in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Posts tagged ‘ist 611’

Thoughts on: Evidence-Based Practice in SchLibs

This week, our professor offered us two different discussion prompts/ideas/guiding questions on Evidence Based Practice.
I reproduce them below, but understand that my thoughts don’t necessarily align with either question, but rather the practice of EBP in school libraries on the whole. My brain decided that’s how it wanted to function today.

What are some of the issues or concerns that might hinder school librarians from engaging in EBP and, in your opinion, are they valid, insurmountable, etc.? What are potential evidence-based strategies that you might use in your school library? (For example, Ross Todd mentions rubrics, checklists, portfolios, etc.)

First, a few statements that may sound a bit harsh:

  • If one’s understanding of EBP is that it is librarian-focused, not student-focused, one needs open up to the greater possibilities.
  • If the thought of implementing EBP is overwhelming, rest assured it’s entirely possible to do so in pieces, and necessary.
  • If you believe school libraries and learning are important, please continue reading! 🙂

What is evidence-based practice? I’ll allow Ross Todd to explain that, in this quote from The Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians which can be accessed here on the School Library Journal website.

“School libraries need to systematically collect evidence that shows how their practices impact student achievement; the development of deep knowledge and understanding; and the competencies and skills for thinking, living, and working. This holistic approach to evidence-based practice in school libraries involves three dimensions: evidence for practice, evidence in practice, and evidence of practice.”

Here’s the beauty of evidence-based practice: it won’t look at the same at school 1, school B, or school 3. The three components that Todd speaks of work together to take in the big picture, apply it to the local picture, and create a local picture. The end result is the ability to say,

This school in particular has been affected/changed/transformed/improved through X, Y, and Z initiatives, which were developed based on this needs assessment based on our local learning community. This team of persons implemented these initiatives and we have witnessed outcomes 1, 2, 3. Our students learned how to do this, that, and the other and successfully reached the learning objectives that were designed to meet their particular needs. These initiatives were developed based on research of best practices, and then applied in specific ways to the needs our learning community presented.”

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say all of that about the projects and learning going on in your school library?!

Perhaps it sounds overwhelming – I can appreciate that. One step at a time! What can you implement into the library program that will turn towards a culture of evidence-based practice, and help incorporate it consistently? Maybe starting with rubrics for projects – and having students help you create those rubrics and engage in their own learning. What about adding in reflective practice on the part of students – starting small with a discussion-style “wrap up” of the project with ideas on what went right, what went wrong, and what went awesome?

The first step to moving towards EBP is to start moving towards EBP. 🙂 Start with analyzing your students needs and determining learning goals. In what ways can you gather evidence to support teaching to meet those goals? In what ways can you gather evidence that the learning goals are being met effectively through both teaching and learning? I firmly believe that simply starting to think about how to incorporate evidence-based practice is the first step to making the transition smooth.

I liked this short summary of areas from which to gain evidence in your practice, from the School Library Media Specialist Eduscapes page.

This means gather evidence from various perspectives (Loertscher & Woolls, 2003):

  • learner level – student gains (i.e., achievement test scores, rubrics, portfolios, attitude scales, checklists, reflections)
  • teaching unit level – lessons and learning (i.e., checklists, collaboration rubrics, evaluation forms, timelines, log sheets)
  • organization level – library output (i.e., center statistics, hardware and software data)

As someone who is about to enter the school library world, I have one more request to make – please share your evidence! Share the successes; share those that didn’t meet expectations; share how you’ve revised; share what you’ve learned; share what your students have learned and how learning outcomes have changed along the way; share how your role as a library media specialist has changed as you’ve learned more; share.

And now, a statement that hopefully wraps up my ramblings coherently and gives us all hope and motivation for the future, that comes to you via Ross Todd (again, from the Evidence-Based Manifesto for School Librarians):

“EBP is not about scrambling to find additional time. It’s about establishing priorities and making choices based on your beliefs about the importance of school libraries and learning.”

Intellectual Freedom & Online Safety

From “Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” – ALA

“Prohibiting children and young adults from using social networking sites does not teach safe behavior and leaves youth without the necessary knowledge and skills to protect their privacy or engage in responsible speech.  Instead of restricting or denying access to the Internet, librarians and teachers should educate minors to participate responsibly, ethically, and safely.”

