September 23, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 3

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 5:06 pm by lmt84

I am getting so much from the readings and videos on Inquiry Based Learning. I have never read about this learning experience before, so all of the information is very new, yet inspiring to me. Essential questioning plays a part in inquiry based learning because it helps to make the learning student-centered as well as an authentic learning experience.

I like how inquiry based learning emphasizes that learning is a continuous cycle. It begins with an essential question which leads one into questioning the information that he/she finds, and then turns into the learner questioning his/her interpretations. All of this requires critical thought, which fosters more independent learners. Fontichiaro states, “The learner who masters self-reflection becomes more likely to be not only a true independent learner, but also one who can help others master the information inquiry interactions” (122). Teaching our students to question everything, adapt their thinking, and analyze information encourages them to engage in self-reflection. I think that this also encourages metacognition—students are thinking about how they are thinking and more importantly getting to the heart of why they are thinking. These types of learners will thrive in any learning environment, and will be key helpers to those who are still developing their own skills.

I found the Preddy chapters of the textbook to be especially informative. I like how Leslie Preddy gives information for each step of how to support student inquiry throughout a research process. Again, my belief that it is important for students to see value in the work that they do in school, has been confirmed. They must be engaged in the topic in order for their chances of success to increase. Preddy writes that a key piece of inquiry driven learning is “allowing each student to take a leadership role and ownership of what will be learned and researched by developing his or her own, personalized interest in the topic” (136). When students feel personally responsible and connected to their work, I feel that this leads to a sense of pride. When students reach the point where they truly are proud of their work, I think that they will work even harder to make it a successful experience. Inquiry based learning is more than a student writing a good paper or receiving a perfect score on a test—the products that they create and skills that they develop throughout these processes will possibly impact them for life.

Lastly, I recognize that some of the best inquiry based learning opportunities are the result of collaboration. As a librarian I would jump at the chance to partake in this type of opportunity. I find myself wondering how many people at my school know about inquiry based learning. If I were the librarian, I would try to recruit teachers to collaborate with me on this type of learning experience. I would certainly show the videos to the teachers as proof that student engagement and learning is at an all time high. Preddy states that regarding planning for inquiry projects we must “recognize that collaborative planning is a fulfilling, challenging, and creative process, not traditional and mechanical” (130). Perhaps the fact that this type of collaboration is more inventive and outside the box will actually hook more teachers into trying it out. I simply think to myself that if the planning piece sounds fun, imagine what the actual activity will be like for the students

September 21, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 5:27 pm by lmt84

As I begin to read more about Inquiry Based Learning, I now see just how important it is for students to learn to question. The readings have shown me that questioning is a key ingredient in creating independent, critical thinkers. In order to truly mold our students into life-long learners, we must teach them that questioning is an essential skill.

Questioning is a very natural part of our lives, and I see evidence of this through the genuine curiosity of toddlers. It’s important that we keep this drive for knowledge as we continue through life. As educators, we want to encourage our students to constantly ask “why” and “how” when they are presented with information. Constantly using these questions will enable them to have a true dialogue with the material in front of them, which will ultimately keep them engaged in the content. Valenza’s article stated “Questions allow us to control our lives and allow us to make sense of a confusing world.” If we train students to see the value of questioning what they are given, we are only giving them the opportunity to better navigate through the vast and complex world that exists outside of the classroom.

When we stress the importance of questioning, we are helping to create independent thinkers. Those who question will be those who do not seek to simply find the answers—they want to explore issues at a deeper level. This will lead to a more meaningful learning experience, which will positively impact student success. From the readings I gather that questioning should not only be geared towards the actual content but to teachers and classmates as well. Conversation and collaboration will again lead to the assignment at hand being investigated and analyzed in a more thoughtful way. Fontichiaro confirms this notion when she writes, “Questions trigger the interactions that can eventually lead to greater understanding of an environment, a situation, a problem, an issue, or actions of a person or group” (121). If we want our students to have authentic learning experiences, questioning seems to be a critical aspect that must take place throughout the entire assignment. The readings have led me to believe that questioning leads to an increase in engagement. When students are truly engaged in the content, they will work harder to find answers that satisfy their needs. In turn they now have the capability to analyze these results on a more critical level.

September 14, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 8:13 pm by lmt84

In Module 1, I stated that I noticed leadership as being a dominant ingredient for successful collaboration. I continue to see its importance after viewing the “Are You a Leader?” and TED video.

In Module 1 we read Marjorie Derven’s article that depicted how Social Networking is being utilized in companies such as IBM. I drew comparisons between a school and a business; both are groups of people working together to best serve their clientele. My type of thinking was verified when Simon Sinek stated “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” Teachers in the school will ‘do business’ or collaborate with you if they know what you stand for. Also, as librarians, we want to ‘do business’ with people who share the same vision as us—to inspire ethical information seeking behaviors and create life-long learners. If one’s values and goals are evident for all to see, the potential for establishing collaborative relationships increases.

