Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watching young people discover their life

To continue on with my musings from yesterday--

One of the greatest joys of my job is watching young people figure out what they want to do with their life.  And I don't know how many times when a young adult tells me the path he or she wants to follow, I want to laugh--not out of meaness but because I'm thinking, "It's about time you figured out what everyone else all ready knows!"

I saw this in my step daughter when she told us she was going to apply to Southwest Airlines to be a flight attendant.  She loves to travel, constantly on the move--this is the perfect job for her.  I saw this in my own daughter when she tentatively told me she was getting a teacher certification.  Matter of fact, I did tell her, "It's about time you figured it out!"  She's an awesome math teacher, and I knew it when she was young.  But it took a while for it to sink in.

Now another young man, former student of mine, is making some changes in his career plan.  He told me about it like he thought I might be surprised.  But I remember the books he read in 6th grade--I couldn't get enough for him!  So no, I'm not surprised. 

I love the recognition when a young adult realizes what career path to take.  Sometimes it happens in school.  Sometimes later on.  It bothers me that we as educators push students to choose a college path and a career path before they've had time to explore and see what's out there. 

If we can give our students time and opportunity to explore, who knows what they can dream up?  Who knows what career choices they will make? 

I do know when a young adult reaches the "aha!" moment in a career choice, it's magic.  And just like making a hole in one in golf--it's the reason I get up and come to work every day--just in case today is the day it happens again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Am I a "Stranger in a Strange Land"?

So the best part of the Memorial Day weekend was getting a chance to rest and recharge the ol' batteries for this last push through school.  Our district has time off during the year and therefore, we go about a week longer than most of the area districts.  It's such a teaser--summertime weekend of activities and then--back to school!  But as I said, the rest and recharge helps get through the final days.

And because I was rested, I had some random thoughts I thought I would share.  One idea I have been musing over is what exactly is my job?  I am a little unique in the library world.  For twenty years I was a language arts teacher and then for the last twelve years, I've been a librarian.  But lots of days I still feel like an English teacher.  Matter of fact, I sometimes laughingly tell people I'm an English teacher whose classroom happens to be in the library.

But in all seriousness, sometimes I wonder--do I have feet in both worlds?  I see the dichotomy in this blog and I've been asked the question, "Is this blog for teachers or librarians?"  Can't it be for both?  Because I feel like both--especially on those days when I'm working with my IB students on their research paper or answering a million questions about citation formats or pulling up research for kids who say "the databases have nothing in them for my topic"! 

I became a librarian because I thought I could affect more students than I could as classroom teacher.  But it's not as much of an impact.  Kids don't see me as a teacher or as someone who can help them.  I'm the librarian--the old dragon lady.  So would I have been better off staying in a classroom where I can directly see the influence I had on students?  Or do I keep plugging away in here, hoping my scattershots of help dribble out to the masses?  Or hoping that by helping teachers I can, indirectly, help more students?

One of the reason I made the transition from the classroom is because I was beginning to feel too old to deal with all the mulitude of issues teachers are responsible for.  But now, when I have over 200 kids coming through the library on a daily basis and kids doing projects of every shape and size, I have to wonder if the life of a teacher wouldn't be easier.

I'm close to ending my career in education at this point.  I think I only have about one more good year left in me so to even consider a classroom again is silly.  And I do love my classroom in the library. But I have paused to think, on more than one occasion here lately, maybe I am a stranger in a strange land, someone who doesn't quite fit either category.  But then again, maybe I'm just the future of teacher-librarians, with the emphasis on the teacher part.

Either way, I do love my job---but right now, I'm very glad it's almost the end of another year!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Technology use in College

Okay this is interesting--a look at technology use by college studentsThe times they are a-changin'......

And seriously, students can't go 10 minutes without checking their smartphone???

Friday, May 25, 2012

TED talks

Okay I don't know about you, but it's getting way too close to the end of the school year for me. We have one more week left and to give me some moral support and something to hang on to, I found this great TED video featuring Sir Ken Robinson. He's got some of the best ideas in education and he's got a great delivery too! Hope this one helps you end the school year too.

 "And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly."


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Libraries in the 21st century

I know this is a topic everyone is writing/ talking/ reading about these days.  What's happening to libraries?  How are they changing?  Are they even relevent these days?  I think those of us in the library world know our roles but does the rest of the world?

The reason for these thoughts happened yesterday.  Once again, I get the feeling the general public thinks of us as the little old ladies with the bun and glasses shushing our way through the day.  People don't see us helping students, accessing technology--showing students how to access technology.  I was at a meeting to design a new high school.  The consultant in charge kept talking about a "distributed media center" concept.  I kept raising the question of supervision--monitoring the different areas.  Considering I'm the only librarian, a distributed space is impossible for me to monitor. 

