Tag Archives: standards

Reading Reflection-Constantly Learning

There wasn’t class last week so I didn’t have a class reflection. Instead I participated in a couple more webinars and found them all fascinating. This project really brought out the best in all of the groups.

For this last reading reflection, I’ll be reading three articles and then after class tomorrow, my final reflection will be on the class as a whole.

The first article is called The C’s of Our Sea Change: Plans for Training Staff, from Core Competencies to Learning 2.0 by Blowers and Reed. This article looks at how the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County trains their staff and keeps them constantly learning which seems so key. As librarians if we’re not learning all the time, how are we going to encourage our patrons to be more curious about the world. I like that this article starts off with the basic challenges of knowing how to deal with technology and making sure that the staff understand what they’re doing so they can help the patrons. In my own reference work, I know I sometimes am unsure what things I should fix and what I should call for help with since I know how to fix some printer problems but not all. And sometimes the computers do things that I have no idea how to approach.

The author’s discovery that classroom teaching didn’t fit the Web 2.0 tools makes a lot of sense and I find the fact that they worked to get their staff discovering on their own hopeful. It seems such an intelligent way to get people involved in technology and help it become part of their life so its not a strange thing to talk about with someone else. I’m not surprised to read about how a community was created, blogging amongst a circle of people is so powerful and how I’ve found many of my best friends and connections online. This article brings together some wonderful ideas for using free tools to help staff stay connected and learning.

Next I’ll be reading an article by my professor Kristin Fonticharo called Planning an Online Professional Development Module from 2008. The first thing I’m struck by the when needed approach sounds like it makes sense when you’re in a small environment where there is time to train and help. Sadly with budget cuts that time doesn’t exist as much so other solutions need to be found. By using the 23 things created by Blowers and Reed above as inspiration but shifting them to fit a school, a good one was found. Its so inspirational how quickly ideas are passed around in the world of libraries. We maybe a small world in comparison to other professions but we talk to each other. The fact that the teachers asked for chances to do the module when they have more time speaks to just how effective it is that it can be revisited.

The last article for this week is by Semadini and is from last year called When Teachers Drive Their Learning, which seems like the natural place to go after the prior articles. Those looked at how to help get librarians and teachers learning on their own through a module. This program from Wyoming is called Fusion and is built around the idea that teachers will be more active in their professional development if they have control of when and what they learn. A number of options are created and then teacher facilitators work with small groups of teachers to help them learn what they want. The idea of small group learning makes a lot of sense and seems as if it would provide a lot of flexibility to get the teachers together. It seems like this plan is built around creating a comfortable environment for teachers to learn from each other, which seems like the best outcome. As it gets rid of the problem of teachers only focusing and worrying about what happens behind the closed doors of their classroom. The addition of a money incentive makes sense to help get the program moving as it creates extra work for the teachers but its hopeful to hear the teachers note how they enjoyed the program for its own sake.

Professional Development is a constant challenge in any workforce and I think as librarians, we need to be constantly pushing ourselves. If we don’t then we won’t be able to provide ways for our patrons to discover things they might not consider. I like the idea of sharing learning and having constant education going on through online modules that helps librarians connect with teach other.


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Learning Environments and Assessment

This week’s reading is chapter 6 of How People Learn called The Design of Learning Environments, which begins with a brief history of how education has changed in the United States from rote copying to critical thinking. I’ve always found this topic fascinating and it was my favorite part of the Education class I took my first year as an undergraduate, because the ideas of what needs to be taught and how can really change so much. Also I’ve always been struck by how American education is moved so much by trends and new information, it seems faster than other parts of the world.

Learner-centered environments seem like they would be the most effective for early in education, because they make the educational place safe for students that might be wary of it. It could be a way for students without much experience of a student environment to feel as if their knowledge is important and help them have ownership of what’s going on in the classroom.