Librarians are one of the few people in the school who can work with almost every staff member. Thus, they have to be viewed as someone with knowledge/skill sets that other people need to have. As an educational leader in the building, “School librarians must play a leading role in weaving such skills throughout the curriculum so that all members of the community are effective users of ideas and information (Fontichiaro 46). It is therefore up to us, the librarians, to make certain that we are taking every effort to reach out to all staff members and students. If we are successful in doing so, not only will we have a staff that is confident to lead our students, but our students themselves will become more independent, critical thinkers.

As I begin to read about Inquiry Learning, the theme of leadership will stay on my mind. I will continue to analyze myself in order to see if I can lead others through understanding what Inquiry Learning is all about. I will keep Simon’s questions, “What’s your purpose, what’s your cause, what’s your belief?”, on the forefront of my mind as I continue through Module 2. By re-examining these questions, re-evaluating my stances, and formulating the answers to them, it will allow me the chance to grow a program that can really impact the entire school.

September 11, 2011

Learning Log 5- Final Entry for Module 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 8:37 pm by lmt84

This module was a whirlwind. I lost time due to being part of a wedding in New York, and really didn’t think that I was going to complete all of the assignments to the degree of quality that I usually do. However, this proved to be just a test in time management. By really diving into the readings and viewing the discussion threads, I was able to get a firm grasp on what collaboration is all about. The readings from this module resonated with me, and I found myself tying quotes into my Blog entries and Peer comments. To me, a sign of a successful module is if I grasp the main concepts and see how they build on one another. I can say that I did see this happen during Module 1.

A theme that emerged early on was the importance of being a leader in your school. When this happens, colleagues will be more open to using you as a resource. Upon viewing blogs and reading the posts of my classmates, I see Fontichiaro’s statement of “Know what is happening in your building!” (209) to be yet another crucial aspect of collaboration. In my own posts, I recognize the unique position that the librarian is in—they are one of the few people who can work with almost every person in the building. Therefore, it is important that they also possess a general knowledge of the content area curricula. This knowledge will help the librarian to immediately match new technologies to certain departments or even teachers in the building. By knowing who plans together, units that incorporate research, and teachers who are looking for something new, you are only putting yourself in the position to form collaborative partnerships.

The blogging assignment for this module forced me to step out of my own comfort zone and venture into the blog-o-sphere. As mentioned in my Blog Reflection, I found this assignment to be eye-opening and worthwhile, as I now have a list of blogs that I hope to use not only as a classroom teacher, but also when I become a librarian. There are many resources available online that I never would have thought to use in the classroom, but somehow, they just fit perfectly with the AASL standards and my content objectives. I look forward to sharing some of my finds with the other English teachers as well as my librarians. This module has certainly helped to strengthen my skills for the AASL Standard 3.3, Information Technology. I now feel confident to integrate blog resources into my classroom, and furthermore I am comfortable to explain their benefits to others in the school.

I look forward to the information to come in this class. The readings and posts have shown me that at times I witnessed what I thought was collaboration, but in fact it was just one of the beginning forms, such as Cooperation or Connection. Now that I know the varying degrees of collaboration, I realize that to different teachers, collaboration may mean different things. Either way, I feel that teachers taking the step to work with the librarian in any degree is a step in the right direction. Perhaps after relationships grow over time, the potential increases to reach Ultimate Collaboration. I want to leave off with one of the more important quotes that I found regarding Collaboration. Fontichiaro writes that “Collaboration does “maximize the effectiveness of the instruction and can have the most significant impact on student achievement” (85). In the end, the school is a team working their hardest to best serve the students and their understanding of the content. Collaboration is an excellent strategy to embrace in order to ensure that we are in fact meeting this goal.

A Reflection on Library and Educational Technology Blogs

Posted in Module 1 Assignments at 4:36 pm by lmt84

To me, this assignment proved to be very worthwhile. I have very little experience with any sort of blog, so I was excited to see what librarian and educational technology blogs would look like. I was quite surprised by the wide variety of blogs that are readily accessible to librarians and general educators. I enjoyed reading the blogs, but sometimes found myself getting lost in all of the links and pages. Time seemed to slip away from me, but it was for good reason. The Edublog Awards page is a resource I intend to reference, both currently as an English teacher and in the future as a librarian. I feel that it provided excellent samples of all types of blogs, and  although they differed in style, they all served the same function—to educate members of the school community on the wonderful resources that exist to supplement school curricula.

