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Inspiration from Joyce Valenza

I had the opportunity to hear Joyce at NECC this past few days, and her presentation was incredibly inspiring. Her vision to share the web 2.0 tools and help students become information fluent infused the whole presentation.

She really stressed creating pathfinders for students, which I do, but she creates them on everything, and ties in many sources that I wouldn't have thought of. And she uses wikis for the pathfinders so that other teachers can add sources as well, which is quite logical.

She mentioned even having students help add to the pathfinder.

She has a site sharing the tools and ideas she talked about, and the updated powerpoint will be added soon. Also I blogged it as I was listening to her presentation and my notes, (which I was taking live) are here.

The other thing she modeled was a great presentation, tying the presentation together with a theme--a great example of a TEACHER/librarian.

Thanks, Joyce, for the inspiration.

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Do We Need Libraries?

Laura Pearle has posted a link, on the AASL blog, to a Washington Post column asking "Do We Need Libraries?"
The extensive comments on this article are enlightening and heartening, as citizens voice their opinions on the value of libraries in the digital age.

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What's up with edublogs?

I've just begun reading Will Richardson's "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts..." and really want to amp up my tech tools for next school year. For the past few days, my blog at edublogs has been unavailable for editing. The site assures users that their blogs are preserved - somewhere - but doesn't give any specifics on when things will return to normal. At this point, I'm considering copying and pasting my posts into another blog (I'm trying to compile an online record of professional development and a curriculum planning blueprint). Does anyone have information about what's going with the edublog site?
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Has anyone tried using with a group? I was thinking of setting up an account for our secondary librarians group and having everyone post great sites as they come across them. It would have the advantage of listing sites that are really specific to our local curriculum. Usually we just pass sites to each other using email but this would have the advantage of being a searchable and permanent location.
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A ning? After all the talk on YALSA-bk this week I admit I had to look up the definition on Wikipedia. Couldn't they have come up with something easier to say and understand? Maybe bing or ying even. How many times this week have I mentioned nings to someone and they've said a "what?" How is Webster supposed to keep up anyway? Are there other words out there waiting for someone to invent? Maybe we could substitute. . .
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I am taking two classes for my master's plus thirty (specialist degree). One is Digital Preservation. The discussions on the boards set up by the professor have ranged from funding to photos fading (especially if you use the inkjet printers) to the reliability of data (when anyone can change it) to saving the data from format to format. In Information Services, we are looking at Web 2.0 applications and if or how you would add them to the library to provide services.

For my big paper in Information Services, I have to write a ten page proposal trying to convince an entity (this is all "pretend") to adopt two to three Web 2.0 services to the website. If anyone has a great library website to share incorporating 2.0 and a short statement on how you convinced your admin to accept it, let me know.
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Another Blog?

No way! I'm not ready for this to be my main blogging resource, though I see in some forums that there are those who are ready for this to be their primary blogging tool. I have other blogs that I can point to, and they are at:
  • Scasl Blogs! The South Carolina Association of School Librarians sponsor a blog, and I am lucky enough to be a contributor. I wish i could say it is as popular as Sunlink, or some other state association blogs, but I'm proud of it no less. I just appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it.
  • Cathy Jo Nelson's Professional Thoughts This is my personal space to share little tidbits of information i think is relevant.
I also have written three others that were school specific, and now that I am changing schools, I won't reference them. I plan to begin new ones once school resumes in August, so I'll be sure to reference those once I get them started.
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"Everything is Miscellaneous"

I bought Weinberger's book the other day, though admittedly it's still sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read it. However I did spend a good part of the morning watching his discussion on Google Video ( , that I highly recommend. What he has to say relates directly to a lot of our concerns and ideas regarding Library/Web 2.0, with strong implications both for education in general and the LMS in specific.

Technology and the world wide web are fomenting a major paradigm shift in education. Gone are the days of Dewey, Hirsch and Bloom, the idea that knowledge can be categorized and compartmentalized, that the "educated" person knows a core set of facts/ideas carried through time by series of experts charged with enlightening the masses and initiating the unknowing into the heady atmosphere of intellectual elitism. This world is run like the Encylopedia Britannica (or the OED), where a core set of editors decide what is important and significant, than pass that information on to the rest of us. With the WWW and 2.0, our neat, graphically organized flow charts of knowledge became a whole lot messier. Social tagging and wikipedias break down the direct, linear flow of ideas into a far more randomly connected (and interconnected) web of relationships.

