Monthly Archives: February 2014

“Books! And that’s where I get ’em!”

Str-Adv-201-p31

In light of our week on advocacy… 1960s comic book advertisement advocating for public libraries

source: http://nickpage.co.uk/stuff/books-and-thats-where-i-get-em/

Advocacy

I think the advocacy that really matters is what you do day to day, and the relationships you build. I’m not saying that everything from there will fall into place, nor that we should reject all other kinds of advocacy, but I think that is at the heart. I think both Woolls, Weeks, and Coatney’s reading and The Many Faces of School Library Leadership touch on this. They then expand further, like advocating at various levels and in various ways. I liked Kristin’s piece on being able to have an elevator speech ready, it’s really taking that idea of a teachable moment to heart.

I’ve been having a hard time with some of the things we’ve read, specifically in the Woolls, Weeks and Coatney’s chapter. They focus on marketing and public relations of the library based on a business model. The end goal being to have the library the center of the school, so everyone can understand its place and value. While I can’t disagree that advocacy for the library, it’s services and resources, is important, I question the mentality of using the “business model” for the end goal to be the library the center of school. Doesn’t that sound a little pretentious?

I dislike the business model concept primarily because I believe it promotes competition among resources (like student/teacher/parent’s time, money, space) when we are at a time that we should be figuring out ways to better work together and support one another. I feel as if in education we’re on this steep slope of higher and higher stakes. The pressures in education for all involved are intense. I’m not exactly sure how adapting a business model to try and focus everyone on your space is the best option here, nor the best use of time in helping to support fellow co-workers and students.

I’m not saying advocacy is wrong, or that I will never ever advocate. I’m just not certain I completely agree with the ideas presented by Woolls, Weeks and Coatney. But I’m young, and learning. So maybe my hesitancy is just from my own naiveness, and my aversions to the business model in education come from being in a liberal view of education bubble. Also, maybe if the end goal were focused more on the school, rather than just the library as a center, maybe I would feel more comfortable. I’m honestly still trying to figure out how I feel about this.

With that said, I did like the practical ideas presented in The Many Faces of School Library Leadership that allowed for the librarian to be apart of the school community, and greater community. And I appreciate the leadership role that advocacy gives to a librarian. I’m just trying to figure out how exactly I see myself leading that role. Thanks for reading my thoughts.

Edmodo: Part I

I’ve definitely been trying to get my sea legs with this whole online class deal. It’s funny, I use Facebook, I blog, and I use other random online accounts that require reading and writing, but for some reason snapping in line with Edmodo is going a little slowly.  I like that I can come back, and re-read as many times. Or read something, and think about it, and then come back to respond. It gives the time to think and react that I so love. However, I miss the face to face interactions. The smiles, the thinking looks, the chiming in and rapidly building off of one another. I think Edmodo, you stay very on point, with minimum tangents on Benedict Cumberbatch. I understand that this might be a positive, but in some ways I think it’s also taking away from bonding with one another. I think school is not only about practical skills, but also about soft skills, and forming a community. I think being able to take a small tangent helps us further bond and form friendships inside a classroom. I’m curious how this might be achieved on online settings.

Some really great conversations going on about flex/fixed scheduling and the Woolls, Weeks and Coatney chapters. I’m enjoying all the hypothetical questions, and what would you do? They’re fun mental exercises. It also seems that there really isn’t one way we are leaning as a class towards fixed vs. flexed. Which I think is interesting, and I am curious about if this might change over time as we head into our professions.

Book Review

My book review for Klentschy, Michael P. 2008. Using science notebooks in elementary classrooms. Arlington, Va: NSTA Press. It comes in two parts!

Part I: http://Pixton.com/ic:peud61q6

Part II: http://Pixton.com/ic:9dug3vzy

Schedules

Fixed or flexed? Who knew Gantt charts would come back to haunt us from 501?

I think the question about fixed or flexed schedule is interesting. On one hand, I have often seen fixed schedules for elementary students. I myself in elementary had a weekly library lesson from K-5. Mrs. Delancey was able to form a relationship with us all, and that day of the week was always a highlight (so were music and art days). I think fixed scheduling is great, especially for elementary ages. I loved the Hribar article where she discusses using inquiry based learning on a fixed schedule. As a very young, and fairly inexperienced person in the profession, I not only found her article relatable, and comforting, but also thought fixed scheduling might be a nice way to start your career. With trying to plan, run a library  advisory board committee, and buzz around, at least you’d have one thing fairly consistent.