Before this activity, I would have told you that I was doubtful on blogs’ place in the school. I now see that I was drastically wrong. I was thrilled to see that many of the blogs were excellent sources for professional development opportunities. I saw countless sites that advertised conferences such as ISTE, free online webinars, as well as other groups to join such as content area and library Nings. As someone who will be a brand new librarian, I feel that I will need all of the support I can get in order to gain the confidence that it takes to do this very demanding job. The blogs showed me that librarians truly value networking and working with others to create the very best products for our teachers and students. I feel that I will be entering a community of people who really see the value of collaborating, as I believe working together often has the greatest impact on student achievement (AASL 4.1) I look forward to the day where I can use these blogs as a means of resource sharing with other librarians in my county. Not only would I use blogs for this purpose, but I see the chance to use them in the school community as well. I can show sample school blogs to my administrators, in hopes that my school will create one too. I can show blogs to parent organizations, inspiring them to create a presence on the web and further spread their information.  It is evident that by viewing blogs and possibly creating my own as well as those for others, I am continuing to increase my role as an educational leader at the school.  

Who would have known that blogs were such an incredible resource to use when laying the groundwork for collaboration? I hope I’m not alone when I say that I did not know about this. I was truly amazed at the wealth of information at my fingertips. The blogs I examined not only offered general information on a variety of technology tools, but also tutorials, honest reviews, and real life samples. There were tools that I had never heard of, and also others that I know well, but never thought of their place in the classroom. In her article Be the Web “Go-To” Person for Parents, Judy Hauser writes “most of these tools can be used with students and applied to the curriculum and information literacy.” Hauser is in fact correct in this statement. These blogs offer the librarian the opportunity to learn the tools and then examine content curricula to figure out where the technology would best be used. The technology then becomes the springboard for the librarian to seek out teachers who could benefit from these tools, and hopefully this leads to the birth of a strong collaborative relationship. As if the sheer information on the tools weren’t enough incentive for using blogs in the school environment, many blogs also offered free lesson plans that are rooted in almost every content area. All of the lessons I viewed were of high quality, and most also already included a technology aspect that had students developing their information literacy skills. Sometimes people think that collaborating with the librarian will be an extra time commitment, but with blogs offering resources that are ready to go and easy to implement, time is actually saved. If I were a librarian, I would spend our collaboration meetings discussing how we can take the lessons at hand and tailor them to fit our exact needs as well as our students. The time spent between teacher and librarian would thus be less focused on time management, and more so on what matters—the quality of the lesson and impact it will have on the students.

Overall, I am pleased with the new knowledge I have received as a result of this assignment. Educational blogs certainly have a place in our schools; it just takes a librarian to show everyone their true potential. If this is achieved, the exchange of information will be more prevalent than ever. An environment steeped in collaboration can only affect every member of the school community in a positive way.

Educational Technology Support Blogs

Posted in Module 1 Assignments at 10:00 am by lmt84

Blog 1: Free Technology for Teachers

About the Blog:

The purpose of this site is to spread the word about the free resources available to classroom teachers. This blog was the winner of Edublog Award’s 2010 Best Ed Tech Support Category. It has also received other titles such as “Best Individual Blog” and “Best Resource Sharing Blog”. Richard Byrne is a US History teacher in Maine who believes that technology helps to engage students in lessons. Posts range in variety from linked articles/videos about new technology and technology reviews as well as tutorials. The heart of this blog is technology and how it can be incorporated into lessons. Overall, I like the organization and writing style of this blog, and after digging around I found it to be a resource to keep for the future.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

This blog offers countless resources for every subject area in a school. I could easily arrange to attend meetings/planning periods of teachers and introduce some of these fantastic technologies to them. For example, my school uses class laptop carts for the lower level math classes as part of their curriculum. These students often use school scientific calculators when needed, as more often they can use the calculators on the laptops for basic math. However, the sharing of calculators can be an issue—other teachers need them, calculators “walk away” etc. I would certainly share the Five Free Scientific Calculators  post with the math department as a means to alleviate this problem. They will be thrilled to see that this resource is available and more importantly that it is free! In the end the students will benefit because everyone has better access to the calculators. By letting teachers know about this technology and having a positive experience with me, I have set up the potential for future collaborative opportunities where I again could use this blog as a resource.

As every post on this blog deals with different technology tools, it will certainly increase my knowledge in these areas. An increase in knowledge helps to further place me as an expert, and thus someone that teachers will come to not only if they need support but also to spice up their lessons. One post helped me to discover Transmiti—a program that translates anything on your desktop. My school has a very high ESOL population, and many parents themselves do not speak English. In a way, these groups have the potential to be left out of many activities for fear that they will not understand what is being said. Transmiti would ensure that all school messages, the school website, teacher websites, etc. could be viewed by these groups. These parents no longer have to worry about not viewing their child’s technology products—they can view and understand them, helping them to take an interest and pride in their child’s work. Aside from the parents, I feel that this tool would help students assimilate into the English language—it would be another means of support as to not overwhelm them with the new language all at once. By using this on my library website, which houses important information as well as student work, the school community would again see that I am open to new technologies and would respect me for considering all community members. By helping to open lines of communication among all school members, I am keeping true to my professional responsibility of helping aide in the constant exchange of ideas.

