Tag Archives: si

Ann Arbor Book Festival Manga Mania-Ideas to Realization

The Ann Arbor Book Festival is a wonderful event full of numerous types of programming from writers’ workshops to a vendors’ fair and events for children. Since I first moved to Ann Arbor, I’ve heard of this festival but until this summer, I was never able to participate. When the emails asking for assistance started to appear on the SI list serv, I quickly said yes, I’d like to help especially with children’s activities. The first meeting happened on a Friday morning and from the start I found myself deep in helping to think of ideas for structure about an afternoon activity based around manga and understanding narrative. One of the most fascinating parts of this planning process was the mixture of people involved in the planning, professors involved in Chinese, Japanese and childhood education alongside the tech coordinators for North Quad and students who wanted to help. You can see the wide variety of people involved here and a final breakdown of what the day looked like.

The first stages of creating Manga Mania were full of what at times felt like too many ideas and quite diverse opinions such as that we shouldn’t have too much structure or too little. A challenge happened because this was the first time this particular event had gone on and so there were no expectations of how many or what age of children to expect. The North Quad staff was helpful because they had held events in the community space before so knew what was possible within it and that helped us to build ideas around that. After much discussion, we decided to create activities that would work for all ages but aim for the eight to ten range as by observation those seemed the children most likely to appear. On the day of the event, this was true and our predictions were mainly correct. As we had a sense of the age of the children, we then had to think about the activities, here it helped that a few of the organizers had done events such as this before and knew what worked and the flexibility of the North Quad space.

We decided to create a few different stations; illustration and character creation, pop ups and 3D art, and lastly puppetry. In the end a map was created of these stations and represented them as a participant going from their house, character creation, city hall, storytelling and finally the amphitheater for puppetry, face painting and 3D art. This map didn’t fully map onto the arrangement of the room on the final day but did provide a way for children to be aware of what was available for them to do. Character creation was something that I brought up as an idea for a template that the participants could have with them and as a way to think about characters within stories. As a roleplayer in various mediums, I have a lot of experience with how creating a character can stimulate creativity and understanding of how people and stories worked.

As the focus of this activity was to be about manga and art, we planned to include a large space on the paper for drawing characters alongside some basic traits; strengths, weaknesses, name, age, zodiac sign. On the day of the event, most children were proudly carrying these templates that had been filled in off with them alongside 3D art and spoon puppets. A benefit of the space we used in North Quad is that all of the tables are covered with white board, which meant children could draw on the tables or on papers we ended up providing. This made for a relaxed event as everyone was drawing on the tables no matter their ages and sharing what they created. The day of the event things came together wonderfully as slide shows with manga and other action characters showed on screens along the walls, the artists predrew on some of the tables to make things easier and wonderfully inspiring handouts kept appearing with character ideas. The North Quad space has tickers to show words and alongside the already chosen words, character names, skills and qualities were added.

I spent most of the event at the front door where I explained what was happening and helped people find what they needed. One of the disadvantages of North Quad is that its a confusing building and since we had a clearly marked open door for the Book Festival, I fielded questions from many participants. We did have a small issue with our sign and the door but that was something we couldn’t have predicted alongside the strong wind.

I was also able to say goodbye to most of the participants and see what they had created and give them handouts to take with them so they could continue creating. It was gratifying to see how much every child enjoyed the event. I think next year this event will be even stronger as an expectation has been formed of what it is like and parents and children will remember. For me this was one of the best experiences I’ve had since it helped me to learn what it takes to bring such a large event together and what good programming looks like.

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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.


Filed under professional practice reflection

Learning and Talking about Teaching

The first class of Professional Practice was a real pleasure. I always enjoy thinking about the many possible permutations of librarian, which is one reason I enjoy SI so much. I’m constantly meeting someone who has a fascinating idea of what they’re going to do with their degree that I hadn’t even considered. In this first class, we did two things I found effective and that I will continue to think on.

