Professional Development

This week we had three readings on professional development from Coatney Chapter 8, Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers Chapter 1, and Teachers and Librarians Collaborate in Lesson Study by Linda Bilyeu.

In Coatney’s chapter, the author discusses how the librarian can be a leader in professional development due to their unique positioning of being both a teacher, and slightly an administrator. She also talks about Professional Learning Communities (PLC) where teachers can meet with a group of other teachers during the week, almost of what reminds me of a salon. They can discuss how things are going for students and teachers, along with any new knowledge gathered from others’ experiences. I am very interested in this idea, especially because I think it would help veteran teachers and new teachers alike. A salon is all about trying to increase your knowledge, and talk about something that really interests you. As the librarian, I can see how being leaders of these communities would make sense. We’re good at connecting people to resources, or people to people. We have more variety in our schedule typically, which would allow us to bounce around to different communities to see how they are doing. One thing that sticks out to me in this however is, could the librarian be a leader, but also apart of one of these learning communities? If I see myself as a teacher, shouldn’t I also be able to partake in the sharing of experiences and knowledge? Is the librarians role only to arrange and lead the various groups without partaking? Not that I mind either way… but as we’ve been talking about this whole wanting to be viewed as a teacher too, I’ve started to ask questions like these…

Chapter 1 of Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers struck a chord with me. The Exploratorum! Yes! Play with technology! Yes! Learn something new! Yes! Time made in the day for all of that! Yes!! I loved this idea of letting teachers play. Teachers are learners after all, and learners should play. I loved that the author and her colleague’s recognized the need of the teachers, and how they like to learn new technology and worked with that. It gave everyone choice, time, and I think deeper authenticity to their PD. Personally, I love learning this way. I don’t really absorb a whole lot if someone is talking at me. I get more out of hands on, tinkering experiences.

Lastly, Bilyeu discusses the idea of Lesson Study which is from a Japanese practice in schools where the teachers are given a day to plan a lesson, teach it, and then reflect on how it went after. From there the lesson can be tweaked and retaught. Bilyeau talks about how this type of professional development practice has become common in a district in Oregon. Teachers and librarians work collaboratively to build a lesson plan. This type of professional development has helped teachers see how the school librarian can help, and also has created richer reflection on lessons than what was previously done. This idea reminded me a lot of co-teaching, and how we were discussing what “collaboration” really means. The librarian and teacher are there together from start to finish helping each other. I think it’s a great example of collaborative work.

P.S. Our last blog post together for this class…I can’t believe it! Thank you so much for giving me a safe and welcoming space to express my thoughts, questions, and musings. Learning is hard, and sharing your current thoughts before they’re fully formed is hard too, but you all made it a tiny bit easier. You’ll all be wonderful librarians and teacher-librarians no matter where you end up. Thanks so much for a wonderful semester of learning!


Transmedia Storytelling

In class last week we were able to talk to Laura Fleming about transmedia literacy and how she uses it at school. Wow! This is something I am totally starting to get more and more fascinated with. I loved the one project she did with 2nd graders with Glenda the Goose from Elliott’s Park by Patrick Carmen. Using the show “Dog with a Blog” as inspiration and a way to connect a transmedia practice by having her students create a blog by Glenda. That kind of swept me off my feet. I’m sold. It reminded me a lot of what I loved to do when I was little. I would write movie scripts based on characters from movies, or I’d make up newsletters, advertisements, etc that helped me extend the universe of stories I loved so much. I didn’t realize that was an actual thing. What I loved most about what Laura was talking about was the idea that kids need to be able to have fun and play with words and stories. Play. Yes. We need lots and lots more play. For everyone, all ages. I’m really appreciative of being able to listen to Laura (thanks Sarah for requesting it!). I’ve refound an old hobby, and new interest to bring to my students.

Apart from transmedia storytelling wonderfulness, we also discussed reports and looked at several examples. There was this question of length: short vs. long, and style: professional vs. casual. I think it comes down to your audience and what your audience is expecting of you. If your principal wants short and sweet, give it to them. Be clear, be direct, and be on point. I think that summarizes my current feelings about it.


I really felt this week’s readings on assessment tie in well with our last week’s readings. These readings also showed me how assessment can happen in a variety of ways to help with a variety of reasons. Overall, I feel that assessment, and collecting evidence is like going to your doctor’s for a yearly check-up. You’re making sure everything is in order, and seeing if you need to change. As you grow, and as your library grows and users change, you have to change. But in order to do so, you need to know what is going on.

I use to be afraid of assessment, seeing as some sort of nebulous beast that I will have to tackle. But reading Woolls, and Authentic Assessment in the Classroom, along with thinking about assessment in education classes, it’s not so scary. It’ll take a lot of work, but as long as it is authentic (which I love this idea of authenticity. If we’re asking our students to take their work seriously, then we need to take their work seriously too.) and I know what question I am trying to answer, it will be worth it.