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

Richard Byrnes truly thinks that technology will help to engage our students. His blog attempts to show teachers the technology possibilities that exist so they may implement them into their classrooms. Joyce Valenza shares this mindset and even states that she “would do my very best to fully load them  [the students] with the critical skills and tools they need to become information- and media-fluent adults”  (Fully Loaded). I agree that it is imperative that we work to create critical thinkers who are capable of living in a digital world.  I would attempt to impress this view on the teachers that I collaborate with. I would love to be granted some time during the first week of teacher meetings (before school starts) to talk with the teachers about this matter. I would put myself out there as someone who has resources and is willing to work with the teachers in order to benefit the students. I truly think that for me to pass on the fantastic information on this blog, or any others, I need to be positive and proactive in order to establish rapport with my colleagues. .

One resource from this blog that I would consider sharing with the entire staff via email was the Favorite Resources page. This list encompasses many things for a variety of content areas. It has something for everyone, so emailing it out to the staff seems like the best idea to let teachers in on these resources. I would not just end my efforts at the email, I would try to schedule time to meet with content groups to go over the items on the list that could best apply to their content area. This wouldn’t have to be a formal meeting—just a conversation to pique their interest. After gauging interest, I would attempt to set up a time to collaborate with teachers who seem like they want to use these technologies. The email served as the means to plant the seed, but I would be the one to ensure that it actually grows into something.

Blog 2: iLearn Technology

About the Blog:

This blog earned 5th place in the Edublog Awards for 2010. Kelly Tenkely is a former elementary school teacher who developed a love for technology while teaching. She designs and presents professional development sessions and also works as a consultant. She created the blog to give teachers as many resources related to technology as possible, as she feels technology “reaches students in a way that few other mediums can.” The posts range from her personal reflections on seminars and lessons, to videos and written entries introducing technologies and most importantly, sharing how they can be implemented into the classroom. I like this site because you can clearly see that her purpose is to encourage teachers to use the resources in the classroom. She stays true to her goal by the way she writes her posts—she first describes what the technology is, and then how to implement it. Everything is labeled, clearly written, and easy for a teacher of any technology knowledge level to understand.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

I would have an easy time incorporating the information on this blog into my school. Kelly shows true consideration of all teachers by supplying technology that fits with all grade levels and content areas. Furthermore, I haven’t heard of many of these technologies, but upon investigating them, for the most part they look like students would genuinely like them. This factor would be a huge selling point when I go to use these technologies with my teachers. A post that I just loved was about Math Pickle. This features videos of actual “math pickles” that have been attempted and solved throughout history. It sets up a problem that is grounded in real life, and the students take an active, hands-on approach to solving it. It veers from the paper/pencil method of math, and makes it into an experience. I could see all grade levels in my high school not only enjoying but benefitting from this tool.

This site serves to save teachers and librarians time when it comes to searching for new resources. Many tools are available at this one location, making it a blog to be shared among school staff as well as other librarians. Judy Hauser writes that “information sharing, and networking…are invaluable.” This blog allows me to do just that—develop collaborative and professional developments with those in my building as well as those in my professional field. One way that this blog inspires collaboration and professional development is through the Project PLN—an online magazine that publishes ideas/inspirations/lessons from librarians themselves. I think this is a great way to further get involved in the community of librarians as well as collect great strategies for my school.

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

This is a blog that I would want every teacher in my building to know about. Not only would I send it out in an email to the staff, but I would then pick a few technologies that I would feel best suit each department. I would ask to attend the next department meeting (at my school meetings are once a month, so it would take a few months to meet with everyone) to share these tools. Based on feedback, I would do my best to get some teachers to work with me to try the technologies in the classroom. I would also link to this blog on my library website so teachers can access it when they are perusing through resources in anticipation of an assignment that uses library resources. If I have already worked with certain teachers in the building, or have a good rapport with them, I would use these people first as a springboard to pilot these new things. They would already feel comfortable collaborating with me, and we could be the first people in the school to discover an awesome tool for our students. Who wouldn’t want to do the same after hearing about our successes?

