Tag Archives: class reflection

Last Class Reflection-Librarians Always Educate

At the end of the semester, we looked back over what we’ve done and how it all connects. I think that this course, Professional Practice has been one of the most immediately useful of all my SI courses. Today at America Reads I was putting together another screencast and a series of How To guides for how to use the library program that I found for them. As I was working, I made sure to go back and add in steps that aren’t obvious to me but need to be understood. Professional Practice has really given me the tools to think about how do I in my role as a librarian no matter the setting make sure that I’m helping my patrons get the information they need. Also how do I keep myself up to date and I think that’s such a challenge as the world communicates so quickly now and librarians are very connected. Its so key to know who to ask and where to look to figure out what’s going on, what matters and who to listen to.

I think the aspect that helped me the most were all the various hands-on assignments because they showed me places to start. I know that when someone asks me if I know how to run a book club or a one shot workshop I’ll say yes. If the semester was longer, I would have liked to have time to polish some of the assignments but I feel like I have a start and a good base knowledge.

One of the best lessons I took away was making sure that everyone who might come to your library has a way to learn and feel connected. I think this is one of the trickiest parts of being in the world of public libraries and one of the most important things. Libraries have to be safe and welcoming.


Filed under goals and career, professional practice reflection

Reflections on Twitter and the Webinar

Class this week was rather short so we could have time to work on our webinars. We talked some more about Twitter and the pros and cons of it. I really enjoyed hearing all the perspectives on it from people who’d been on before and used it in a new way or brand new users. Twitter is a good tool because its so adaptable, which is why I think its going to be around for a while longer.

Elluminate is rather strange, it works but I’m still not sure how I feel about it. My group did our webinar last night and it went quite well. We created a presentation about how libraries can help the unemployed called From Let-Go to In-the-Know, Michigan Libraries Helping the Unemployed. There’s a link to the archived record on my links column. Since we didn’t have any reading and don’t have class this week, I’m going to use this space to write about the experience of a webinar. I was in charge of the chat and so worked to create a discussion that added to the presentation being done by the rest of my group. This was challenging but one thing that helped was we created questions that were in the presentation to engage the chat. Also since we’re one of the first groups presenting people were patient with us, I think we were the second group. Another webinar was done at 6 pm and ours was at 7 pm. We had a small audience of about four people who asked wonderful questions and seemed quite engaged. I think the balance of not just presenting and not just focusing on the chat is the real trick of webinars. I’m not sure if its something that I would rely on too much, it feels like a great way to open a conference up to people who can’t get to it. I’ll be curious to see how the other webinars go.

I want to share something about my work with America Reads that makes me incredibly happy. I’ve been working there since June of this past year and in that time, I’ve inventoried and cataloged the books. Now things are at the point where tutors are going into those records and adding particular searchable references for the literacy objectives that they work with. In the next few weeks, I’m going to be polishing things and putting together a manual and more screencasts to teach when I’m not there.

At first it was strange to realize that other people were doing what I thought of as my responsibility, but now I see how good it is. I picked a system and set things up in such a way that America Reads has a functioning library and doesn’t need a librarian anymore. Instead they can make the changes that they know are best while knowing I’m reachable to help.


Filed under goals and career, links, professional practice reflection

Class Reflection-Digital Books and Embedded Librarians

Class this week started with a wonderful talk by Paul Courant, who helps to run the Michigan Library. His talk about how complicated the world of ebooks is was really good to hear and understand all the different players. I know as a librarian that many times people get disappointed because they can only see parts of a book, which seems strange when they’re all digitized. My take is that ebooks and digital books are going to keep changing. We haven’t found a good balance between copyright, orphan works and those who wish to profit from books yet. I don’t know where the solution is going to come from, but I’m pretty sure that libraries are going to play a big part.

We then spoke about embedded librarians and what that means in large and small groups. It seems to be one of those phrases that means something different depending on the person and the situation. What I took from it is that an embedded librarian needs to know how to balance the needs of the community they’re in and the library community. This is something that any librarian should know how to do and that its just more obvious for embedded librarians as they don’t spend their time only with librarians. I liked thinking about how their are different ways to be an embedded librarian from on the webpage to in the classroom and that sometimes a balance is the best way to do your job.

