I would describe my reading selection scheme as “eclectic” at best, so the idea of putting together a “strategic collection of 15 works” fills me with a degree of anxiousness. I found approaching this task daunting and troubling. I am far more used to being approached by colleagues or students and have them inquire about books and resources that will help for “blank.” From that, I have no trouble pulling together a plethora of titles that would help them accomplish their task.
The other selection criteria that I have typically used, as a teacher-librarian, has been to select books that have recently come into our library. While the vast majority are selected by the library team, we take requests too. Being informed and up to date on the books on our shelves is very important to me as a literacy advocate, as forming that trusting relationship with readers, wanna-be readers and “mandatory, this is for silent reading in class” readers is essential to have patrons come back to the library and utilize our space, for book selection and other activities.
I’ve had a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” experience with weeding our collection over the past year. I have written before about the mammoth task of weeding our library’s collection, amounting to near 1200 books, mainly non-fiction. A list and criteria were provided to me through our district library services and all books over 10 years old and those that had not been circulated for over 3 were highlighted. There were an extraordinary number that fit that bill.
Library staff took the advice that was passed on by more experienced teacher-librarians and undertook the initial part of the process by immediately getting rid of any books that were in terrible condition or were incredibly out of date, before protests could be raised. Out of respect for our staff, I emailed and asked that staff members interested in the process and/or wishing to argue for keeping a selection of books or taking books for their classroom use. In her article, Eleonora Dubicki suggests involving others, namely faculty, in the process of weeding a collection. As I got others involved, there were a variety of reactions about the process, the most common being “why are you getting rid of all of the books?”, while the most frustrating was those staff members that had no response at all as there was clearly no engagement or interest in the way that the space was developing. Continue reading
Our school library learning commons (SLLC) is undergoing a substantial change. Simply put, over the last year there has been interest and encouragement to transform from the traditional form of school library to something that could be truly referred to as a learning commons. To become a place “where student success is the highest priority, and learning objectives are ambitiously pursued through collaboration between teacher-librarians, teachers, and students” (Ekdahl, Zubke, & Contributors, 2017, p. 3), the SLLC must have a collection that will allow students to achieve this success as well as offer support to the teachers who are to guide them there.
In a previous paper, “Community Analysis and Report,” our International Baccalaureate (IB) science curriculum was identified as an area that could be supported by the library, that has the most impact on our students and one in which support has been requested. To reiterate elements of the need in this area from the previous analysis, 80.6% of our 227 senior IB are taking two sciences. In each, biology, chemistry and physics, students must complete an individualized internal assessment (IA) worth 20% of their grade in each course. This is to be a scientific investigation resulting in a 6-12 page write up from about 10 hour of work (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2014). It has also been identified that students require support in choosing an appropriate topic for their IAs and finding sources at an appropriate level to support them in their research.
Before looking directly at the collection itself, there are factors that must be considered for the evaluative process to be fully understood. Continue reading
In considering how to present the aspect of my Final Vision Project, I could not separate all that is being done for and with our School Library Learning Commons (SLLC) and expand upon that. Our SLLC is a project in itself; a project in which the sum is so much greater than its parts. I could not bring myself to divide it back into those parts and discount the energy or the people that have lead to it developing into where we currently stand by developing any one of those singularly.
Perhaps if this assignment was to come before I had invested so much into the development of our SLLC, or if I was inheriting or writing about years of facilitation and growth toward implementing the use of technology, then it would have been easier to focus on one aspect or portion of the technology that is moving us forward. But, this was not the case.
I also wonder if it would have been easier to spend the time to develop an oral essay or screen cast or some such thing that would guide the viewer of this blog in a fashion to be considered more inline with the special topic that it would otherwise be intended. Writing seems to be my natural engagement with thought and communication thereof, so a blog post with the inclusion of multiple aspects of technology and discovery, while time consuming due to my slow typing speed, was the way that I felt that I could best demonstrate my engagement with a Final Vision for our SLLC. Call me old(er) school.