Blog #3: The Edublogger

About the Blog:

Similar to the other blogs above, The Edublogger took 7th place at the 2010 Edublog Awards and was even 4th place in 2009. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt work together on this Edublog-established blog to inspire the use of technology in the classroom, as well as promote the medium of blogging itself. The posts are very informative and vary in format (text and video) which helps people to set up blogs and understand the full potential that they offer in the classroom. I like the simplistic writing on this website, and the fact that it is extremely well organized an easy to navigate. It is crisp, clean, and to the point, something my teachers will appreciate when learning to create their own blogs.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

To me, this is the primo source when it comes to any questions about setting up a blog. The site is easy to understand, and would be a great benefit to even the most hesitant teachers. It almost has a nurturing feel to it, a trait I think librarians need to portray when working with teachers who are new to certain technologies. I especially liked how the site contained tutorials for blogging from multiple technology platforms, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones. Doing so makes certain that teachers can maintain their blogs from virtually anywhere! The best way to incorporate blogging would be to show them the sample class blogs available on the blog. This would certainly show them how beneficial blogs can be as well as the variety of uses in the classroom.

One feature that I found particularly useful for professional development as well as collaboration was the Skype Other Classrooms page. It offered a list of classrooms willing to participate in Skype- a program that allows you to “talk” with people all over the world—it’s almost like a virtual visit of sorts. Within the county it would be great for a teacher at my school to Skype with another teacher or his/her class. For example, students working on a research project could Skype with the other class to compare their results and discuss the information. Any content area could greatly benefit from this resource! Teachers could use it on a professional level to collaborate over units, lessons, and any other ideas for the classroom. I could use it for the same purpose myself—to see what other librarians do in their libraries and view what other possibilities are out there!

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

The best way I could share the information on this blog would be to meet with teachers in small groups and show them actual sample blogs. I could do this via content planning periods, or offer workshops after school. This blog offers tons of Class Blog samples, for every subject area and grade level. This would show my teachers that they too have a place in the blogging-sphere. By taking the time to personally show them the blog, walk them through the features, etc., I think that they would be more inclined to try it on their own. Simply giving teachers links to this page on Edubloggers would not be successful—most would probably click on the link, not understand what they are looking at, and simply close the link due to lack of time to investigate. The thing I would most want to stress in these face to face training sessions is that blogs can be fun for the students as well as for them! It is a refreshing way to deliver your content, while at the same time maintaining high academic quality. This will be a blog that I keep in mind and reference as a current teacher, as well as a future librarian!

September 10, 2011

Librarian Blogs

Posted in Module 1 Assignments at 1:24 am by lmt84

Blog 1:  A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet

About the Blog:

This blog was First Runner Up for the Edublog Awards of 2010. Julie Greller has been a media specialist for 20 years and works in New Jersey. This blog offers so many things, it is hard to list all of the benefits. On the homepage, Julie posts videos, articles, feeds to helpful Twitter and Ning accounts, and resources that would be of interest to any librarian or general educator. I thought the most fantastic aspect of her website was that she has tabs for different grade levels, Reference, New Teachers, as well as a tab entitled Free! These tabs lead to a wealth of resources!

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

As a school librarian, this blog offers immense potential to increase my collaborative relationships. I feel that I cannot ignore the amount of resources that are literally at my fingertips—it is my obligation to pass them on to the teachers.  At my school, all 9th Graders partake in an English 9 Research Project, as well as History Day.  On the blog’s homepage is a resource I would share with any teacher, but especially to those who teach English 9—a video called “You Just Can’t Google It”. This humorous video shows students that Googling for research is not enough—they must use credible sources and determine the reliability of their sources in order to create a valid research assignment. As an English teacher myself, I am going to show this to my classes when we start our Research Unit.

Under the Reference tab, I located a source called Milestone Documents. This site offers virtual views of the documents that shaped our nation’s history as well as lessons, handouts, and other ideas for activities. I would attend the team planning session of the US History teachers and show them this resource. I would come to the meeting with some ideas of where they can fit this resource into their curriculum while at the same time using the resources in the library. Another resource that would be beneficial to share with the teachers is the History Engine. This search engine gets students away from Google, and has them actively delving into primary documents from the time periods they study. They get to play historian, and take a more hands on approach to examining the documents. They thus get to see how each piece of history works as a puzzle in order to form our society today.

This blog would certainly help me to improve my status as an educational leader in the school. It will help me to be a standout in my knowledge, which will lead to potential collaboration. Not only can I use the linked resources on the blog itself, but the other blogs that Julie recommends for further material. This blog then becomes another tool for me to increase my knowledge as a librarian and help me grow as an instructional partner to the teachers in the building. As Fontichiaro states, “Collaboration rooted in trust and respect among committed adults is the most essential condition for meaningful change” (83). As my partnerships increase, I have the potential to change the way students learn, making them more ready for the digital world in which we live.   

