Monday, May 31, 2010


Yep, between the end of the year & baseball...I'm surprised I am even finding time to sleep! But it is a glorious Memorial Day with NOTHING on the agenda--yippee!
I was just catching up on my TWITTER feeds and stumbled upon an article about a private high school in Massachusetts that has decided to all but entirely eliminated their media center. I remember hearing about this last fall. This is an update and the principal is raving about the success--the media is now a gathering area for faculty & students full of digital resources. That's wonderful--but I'm just wondering why it is necessary to do this entirely void of books (in the physical form)? I view it as a form of censorship.
Don't get me wrong. I am a strong proponent of ebooks replacing textbooks--save money, trees & a lot of students' backs, not to mention real-time information. And I spend a good deal of my time researching online, as do my students. But books complement their research--I would hate to say, "Nope, sorry, you MUST find everything online."
The most frightening conclusion that too many administrators might be making is the idea that if books are becoming obsolete, then so are media specialists. Yet when I entered this program 2 years ago, I was struck by how what we do in the media is more applicable to real life than much of what is occurring in classrooms, particularly with the inane focus on test scores these days. Our students are getting more & more of their information from the web, and it is our job to teach them to evaluate, synthesize & use that information wisely. (not currently on our tests...) THAT is preparing students for REAL life--so how valuable are we?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Life takes over again!

Gee whiz! You would think the end of the school year would leave me MORE time to attend to this blog. Not so much! In one building we are painting & the schedule has changed hourly! Luckily I realized some time ago that flexibility is essential in this position. I believe that I have always been a fairly flexible person, but even more so now. Painters in your space requires some packing & moving of things away from wall...but it also requires some rescheduling of groups. Fun, fun, fun!
Luckily there are only 9 days of school left (and SO much to get done...). We have the public libraries presentations on summer library. (I will have summer library for 3 hours/week in each of my buildings) Both buildings have carnivals this evening. One building has a school-wide picnic next week, while the other has a field day. I am hosting author Helen Lester next week--I am VERY excited about this! And I am pleased to say that her visit is partially being funded by a grant that I applied for--my first grant application ever!
Well, just wanted to pop in..back to my journey another day...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some thoughts

In an effort to not be so autobiographical...I will reflect periodically to break up "the facts, m'am."
I have always loved information. It is truly bizarre that I did not fall into this career earlier. But perhaps in the digital age, the information portion is even more consuming than ever. I just read a paper expressing the need for librarians is greater than ever before--yet we are seeing more cuts in our career than ever before in history. The current circulating myth is that librarians and libraries are virtually obsolete. Yet study after study, from years ago to the present, show that strong school libraries & reading are one of the strongest indicators to student achievement. How strange that in an age where the test scores are EVERYTHING many districts have completely disregarded that conclusion. We need to let the public know that the stereotypical librarian that we remember from our childhoods IS obsolete--BUT there is a current trend toward a new vision of libraries and librarians.

First of all, libraries are no longer private collections that only the librarian knows how to navigate. We educate our students on using an online catalog, and on the Dewey Decimal system so that they can find resources independently. We encourage noise and even a bit of chaos--learning chaos! It's pretty tough for my media to be TOO loud!
Second, media specialists are not a solo entity. Collaboration is key. We want to help students achieve as much as the classroom teacher, so it makes sense for us to work together to do so. Intertwining what we do in the media with what is occurring in the classroom will really make the learning that is happening sink even further into their brains. I became a teacher because I love to help students learn--I am STILL a teacher.
Third, digital resources has changed EVERYTHING. We now have immediate access to "the" answer. UNFORTUNATELY students think that Google is the end all. Don't get me wrong, Google is a fantastic resource WHEN students are taught thoughtful evaluation. No one is teaching students how to look at the information they find, how to effectively use it, and how to be the most innovative in their presentations. Classroom teachers are overwhelmed by scripted curriculums and the pressures of getting test results. Website evaluation doesn't hit their radar--it's not in the curriculum, and it isn't tested. Therefore, it is ESSENTIAL that media specialists attend to this 21st Century Skill if our students are truly going to be prepared for the future.
There is a belief that books are all but obsolete. To some extent, perhaps. (doubt Barnes & Noble thinks so...) But what a disservice to the young children of the world it would be to deprive them of cuddling with a parent in bed pouring over a favorite picture book. I just found several lists of the favorite 100 children's novels of all time as well as the 100 favorite picture books. A few tears appeared as I viewed the animoto of the covers of these books--many were beloved favorites from my childhood, and have been shared with my own children and students.
Does it make sense to have all textbooks in digital format. Absolutely. This would save school districts and college students loads of money. And in many academic specialties, the access to real-time current information is so appropriate. But reading for pleasure involves visual and tactile experiences--it is sad to think of that being lost for the youth of the future.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WOW! Life takes over!

10 weeks since my last post??!! NO WAY! I swear I just posted! I have been busy busy busy both in my medias and at home. Baseball season started the end of March but I am not entirely sure why I was so crazy the 6 weeks before that. OH WELL, I am here now!
Back to the beginnings...once that HUGE order was placed, I could focus on what my responsibilities were and figuring out how to get it all in each day.
One of my biggest frustrations was technology. I would create a lesson plan for the lab only to have sites crash, computers not work, etc. I learned VERY quickly to have a Plan B (and C...and D...sometimes even E & F!) Computing services was out several times getting every computer up & running. But we got there!
We have a new checkout system/card catalog in our district this year so one of my first undertakings was to teach every student and adult in each building to use that system as well as make sure they knew where to locate the resources they were seeking on the shelves. Once everyone was relatively independent in finding resources using the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal system, that gave me more time to assist students in areas other than simply resource locating.
Additionally, the district had just added several digital online resources. Teachers and students alike tend to default to Google when researching, and these new online resources are a more efficient method to drive research. I presented an overview of all the online resources to each staff, while I presented them one at a time to classes as they were appropriate for their research needs. Our new writing curriculum is research-driven in third and fourth quarters at all grade levels, so I wanted each class to be prepared BEFORE moving into the research project. Students and teachers alike were very excited with the new resources and they are used daily in each media.