Knowledge-centered environments on the other hand focus more on making sure the students truly understand the information on multiple levels and can manipulate it on their own. The examples presented in the book focus on math and science because the distance because understanding in these disciplines is trickier than just knowing. This part of the book made me think a lot about how the AP exam in science is transforming so that the focus is on students being scientists as opposed to just memorizing information. I really like the phrase “Learning the landscape” to describe this type of teaching because it shows how important it is to have the students be oriented and be able to explore the discipline on their own terms.

Assessment-centered environments have two types of assessment-formative which is what I think of as feedback and happens throughout the process of learning and then summative assessment that occurs at the end to see what the student has learned. The current public education system seems built on summative assessment versus formative because it is usually the easier thing to assess, do you know this versus how well do you know this? It seems like there needs to be a place in between which balances both types of assessment and mixes them in with all the other types of learning environments so that students can know what they’ve learned. Formative assessment is something that I feel rather personally connected to because I know that one of the ways I learn best is by constantly talking about or writing about what I’m doing. This helps me see where I went wrong with one thing and how I can best fix it. I feel like a good way to work formative assessment into a program is to at the beginning ask students how they learn and what helps them and then this can be worked into things. The only thing is that this requires more time than most teachers have to dedicate to assessment, which is a shame.

Community-centered environments make so much sense, because they acknowledge what’s always been true, school is a huge community and each classroom has its own feeling. For four summers, I was part of a summer camp that worked as an intentional community with group meetings four nights a week and a everyone working together to make things work. Each summer was incredibly different depending on the attitudes that the campers brought in and how they interacted with the set norms and constantly changing norms of the community. This experience taught me how difficult it is to create a safe and happy community for everyone, but that it is so important and I carry those lessons with me. In a classroom, the idea of creating a community must tie back into the learner-centered environment because the norms of communities can vary so much and a teacher needs to be aware of what is expected of their students outside the classroom.

I like the use of the word Alignment to talk about how all of these environments and assessments need to be brought together in a classroom and a school. This seems like it would be the toughest part of being an administrator, getting inside each classroom and making sure that every teacher is working along the same lines and every student is having their best experience.

The second reading for this week is by D. Royce Sadler and called Formative Assessment and the Design of Instructional Systems from 1989.

I like how Sadler lays out the idea that the power of formative assessment is that is can help students get the same idea of quality as the teacher, this is an effective way of putting across that students need to understand why they’re learning and how. Sadler divides this into three distinct parts the student has a concept of a the goal or standard needed, compare the actual performance with the standard and then closing the gap between the two so the student can reach the goal. This is a good way to describe the process of learning, you figure out what you need to know, try and learn it and then figure out where you’re wrong and correct it.

I’m struck by the idea of how teachers carry around standards in their head which can work for or against students along with this idea of unconscious ranking, because it points out how teachers think as they grade. The balance to this is providing examples along with descriptions for students so that there’s an objective standard for a student to work towards. The rest of the article talks about the challenges of bringing these ideas into the classroom since evaluation and assessment can vary depending on the subject and the teacher. It seems as if the take away from this article is that teachers need to be aware of what they’re really trying to teach and how to clearly get that across to their students.

Both these readings really point out how difficult assessment is, because so much of it relies on what is being taught and what the end goal for the learner is. A teacher needs to be aware of so many factors as they construct assignments and how they assess them and how they relay the the criteria for success to their students.


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Putting Ourselves and Our Libraries Out There

Empowering Learners choice of the word Advocacy to anchor this section about making sure that both the school, community and those outside it are aware of what the library does and can do is powerful and effective. Also the mentions of various types of evidence based ways to show what the library is achieving reminds me of our library defense paper. One of the thoughtful choices that was made was in how the evidence based things weren’t just test scores but products like student webpages. I think this addresses an important part of the education world where it can be so easy to fall back on certain type of assessments since that’s what brings in money and support. Other types of assessment can be powerful, but I think it requires a librarian who knows how to explain and how just how key they are, more than just using the shiny tech, but having real thoughtful products.

I found the Elevator Speech article captured just how key it is to be able to quickly get everyone on the same page as you are especially with how rapidly the world of libraries is changing. The exercise from MAME sounded like it was interesting, I would be curious to know what were some of the speeches that people came up with.