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

As previously mentioned, Julie uses tabs to sort information by grade level. I can use this blog to show teachers additional resources that match up exactly to their content area. Free lessons can be found for almost every grade and subject area taught in the school. My favorite lessons were via a link Julie provided called Teachnology–I found that most lessons on this page in particular do incorporate technology. While not all of the other lessons on the blog incorporate technology, they do  offer potential opportunities for collaboration between the librarian and content teacher. The librarian and teacher can take these lessons and figure out a way to incorporate information literacy. For example, I would bring this Beach Erosion lesson to the attention of an Earth Science teacher in my school. Knowing that this fits her curriculum, we could then examine the lesson together and determine how to use it/tweak it to our specific needs. I was happy to see that Julie even includes lessons for subject areas that would typically have a hard time using the library, such as math class. Using her blog I found a great lesson called Math on a Map, that has students using satellite images from Google Earth in order to solve specific math equations.  In closing, I believe that this blog makes a great effort to provide countless resources for content teachers. The librarian can view any of these resources, adapt ideas to fit his/her library resources, and bring them to the teachers in order to foster a collaborative relationship.

Blog 2: The Daring Librarian

About the Blog:

This blog placed 4th for the Edublog Awards of 2010 and was Second Runner up in the Edublog Awards 2010 category for Best Use of a Virtual Network. The blog is run by Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones, a middle school librarian in the same county as me—Howard County, MD! Upon first look, one could interpret this site as a bit loud… there are tons of graphics and the presence of pop culture is just about everywhere. I had my doubts about this blog for the aforementioned reasons, as well as the fact that the writing style is very casual—quite different than the tone of the other blogs I have visited. When going through the posts, I found that despite all of the “craziness” there was some useful information being presented. Gwyneth is constantly updating/reviewing/plugging different types of technology and social networking tools to use in the library as well as teacher classrooms. She also links to websites, articles, seminars, and professional development opportunities all related to the field of school library media.

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

I could use this blog in my library because there were a few unique ideas for lessons/activities for students to complete using technology or the library’s space. One idea was a Library Scavenger Hunt using QR codes—a hip, tech savvy new twist on the typical scavenger hunt in which the kids learn the layout of the library. I would use this lesson as it  provides a more interactive approach to understanding the library, which I think would work exceptionally well with any student groups that are at risk for low performance, such as your ESOL program, or Resource/Review level classes. These are the kids who we need to get excited about reading and learning—and this technology based lesson is a fantastic way to introduce them to the library. I also found a neat Tech Ed lesson on Simple Machines, which allows students to use the Internet to complete research which resulted in a few group projects. It was great to see resources provided for all content areas. This allows me to reach out to all staff members and form a variety of collaborative partnerships.

I enjoyed the fact that Gwyneth advertises for all sorts of professional development opportunities on her blog. Fontiachiaro states that “There has never been a more exciting or potentially powerful time to be a library media specialist” (82), so it is crucial that we attend any PD sessions to make sure we are constantly serving our schools to the best of our ability. Attending such things also shows that we realize that we are a team, working together to help students across the nation. She was heavily involved with promoting the ISTE conference, and I actually found an online Back to School seminar that I am planning to attend. This blog is certainly one I will follow in order to stay up to date on professional development opportunities. What I liked about her PD notifications was that she made the seminars sound fun and worth my time to attend.

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

As cool as this blog is, I don’t think I would suggest it to a teacher to examine on their own. If a teacher is already not the most confident when it comes to technology, I feel that this site would overwhelm them. I also didn’t find a lot of material that directly applied to specific content areas. The information was geared more towards technology tutorials and reviews. However, on the blog she provided the link to her wiki, which would be much more appropriate to share with teachers. Here there are tutorials for all sorts of technology- from using LCD projectors and document cameras, to Microsoft Word applications, to using tools like podcasts and wikispaces. It is a very comprehensive and informative wikispace—more importantly it is very easy to understand. This will serve to give teachers the confidence to use these technologies in order to increase their students’ information literacy skills. On the wiki I also found an even better resource, a wiki for her entire school. This is where I found the best resources that connect directly to teacher curricula throughout the building. It had great ideas for lessons that use technology and I thought that they were really creative. A particular favorite of mine was the Twitter Style Book Review—a great resource that any librarian can take and rework for any level of English. As great as all of this information is, I wish it was truly located on the blog, instead of accessible on the wiki. I had to do a bit of searching to find the value of this blog (which included the links to the wikis and other resources), but in the end the results were worth the effort.

Blog 3: Hey Jude

About the Blog:

This is a blog that I already like to visit, so I was pleased to see that it took 6th place at the Edublog Awards for 2009. This gave me a sense that I was already onto a “good thing”. Judy O’Connell, who lives in Australia, serves on two boards, School Libraries Worldwide and Horizon K-12 Project, which focus on how emerging technologies influence libraries and K-12 education. I enjoyed this blog because it serves as an arena for honest reflection. I liked the tone used throughout the blog—there was no overuse of technological terms that people who are novices couldn’t understand. It was simple yet enthusiastic, which let Judy’s voice shine through. One recent entry I found particularly useful was Things Worth Tweeting About. Here she describes the recent updates to Google as well as changes in the eBooks world. Her post was straightforward in explaining the importance of these things to the world of education, for both teachers and librarians.