There is also this idea of data, data, data! The power of data. It can tell us so much, that is if we collect the right stuff. Both Better data…better decisions, and School Libraries Evidence: Seize the Day, discuss this.  One thing that I do wonder is, how realistic is it to ask one school librarian to conduct all this research by themselves? People have jobs where all they do is research. Teacher-librarians however, have a lot on their plate. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t collect data, being a trained biologist, I love data but I’m just curious as to what extent it is possible.

There was a line from Better data … better decisions that stuck out to me: “Can teachers and students find information and answers outside the library media center through ILL, networks, public libraries, consortiums, and databases? Is information in the “evening news” readily available for further investigation?” This reminded me of the power, and necessity to create partnerships in the community, to make sure students and teachers have access.

Overall, I have a positive outlook on assessment, and see it as being a tool to monitor the health of the school’s library, and allocate funds appropriately.

budgets, personnel, and professional associations

I found the weeks readings for this week to be particularly practical. Not so loosey goosey theoretical, but more hard tacts this is how you do it. Both the Woolls’ chapters were insightful on both personnel and budgets. For instances, I didn’t know how personnel were hired, nor did I think about how to manage volunteers and the strange position they might put you in. I also did not know how a budget is setup, or how the money is distributed throughout the school, although I had an inkling. What I took away most from Woolls’ chapter was butter up your principal, and learn to get along with them. The principal and you can make either a beautiful relationship, or a very messy one that doesn’t end in your favor.

From Doug Johnson’s blog, I read Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times. I was drawn by the title I think because not only am I big DIYer, but as a young married graduate student, this kind of budgeting rang pretty close to home. Doug offers some budgeting tips that worked for him, noting that he doesn’t remember a time when funding wasn’t an issue. One of my favorite quotes from him was: “As much as I hate sounding like a conservative pundit, I have to say more money is not always the answer to better services to staff and students. A good budget requires planning, prioritizing, and accountability. ” This reminded me a lot of Woolls’ chapter as well, that you must plan in order to avoid mistakes in purchases as to not waste money. It also reminded me of discussions in Ed Reform, where many times the consensus to helping reform was not just about money, but more about people.

I also read Doug Johnson’s post on Effective Library Budgeting, where he gives a break down of how to be an effective library budgeter. While right now, this seems fairly ambiguous, I know it is helping to plant a seed in me to help me grow into managing budgets. He’s kind of like my Suze Orman for library finance. I’m actually kind of excited about this part of the job, maybe it’s my accountant parents coming through.

Lastly, the Coatney chapter discussed how professional associations can help you in remaining a lifelong learner, and the importance of connecting and finding a mentor with others. They also point out the ideas of taking leadership roles in these associations to help be a change agent. I don’t know. I like professional organizations, and have belonged to a couple, but I never got a huge amount out of them. I got the most out of having mentors, and also being a mentor. I prefer one on one interactions over anything else… I often find being apart of a large group can be very hard for me. How do I overcome these personal traits? How do I make connections? Is it really necessary I do? Or can I still be a change agent?


Not my circus, not my monkeys

There’s a Polish proverb that translates to, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, in other words, it’s not my problem. Why do I start my recap post with this saying? Well, for one, I’ve come to find it a comforting reminder as I sit working reference, and am confronted with a situation that is beyond my capabilities, or even outside of my legal jurisdiction, that people still want me to fix their problems. I often walk away, feeling a mixed set of emotions. Upset that the person couldn’t get exactly what they needed, but also upset that they would put their problems onto me, as if I am the one who ultimately must fix it. I breathe, and think, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, breathe again, calmed. Our line of work can be emotionally taxing some days. At least for me.

This mentality was one that reminded me of our parents’ vs. schools’ responsibility in a child’s upbringing. Where is the line, and when do schools say, “Hey, this is not our problem.” I was actually surprised at first to see how our conversation quickly turned into a discussion on American parenting. When it comes to intellectual freedom, and teaching online skills, I see myself as responsible for helping. As a teacher-librarian, I have had a large amount of learning about the Internet, privacy, intellectual freedom issues, etc. More so then your average person. So, I think it makes sense that as part of my job, it would be to help students make sense of their online presence. But where is the line to that? When there are issues of cyberbullying occurring outside of school, on iphones given to them by their parents, is that a school problem that should involve a teacher? Or is that a parent problem?

What I think is even more interesting about these questions, is when we begin to talk about school reform. There is a lot of talk about how the community needs to be included, and teachers and administrators should visit families outside of school. It seems this way would not only be a paradigm shift in how we do school, but maybe even how people do parenting. Is this a good thing? I’m still working through how I feel about all of this, so I apologize if my thoughts are little less eloquently put.