This statement, I feel, was the clearest and most undramatic that emerged from this week’s IST 611 readings. I particularly appreciate the effort ALA makes to ensure that their guidelines and suggestions apply to librarians and teachers while preserving the right of parents to make the best choice for their child.

One of the questions posed to use this week is:
How important should / will the teacher-librarian be in providing the additional educational component required of CIPA?

The educational component referred to is as such, “The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act directs E-rate applicants to also certify that their CIPA-required Internet safety policies provide for the education of students regarding appropriate online behavior including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and regarding cyberbullying awareness and response.” More information on this revision is available via the Federal Communication Commission 11-125 Report.

What do I conclude based on the above two readings (and numerous others which I shan’t direct you to)? Not only should we be educating our students, as school librarians, in how to act and conduct ourselves on social media, social networks, chat rooms, and other corners of the wide Internet space, but we must do so.

Classroom teachers are often strapped to get through the curriculum within the school year. The additional burden of the Common Core standards implementation is time-consuming and most likely to be a long process for many teachers. In the meantime, and continuing through, we have an opportunity to teach students (as demanded above) in conjunction with our belief in intellectual freedom, our knowledge of information fluency skills and societal demands upon today’s students, and the immediacy with which we must approach our students and begin teaching not only appropriate behavior, but appropriate and useful applications.

What do you think? Do we have time in our school day to accomplish this? Will we be supported if we do? I, personally, think we’re in a great position to take on this role – assuming we find the time to do so.

Podcasting? SURE, LET’S TRY THAT!

This week in my “Technologies in Educational Organizations” class, we’re discussing two not-very-related things: podcasts, and QR codes.  If you’re not certain how I feel about QR codes…we could discuss it, or…

So, while I read about QR codes and did try to think about them (see above result), I went with podcasting!
Here are the instructions, which I… somewhat followed. (Oops?)

Try creating your own 1 – 2 minute (approximately) podcast. You can make it a news podcast, a booktalk podcast, or anything that you think could be one in a series of regularly distributed podcasts. This could be something you would use on your own (as in a personal web site or a blog) or something that could be a regular feature on your school’s library web site.

Okay, I said. I can do that. So I downloaded Audacity for free, because I don’t think I have sound recording capable software on my computer [note: I most likely do, but I figured why not get the most out of this task and learn something new to boot?]. And then I realized Audacity has a bit of a steep learning curve — while it doesn’t seem hard to use, I think it has approximately a bajillion functions which I ignored for the time being. I learned:

  • how to add a time track
  • how to add a blank audio track onto which to record
  • how to figure out the whole moving-the-time-forward-and-backward thing
  • how to add an audio track to play in the background
  • how to open the sound mixer for the two tracks

And then I went to town, as I am wont to do. Now, in the context of the assignment, I will explain: my theme, if you will, is a regularly occurring podcast in the vein of “Learn Something New”. The facts are thus:

  1. I am a librarian.
  2. I like learning new things.
  3. I like talking about the things I have learned.

So this seems like a grand opportunity! Admittedly the audio isn’t that great — I’m going to try to figure out more of the “clean up” tricks in Audacity soon, but having an embedded webcam in a laptop that you use many hours of the day means it picks up sounds you don’t want. ALAS. Additional note: I had to search for web-based storage space for a .wav/.mp3 file. WordPress requires you to upgrade in order to upload those sorts of files. I used mediashare.com’s free account this time…but I don’t know what I’d do if this was a regular sort of thing. Any suggestions?

Enjoy the Americana! 😉

Note: Click the link. Download the file, and open it in Windows Media Player or whatever it is you use for audio files. And please let me know if you have trouble with this. I didn’t realize that hosting/embedding/etc., would be such an issue!

http://www.mediafire.com/?cmkf1km6fgv0c1i

To Blog Or Not To Blog (In Schmedia Land)

Imagine that you are designing a web site for your library (this will be an actual task in Assignment #2 so this is a good time to start thinking about it). Reflect on how a blog might be a tool you could use to support the library program. Would it be a blog of your own? Or one that involved students? Some combination? What aspects of the Common Core State Standards and the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner might your blog address? If you choose this topic for reflection, please post to your blog and return to this thread to let us know it is ready; include the link.

