Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Neil Gaiman's Reading Agency Speech

Sarah Crouch

Gaiman, N. (2013). Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

A friend recently shared this speech with me, and I had to share it with you guys. Neil Gaiman gave the Reading Agency annual lecture on October 14, and his main thesis was that libraries and reading fiction are essential to a bright future. After admitting his bias towards reading and writing, Gaiman goes on to explain that childhood illiteracy has been shown to correlate with criminality. He posits that the only way to get kids to read is to show them that it is fun. And that means not restricting the types of books that they read. Gaiman says that fiction is a “gateway drug to reading,” fosters empathy, and inspires innovation.

He then waxes eloquent about the benefits of the library, and I love it. I’ve included my two favorite quotes below:

“I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.”


“A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a haven from the world. It's a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.”

Take the time to read the article or watch the video. It’s well worth your time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tips for Designing Learning Spaces

Libbe, Phyllis
Johnson, C. (2010, December). Open the windows: Design new spaces for learning.
       Learning & Leading with Technology.

This article speaks to educators in designing learning spaces. Although it speaks broadly about classroom design, we teacher librarians can take the advice offered here when considering transforming our library media centers to a more open physical learning commons. There is so much in this article that aligns with the PLC design we are learning about and striving for. Here are some examples that seem easily doable to me:
  • Give students places to exhibit their work as if it were in a public gallery, then invite the public to come in and have a look . . . [the author suggests displaying in a public area, but interestingly never mentions the school library].
  • Most school environments, especially the furniture, are designed to limit students’ physical movement . . . take into account the needs of growing bodies . . . Give students furniture that lets them twist and lean safely. The movement will increase their ability to concentrate [furniture consideration is high on the list in the school library media transformation].
  • Creating a learning space that’s safe and comfortable to navigate in socked or slippered feet offers an opportunity to use a physical act--the taking off of shoes--as mental preparation for learning [I admit, this is odd to me, but we are seeing a lot of it in contemporary library design].
  • Increasing daylight in classrooms has been shown to cut down on absenteeism and improve test scores [it has been repeatedly recommended in other library design articles to have good lighting, both artificially and naturally].
  • Injecting a learning space with playfulness and humor creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere [isn’t one of our transformation goals--to create a space for play?].
  • Make sure a classroom has the capacity to link into learning opportunities beyond its four walls--even beyond Earth itself [this addresses access to the internet and being global].
  • The rate of technological advancement is increasing exponentially. When designing schools, don’t let today’s reality limit tomorrow’s possibilities [this addresses our need as teacher librarians to be forward thinkers prepared for changes by keeping up through daily practice of reading].

Johnson (2010) speaks of the transformation we seek when he says, “It’s time to envision a new model of learning where students, teachers, and the community can take advantage of the wide range of emerging technological tools in spaces that foster creativity and collaboration in a safe and secure environment” (p 15). Speaking of being a forward thinker; this article was written over three years ago.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Edmodo: A Great Tool for School Librarians

Edmoto: A great tool for school librarians. (2013). School Library Monthly, 29(8). Retrieved from:

Edmodo is a great way for librarians to being their school library into the 21st century. It takes us from the basic one-way school library website with the typical research tools, links to databases and pathfinders, and lists of books for suggested reading, to school librarians interacting with their students in and out of the library. It also provides a way to collaborate with and reach teachers that may not use the library otherwise. Perfect for a virtual learning commons!

Web Tools

Tim Lubic

A wikipage full of great webtools and ideas for using them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Web's Secret Trackers

Sarah Crouch

Sherwin, A. (2013, October 26) New Mozilla app reveals web's secret trackers. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11146583

I've always wondered about who is really watching me online and how often I'm being watched. A new add-on for Firefox will reveal third-party activity on websites. The add-on, called Lightbeam, would show the source of advertisements and would provide a graph showing unintentional interactions with third-parties. Mozilla made this move in order to allow more transparency and was apparently under pressure to do so. While I would be a little nervous to "pull back the curtain" and find out who is watching me, I know that many people, myself included, are going to be interested in this add-on.

Privacy concerns are one of the many reasons why solid instruction in internet safety and information literacy is so important. Many of my students are completely unaware of what cookies are or how to disable them, but they are very active online. Helping students create a Personal Learning Environment with clear separations between personal internet usage and professional/academic internet usage could also help students learn how to manage their lives online. If students learn how to safely use the internet at school, they are more likely to do so at home.

Monday, November 11, 2013

How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension?

Nicole Myerscough

Jones, J.  (2013, November 5).  How does electronic reading affect comprehension?  Retrieved from http://dmlcentral.net/blog/john-jones/how-does-electronic-reading-affect-comprehension

The brain prefers paper? Screens drain mental resources? I understand the argument and concern regarding comprehension with electronic devices, especially as popular as they have become within the past few years. I think it's more that weren't not as adapted to electronic over paper. I believe screen drain my eyes more than my mind. The debate of electronic vs. paper is ultimately is a personal preference.

