Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hey, libraries are not just for checking out books!

Volume 27, Number 3
May/June 2011
Eight Tech Trends for Librarians (and Teachers too!)


If the Dewey decimal system is the first thing that comes to mind when the subject of school libraries comes up, it’s time to reboot.

The school library—and the job of the librarian—have both morphed into something that most adults these days would hardly recognize. Helping kids find books to read is only part of the job, say those on the profession’s leading edge. Today, a major mission of the librarian, aka media specialist, is to teach students digital literacy by showing them how to use the Internet to efficiently find, organize, and share information with peers. Here are some of the tools librarians are using to make their jobs easier and more relevant to students as they address this expansion of their role.
• Digital Catalogues: Books are going digital and so are librarians. Software like Follett's Destiny is making it easier for students to find and check out books within their school’s collection. And, these software products can include social bookmarking technology—in which notes about a book are shared and responded to online as part of learning activities. All the Mankato (Minn.) Area public schools use such software, says Doug Johnson, the district’s media and technology director. “Combining reading and learning using social media is the most exciting thing that is happening in [school] libraries,” he says.

• Virtual Libraries: Librarians are creating their own virtual libraries—web pages with lots of links to student-friendly online resources. The resources include subject-specific links, suggestions for useful research and organization tools, as well as information about copyright-related issues. Joyce Valenza, award-winning librarian at Springfield Township High School, near Philadelphia, uses free wikispaces.com (right) to maintain the Springfield Township High School Virtual Library.

• Online Research Guides: Valenza also uses a paid software called LibGuides to provide links to databases and subject-specific “pathfinders,” or groups of hyperlinks pertaining to the same subject, like the visual arts, for student research.

• E-Books: Some schools have arrangements with e-book distributors, like Overdrive, for books that are not yet widely available. Librarians are also pointing students to Project Gutenberg or Google Books for free access to older texts that are now in the public domain, such as A Tale of Two Cities.

• Online Alternatives to Books: For readers and non-readers alike, librarians are pointing students toward non-traditional outlets to encourage both reading and the pursuit of further learning. “Kids really are more visual today,” observes Wendy Stephens, noting the popularity of the Dorling-Kindersley books with their rich, 3-D graphics. Stephens, the librarian at Buckhorn High School in New Market, Ala., encourages her students to explore graphic novel databases, including those for Japanese Manga. She’s also directing her students to mobile storytelling applications like 3:15 Stories (right), where students can read and listen to the initial 10 minutes of a mystery novel to whet their appetite, which then “unlocks” a two-minute video revealing the ending. Librarians are also showing kids how to use online timeline tools like Google news timeline, timetoast.com, Dipity, and applets in archives, for example ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.

• Note-taking Tools: A big challenge for kids is keeping long, digitally-sourced projects organized and librarians are helping with this, too. Subscription-based Noodle Tools remains a popular note-taking tool. On her library website, Valenza includes pathfinders leading to organizational tools, such as Evernote, and mind-mapping applications, like Glinkr (below), to sort project thoughts.

• Dashboards: What if your whole academic life could be organized on a single page? Librarians are raving about “dashboards”—a personal gateway to all of a student’s digitized academics, including their digital bookmarks for useful articles and applications. One is NetVibes, used in an award winning library-English department project at Creekview High School in Canton, Ga., in which 10th grade students customized their own gateways using such a dashboard.

• Reboot complete.

Dave Saltman is a writer and teacher in the Los Angeles area, and a contributor to Spotlight on Technology in Education (Harvard Education Press, 2011).

We will need lots more money to catch up to this article! However, 21st century learning takes place everyday at Highcroft.

Happy Reading,

Mrs. Wetherell

Is your book a "good fit?"

This week teachers asked me to teach the "good fit" book lesson. This is taken from The Daily 5 reading philosophy from real life teaching sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. I explain that choosing books are just like choosing shoes. They have to be a good fit! After the lesson students choose books based on the acronym "I PICK". After much discussion students decide on their purpose for reading. Next they must choose a book that is interesting to them. However, this can be a daunting and time consuming process. Students are then guided on how to find a book that may appear interesting to them by looking at the cover and following through by reading about the book on the back cover or inside flap. Once the students believe this to be a book that is interesting to them specifically, he/she must open the book to see if they can read most of the words so they can understand or comprehend the text. Students need a great deal of support to be successful in choosing good fit books independently.
The success of choosing good fit books is to have enough books on hand in classroom libraries and in the school library media center. This is why it is so important to have a healthy book budget and a school that backs the media center in providing current and popular books for students to select.

Ten skills every student needs...

What students should learn in school is at the forefront of the education reform debates taking place across the U.S. and elsewhere.

Ed-tech stakeholders for years have been touting the need for students to learn so-called “21st century skills” such as problem solving, critical thinking, and media literacy to prepare for the new global, digital economy, while others are calling for students to have strong math and science skills.

All of these skills are important—but what do educators and other school stakeholders think are the most important skills?

We recently asked our readers: “If you could choose only one, what’s the skill you’d like every student to learn?”

Perhaps surprisingly, while many readers did cite critical thinking as a skill every student needs, another skill was listed nearly twice as much as all other responses combined.

Need a hint? It’s a skill every student has needed since the days of the one-room schoolhouse: the ability to read.

Being able to read, though the most popular response, was certainly not the only one. Another skill that could be considered the most forward-thinking response is having “global empathy.”

Based on the number and quality of responses we received for each suggested skill, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 skills our readers believe every student needs. What do you think of these responses? What skills would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

According to readers, every student to be able to (in no particular order):

1. Read

“Would it not be reading? Even reading is required for math, which is very important, of course. But I have read recently of residents in poor African nations who are taught to read and are simply buoyed in other areas by their ability to read. It becomes an instant confidence builder.” —June Weis, consultant, SREB Educational Technology Cooperative

“I’d like every student to know how to read—to read deeply, and to truly understand each word. By reading, we can improve our knowledge. I speak from my own experience in studying English online. Now I want to help others to understand that.” –Cata

“If you can read, you can learn to do anything.” —Candace Kavey

“To read well. Reading is the first step to good writing. In order to learn social studies, science, and math, you need to know how to read. Reading is the gateway to all knowledge.” —Krista Bethke

for the rest of the article go to:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Do you glog?

Here is my latest "glog" about my dog. I am using this example to show younger students in the media center what a glog is and how it is used. There are many drawbacks for me to use this popular 21st century site. One, every student must have an account. Secondly, it takes sooooo long for the screens to load. Case in point; I waited forever to load a video to show on my glog. After one hour and only 87% completed, it timed out. I couldn't have 25 students waiting around for something to load. Finally, everyone wants my help IMMEDIATELY! I also have to give students time to check out books. If I could only work with a few students at a time it would be more effective, but far less efficient. Anyway...try it out with the family. What a great alternative to game night and think about all the literacy skills (and memories) you can share...Enjoy!

Mrs. Wetherell