If a blog is going to be part of the library website, I think the two should be integrated. What do I mean by ‘integrated’? I mean that snippets of blogposts should appear on the homepage of the website, to entice viewers to click through and read more. I mean that some of the time, the blogposts should redirect readers to important/new/updated/useful information on the website itself. Having a blog that isn’t in any way linked to what is going on in the library or the digital library presence is a no-go!

Whether the blog would be student-curated, librarian-curated, or curated by a combination of people, would rely on a few important things that have come to mind.
1.) The age-level of the students in the school. Can they help, or no?
2.) The time needed to maintain the blog. Is it going to be a source of news, or a constantly-updated place to share information of all sorts? What is the purpose of the blog? Who is the intended audience? What informational needs do they have, that will be served by the curation of a blog?

To be honest, I wouldn’t start or begin implementing a blog into my library program until these concerns and questions had been addressed, analyzed, and answered. Building a blog audience is difficult. Starting from scratch – ALSO difficult. Managing your time in regards to blogging – difficult. Finding the mental wherewithal to write things that other people might find interesting. (See also: preaching to the choir is easy; who are you preaching to?)

I think, in a high school setting where I felt I had the necessary support from both the school system and my students and teachers, I would implement a blog as a necessary and vital component of my digital library presence. I would most likely take on the task of sharing news and important information (like, yo, new databases! Check ’em out! or perhaps something slightly more professional). If I could, I would build a blog team of several students to help me out in this endeavor. If the numbers of students I see taking multiple high schools is any indication, they might have some free time.

The benefits for my student blog team:

  • diversity of perspectives. Maybe a 9th grade student wants to share what’s going in class and how they’re using the learning commons, a vastly different experience from a 12th graders.
  • an opportunity for the students to collaborate with those they wouldn’t normally encounter during the school experience. (Oh hey, AASL standard 1.1.9: Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding. and responsibility 1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.)
  • a voice and platform that the students can use to announce “I learned this awesome stuff and here’s how it relates to you, whoever you are, blog reader!” (Check it out. AASL responsibility 2.3.1 asks our students to Connect understanding to the real world. And AASL skill standard 3.1.5 asks them to Connect learning to community issues.)
  • Blogging, especially on a public platform accessible through the learning commons website and available via RSS subscription, allows students to “Contribute to the exchange of ideas within and beyond the learning community.” (Go figure. That’s AASL responsibility 3.3.5.)
  • My students would demonstrate an ability to –> “Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.” (AASL 4.1.7, conveniently enough.)

If it isn’t enough for you…

Common Core, Reading Informational Texts, Standard 6, Grades 9/10:
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Common Core, Speaking and Listening, Standard 5, Grades 9/10:
Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

So yes, I think I’d like to have a student blogging team regularly writing under my supervision and direction in the library. Will that happen? See the caveats above; I can’t necessarily predict everything!

What about you?
Blog with reckless abandon? Ban blogging? Thoughts?

Someone Convince Me That Goodreads is…Fun.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a technology hater!  I am occasionally a late-adopter. (Okay, all the time). I use a cell phone that doesn’t even have voicemail capabilities, though I’ve realized that’s a little problematic…but haven’t decided to do anything about it. Yet. So, taking IST 611 is really good for me because not only am I being exposed to new technologies, I’m being re-exposed to technologies that I’ve tried and found wanting. I’m a harsh critic, or something.

We’re talking about social bookmarking this week. Diigo, Delicious, and Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. I have tried a few of these. I have an account on Goodreads, which I created of my own volition and an account on Shelfari that I created under compulsion. I’m not particularly drawn to either of them. A few quick reasons why I’m just not feeling it:

  • I don’t really care what other people think of my reading choices.
  • I’d rather discuss reading, literature, or interests in person, not on a social network with random strangers. (Ignore the part where this contradicts my like of twitter. Twitter is for ALL subjects, I justify…)
  • I read because… I want to read. Not because I want to necessarily talk about reading. Reading is, occasionally, my escape from people.

Now. That’s a pretty limited list. Your job, dear blog reader, is to convince me that Goodreads/Shelfari/LibraryThing is useful and FUN. Because I’ve tried, time and again, and just not found the ‘fun’ factor. Is the fun factor something I’m missing? Or is it that the social network/social tagging/crowdsourced talk-about-what-we’re-reading stuff just isn’t that great to begin with?

Tell me your experiences. Convince me!