However, I’m not sure if fixed scheduling is the right choice for all grades, and all schools. Is it necessary for middle and high school students to have instruction once a week? Or are there needs more satisfied if we allow a structure that lets them come in and use the library? In the Woolls, Weeks, and Coatney book they talked about creating policies and rules. So if you wanted the library to be available to students not in study hall, you should make up rules for them to follow on the use of the library.

This for some reason sparked a connection with a book I’m reading on the side about the difference in American and French parenting. In France they believe in a strict “cadre”, frame, that are the foundational rules for their children. Within this frame, they give a lot of freedom. In France, it is about balancing the family, teaching a child how to be apart of the rhythm of that family. As I was thinking about libraries, classrooms, students… I soon realized that this same idea would be possible to use in schools, especially in a library. Having foundational rules implemented, and then allow freedom in the library to what and how they want to work, along with demonstrating the rhythm of the classroom/library.

Valentine’s Day!

At our lovely class session last Friday, we were able to all share our roles of the school librarian and our plans for a new and improved school library. I feel so lucky to be in a class and graduate program with such smart, and creative individuals! The diversity was incredible and inspiring. I know who I’ll be calling up if/when I have to redesign a library. I think with the redesign project I would have liked to been able to talk to others about what I was thinking, and what they thought. I know when I’ll be in a school I’ll most likely be the only librarian for that school (or even two schools). The planning assignment reinforced the importance of building networks with others in my profession. That way, when I get to have such a task, I can have a sounding board of my peers.

After we shared, we were given a brief introduction to Edmodo, which we will be using for the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to experiencing the online classroom environment, especially since I’ve never taken a course online before. It will help give a new perspective as both a teacher and a student.

I’ll miss seeing your lovely faces for 3 weeks, but I’ll catch you all online (and some of you at the KidLib Conference!).

photo from: Darian Library http://darienlibrary.tumblr.com/post/43077564349/library-valentines-from-abdo

Collaboration

This week, and I would say the undercurrent of all weeks is about collaboration. I liked how in two of the readings this week they defined the different levels of collaboration. I think until this point I hadn’t really stopped to think about what this buzzword really means. It isn’t just about using library space, and it isn’t just about using the library media specialist as an instructor. Rather, it is suppose to be about inclusion of both teacher, and teacher-librarian when creating lessons. It is about focusing on each others strengths to help create a dynamite learning experience for students.

I think collaboration/co-teaching also opens up the possibility of trying new things, or taking risks. Especially once you have a fairly stable working relationship, I think it would help you lean on each other at various parts when you are trying a new technique. The readings didn’t discuss this much, but it is something I’m increasingly becoming interested in. We are starting to see a trend to have students collaborate together, and learn from failures. So, how do we shape environments where we can show how to learn from failures? Can collaborative teaching, and taking risks, help our students understand? Or is the potential of them not gaining any knowledge because of an error on the instructors part too big of a risk?

These readings made me think about a class I took during undergrad on feminist theory that was co-taught. We had an English professor and a Political Science professor, both would be there for class. Sometimes they would switch off during class, or sometimes one would lead the class discussion for that day, while the other might chime in with clarifying questions to either students or the other professor. At first it was something to get use to. But within a couple of class sessions, I really became to enjoy it. They pulled on each others’ strengths, and I feel that I not only learned a wide array of materials, but also deep meanings. I would love to be able to be apart of something like this.

But how to do it? The question on everyone’s mind! I think we have to eventually just go for it.  Make your presence known, and let people know what you do, can do, like to do, and want to do. I think there is a part of just building friendships.

I enjoyed the Motown analogy of how collaboration works. It’s had me singing “One Fine Day” by the Chiffons for a good two days now.

Library Layout

Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 11.55.59 PM

I had a significantly difficult time with this task. I’m not big into interior design, or shopping for furniture. I like practicality, and the best way I know what is practical is by observing patterns (i.e. Where does my husband always throw down his wallet, keys, and phone?). I figure out where things are situated best by using the space. Then I adjust until it feels just right. That is partly why I wanted to be able to create a space that was both moveable, and practical. The green dots are for indoor plants like fig, and rubber trees. The blue circles are moveable tables for collaborating, or individual study. The pink rectangles between the new materials shelving are couches/arm chairs for lounging. Each of the classroom space, on enclosed with glass, and the other open, both have desks and chairs that are easy to move. That way, if it is not being used by a class, students can use the space. The spaces could also be used for faculty meetings and professional development activities. I also wanted to make a row of desktop computers available, which is that bank of computers near the Tech specialist. I included a fairly large circulation desk. I’m a person that loves to have lots of space when I’m working. By giving my self such a large desk, I can work on things outside of my office (when I get the chance!).