In terms of the other article, I was slightly surprised by how defensive the speeches come across as. I heard in them a lot of this is what I’ve done, aren’t I busy, just point me in the right direction. This seems to be the difficult balancing art of school librarians, how do you say what you can do without seeming to push or brag or cross that line between helping and being in the way.

The AASL Toolkit for Advocacy is a wonderful resource, I like how its organized with explanations and clear lists of check with these people and make sure they know this. Just reading through it was calming since it was very clearly saying, here’s a plan and you’re not alone.

My favorite part of the AASL definition is “turning passive support into educated action”, which sums up advocacy so well since its positive and full of action. I like the idea of saying, we know you want to help and support us, here’s how. Same with marketing, its really about serving the community best with the most thoughtful use of resources.

In the other toolkit, I love the idea of you’re a student advocate, I think its something that librarians and teachers can’t hear enough off since its empowering and true. I found this toolkit even more useful than the other one for how it lays out so clearly why and how to be an advocate.

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This seems to be the week for discussing ethics, we spoke about them too in my archives’ class. That professor used a phrase that I hadn’t heard before connecting with ethics, but makes a lot of sense, risk management. Ethics are about defining the expectations and risks that we’ll take in our chosen professions and one of the fascinating things about being in a library school is seeing just how diverse those risks are. So a librarian or an archivist is worried about privacy as is a school librarian. Yet a school librarian also is concerned about the mental and physical safety of the young people who are their charges, which is not really looked at in any depth in the ALA Library Code. So the challenge is to understand how to educate and protect without protecting too much since there’s always the risk that if you shelter someone so much than they won’t learn yet if you don’t pay attention, things like bullying happen. I think one of the real ideas that came through the lecture is how much schools are rushing to keep up with all the changes happening in the world of social networking and just trying to understand what students are doing online. As we read through the agreement for using the technology in the school, I kept thinking about how do students perceive these documents when they’re old enough to read them, is it just a thing to use the computer or more.

Another issue that arose in both classes was copyright, but taken from two very different angles. The archivist wonders about what they can publish while the school librarian tries to protect student’s copyright and also make sure that things from online are respected. Before these classes, I hadn’t really made the obvious connection that copyright is literally the right to publish or reproduce something. I knew it but talking about it in depth was quite enlightening especially as I realized how over time, its been extended and strengthened. One of the ideas about copyright that struck me was that the idea was to make it easy to share ideas, but that’s much harder than it seems. I think its a bit like collaboration, everyone agrees, yes, ideas should be accessible and usable by everyone, but in theory everyone wants their cut of the pie. In terms of students, I think that this importance of ownership does get forgotten sometimes, because schools want to show off their students’ work. Now this makes a lot of sense, but its also key to teach students that this is your work and you can claim it, it might not have a copyright symbol next to it, but its still yours. I was curious how copyright is taught and discussed in classrooms? Does it all revolve around the mighty citation or is there more to it especially when students are doing creative work?


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Our Duties and Responsibilities as Librarians

Reading through the Library Bill of Rights, I’m struck by how vague and righteous the language it is, I think its the use of all the shoulds that gives the impression of moral rightness. Also its interesting that the language focus is on things that should not be denied and not be proscribed. The implication is that this will insure that things will be provided, but the use of should so much is kind of worrying, it comes off with a sense of we know what’s right for you even as we’re saying that we’ll provide things for everyone.

Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this particular interpretation quite powerful as it balanced the times when its important to listen to an individual child, their parents and when to trust your own judgment. The line especially about how inappropriate use shouldn’t be a reason to completely stop using online references but instead be looked as as behavior issues, this sounds as if a teacher pointed it out. Also I find the focus on parents teaching their children to use social tools slightly odd since that seems like something that can be combined with online learning and needs a balance between the school and the home education. My worry would be that many parents don’t know enough to teach their children about social skills yet it could also work as a chance to teach both parents and children if a workshop could be put together. This entire interpretation seems based around the AASL standards for making sure that online tools and technology are used to enhance education and inquiry.

Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I found this interpretation greatly reflects that the idea that libraries are powerful bastions of intellectual freedom and should be a safe place to create. Combining this with the idea that education is also a right puts libraries in a important part of society and what I find interesting about this interpretation is how it doesn’t speak to the complications of the US public education system. It seems like school libraries especially have an important part of this discussion and yet aren’t mentioned instead the focus is on education and libraries in more general terms. It would be nice to have some more detail in there since that seems like it would make the interpretation more effective.

Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
I think the thing I find most interesting about this interpretation is the line about how challenged materials must stay in the library, that seems like very clearly a librarians’ way of thinking. It allows people who haven’t read the book that’s being challenged to seek it out and understand things better and keeps the process fairly open. I wonder though how often this happens during the reality of a challenge. The two key parts of there needing to be a hearing and that if the book has been put through a selection process, it has a measure of protection, this moves again to the idea of just how much responsibility a librarian holds to make sure that the materials they choose and appropriate for their community. That seems to be the theme that runs through the Bills of Rights and the interpretations.

Empowering Learners does a good job of interpreting the Library Bill of Rights into powerful methods of putting them into use and moves them out of the language of ethics into reality. I like how much of the focus is on paying attention to your colleagues and community to make sure that what’s in the library is appropriate for them. I think this is the trickiest and most important part because while it can be easy to say, I think this is right, what counts more and is harder is going, this isn’t the right thing to do for this community. The hard part is figuring out when this becomes I’m doing to protect as opposed to I don’t think you’re ready for this yet.

In the Woolls’ reading, I quite liked her balance for filters of creating an agreement between parent and child for use of internet access. Since this is something that can be adjusted and discussed as the child grows older so there isn’t one person in control and parents are aware of what their children are doing and can continue the conversation of what’s safe to do online and what isn’t at home. The section on ILS makes me think about Chris Harris and how he created his own system because the ones that were out there didn’t do what he felt was important. I was curious just how many types of ILSes are out there and how much choice does a librarian have in terms of what they have since putting in a new one must be as great an undertaking as redesigning the library. A selection policy seems to be a powerful document to have, because it creates a form of defense against challenges for a librarian along with a clear understanding of their thinking. The rest of the chapter seems like a reflection of what we talked about in 624 in terms of thinking about what’s truly appropriate in terms of materials and technology, that so much of what counts is what’s appropriate for the community.

In the article, one of the first things that strikes me is the phrase “religion of practice”, that captures so much of what ethics can do, because they’re not always followed to the letter but they define how a profession presents itself. I think the idea of competing ethics must be something that school librarians are constantly dealing with because they work within so many spheres and are required to be part of many professions. I was wondering how this plays out in the reality of the library and what are the common sorts of questions that school librarians come across.

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Helping Teachers Learn

The article on Lesson Study seems to present an interesting idea of use the tools to teach teachers with the same ideas that you want them to use in their classrooms, which seems quite powerful. Since its one thing to read about a good idea like using prior knowledge but when you can say oh, its like this exercise we did than its easier to incorporate that into your teaching. Though I wonder as I’m reading through this, how many of the teachers bought into the process and how many had to be pushed along to really contribute. Also I find it very telling that the last line of the article speaks about validating what librarians due along with collaboration, which seems connected to this idea of how librarians see themselves as superheroes at times. This is a fine line and balance to work out and I think must be one of the great challenges with working on professional development, how to be seen as an ally.

I’m struck by the idea for the workshop article of sending out surveys and asking around your school to get ideas of what teachers are curious about. This seems like an effective way to make sure that what’s being taught is what everyone cares about and that there will be an immediate benefit. Also I like that the focus is on saying get someone who is an expert and that it doesn’t have to be the librarian, which seems like an important balance of not having workshops be too much, this is what the librarian thinks we need to know. All the considerations for how the make the workshop work seem to be common sense in terms of being aware of your audience and their needs and what they know already along with considerations for time and place. The most difficult part really seems to be getting people to show up, but if you run a good workshop than teachers will be more willing to come to other ones.