Outside of that, I enjoyed being able to brainstorm what a class on online life management would look like! I really hope one day I can not only propose such a class, but also carryout. I also like our conversations about new tech. What’s the point of buying something if it does not solve a problem (and maybe even creates some new issues) or enhance learning? Wow! What a great question to ask. I also liked this idea of getting good at a couple different tools, rather than always trying to teach a new tool. It makes sense. How can we expect our students to keep up and create meaningful work, when we’re always changing their tools on them? What if we let students choose their tools to become experts in? What would that look like?

Teaching Ethics in the Age of Technology

Wow, what a timely post in light of all of our conversations on technology and ethics. A lot of things talked about here that I was referring to in class as teaching moral-reasoning with online spaces. Great read and resources if you have time!

User Generated Education

Ethical decision-making should be included as a 21st century skill (overused term but don’t know of an alternative).  Some would profess that ethical decision-making has always been a needed skill.  But we are living in the most complex era of human history.  Information access and abundance, and emerging technologies are advancing, and being developed and disseminated at rates that the human mind often cannot comprehend.  Now more than ever ethics should be integrated into young people’s educations.

Society is a dynamic system. It must, by nature, evolve in order to survive. As we develop the new definitions of appropriate behavior in the online environment it is imperative that many members of society be engaged in this ongoing dialogue. An informed community and active discussion of ethical issues will enable society to determine civil and just manners to deal with the nuances of technological advancement (Rezmierski, 1992). By opening this dialogue…

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Ethics & Intellectual Freedom

Knowledge Quest 39(1) articles I read:

Everyone Does It: Teaching Ethical Use of Social Technology by Annette Lamb

Internet Filtering 2.0: Checking Intellectual Freedom and Participative Practices at the Schoolhouse Door by Barbara Jansen

This week we are talking about Intellectual Freedom and Ethics. The Coatney chapter on Intellectual Freedom was a nice overview of the different parts of intellectual freedom you run into in schools. Adams addresses collection development, reconsideration of library media material, school filters, privacy, and advocating for intellectual freedom with in the school. In particular I liked the quote she pulled out on filters, “Filter a website, and you protect a student for a day. Educate students about online safety in the real world environment, and you protect your child for a lifetime” (p. 54). That quote elegantly summed up my feelings very well.

A lot of times when I think about Intellectual Freedom, my mind usually jumps from copyright to ethics, to online life management skills. I am particularly interested in the latter, especially with teenagers. I feel that they need to not only feel trusted by their school, but they also need help, and a place to discuss issues that come up in an online setting. Real life, and online life are not completely transferable, therefor, sometimes it is like comparing apples to oranges. I believe schools have a responsibility to their students to not only provide access to Web 2.0 tools, but also to teach them how to think and act ethically.

The two articles I read from Knowledge Quest focused a lot on this idea of needing to make sure students can access Web 2.0, and by denying them access, we are denying them their right to free speech, and free expression. While at the same time, it is necessary that students have a place where they learn more about ethical practices, and ways to think ethically. Lamb’s piece had a very Piagian thought behind it, focusing on where your students are developmentally. Students in elementary school are going to differ from teenagers on how they think about ethics. Teaching ethics is not so much about what is right and wrong, but more helpful to help develop moral reasoning.

Lastly, these readings reminded me that I wanted to read It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd. I think I’m so interested in this topic of moral reasoning, and teenagers use of Web 2.0 partly because the teenage years are a vulnerable time, and I feel that social media may in some ways increase that vulnerability. I also feel that from my own experience, my generation, and before me, we all had to learn the ropes of the Internet and Internet safety on our own, and as things change. We didn’t talk about online life management. While I’ve made it, and in high school already felt I was thinking outside of “Everyone is doing it” mentality, I think it could be a powerful addition to students’ curriculum.

beyond technology

I enjoyed our last class meeting, especially about how to use technology as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Once we have students engaged with material through technology, we must expand. It’s not just about how glitzy students can make their projects, but rather, it’s still about content and mood. If anything, I think students face a new challenge of presenting material than I ever did as a K-12 student. We just had to write papers, now we are asking our students to create multimodal projects, and still give us the same amount of content we would expect in an essay. Clearly, they’ll need help. Giving them a website like Glogster to use, or flashy PowerPoint animations alone is not enough.

This class reminded me of the importance of talking about, and exploring visual storytelling with students, of expanding students’ use of technology. It also reminded me of a conversation I had with a school librarian at a private high school last semester. She was talking about how a student had to make a project for French class, introducing their family and then themselves, like hobbies and interests. She said the project was beautiful, and so professional looking but lacked any real content, except sparse French sentences here and there. She said it was all glitz, and no grit. (Funny enough, their school motto is “Grace and Grit”). As a teacher-librarian, I want to help my students to have the glitz and the grit. I want to use technology to help us tell and convey our stories, not just be the story alone. Just like in writing, every word and way a sentence is structured matters and has meaning… so does visual storytelling. I want my students to be able to tell me why they chose that color, or why they chose for their head to rotate every minute during a video they made for class. I want my students to know their stories and work are important, and the thought in how we use technology to convey those stories is also of importance.