I’m not in love with the design, but it’s a start. Feel free to check out some furniture I’ve picked out on my pinterest board. That was another thing I noticed, how quickly personal taste takes over. It seems things on my board resemble what could be found in an episode of Mad Men. Huh.

Reflections on others’ reflections

Since I was unable to attend Friday’s class last week, I’ve been enjoying reading what everyone has been reflecting on in response to class, especially about the “learning commons”. There have been so many good points made, such as the learning commons is just a new name for the library but not a new concept, and that we should be focusing on creating the whole school as a learning commons, not just one spot. I was a little surprised at how many people were not very into the idea, and then a little nervous about my excitement by it and wondering if my reading comprehension was off.  I didn’t get these vibes that everyone else was getting.

I still stand by my excitement, although I think all points are great and helpful in forming a better idea of the role of a school library, and the professionals that it might be including.  I also think that throwing in new resources, and having fancy chairs, while cool aren’t what makes a great space for learning.  It’s the people, the vision, and constantly working to do our best.

For me, that reading was about collaboration, and the possibilities that might come from working together for helping our students and community.  It was also a reminder of the unique large learning space the library has to offer.

I agree that each classroom should be a hub of learning, and that the entire community should be one excited about all types of literacies. But I think the library space, and specialists like the SLMS are able to offer unique ideas and practices from that of a classroom teacher.  Every system has a heart that helps it keep going, or a control/command center. Why not start giving recognition to the library as that heart and why not lead together?

Maybe I’m a bit wackadoodle, or too idealistic, but I am excited about the possibilities for us, and I”m excited by the thoughtful conversation we’re able to have together. For me, I dream big, so I can push myself to keep inching towards innovation. Does that mean that one day you’ll see me running a learning commons? Who knows, by that point it might be called something entirely different. What matters is what’s the goals, the purpose, the mission, and the people. A name is just a name.  So I’ll take my closing lines from Shakespeare:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Structure = Function, Function = Structure

Wow, I loved this past week’s readings on space in the library.  I particularly was so excited to read about transforming school libraries into a learning commons. A bustling hub of exploration (Um, yes please). That piece in particular spoke to me on many levels. It nicely packaged how I’ve been envisioning our role and the role of the space. Not only that, but I’ve found myself more often wanting to refer to myself as a teacher-librarian more than anything else. The possibilities that arise from a learning commons seem endless. For starters, we’re creating a golden nugget inside of a school, that is based on students. It allows for students to see collaboration among adults, but also collaboration among themselves and with adults. Most of all, I think it opens a door to building a stronger school community.

What stuck out most for me during all of our readings was this idea that we have in biology about anatomy and physiology, Structure = function, and function = structure. The way something is structured will determine how it is used (or not used) and vice versa. Which makes sense why we should so heavily consider how we design our spaces. And while we are designing those spaces, we need to think about what are our goals for the space, a great reflective exercise we should continually be engaging in.

I had a favorite quote this week from School Library Journal’s article, Divine Design in how the library should be treated more like a kitchen:

“When people want to study or create something or chat, they head for the kitchen. People use the kitchen table to spread out their work, to be close to others, to watch TV, or to see what their siblings are doing. In the kitchen, you can drink a beverage without fear of spilling it on a thousand-dollar chair. The same applies to a school library. It’s a working environment; it should have a lot of “appliances” and space to do research, make stuff, and consume a “big information meal.” Now, that’s not to say your library can’t be one of the most attractive spaces in the school. I’ve been in a lot of wonderful “kitchens” that are both hard-working and beautiful.”

I know for me, I spend 98% of my time in the kitchen, and if you catch me at a party, I’m most likely in the kitchen. At a family get together, the kitchen. It’s a comfortable space, it’s homey, it’s “hard-working and beautiful”.

I only hope that when I’m in employed, though I might not get the chance to design my very own library, but that I’ll be able to make changes to help my space feel homey, safe, hard-working, and beautiful for my students, my co-workers, and myself that is buzzing with exploration.