Class ended as we found groups to start to plan our webinars. My group is going to be looking at programs for the unemployed and we went from three to four people in our group. At this point, I’m not really sure how its going to end up as the webinar feels much newer and more complicated than the other projects.


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Class Reflection-One Shot Workshop

My first thought about this class was I really wish we’d had more time. Twenty minutes even with the time planned out just feels far too rushed. The five groups covered an array of great topics, two takes on copyright policy from the point of view of K-12 teachers and academic librarians, balancing the library culture and then talk of the Code of Ethics. Kayla and I presented on the issue of accessibility in libraries, which was a great topic since it really got everyone thinking.

All of the workshops were run in really different ways, a few of us had powerpoint presentations as the hear of our workshops while some of them focused on just discussion. I think a combination of the two along with handouts seems to work the best in terms of keeping the audience involved and make sure they’re getting the most from the experience. Since too much of the one or the other can be either boring or end up rather chaotic since discussions can get out of control and take over while slide presentations can veer into the lecture format. I think after this I would be able to run a workshop since it left me feeling confident about connecting with an audience in this format and I learned some new ideas of how to present information.


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Class Reflection-One Shots and Horseless’ Carriages

This class was a fascinating mix of things as it felt more like we had at least three different classes in one. The first one was about how to run a One-Shot Workshop that I found so helpful. I like the idea of thinking of running something in terms of a meal because it provides specific expectations and moments, the other analogy I would use would be a play. Since there you have a beginning where the story is introduced, the build-up, the climax that all things have led to and then the denouement where things are tied together. I plan on taking this lesson with me and using it since its such a great way to think about teaching.

The next part of the class was actually working with our teams from the book club groups to plan what our One Shot is going to be about. Kayla and I decided to focus on accessibility in libraries and focus in on the ADA and their requirements. I think its going to be good since we had an idea for an activity within a few minutes of talking.

After that we moved to having a fascinating visitor through some webinar software, Bobbie Newman, who talked to us about e-books and HarperCollins. The thing that really stood out for me from her talk was the phrase of thinking of e-books as horseless’ carriages and that we need to figure out a new paradigm for them. I keep seeing this come up on my Twitter feed and with a friend of mine who runs a small press that does print and e-books, they require new ways of thinking. Last semester I took a course on the History of the Book and it was shocking to find out just how little the way the publishing industry has changed. I think e-books are starting to make them change but as the Overdrive issue with HarperCollins shows, its going to be a fight all the way. This is an issue that I’m going to keep watching and following since e-books are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the reading experience.

In a slight tangent, I realized that my title for this would work as the title for a Western short story, I’ll have to remember it.


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Class Reflection-Book Clubs

I meant to write this earlier this week, because I enjoyed this class so much. When I was an undergrad and also in my graduate work in New Zealand, I studied literature and so thinking about text is one of my favorite things. Book clubs seem such a wonderful way to take a love of reading good things and take all those thoughtful things we’re taught in English class into the rest of our life. I was in Hearts and there were four groups presenting. We began by talking about Hansel and Gretel and the presenting group gave us an ice breaker question of if we were such and such character what would we do differently? This was a good question because the Grimm version we read had many details that many of us didn’t remember and so we ended up talking about why some choices were made and what would change if this story were brought into the present.

The second group talked about two poems The Tiger by William Blake and Design by Robert Frost, each poem is looking at the beauty of predators and wondering who or what created them. Most of the discussion was around this idea of how do we talk about evil and just destruction in the world. Looking back on that talk after the horrible earthquake and tsunami, I find it even more relevant since the power of nature can be hard to comprehend.

The next group looked at a series of poem from the Card Catalog Poetry Archive by someone named Robin Harris. This discussion ended up being about the whys of the poems and what do card catalogs mean to us as librarians. We talked about how sometimes we can nostalgic for things that we haven’t even experienced but that nostalgia is still a key part of how people think about librarians. I want to go back and look over more of these poems since the medium of an old card seems to carry so much with it.