The consultant kept telling me these spaces were for students to collaborate and work.  Again I asked about supervision.  She finally said that this was a 21st century concept and we needed to understand this is what our students needed! ARGH!!!  Like I don't all ready know that!  What does she think I do all day? 

I really felt like she was reaching over to pat my hand and telling me to get with the times.......and I was so insulted because I think, of all people, librarians understand 21st century learners, but the general public doesn't understand librarians!  I guess we need to keep getting our message out there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Digital citizenship

This summer our district is forming a committee to explore digital citizenship.  I'm on the lookout for resources or information we can use to help us decide on some district guidelines.  I found this one website of resources--evidently this is becoming a hot topic all over! 

I think the committee is comprised of librarians, tech people and admin people.  I'm curious to see how this will all work out.

Any suggestions of other resources would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book quotes

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Here's a great site I found via Twitter--50 Inspiring Quotes about books and reading.  Enjoy! 

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seniors 2012

As usual, Joyce Valenza says it better than I can....this is a letter to the senior of 2012.  I hope some of my babies read this too and know I mean every word.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Making infographics

Thanks to freetech4teachers--I found this great site to make infographics.  I love how infographics can be great visual displays of information, but I was never sure how to make one.  Well, helps you do just that.  The site has some premade templates you can use or start from scratch to make your own.

What a great way to end the school year--let your students choose a topic of interest to them, research (using library databases!) and put together an infographic to display their results.  High interest, engaging and using researching skills--a much better use of time than a video!

The only issue I see is the site doesn't support IE, which is our school's default browser.  But that's easily fixed by choosing another site like Firefox.

Wonder if I can convince some teachers to give this a try?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Digital copyright slider

One of my fellow librarians sent this along.  It's a visual representation to help you decide if an item is in public domain  and it's from the ALA Office of Information Technology Policy. Very nice and very user friendly!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heroic Teachers

As the year starts winding down...and kids are all wound up...I think we all need a reminder about what we do every day.  As the slogan says, "It's not just a's an adventure!"  This infographic is small but if you go to the website, you'll be able to see it more clearly.

From Educational Technology and Mobile Learning:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All these Lives--Book Review

My most recent book review submitted to SLJ today!

All these lives
 Grades 7-10

 As a tiny infant she and her mother survived a horrible car crash. Hearing this story and others just like it have convinced Dani she has nine lives. And right now those nine lives may come in handy because her twin sister Jenna has been diagnosed with leukemia. Jenna needs a bone marrow transplant to survive, but Dani isn’t a match and can’t help. All she can do is sit back and watch her sister get weaker every day. Her feelings of helplessness come out at school, from a belligerent attitude to mouthing off to everyone, causing her to become an outcast among her friends. From Mom’s constant hovering to Dad’s secretive smoking, the entire family copes as best they can.

But after hearing a story about a cat’s nine lives floating out in the atmosphere to help other cats, Dani gets an idea how she can help. She’ll give her nine lives to Jenna. And so she embarks on a series of risky endeavors, each one designed to take one of her lives. And each time Dani watches carefully to see if Jenna improves at all. From almost drowning to crashing a motorcycle to swallowing pills, Dani tries to count down her lives. But what she doesn’t see is how her destructive behavior is causing her parents even more heartache.

At one point in the dead of winter, the family goes on a family camping trip and for a few brief days, things seem normal again. The parents even leave the girls alone for an evening, but the night ends disastrously. Jenna becomes seriously ill and though Dani handles everything from calling paramedics to getting Jenna to the hospital, she feels responsible. And she decides it’s time to give all remaining lives to Jenna by doing something seriously dangerous.

All ends well, and Dani learns the best way to help her sister is not to give up her own life through destructive behaviors but to be there for Jenna. Narrated in Dani’s somewhat sarcastic voice, the story shows how living with a terminally ill person affects every family member. Details about Jenna’s illness are revealed through the narrative as needed. Interesting without being syrupy, the story will show kids, who may be going through similar tough family situations, destructive behaviors are not always the best solution.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Designing books

Here is a great TED video on the importance of book design--something as a reader I seldom consider.  But obviously that's the point! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Libraries and Apple stores!

I ran across this article via Twitter--10 things libraries can learn from the Apple Store.  Basically it says libraries should be run like the store--following the principles Apple has in place for their employees to follow.  Having just spent a good deal of time and money at our local Apple store, I must say the article contains some interesting ideas. 