Written from the place of embracing technology and incorporating it in the SLLC, I have to recognize the idea behind LIBE 477 and the Will Richardson reading, Why School? It is both of these things that inspired a holistic reflection on the direction and accomplishments that our SLLC currently has and has implemented over a very short period of time.
To this end, our SLLC is one that plans to move forward with technology and lead others to its advantages by providing opportunity and availability of expertise. I hope that through my Final Vision Project and this reflection, others can be convinced of this and that a solid groundwork has been laid to further its use in our school community.
I will not lie, putting this together has been challenging. Considering where I started, a goodly portion of developing a final vision, specifically for the incorporation of technology, for our school library learning commons (SLLC) hinges on a great many factors. Not the least of which is developing a leadership plan for incorporating technology and taking steps to ensure that it is implemented effectively. No matter how glossy or great technology or its applications are, if no one is interested in using it, it goes nowhere.
Our school has really had consistent internet for a few years. Until very recently, teachers were hard-lining into the network via Ethernet cords into their district issued laptops for the hopes that they would get a consistent connection. Wireless was not even a thing worth considering until they upped the connections through the school and each classroom got its own node, with the SLLC getting two. So, it is only now, with consistent internet and Wi-Fi capacity that I really think that we can implement some of the technology that will make our learning commons and school more effective in what it is supposed to deliver. Continue reading
My father-in-law was a computer geek long before that was a thing. He was with a phone company as they were looking into delivering things other than voices through their telephone lines and was a part of the crew than installed the first, 1.5-megabyte memory system at SFU that was basically a metal rod suspended in a vat of baseball sized magnets.
Before his passing 10 years ago, he was looking into the idea of Linux and getting excited about school districts perhaps looking into that operating system and alleviating some of the financial pressures that were coming along with Microsoft and Apple. Part of this was his research into the One Laptop Per Child initiative that was coming out of MIT. He adhered to the philosophy regarding the necessity of having a tool that was internet compatible and able to operate all over the world. The biggest areas at risk of loosing out were the developing world and the poorer areas of the developed world, creating a technology austerity.
There seems to have been a lot more winding up this June then winding down. There have been some pretty big changes proposed for next year, and staff have been asked to come together for input. There has also been the creation of the school calendar, where all staff members have been asked for input. The latter has affected me more, as the Pro-D chair, the committee has the responsibility to propose dates for the two school-based professional development days. These things have created quite a learning experience for me. Namely, that even with all our tools of communication, having a majority of people offer their opinion and input in a timely way seems to be impossible.
As I have been moving through the Teacher-Librarian diploma course, my professional curiosity has certainly undergone a sort of rekindling and metamorphosis. I have always been interesting in pedagogy, educational philosophy and ideas that would help me make my classroom better. At the beginning of this journey, I was worried about becoming overwhelmed with the information that would come with applying these considerations to the school library learning commons, a place that is responsible for supporting all curricular areas. What I have found is that while there is a plethora of information available, I have had an easier time processing what would be useful to me as it seems to be rooted more in place, all of this information is centered on the learning commons, not floating through the theoretical. Continue reading
This year, I’ve tried to make more of an effort to model assignments in the classroom, particularly the presentation style assignments. As comfortable as the majority of my seniors are with presenting in front of each other, they have developed the safe and true method of speaking in front of a slide presentation. This has them relying on an oral essay style delivery with slides that are there to give the half interested members of the audience someplace other than the presenter to look.
With a bit of creativity, presenters can say more with some well crafted implications than they would otherwise be able through plain language. What’s more is that for the IB students, providing a creative outlet should be seen as therapeutic, giving them a break from straight up academics. Continue reading
I have been at the profession for a lot of years and I sometimes feel that I am no closer to figuring out how to get kids to read than when I started. What I do feel is that I have developed a better sense and explanation as to why we should read, especially as I let go of my snobby notion that only certain types of literature constitute viable reading material.
It was on the hunt of trying to communicate the answer to the question “why do we have to take English?” inevitably posed by a frustrated student, that I came across this video series hosted by John Greene, yes that John Greene. Though aimed at the study of literature, the reasons behind reading can certainly be more broadly applied. Continue reading