Last I presented Penelope to Ulysses, Heroide I with Kayla and I found where the discussion went interesting and unexpected. I don’t want to discuss too much here because the meat of it will go in our analysis, but I enjoyed all the connections we found to our world and the past. That really carried through all of the book clubs, how do we take what we read and move it beyond the page. I think this is the power of book clubs, they can find ways to connect reading to the lives of people who might not think about it. I know I read all the time and can’t imagine not reading, so for me knowing about something like this is a good way to show that talking about what you read isn’t something to be left behind in school.

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Class Reflection-Book Clubs and Socratic Seminar

The focus of this class was talking about the expectations for our book club assignment and hearing what libraries do for book clubs and lots of discussion about Socratic seminars. The guest speaker from the Ann Arbor District Library talked about two rather different worlds of book clubs, the book kits and sponsored book clubs of the AADL and a private librarian only book club that works more with themes and what’s going on in YA and teen literature. It cemented for me what makes a book club really work is having something that gets people talking and that the job of the facilitator is knowing how to keep things moving.

All of the discussion about Socratic seminars was fascinating because a lot of it focused on how Metzger’s article didn’t seem realistic and how many factors would need to be in play for what she talked about to happen. It was a nice reminder of how many different environments everyone in that class came from and how we all found the idea of a Socratic seminar interesting but were wary of it in practice. Only one or two people mentioned experiencing one and that was in selective classes where there was a lot of trust between teacher and class. I think that’s also important for book groups, because in a good discussion everyone needs to feel safe to say what they’re thinking. Since if everyone is agreeing about everything, there won’t actually be a real discussion but instead just an echo chamber. So its key for whoever is organizing things to set up a place where all the members are willing to say what they really think. I think this requires really knowing who’s going to be there and the kind of things that make them feel comfortable. So the books about recipes and setting the right atmosphere can help as that might be the right thing for one gathering but not for another. In terms of finding the best balance of questions, I think that too depends on having an idea of where your audience will be approaching the material and getting appropriate material. It seems like that could be one of the greatest challenges, because in a small group, there will be a huge range of reading preferences and levels of education and prior knowledge. Though depending on where the seminar or book club is happening, its possible to have far more control. I’m curious to see how my book club with Kayla goes since we chose something that requires some prior knowledge though we chose one that needed less than others.

We ended by doing a mini Socratic seminar about the article Three Jeremiads and I was struck by how everyone seemed away of being watched. It kind of felt like a perfect illustration of how when you observe something it changes. I wonder what would have happened if that discussion had happened without anyone watching. Would things have got more heated? Would the same ideas have come out? That’s rather speculative, but it still was going through my head as I watched it.

Overall I found this a great class and look forward to a time when I might be participating and organizing book clubs.


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Class Reflection on Transfer and Blogging

I found this week’s class kept moving from various things so its harder for me to easily look back on it. Part of this was due to the fact that we kept breaking into smaller groups to discuss things like the McGonigal survey and then the blogging, which was helpful. It just left me without a coherent sense of the overall feeling of class. I think part of this is also where I was coming from because I’m dealing with some issues with graduation that are coloring all my classes and I’m doing my best to not let them bleed too much into things.

Looking over the survey results and thinking about how they would be useful was a good exercise in how having a good evaluation really does make a difference. Since some of the questions were there as examples of bad questions which made this exercise complicated. It made me wonder how often a speaker is able to bring their own evaluation thoughts to a conference setting or if they have to rely on other people to do it for them. When we discussed how her talk might be used, I found it fascinating how this made three people in my setting go, she had good ideas but she wasn’t inclusive. It felt like the context of her talk colored what we might be able to take from it, which I think fits well into the lesson about transfer. Transfer relies on being able to see how you can take one skill to another arena and the way its taught will set this up. So if McGonigal wanted to make me feel like I was part of the select group of gamers she was talking about, all she needed to do was mention, World of Warcraft is the most researched game but there are so many others. This example can start there but be pulled across other places, I think that would have made it feel more like we could transfer what she spoke about. Though as we also mentioned, TED talks seem to be a particular context and if we wanted to transfer her thoughts taking something that she said elsewhere might have worked better.