Embrace diversity, don't try to sell stuff, enrich people's lives, spend as much time as necessary and above all, SMILE!  All good business practices for a commerical business and more importantly, a library.

I especially enjoyed this article because it made me really stop and think about how we are approaching our "business" of the library, even at this time of the year.  Maybe it struck me even more because it's near the end of the year and I need to be reminded of some of the reasons why I love my job.

Take time to read this article.  It will make you think.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Technology for Teachers

I love Richard Byrne's Free Tech 4 Teachers blog. He has so many amazing ideas and uses for free web tools.  I don't always have time to read his blog, but I follow him on Twitter just to keep up. 

He touches on everything--from Google tools to sites teacher can use to create videos to cool timeline sites.  I can't even touch on the whole of his blog.  I must admit, I've even used it to help me with this blog--I've learned a thing or two (or three or four) from it.

Check out the site and see if you agree with me.  I bet you come away from it with at least one new idea you can use right away.  And I bet you'll be back to see what else Richard shares with us!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Extended Essay

It's time for me to start working with our junior IB students getting ready to begin their IB Extended Essays.  I have talked about this before--it has become one of my favorite parts of my job.  The Extended Essay is a 4000 word research paper IB students must complete as a part of their IB diploma.  The work is mostly done independently and begins in their junior year and is completed their senior year.  This paper is probably the biggest piece of academic research these kids have ever completed!  And when they complete it, they feel such a sense of accomplishment and also relief to have it behind them.

I am the school's EE coordinator but since I don't see all the students together in a class like a teacher does, I use some online tools to help direct the students.  My favorite one of all is, of course, Libguides.  I put together a Libguide specifically for our EE with links to the IB handbook, our databases, our subscription for Noodletools, some formatting guidelines, and even some sample papers.  I even shortened the URL with the help of so it's easier to remember--

Last year was my first year as coordinator, and I learned so much.  This year I'm tweaking the process even more, but I have to say I am very proud of this Libguide.  And just to show off a little--I've had several schools in other states ask to copy it as the start for their EE guides. That's the best feeling of all!  Not only can I help my own students, but I'm giving other librarians a place to start instruction as well.

If you get the chance to check out my EE Libguide, let me know what you think.  I've looked at it so long, I'm not sure I can find the problems in it.  So I'd love some fresh eyes to look it over!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Adult Literacy

So what happens to those kids who unfortunately leave our educational system and still can't read? I know they exist--I see them on a regular basis. The ones who laugh about never reading a book or the ones who tell me they hate the library--what sort of future do these kids have? Some turn into adults that can't read. We as educators tend to focus on teaching children to read but honestly don't always think of the difficulties adult have when they can't read. My dear friend Megan is working with the Literacy Council in Birmingham, Alabama as a volunteer these days. She was recently featured on a PBS program entitled Spotlight on Education where she talks about her work with these adult learners.

She brings up some interesting points. Adults who can't read can't find streets when they are lost--they can't read the street signs. Sometimes these adults just want to be able to read stories to their grandchildren--simple things the rest of us take for granted.

What really struck me about this--I know as teachers we struggle with those students who don't/won't/can't read in our classes. But when we give up on these kids, they become the kind of adults Megan is now helping. When I listen to Megan talking about the struggles those adults are having, I feel guilty for all the times I threw up my hands with a kid. Wish I could have a do over with so many of them!

 Here's the show--Megan comes on about 30 minutes into it.

Watch April, 2012 on PBS. See more from Spotlight on Education.

Friday, May 4, 2012

STAAR Test results are in!

Found this video via Twitter. I'm not brave enough to share it with my principal but it's too funny to keep to myself! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vintage photos

Okay so this is really fascinating--some vintage photographs from the Library of Congress showing libraries and librarians from the early 1900's (I started to say the turn of the century....but that doesn't fit any more!) What I love about the pictures is not the fact the librarians are hand stamping books, etc. but the fact they are helping kids. I'm glad that part of our job hasn't changed!

Here's the link to the rest of the pictures. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TED Ed videos

I'm sure by now you've seen the new TED Ed website to help with flipped classrooms. The site provides some premade videos but allows the teacher to customize the lesson. Supposed to help a teacher with flipping a classroom.

I think it's a great idea but as I've said before, I see the potential for misuse of this comcept as well. A good teacher would take this idea and fly with it. A poor teacher would use this as a substitute for teaching--it's basically watch a video and answer questions at home. It's what you do as a follow up in the classroom that counts. And that's honestly my concern. Without followup, then all you have is an assignment to watch a video at home.

This blogger says it better than I can--Teach Paperless. And here's the video from the TED Ed site explaining how the site works. Great concept--great idea--I just hope teachers use it properly.