While working to understand more about wikis, blogs, and Education 2.0, I've increasingly realized that as we adopt and adapt these technologies, the earlier movement towards student-centered education is no longer creeping along, but running madly downhill. While the "sage on the stage" vs. "guide on the side" pedagogical controversy has been around for yonks, technology is forcing educators to give up control and allow students to construct their own meaning through collaboration and social interaction. The introverted, Hamlet-like scholar, immersed in learning the Trivium, is a thing of the past. Textbooks, if not obsolete, are merely the jumping off points for students to explore and engage in active learning. For example, WashingtonWatch just started a wiki that "allows public editing of information about the bills pending in Congress." What a great opportunity for Civics classes! ( Ironically, this comes at a time NCLB puts increasing stress on meeting standards and traditional methods of teaching. I just read that a member of Congress is trying to ban the Wikipedia and other social networking sites from schools. Now, I have problems with Wiki, but it's a great teaching tool and denying complete access to social networking tools seems not only backwards, but draconian.

This increased randomness and student-centered learning makes the LMS more important than ever before as education struggles to catch up with technology. Face it, students (and many adults) are clueless about information problem solving. Thus, as teachers struggle to adapt to changing pedagogical strategies, we need to be ready with ideas, support and enthusiasm. Now, I'm old fashioned enough to believe there are some things an educated, literate individual needs to know. Though I'd be hard-pressed to give reasons the average teenager would accept! I was trying to explain the dichotomy to my fiancee (core knowledge vs. individualized learning) and he wisely asked why I was seeing them as oppositional. Good point. Yet I think that, in the educational field, we DO see them as diametrically opposed. ( I can teach content, or I can be touchy-feely with the kids, but I don't have time for both!) However, we need to MAKE time for both and work out solid strategies for students not merely to learn core curriculum, but to synthesize it, creating their own meaning.

On looking back over this, it seems pretty garbled! I'm still trying to work it out in my own head!
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So much for promises to write during the conference. I discovered that being the new president of the Canadian Association for School Libraries meant that I had a lot of meetings and social gatherings to attend. This is rather late but here are some highlights. School Libraries in Canada Western Canada is holding its own with strong provincial associations in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Manitoba's provincal association is lacking members but the government still supports the idea of school libraries and there are some dedicated teacher librarians that are still making an impact in the province and across Canada. Ontario is in the best position. After several years of cutbacks in budgets, the provincial government is reinvesting in school libraries. They have the stongest provincial association in Canada and have been instrumental in the first Canadian study on school libraries and achievement: School Libraries and Student Achievement in Ontario. The Ontario School Library Association hosts, with other divisions, the Superconference each year which is well attended. Quebec is holding its own but when we head into the Maritime provinces, teacher librarianship is in crisis. Due to a lack of membership, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have ceased to have provincial associations. The few teacher librarians left in Nova Scotia work at district offices or for the Ministry of Education. One member is a councillor with our national Association. Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province, has a provincial association that is still going strong with support from the government. Newfoundland and Labrador finds itself in the same boat as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick without a provincial association. In 2003, Dr. Ken Haycock, director of the School of Library, Archives and Information studies at UBC wrote: The Crisis in Canada's School Libraries: the Case for Reform and Re-Investment. Four years on and school libraries are still in a crisis in Canadian provinces. Copyright As with most jurisdictions in North America, we are struggling with this issue. Copyright laws in Canada are being changed and we are still trying to figure out the impact in Canadian Schools. Another issue that is being hotly debated is Open Access. Technology My research interests have been on information technology in school libraries. I was hoping that there would be more sessions on Web 2.0, Library 2.0 or any other technology associated with the new information structure of the web but there was very little offered.
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NING for Louisiana Librarians

Seeing the wonderful work that Joyce has done in creating her Teacher-Librarian NING has inspired me to create a Ning for Louisiana librarians. As a result, I've started the Louisiana LMS Ning at the following URL: It is dedicated to Library 2.0 and how we, in our state, are using it in our classrooms. It is in its early stages and needs members and input, but it is our beginning. I hope to debut it at our state conference if I have enough response. Thanks, Joyce, for being such an inspiration!
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Podcast ideas

I am looking for some podcast or vodcasts ideas to get my teachers hooked next year on trying this out with their classes. I love the vodcast that Joyce Valenza's students made called Prepositionitis, check the posting on May 24th. I will show that to teachers as an example. I also plan on having my young adult literature club make monthly booktalk podcasts of the books they are reading. Anyone else doing podcasting with their high school students?
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2007 Quill Award Nominees

At BookExpo America, they announced this year's Quill nominees. It's the third year for these consumer-driven awards. The last two lists helped me plan my summer reading and helped me to discover newauthors and titles to include on our high school shelves. Scroll down to the bottom of the list for youth titles.

