Creativity and Divergent Thinking

This post has nothing to do with our readings but just two things I wanted to share.

My friend group from high school, and undergrad that I’m still close with is full of creatives. So, Sir Ken Robinson is a common person that comes up in discussion. I saw this TED Talk a few years back, but the more I learn about education, the more I love this. I wanted to share: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

In the same vein of creativity, Edutopia had an article on divergent thinking, (“thinking outside the box”) and how a student’s ability to do this will quickly decline throughout their school years.  Interesting article on how to help your students keep up their divergent thinking! Wanted to share with you all: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/fueling-creativity-through-divergent-thinking-classroom-stacey-goodman

638 Smorgasbord

I think Templeton the Rat would have loved our class yesterday with all of the juicy topics to sink into, and eat up! Yesterday was a real hoopla of I of a large amount of topics we have discussed so far this semester. I’m happy we took this time, especially near the middle of the term to come together, collect, reflect, and tie up some loose ends.  It was nice to see your all your wonderful faces again!

So what do I remember that  was on the menu?

The Entrees:

  • Edmodo with a side of Online Learning
  • Advocacy served with a piece of humble pie
  • PR with sparklers and sprinkles, fireworks optional
  • Mission Statements served cold on a white clean plate

The Desserts:

  • Branding, the best every time
  • Collaboration, created together, the outcome can be questionable
  • Facilities, eye candy with a dallop of awesome

What seemed to stick to my ribs the most was the idea of advocacy that Kristin presented.  Advocacy is when someone is speaking on behalf of someone else. When we advocate it is done by 1) Advocating for students/teachers and 2) Community members advocating for you.  I think from the readings we got more of the feeling of advocating for oneself. Which we definitely were not on board with, nor does such advocacy really work. We also touched on “We” people vs “I” people in this discussion. Part of me thinks, there needs to be a balance. You need to take ownership for what you do, how you do it, and why you do it, but also give credit where credit is due.  So, I’m becoming more comfortable than I previously was after this class with the idea of advocacy.

The second thing I want to explore some more is mission statements. Especially, I would like to delve into this idea that Kristin brought up of librarians saying, “We’re a classroom too!” but “We need our own mission statement”… Yeah, that definitely is confusing signals we’re sending.  The more I think on it, the more I find I want to align with the school community. I don’t want to be an extra entity, but rather apart of the school community.  I’d much rather have the school’s mission statement, be mine as well, and from there I can create specific connections of how I can help attain this overall mission.

I was also thinking about, what if the school doesn’t have a mission, or has one, but for lack of a better word, sucks? What do you do?

Maybe this is a foot in the door of being involved in bigger things outside of the library. Maybe bringing the idea to the attention of colleagues you could start to help nurture and support change and growth in the community.

Thanks for indulging in my food-references. I’m really hungry.

P.S. Just wanted to say again, it was great to be with you ladies! You all are wonderful!

Mission Impossible to Possible

copyright: Randy Glasbergen from http://www.glasbergen.com/?s=mission+statement

copyright: Randy Glasbergen from http://www.glasbergen.com/?s=mission+statement

The majority of this week’s readings were about the necessity to have a mission statement for your library (and school). The Zmuda reading in particular focuses on the library media center in how it can help complete the mission of the school. Zmuda also stresses that school staff (including the school librarian) should have “candor”, or be able to speak openly of where their our gaps in instruction that are causing the mission of the school to be unmet. Zmuda makes clear and understanding points of the importance of knowing the mission of the school and playing an active role in the school community.

I felt her article focused most on just the overall school’s mission, and how the library can adapt to it. rather than the library itself creating one. I’m currently wondering what it would look like if each classroom, or space of the school had their own mission statements that feed into the over arching mission. Would that be too much? Or would help people focus on the goals, and clearly see how they have achieved these goals?

I found the article on how to write a mission statement to be the reading that stuck most with me this week as I’ve been pondering mission statements, philosophies, and goals. I have often seen very flowery, non-direct, and just plain confusing ones. I enjoyed this article because it discussed the importance of make direct concrete mission statements to help the organization stay on track. Well, that sure makes sense and seems a little obvious. They also stress the need on this idea of not so much a focus on feel-good feelings, but more on actions.

So my mission statement (a work in progress):  Students will leave with skills and understanding that will promote lifelong learning, and be active creators and collaborators in their communities.

The two essays that resonated with me from School Libraries e-book were: You had me at “Hello”, and “One special teacher”.

I enjoyed the You had me at “Hello” because of the importance it stressed on how grabbing the attention of your students at the beginning can make all the difference. It reminded me of the class we had on the presidents, when we read the article on Grover Cleveland, and then developed topics to search. It also reminded me of discussions I had with Jane during my practicum on this very idea.

I also enjoyed One Special Teacher, because I felt it was a helpful way to get your foot into the door to collaborating in your school, especially when you’re new, not only to the school but also the profession. I found the advice helpful.

Edmodo Wrap Up

It seems the general consensus from the last class discussion on advocacy, that we neither dislike nor reject advocacy completely. We all seem to have the sense of understanding the necessity of advocacy, yet I think we’re all hesitant. Our hesitancy seems to come from a variety of places. From how do I do it when I need to be doing other things to how do I do it without sounding pretentious? I think our hesitations are understandable. I also see that we recognize we’re uneasy with the idea, but are willing to discover ways we can advocate in our own way. The discussion reminded me of how thankful I am to work with you all each week. The sensitivity, and attention to detail, along with understanding the larger picture you all bring is not only comforting, but also refreshing. So while we may still feel a bit wobbly on how to advocate and what that looks like, I think we’ll all get there.

My thoughts on Edmodo. I think online learning, and online learning environments are fascinating, but I also find that for myself, they are difficult to become fully engaged in. I think Edmodo has it’s time and place to work effectively. Edmodo allows you to think deeper on topics, and respond. But I found for me personally, that sometimes I had trouble of actually writing my thoughts. Writing seems so much more concrete and everlasting, then just verbally having a conversation with classmates. So when exploring new ideas, and thoughts, I find it sometimes more difficult to have a conversation in writing, than in a face-to-face real time interaction. Overall, however, I’m interested in learning more about online learning and how other students view its effectiveness and use.

“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