the kids at school always got a kick out of this one) was the story of Pop’s finger. Fred S. Cogdill, who we all called Pop, was my great-grandfather. He passed away at the age of 96 in 1987. Pop was a very old man by the time I was born, but I still have memories of going to visit him in the nursing home. My Mom commented once that Pop was missing a finger, and he always told his grandchildren (there were thirty-three of them) that a lump of coal had fallen on it when he worked in the coal mines in the early 1910s.

Continue reading “Pop’s Finger”

Using Primary Sources in the School Library

How frequently do your teachers/students use the library to access different types of primary sources? This month we asked this question about the primary sources teachers and students are using in the library. The results reveal the popularity of textual sources, but also yield some surprises and inspiration. In her One-Question Survey column, Dr. Maria Cahill discusses these results and encourages readers to use primary sources as an avenue for collaboration.

We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices. Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here.

survey-3We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words; thus, it’s not surprising that images are one of the two most frequently accessed primary sources along with written documents.

While it stands to reason that teachers and students in elementary schools would access fewer primary sources than their middle and high school counterparts, as the chart illustrates, the minimal use of visual sources (i.e. images, maps, and video files) in the elementary grades is unexpected. School librarians at any grade level, including elementary, should consider using images, maps, or objects to launch an inquiry unit as Kristin Fontichiaro (2016) proposes, and elementary librarians looking for additional approaches for using primary sources with students should be sure to check out the recently released SLC video workshop “Primary Sources for Elementary” presented by Tom Bober. Continue reading “Using Primary Sources in the School Library”

Library Friends

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By Carl A. Harvey II

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.

Continue reading “Library Friends”

Building Literacy with Graphic Novels for Young Children

graphic-novels-rights-clearedDo you have graphic novels in your collections? Do you include them in your picture book collection or do you think graphic novels are for older readers only? Just in time for National Picture Book Month, our reVIEWS+ Collections Editor Dr. Sylvia Vardell suggests that the line between the picture book and the graphic novel is blurring and, furthermore, that in this highly visual culture in which we live, the graphic novel represents another way we can get our students to read.
Subscribers to SLC/reVIEWS+ can read more articles like this by visiting School Library Connection/reVIEWS+.


OK, it’s true confession time. I am not a big fan of graphic novels. There, I said it. Actually, I like LOOKING at graphic novels, I just don’t really enjoy READING them. My eye is not sure where to start, go, move, and follow. And I get impatient with the pictures and want more words. Ridiculous, I know. And those are some of the very reasons that students really ENJOY graphic novels:

#1 Because many adults don’t like them, so graphic novels seem a bit taboo and thus even more inviting.

#2 Because they like looking at graphic novels.

#3 Because they do know how to scan, read, and follow the story.

#4 Because they want their story from the visuals as well as from the text.

#5 Because they don’t want to wade through so many words.

And for many more reasons.

I share this because one of my biggest pet peeves is working with librarians who let their own personal tastes and individual reading preferences get in the way of connecting kids with books THEY like, but we may not like as much. People often refer to our “gatekeeper” status as the people who build library collections and choose which books to purchase and then promote our collections to students. We owe it to them to build the collection that they want and need.

How Graphic Novels Help

I also share this because I see the value in graphic novels from many different perspectives that go well beyond personal preferences. This is not just a trend in publishing, graphic novels offer a new dimension for a literary experience that draws new readers into the fold—and that is powerful. Karen Gavigan and Mindy Tomasevich share some of their basics in their article, “Connecting Comics to Curriculum: Beginning Reader Graphic Novels,” one of our Essential Readings this month. And in her article for School Library Journal, Allyson Lyga (2006) noted, “Graphic novels help all different types of learners. For children who are incapable of visualizing a story, the artwork helps them create context…. and [they] help reluctant readers understand the plot of a story…. And cross gender lines.” As children are developing as readers, the format of the graphic novel helps them use their stronger visual literacy skills in gaining story from pictures. Continue reading “Building Literacy with Graphic Novels for Young Children”

Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month

picture-bookPicture books. Who doesn’t remember looking at a favorite picture book over and over until it became worn and tattered? Who doesn’t love sharing favorite picture books now with those eager little readers as they delight over the colors and drawings that come together to tell a story? To celebrate National Picture Book Month, we’re sharing an article from our archives by Jennifer Kelley Reed about creating a successful picture book celebration at your school.


Picture Book Month is “an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November” (http://picturebookmonth.com/). The initiative affords libraries, schools, and literacy organizations the opportunity to promote the power of the picture book. Our school has participated for the last five years, and each year we have been building on our experiences, extending the reach of the activities from the library to the classroom to students’ homes. Our most recent celebration was a success on many fronts—it reminded K-5 students about the richness, information, and enjoyment of picture books, boosted library circulation, and strengthened the connection from our school to students’ families.

Individualizing Student Experiences

In our latest observance, the celebration lasted for the entire month of November, and we focused activities on students’ individual connections with picture books. Students in grades three through five challenged themselves to read a specific number of picture books from one of three “neighborhoods” in the library: biographies, picture books, or nonfiction. They were encouraged to set realistic goals for themselves, and to keep in mind that they weren’t in competition with other students, but instead enjoying the opportunity to explore and read books in a neighborhood they didn’t often frequent. It was clear that students heard the message, with some committing to read ten books, while others committed to fifty.

For the students in grades one and two, we focused on a nonfiction Picture Book Month challenge. For the month of November, I had more students than ever before coming to the library to exchange books, sharing what they were learning while reading, and marking the numbers on their challenge sheets. (This video on my blog shows the state of the library in the midst of Picture Book Month: http://reederama.blogspot.com/2014/11/what-does-school-library-in-midst-of.html.) Continue reading “Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month”