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A Challenge and an Opportunity

Yesterday I received my tentative teaching assignments for next school year (in addition to my duties in the LMC). I am now scheduled to instruct a mixed class of high school students in current events. I don't have any details yet, but the high school principal said this scheduling is a direct result of my advocating for more (any!) 21st century fluency skills in our district. My hope is the students and I will explore - and master - things like podcasts, blogging, etc. The first hurdle will be to secure student e-mail accounts, at least for those enrolled in my class. If this is can not be supported by our district technology, I'll funnel everything through a class account.
I visualize this course as a combination of a traditional current events class (emerging issues, world economy, geography, politics, etc.) and library skills instruction (plagiarism & copyright, fact vs. opinion, media "genres", effective research). Setting the kids up on Google Reader, would be one of my first steps. Blogs, a wiki, podcasts, video clips, might follow. A Zoho notebook publication would be the perfect culminating project. Or, perhaps, a videotaped news show.
If we are successful, I anticipate having my students function as instructors for other students - and teachers.
Has anyone done something along these lines? I found hundreds of lesson plans in a quick search but I'd like to hear about professional successes and failures from real people, my online colleagues.
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Library 2.0, Part B

I've been reading articles on virtual libraries and making the virtual library space as cozy, comfortable and inviting as the physical space. I've also explored several impressive examples of best practice and "borrowed" some great ideas. Having mapped out the schema for the website, before I starting writing content I thought it would behoove me to organize this wealth of information into some sort of hierarchical set of principals to guide the development. I was talking to my Info Lit prof last night (who's supervising this independent study) about possibly doing a workshop to share these ideas with classmates. She generously offered me a 2 hour block during our last class to present, so I REALLY need to start making a coherent order out of all this (grin--and start writing for permission to copy articles to hand out! As an English teacher, I mostly ignored copyright laws. I'm trying to be more responsible now!)

LIBRARY TRUISM #1: Popular wisdom says kids are very tech savvy. This is true to greater and lesser degrees; however, they're not very information savvy. They want the quickest way to find the easiest information and often fail to search beyond the first few hits on Google. Moreoever, they find it very difficult to infer, so often don't even recognize that they've found their answer, because it's not stated directly.

Implications: It's not enough just to provide a plethora of links and resources. The virtual library must:

a) provide access to quality information up front (no hunting for the database link!) so it becomes almost as quick to search SIRS as it does to search Google. I saw several library pages that offered a Google search bar right on the front page. This disturbed me, as it seems to promote bad habits!

b) Provide online information literacy tutorials through pathfinders, podcasts, direct instruction pages. The pathfinders could even be a (moderated!) wiki, allowing students to add ideas, links, etc. and giving them more investment in the process.

LIBRARY TRUISM #2: Kids are social animals. If you want the library website to be an integral part of the school, it needs to do more than provide information. It must provide opportunities to personalize the learning process and allow students to express their individuality, creativity and ideas.

Plagiarized ideas to achieve this: a) Create an interactive blog for teachers and students to share what they're currently reading. 2) Work with classroom teachers to create book trailer podcasts and post these on the site. This would also be a good place to post student art work, writing, original music, etc. making it a sort of virtual cafe. 3) A "Sound Off!" page of student podcasts or digital storytelling projects on topical issues. 4) an "Ask the Librarian" link. 5) Online surveys/questionnaires to improve library service, seek book recommendations, etc.

Wow. That's a lot of work when you're starting from scratch! I laugh now to think a mere week or two ago I thought I'd have the site mostly finished by the end of summer. I'll do well to have it mostly finished by the end of NEXT summer! Of course, "finished" is a relative term, as this obviously is an ongoing project.

Anyway, next time-- Supporting the curriculum: moving beyond research papers.

BTW--I'm putting together an annotated bibliography of articles, books and exemplary sites if anyone wants a copy when I'm finished. (grin--how's that for hubris??)
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Year end... how is your mood?

Yesterday was my last day for the year, and it certainly ended in a rush. I repeatedly told teachers it was fine to keep whatever they needed until the last school day. Wow, when they did that it was great for relationship building and making them feel welcome. However, I didn't think about all the books that would show up needing to be reshelved. Whew!! Foolishly I thought I would end the year with things all neatly put away, and that would be a first. No, that didn't happen. I don't mind at all though now that I realize what I've done. This year we had lots and lots of new teachers in the building, and I mean new to the building AND rookies. So, many people had no idea who I am or what I do. I spent all year trying to build those relationships. It paid off in the end. My relaxed and open attitude seemed to make everyone just love the library!! I look forward to building on this experience next year. My mood? I'm relaxed and content to have complete a job well done.
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