How might you incorporate blogs in your school library to facilitate collaboration? How might you use professional blogs for professional development or collaboration?

Judy’s blog features posts about a multitude of new technology that she comes across. From explaining the different uses of Twitter, to the benefits of Google Apps, to exploring the use of computer tablets in the classroom, the posts cover technologies that can be used in any classroom. Judy even posts links to articles to help educators, parents, teens, etc. learn how to use these technologies. These articles would be an excellent resource to share with teachers. This way they can notify parents about the excellent learning opportunities that the students are experiencing in the classroom. I especially liked her post about safety online. It linked to a great resource for parents to use when dealing with children (of any age) about how to be safe when exploring technology (cell phone use, social networking sites, as well as ethical use). I would spread the word of this article to teachers, but also use it myself when dealing with the school community. This article helps to portray that I am an educational leader at the school, as well as someone who works to keep their students safe when it comes to using technology.

Aside from the posts dealing with integrating technology into education, I enjoyed the posts about accessories for the hottest technologies (MacBooks, I phones, etc.) and potential ways to integrate social media into the classroom.  This helps to keep me up to date as a professional expert on all of the technology that I can learn in order to infuse it into my school. Her language is very “user friendly” and it is clear that she keeps educators in mind throughout every post. I really feel that her goal is to keep classrooms in touch with our modern world, and to do this, the librarian must be involved. In doing so we can captivate the interest of our students and make them true lovers of learning. I will continue to use this blog to help me grow as a professional in this area.

How do the posts assist teachers with teaching content and integrating information literacy – or did they?

While I didn’t find actual lessons that already had technology integrated into them, I found the page called Toolkit A-Z for Education to be a fantastic resource. It lists, in alphabetical order, technologies to incorporate into any content area. From Aviary, to Jing and Moviemaker, to Wordle, the list of tools can be easily inserted into any content. This is where it shows crucial to me that the librarian holds a general knowledge of the curricula for each content area. This ties to the fact that “Library media specialists have to be the initial instigators of collaboration” (Fontichiaro 208). If I have a hand in the curriculum, I can then match up a tool to a specific content objective and take it upon myself to set up a collaborative relationship with the content teacher. Even though there were no content based lessons, librarians should possess the ability to put themselves out there, work with the teachers, and insert these tools into lessons in order to help students develop their information literacy skills.

Many posts about technology did lend themselves to specific content areas, although it wasn’t specifically stated. I found a great post on Easy Bib for classroom teachers that require any sort of writing. I would share this post with them as it describes the benefits of the site, as well as how to use it. What a fantastic, easy resource for any teacher to use—especially great because it promotes academic honesty! Another post describing Zotero would be beneficial for any content area that does research. Curricula that involve research often have very specific standards/goals, and Zotero is a great way to integrate technology into the overall research process. It allows bookmarking, note taking online, citation information, and virtually everything needed for students to thoroughly understand each step of conducting research. Hey Jude is an informative blog that offers the librarian the freedom to use the resources in the way that they see fit. For this reason, it will be one that I continue to follow when I am a librarian myself.

September 9, 2011

Learning Log 4

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 6:44 am by lmt84

We have read many articles and viewed many videos in this first Module, but one of my favorites was “The Teacher’s Take, Part 2: The Instructional Role of the School Librarian”, by Carl A. Harvey II. I found this article insightful and I personally feel that this was the one that benefitted me the most. The reason for this is because it was an actual interview with teachers and I got to hear essentially how to be a fantastic collaborative partner, straight from the mouths of the teachers themselves. I see this information to be invaluable, but there were a few parts that struck me in particular.

I have commented a lot in our Discussion Threads about being proactive in “advertising” your program. It was wonderful for me to see my train of thought being backed up by Harvey himself. He stated, “School librarians can’t wait for an invitation; you have to make your own” (2). Although a bit blunt, this is extremely true. We have to use every minute of our valued planning time to strategize how to get more people into the school library as well as how to go about laying groundwork for establishing collaborative relationships. We cannot sit back and expect people to come to us. We are the technology experts—we know the resources that are out there to best supplement the curricula of our school’s content areas. If we want our program to make a difference in our students’ education, then we have to actively make it happen.