The first one was talking about various ways of teaching and learning, which is a complex topic. There are so many ways to absorb information and not everyone learns the same way. So a good teacher has to understand that and have at the ready multiple ways to impart the information and make it work for them. The idea of learning through experience and also having a deeper understanding of the information makes a lot of sense but its a difficult thing to do. I always think of my father talking about his time in medical school and how when they learned a new procedure, first they watched it, then they did it and then they taught it. I think this encapsulates how its possible to approach acquiring knowledge from various perspective.

I like the fact that the projects in the class are going to be structured so that we can be constantly thinking about how to share and absorb what we’re learning and thinking about how to translate it to our careers.

This leads into the second part of class when we split off into groups of two and recorded a podcast about what we saw when we looked over the ALA compentencies for our chosen type of library science.

The one I recorded is here and I found it a fascinating exercise since my partner and I found we had a lot in common though we wish to go to different types of libraries.

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Stretching Beyond My Limits

This has been a long and hard semester and its almost done. I feel like I’ve been stretched and pulled in a lot of unexpected and good ways, which I’m going to reflect on here.

First though I want to post a link to the library website that I helped create with Maria, Library Girl and Caroline, Artichocke Mountain High School Library Website.

In our last class of School Library Management, we talked a lot about what’s the next step for heading towards a career as a school librarian and a lot of the advice works for just being a librarian. A lot of the focus was on professional organizations and how many options there are and thinking about what you can get from each one. This is something that keeps coming up in my various classes, the idea of how as I become a librarian, there really is an amazing community with lots of smaller communities out there for me to become a part of. The other wonderful thing we did was do a quick exercise about summing up being a school librarian. In my group we designed a girl scout badge that incorporated books, reading devices and the world since a good librarian can bring you the world.

Now I want to talk more about this semester in general, because it was one where I took a number of classes that don’t properly fit within the definition of my specialization in Library Information Science. I took School Library Management because I think I want to be a youth librarian and it gave me a way to really think and consider what is really key when you run a library or part of library where the focus is on children. This class has stretched me to try new things and really think about what are the responsibilities I take on as a librarian who works with young people.

I also took a course on Archives, because I want to be a well rounded librarian and many times small public libraries will be connected to their town’s archives. This class stretched me the most in terms of the major project in which we had to do a project within an archive to understand the user experience. Yet the problem I ran into was that my topic was not really suited to an archive, it was one of those cases where I could see what I was meant to do but its not really how I think about things. In the end what happened was I created a paper that I’m proud of about Robin Hood and illustrations of Robin Hood, but didn’t really get as much of a sense of working in an archive. I’m thankful for how stretched and thoughtful this class made me and it just reminded me of something I knew before, I’m not an archivist. Not long after I graduated college, I interned in the library of a maritime museum and a lot of the work I did was sort of archival, I was going through a collection of logbooks and putting together descriptions for researchers to use. What I learned doing that job was that I found the information in the logbooks fascinating but I wanted to do more than just describe it, I wanted to write stories and novels based around what I learned in those books. I may not ever be an archivist, but I am grateful for understanding why I’m not.

Another course I took was a required course on technology that had the feel of a survey and a wonderful challenge along the lines of as a librarian you might not see yourself as a tech person but you can be. This connected a lot with School Library Management because so many times the librarian especially a new librarian can end up the technology person. I came out of this class realizing that I can do a lot more with tech stuff than I realized.

The last course I took this semester was a mix for me, Online Communities, because I found that it wasn’t what I expected. Instead of an anthropology course, I found myself more in a course with some looking at communities work but rather more on the tech of working with groups online. The stretching was much less noticeable in this one and I did learn of some good tools.

As I look back over this semester and first year at SI, I feel incredibly tired and accomplished and a little disappointed in myself. I know that I have gained a lot from these courses but at times, I feel like when I stretched, it wasn’t always in the right direction and I didn’t do as well as I might have. SI is a powerful testing ground and place to learn because it asks you as a student to step beyond what you think you know and find out more. I’m glad to have a break and will be curious to see how I change this summer and next year.

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Filed under goals and career, school library management reflection, Uncategorized