We then were in groups to talk about the blogs we read, which I enjoyed because I was finally able to meet my entire cohort. The first thing that struck me was how few of us read the same blogs, I think two or three people read the same blogs but most of us were reading different ones. So the trends that I saw in the blogs I read weren’t in the other blogs. This really seems to back up my own personal experience of blogs in other areas, there are clusters of blogs that talk about the same things and there might be bigger things going on. It just isn’t always easy to spot the trends, though it depends on the cluster you look at. I’m not being terribly clear here because I think while there are some major things going through a lot of Librarian land and Publishing land, people are different enough that not every blogger will reflect on things the same way.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the book club/Socratic seminar assignment because it seems like something that will be a lot of fun. I know that my partner and I already have some ideas and they include taking advantage of works in the public domain.

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Assessment Challenges-Class Thoughts

Once again SI proves why it is such a good program as something that’s discussed in one class is needed in another. During class on Monday night we talked about the challenges of doing good assessments for all sorts of things from a one shot workshop to when you’re teaching a class for a longer period of time. I found that the activities we did were really powerful at showing how tricky assessment is.

We watched Jane McGonighal’s TED talk about the power of gaming and then filled in a survey about it before breaking into small groups where we classified the questions from the survey. Each group found different ways of breaking up the questions and we all found some that weren’t useful like what color was her hair and her shoes, but we also acknowledged that these details are noticed. A major section was about the physical space of the workshop, which can play a key role in how the information is absorbed. In a workshop setting that may only happen once or twice, its key to make sure that the environment isn’t terribly distracting but to figure out that data needs to be collected from other assessments. Formative assessment presents other problems because when something is only happening for one or two times it can be hard to see what change has happened and taking the time to question throughout the process can be tricky. I think assessment is truly one of the hardest parts of education because its the part that students are more willing to remember if its seen as fair or unfair. Yet it is also the one thing that can improve the quality of teaching the most by creating chances for changes that will help everyone involved.

The way this intersects with another course is that for an Outcome Based Evaluation Course, my group is going to be putting together a survey for people being trained in a process to discuss their experiences. So thinking about the types of questions to ask and the formats of how to get valuable assessment data quickly is important. My notes from Monday’s class will definitely come into play as we put together an assessment survey for this project. I think that’s what I enjoy the most about SI, things are always connecting and not in the ways I expect.

I found the McGonigal talk fascinating too, because I see myself as a gamer and its nice to hear someone acknowledge how much gamers can do. Thanks to that talk I’m now following her on Twitter.


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Information Literacy Class Thoughts

I was really disappointed to not be able to make to this class because I found it so fascinating to look at all the different articles my cohort had found and what people think about when that phrase comes into play.

Throughout the week, I realized just how Information Literacy and transliteracy or even metaliteracy is something that depends so much on the person who’s defining it. A friend of mine who’s not at SI but that I know in online pointed me to the article about the Tree Octopus, which I think is a perfect example of how easy it can be to manipulate the idea of who’s literate. The professors in the study gave an assignment that didn’t ask much of the students and told them where to look so that was what they did and they found what they were expected to find. Perhaps if instead the issue had been looked at in terms of how do we get our students to question what we ask of them it might change.

The Uprising is Egypt shows what can happen when people know how to organize and keep saying, this is who we are by using every tool available to them. I feel like somewhere between these two examples is where Information Literacy lives, because critical thinking is something that’s not easily learned.

Yet critical thinking is what I see as what Information Literacy really means, its about knowing how to assess new technologies and be aware of what’s out there and know how to make educated choices for what is happening. Sometimes that can be as simple as saying, wikipedia is a place to start but I shouldn’t use it for all my research or how do I reframe this question to get deeper? I think this is a hard thing to teach to anyone, because its easier to do the lighter research and not go deeper but then the result isn’t as satisfying.

I think as as a librarian, part of why I’m there is to help people figure out not only where to look for the information they need but to think about how they’re looking and where they’re looking. To me that’s really what Information Literacy seems to be about and I’m curious to read reflections from those in class since this was one I wish I had been healthy enough to attend.


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