The readings and discussions for this Module have suggested that perhaps a fear of stepping out of one’s comfort zone is a factor in a lack of collaborative partnerships. In particular, we have discussed that more experienced teachers may be a group that falls victim to this mentality. Keeping this in mind it was interesting to me when Sally, a teacher for over 25 years said, “If you are willing to listen,and are open to new ideas, collaborating actually saves time because the school librarian knows what is available and not as much time is spent searching for materials, good Web sites, etc.” (3). She stresses two important things here. One—collaboration absolutely needs participants who are truly open to explore new ideas and technologies. You must be willing to give a bit of control over to the partner in order to jointly create a product that will be an academic success. Two—teachers don’t have to stress about searching for resources to supplement their curriculum, an expert is already at hand at the school. It was refreshing to hear comments like this from a teacher because I honestly do not know what percentage of a school staff is open to try new things or allow a librarian to have a more involved role in their units. This part of the article gave me hope that as long as I am optimistic about collaborating, then the teachers will reciprocate these feelings.

Lastly and I feel very importantly, this article reminded me that the school librarian needs to have a handle on the curricula offered throughout the school. Although the teachers are the content experts, we need to know the general units/concepts taught in the classes. This way if I come across a new resource online via a blog or other social networking tool, I can automatically know what teachers would benefit from it at my school. One of the best quotes (in my opinion) from the article is as follows:

                “He is interwoven into each grade level because he chooses to get involved with every subgroup in the school.   He provides support for every group within our school. In turn, he impacts the learning of every child directly and indirectly at times” (5).

This quote reminds me of just how important this job is. Librarians are truly a central part of the school. The heart of our program in turn affects our role as the core of intellectual thought in the school. We serve teachers to strengthen their lessons which in turn advances student success. I like to think of the school as a living organism—with people and parts relying on each other. Librarians cannot have a genuine impact if we do not work with others.  However, when this is accomplished, our programs, as well as the school itself will thrive.

Learning Log 3

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 2:09 am by lmt84

The further I get into this class, I see just how important collaboration between the teachers and librarians is for the success of the school. My past posts have shown my recognition that in order to be a successful partner, one first has to be seen as a leader. Empowering Learners states, “By becoming an active member of the local and global learning community, the school librarian can build relationships with organizations and stakeholders to develop an effective school library program and advocate for student learning (17). I now see that leadership goes beyond your relationships with the teachers—you should be actively involved in the entire school community, which extends to administrators and parents (AASL  4.3). As librarians we should take any opportunity that comes our way to establish ourselves as a resource for all parties involved with our students’ education.

My classmates have presented a variety of tools which can help me emerge as a leader to these populations. I think it is crucial these days to have an online presence for the community, as unfortunately, I do not think that many parents ever even meet the librarian. I feel parents need to know about the great things that their children are doing in school as well as the fact that the teachers are willing to take risks with technology to ensure that their children are engaged. Furthermore, I see that the administration can have potentially big pull when it comes to the success of the program. By constantly involving/updating them on your collaborations with teachers, new ideas, technology support, you are gaining an ally to your program. I am trying to view collaborative relationships as another means of data that proves your program’s worth. If teachers are creating unique activities and students are genuinely enjoying and understanding the material, then your program is truly an integral part of the school’s success.

September 8, 2011

Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 1 at 1:55 am by lmt84

As we progress through the readings and class discussions, I find one message in particular to be surfacing time and time again—the fact that librarian has to be viewed as a leader as well as educational partner. This thought was only confirmed as I was reading Empowering Learners.

It was interesting for me to see that over time there has been a shift in how librarians rank their four roles. Whereas ‘teacher’ used to rank first with ‘instructional partner” third, currently the two roles have flipped positions. This tells me that now more than ever, collaboration is being recognized as something of true importance. While of course it is important to have the skills that come with being a teacher, it seems even more crucial to have the skills to be a successful collaborator.

I think that before teachers attempt to collaborate with the librarian, the librarian first has to be viewed as a leader in the school. The librarian must showcase themselves as an individual who offers unique knowledge/skill sets and is also eager to work with the those around them (AASL 4.3). Empowering learners states that a leader is a person “who listens to and acts upon good ideas from peers, teachers, and students” (17). If the librarian presents him/herself in such a light, teachers will view them as a positive asset to the school—an asset that they can count on at a more individual level. This reputation will lay the groundwork for future one on one  collaborations.

Once the librarian is seen as a respected figure in the school, the instructional partner role will (hopefully) fall naturally into place. The text states that instructional partners help to formulate “inquiry-driven curricular units that effectively teach content and research skills to students of all learning styles” (21). If I were a librarian, I would want my colleagues to view me as an equal in the workplace, one who is willing to take on new challenges and work with them to be better educators. To be a successful collaborator, I would think that it takes openness to work with different people  as well as creativity in order to tap into original ways to present material to the students (AASL 1.3). Hopefully, by establishing a presence in the school as well as relationships with the teachers, the librarian can be used to his/her utmost potential as a resource.

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