The article presents an interesting argument and examples their perspective using text message sizes to measure comprehension and a very outdated electronic screen vs. paper comprehension reading test study. I think it's really important in the LIS community to recognize that 2005 is not current enough in regards literacy studies with mobile technology... screen resolution was horrid compared to what we have today. I preferred paper over electronic back then too.

Tech Troubles in Schools

Sarah Crouch

Schwartz, K. (2013, April 11). Finding solutions for tech troubles in schools. MindShift. Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/04/finding-ways-to-boost-broadband-for-schools/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kqed%2FnHAK+%28MindShift%29

Katrina Schwart’s article covers a survey conducted by Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) which revealed priorities and weaknesses of school IT leaders. Most are focusing on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, assessment readiness, and broadband access. A large weakness of most school IT departments is that they are underfunded and understaffed. The new requirements of a digital age with matching digital Common Core assessments are too much for the average school bandwidth.

The article quotes CoSN as launching a Designing Education Networks (DEN) initiative to present best practices, advice, and tools for school IT leaders. The initiative was supposed to release a website in June of 2013, but an online search for the DEN website or a DEN subpage on the CoSN website proved fruitless.

I believe that an initiative like DEN could be very beneficial for schools. I know that my school only has two IT staff members, and only one is full-time. Our school district is vastly unprepared to begin phasing into online testing. We can barely handle the current online traffic. The DEN initiative could provide much-needed support for our tiny IT department to request funds from the school board.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Social Media is Being Used in Educaiton

Nicole Myerscough

Lepi, K.  (2013, October 29).  How social media is being used in education. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/social-media-in-education/

I found this article/pictograph regarding the use of mobile devices and social media, and how the use of them is lower than expected in academic institutions as compared with that of personal social media use. The charts display an overwhelming increase in the use of social media and specify which ones are most popular. Concerns are express regarding the division in social media between personal and professional life. Also, I found it interesting to view the top three privacy concerns which is likely the greatest factor as to why social media has yet to become mainstream in higher academic settings.

I will agree that I have minimal online presence with professional social media networking sites (i.e. Linkedin), and I'm sure I'm not alone with the feeling that I'm tired of creating new accounts and profiles. I recently joined Research Gate and joined Yammer for a charity I work with. Unfortunately, social media can at times feel overwhelming as if it's more of an expectation and not a choice.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Geographic Locations and the Learning Commons

Brook, Tiffany

Pace, M. (2010). North Carolina Libraries (Online), 68(2), 15-17. Retrieved on November 11, 2013, from http://web.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f9b6d921-965c-427b-a36b-c06c27b0b715%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=119

While many articles discuss libraries in the abstract, this discussion is important because it provides a concrete example of how changing physical and virtual spaces at the library effect school culture. In this example, the learning commons was built in the middle of school life, literally in the middle of a residence hall, dining areas, movie theater, and gaming arena: “With this space, the staff has the opportunity to take their expertise and resources directly to where the students live – where they eat, sleep, and play” (p. 15). This library functioned as a satellite library but because of its unique location, it truly became a part of students’ everyday lives. This library’s endeavor demonstrates the attempt to integrate academics with student recreation and life. Interesting article that also addresses the library’s integration with students' virtual lives.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

THE Journal - Transforming Education Through Technology
Open Educational Resources | News
Getty Museum Developing Arts Education Resources for Khan Academy

Posted by Rene Hohls

This is just a very quick resource explored by THE Journal - what I found interesting though is the partnership between the Getty Museum and the Khan Academy and their shared use of OER as the platform for the development of the art education items they are collaborating on.

Talk about modeling the behavior! 

Read more at http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/11/07/getty-museum-developing-arts-education-resources-for-khan-academy.aspx?=THEEL#eIj8l7Sooyb8rbss.99

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Common Core's Effect on Publishers

Jessica King

Rosen, J. (2013, October 25). Publishers respond to common core. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/59720-publishers-respond-to-common-core.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=a7952de79a-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-a7952de79a-304458421

            This article by Rosen offers a look at what individual publishers are doing to meet the increasing needs Common Core is presenting as it is being implemented in many of the states. It is interesting to see the effect this change in curriculum focus has on the industry as a whole; in terms of what books are going to be published, how they will be marketed, and even new authors that are published. Little Brown is working with educators “to develop two-page teachers’ guides that focus on how a book aligns with the standards.” A majority of the publishers, however, are creating resources on their sites for educators to identify the title and to give ideas on how to use them in the classroom. Each page that is discussed is given a link to that page, making this a great resource for any educators that are looking for that information. A remarkable quote from one of the publishers is that, “ ‘a selling point for picking up a new author is certainly that he or she has Common Core knowledge and/or experience.’” This is not something that all publishers talked about but the fact that it is now being used as a determining factor in whether or not a new author gets signed on is startling. I did like that Rosen chose to end the article with a quote from Simon & Schuster Canada, who do not plan to alter the books that they have been publishing. For them this will continue to be about bring great literature to children, whether or not it is ‘Common Core aligned.’