The article on technological pedagogical content is fascinating in terms of how it uses a far more academic language to talk about helping teachers learn the best way to use technology. I particularly like how they state at the beginning that teaching is a highly complex skill and so should be treated as something that needs to be approached from many dimensions to understand how to improve it. The blending of content and pedagogy also makes a lot of sense, but I can see how they could get divided in terms of teacher education since few people are going to have the in depth knowledge to teach all subjects. So instead you have experts in methods of teaching and then experts in certain domains. Then technology becomes its own separate domain that holds it off from everything else and can make it seem something that only an expert truly understands instead of just one more tool. The focus on context in terms of teaching is a powerful way to frame just how tricky it can be to teach technology since its so dictated by how its being used and what it was created to do and what it might be used for. Learning by design thus ends up making the most sense as a way to teach technology since it works on helping teachers learn as they’re doing so that they can feel like they control and truly understand the technology. I found the examples they presented quite compelling in terms of how the framework can be used in practice though I do wish there had been a bit more how to mixed in with the why.

In Empowering Learners, the focus is again on technology and on making sure that teachers truly know how to use things while as the librarian keeping truly ahead of everything. The two pages truly seem to sum up quite well all the important points from the previous articles.

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The Problem with Boys’ Education-Beyond the Backlash-Book Review

Wordle: Boys' Education Issues
Boy’s Education

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Nitty Gritty-Running Money and People

My first thoughts on the Johnson blog is that I like how honest and straightforward the language is and facing common misconceptions like the idea that the online resources will save money on print. Its really a trade off and requires a good amount of thought in terms of what and how money is being invested. So the idea that you can cut one and that won’t be a loss to the library is a really key idea since its about how every resource in the library helps. The third blog post seems to say quite clearly pick your hill and defend it with all your passion and reminds me of how passionate and dedicated Carl Harvey was in terms of talking about collaboration and flexible scheduling and now that’s the norm in his school. Then the fourth post clicks into our library defense papers and just how key it is to be able to show the impact of cuts in an incredibly specific way, because that’s going to resonate the most with administrators. I like how the fifth then builds in terms of saying if you start with a strong budget then everything is going to be easier since your goals and options are right there. The sixth post seems quite connected to just how much a school librarian needs to know everything about how the school works so that they can know best how to get and use resources from as many places as possible. Then the last half comes across as the tools to really get things done which are powerful, I like seeing those examples because I know that having a template and program to help me know what to do would keep me doing it. Also a lot of budgeting and management really comes back to keeping connected and truly understanding how your school and library works on every level.

Dickinson appears to be echoing what Johnson’s saying just structuring things in a different way by presenting this idea of the budget cycle: knowledge, planning and implementation. Then following up with all the whys of how critical a budget is and especially how if you neglect it, how harder it is to build things up from scratch. Again there’s the focus on specificity and being able to show what you’re doing with what money you have.

The article on writing and winning grants then works as a logical next step of saying if you know what you want, go ask for it and keep it simple and effective and keep looking and pushing.

Empowering Learners seems to again be repeating all these same messages of stay connected, know what you need and how to get it and don’t be afraid to push.

Woolls then breaks down all the little details of how schools really work and goes into how to make all these things happen. So if you plan your budget thoughtfully and are specific then this is the best way to make it happen in reality.

In terms of Personnel issues, I found it quite striking how important the idea of certified and licensed staff members is to the AASL and would be curious to know exactly what that means and if that’s hard to reach in libraries. Woolls does a good job of talking about how many school librarians might not at first come in expecting to be a manager of personnel but should know how to be one and that the most important part is communication. Since communication builds the foundation for trust and shared expectations which will help the library function well whether the personnel are volunteers or paraprofessionals. Then she extends that out to everyone who spends any time or is affected by the library which I think is a good way to show just how key it is to have clear lines of communication and expectations for everyone in the library.