I think we saw all of this last class in the student work. We were all fairly unamused, and very unimpressed. I think we all have high standards for students, and I think that’s a good thing. If we have low standards for what students are capable of, then what’s the point?

The last thing that has been on my mind is the idea of creativity and innovation. Using pre-made graphics, and placing them on a page is really neither of these things. So, how do we help to promote creativity and innovation using these Web 2.0 technologies? When our students feel limited by what they can use of pre-made graphics, feeling they want to use something in a way that the program is incapable of doing, or have a different vision of how a graphic should look than the original graphic designers, are they reaching a point of creativity/innovative thinking? How do we harness that and move forward? I have some ideas …

Lastly, I’ve focused a lot on visual storytelling, but I’m also curious about the use of things like Twitter for school assignments. What if students were charged with choosing a day in history, and they had to make a Twitter account where they then acted as a news reporter or as someone living in that time, tweeting throughout the day of events and what they are doing (a la NPR’s Twitter account @todayin1963) as if it were in real time. The amount of work that the student would need to research, and in depth research would be incredible! Or what if English classes used Twitter as a way to do creative writing or poetry, limited to 140 words or less. Or what if we used Instagram for science classes to document wildlife and plants found in the area, or environmental degradation happening? The possibilities are incredible, and I’m excited to be entering the profession at this time.

Elevator Speech

I chose to base my elevator speech on “Learning that Lasts” by Jennifer Stanbro. Stanbro discusses how our tools, and physical space are taking different shapes, our mission is still the same, to help students. Here’s that speech I have ready for that awkward ride up an elevator with that one teacher who is never really sure what my job is … (I think I’ll keep taking the stairs). As they comment, “My the library sure has changed since my school days!”

Yeah, it has changed, hasn’t it!? Although, our mission as teacher librarians has really remained the same. It’s still about how we help students learn, explore, and share, no matter what medium we’re talking about or how the physical space is set up. We’re here to support students and teachers, to provide new experiences for them that will help shape new knowledge, and maybe even awaken new passions. You and I really have the same mission, except you’re in a standard classroom, and I’m in the library. But we’re both here to work with wonderful colleagues each day, students and teachers alike, to help make a difference.

The Technology Talk

I know a lot of you are book lovers, and I do love books… but I really love technology. Like a lot. Fiddling around with computer programs, websites, or new devices is my bread and butter. So, I am very excited about this week. I’m also very much in agreement, and appreciative of the wise warnings to not just buy the new shiny thing.

One thing I loved about Pride and Prejudice and Technology Leadership, well there was a lot, but one I thing that really stuck out to me was the idea that it’s not necessarily about the tool, but what the tool needs to do. Also, the technology needs to be good for the user, not the user adapting to the technology. A fun activity I like to do is think of ways to use free software, or common software in schools and at home, that can be used in different ways than necessarily intended for. Kristin knows of my PowerPoint stop-motion mini-project, where I used  a poem to create a moving visual with just PowerPoint. Discovering new things, like video, and photo editors online make me excited. I usually want to show someone right way this cool new toy I’ve discovered.

I believe self-expression is important for everyone. We all need ways to express our feelings, and our thoughts. The multitude of modalities that we are able to do that, and then share with a community, is incredible! But I also am a strong believer in needing to understand the critical aspects about technology, and technology use. I like the ISTE standards, and I like what they call for teachers to do. We’re not using technology for technology’s sake. We’re using technology to help foster student learning. Our world and technology is going to keep changing in ways that we won’t know, but if we can use these tools to help students learn to think critically, engage with material more deeply, and interact with one another respectively … that is incredible.

Lastly, I enjoy the Woolls, Weeks and Coatney book due to its stark practicality. As this course has progressed, the idea of technology plans has been in the back of my mind. Particularly on how these are initiated, created, and implemented. I think they bring up some great points to consider. I was surprised though at how much they were discussing how to be careful with things like filters, creating personal websites, making sure parents sign permissions slips for internet use, and hackers making their way onto the Wi-Fi. While I understood all of these concerns, in someways these felt almost outdated. However, I go to UMSI, with a strong understanding of the Internet, and the ethics and practices that come along with it. I know how to protect myself, and how to help others protect themselves. So maybe, I’m blurred by my own assumptions that every SLMS knows the same amount about technology. I do have a question with that being said, What if a parent doesn’t want their child to use the Internet? What do you do?