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Challenges of Working Together

The first article by Harvey really put together I think some of the issues that came up during the online class, because it shows how easy it is to not think about what teachers are doing. To really be an effective collaborator with teachers requires time to really understand how the teachers in your school are working and what’s the best way to mesh with them without stepping on their toes.

I found the Marcoux article seemed focused on how do you define what makes good collaboration and how do you insure that its going on. Also I liked how this article took the time to look at how collaboration can be a benefit for students and educators and that one of the most important things is how its based around working with a peer. The research evidence also was fascinating in terms of showing just how powerful collaboration can be on many different levels while showing that it requires work from all sides at the same time.

The Motown Method is a wonderful way to explain how powerful collaboration can be by showing that it allows teachers to take turns being in the lead and that when it works properly there can be great harmony. I can see how this metaphor would be a wonderful way to introduce collaboration to teachers who maybe worried that its a negative reflection on them when its actually a way to add more to teaching. I’d be curious to know how the Motown Method works in practice.

From the start the Todd article is really striving to create a reality check of how much collaboration doesn’t happen and that instead there might be coordination but not the true collaboration that everyone wants. Then it goes into the discussion of the ILILE program which looks to be focused on looking at how to make collaboration work but also understanding where it works best and is appropriate. I especially like the finding “helplessness is learned” and that using that as a way to step into really talking and training with teachers and librarians. I also found it interesting how many of the findings talked about planning, which makes sense since good collaboration is based around taking the time to create a plan and bring it together and working through challenges and barriers.

The Moreillon chapter seems to be going along the same lines and my first thought is that I really like the use of the phrase teacher-librarians since its an effective way to remind everyone that librarians do teach. I found the idea that making that step from seeing librarians as simply support to co-teachers seems to be one of the greatest challenges but that when there’s a lot of accountability, they can become an ally. The balance of where lots of books should be housed was something that I found of particular interest since it seems like the idea of children learning to read for pleasure can become less important as standards need to met. This presents a real challenge since teachers and librarians might not think to work with each other on this issue, the focus might be more on learning to research instead of more reading. Assessment seems like a powerful tool in showing that collaboration can work, but also in showing that its always a work in progress. Since after every lesson or project, there should be time to figure out what worked and what didn’t and that’s something that can be talked about with an administrator and shown to say, this is what we found worked and this didn’t so we’ll do this next time. Also the combination of talking about lowering student to teacher ratio along with the discussion of how collaboration can help teachers not be isolated resonates because such an important part of the learning that happens in school isn’t always easily measured. This seems like a way of considering what does it mean to have more people involved in teaching and how can it really be effective and a growing experience for everyone.


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Making the Library More

I found the articles this week fascinating in terms of how they talked about ways to really take learning beyond rote and how to do it without alienating teachers. The Hrada articles presented really incredible road maps that I could see someone putting into practice without too much trouble. Again there’s always the issue of personalities and negotiating with teachers to say, let me partner with you and together we can create a lesson plan that’s more than both of our expectations and that hopefully the students will enjoy and gain from.

Also there seems to be a clear connection to what we read last week but taking that step of saying okay these are the standards, here are ways to actually make them work in the classroom. Everything is really connected which is I think the most amazing part of this class, because it makes sense in terms of how a library is so much at the center of the school community that so many different and varied issues have an impact on what a good school librarian does. This is also a tricky thing to try and show to someone else because all of these roles are important but not always obvious.

Empowering Learners did a good job too of presenting how do you really become a partner instead of just the librarian who keeps having ideas that get in the way of what I want to do. It really seems like a tricky balance and ties into so many other things we’ve read and talked about in terms of how difficult collaboration and inquiry teaching is to get right.

I thought that the Valenza and Warren-Gross articles touched on some critical issues in relation to the panel and everything that’s happening in the economy at the moment. The idea of figuring out really how to use reading to improve test scores and help a school and students succeed really resonated with me, because its a reminder that while technology is important as with everything it comes down to how you use it. I think that’s really what I ended up taking from all of these readings that AASL, curriculua and so many other places can provide some powerful roadmaps and ideas but it all comes down to how you use them in your school.


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