Sunday, January 31, 2010

Filter or no filter

This week I visited a library media center at a rural school. Now I know how some people believe that rural schools are more reluctant change, especially in the area of technology, but this one truly impressed me. Their computere were literally filter free. Teachers and students actively took part in blogs and wikis for discussions, collaberation, instruction, you name it. It was the first school I had ever been in that allowed the filters to be almost completely turned off. Another great thing about this school was that they had policies that kept all of this organized and understandable. All questions I asked about technology rules, web use, copyright, etc., was all answered with handouts about thier polished school policies. Even their school board was on base with these policies. I was pretty impressed. Not only did they have a dynamic set of rules and regulations for school and library issues, but they had it done tactfully and they were easy to access and understand. Yes oh yes, it can be done. I was very thankful for this educators time and knowledge.

Library Media What?

When I began my exciting journey to become a school library media specialist I was always finding that I had to explain to my friends what this term means. I would usually tell them that I was going to be a school librarian, but with a focus on analyzing, organizing, manipulating, learning & teaching about information. I would also remind them about our other more traditional duties that have to do with literacy, books, storytelling, etc. What was kind of weird was having to say all that stuff and then tell what my title would be one day - library media specialist. Although my friends know I"m already a bit quirky and long winded, they probably thought I was trying to give myself an impressive title. Nope, I was going with the flow. Our prof for this class posted a new article from the ALA that reintroduces the old title 'school librarian' as the new legitimate title. Now what will I tell everyone. Sorry, we no longer that long name, we're still a school librarian. No wonder people misunderstand library people. No more name changes until I graduate, please? Check out the link if you're interested.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LIS If you had a cool new car in the driveway, would you drive it?

Schools today are being given so many opportunities to learn about technology, apps, podcasts, wikis, skyping, and all sorts of Web 2.0 technology. When I was in high school I wrote my senior thesis (about Charles Dickens sad life portrayed in his literary classics) by hand. I was taking honors English in 11th grade and our class had to write the final copy at home over the computer. I was the only person without a computer. I'm not saying we were poor, but my parent's factory salary, at the time, didn't permit us to go out and buy a computer. Most of my friends had only gotten computers within the last 2 - 3 years anyways. So, I had to hand write (can you hear my moans and groans) my entire rough draft and final copy. And, I lived to tell about it.
By the end of my senior year, we had a computer, but it was a stationary machine that was not connected to the Internet. By my freshmen year at college (Fall of 1998) Technology, Internet, Modems, Chat rooms - it was like an overload to me. The time I finished by second bachelor's degree (2007) my ability to use this technology had come a long way. Now I can understand how a teacher may have felt back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, because I too felt that sense of unease with technology. It was overwhelming and people were learning together. However, ten years later, that excuse doesnt' sit too well with me. I compare the package of available technology that most teachers have access to with a car. They're both shiny, new, and incredible. Maybe even a bit mysterious. But, if you had a new car in your driveway, would you just let it sit there and let your neighbors admire it? Not me, I'm eager and enthusiastic! I just bought a new car and I love driving it, showing it off, and learning how I can download music to it with my mp3 player. On the other hand, it's hard for me to understand why teachers don't respond the same way with the technology, professional development opportunities, and training they are given freely and given time to use during their paid work day.
Bill Richardson's Chapter on how great weblogs in and of itself is great. He's right on the money by explaing how students and teachers can use web 2.0 technology to enhance lesson planning, comprehension, communication, test prep., enjoyment of the class, learn new tech....the list is endless. We as educators can learn so much form our studtents, so let's allow them to teach us a thing or two. I think we need to take risks, for example, and see how a portal or class weblog (private to your class members and in line with school tech. policies) can reduce time spent on lecture, passing out papers, and going over directions and replace it with greater discussion, critical thinking, in depth analysis of important question, and long list of other postive attributes. This approach can be done safely and with positive effects. Check out these blogs by educators about weblogs in the classroom.

We all know how hard most teachers work. Maybe weblogs will eventually take a little work out of planning, if you're willing to put in a little work to get the ball rolling. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, January 25, 2010

LIS Book Trailer, Not to be confused with a bookmobile

As a grad student in the LIS program, I must visit, observe, and do projects with local school library media specialists. I had a great visit to a rural school in western New York. The SLMC was filled with great signage, posters, themed book displays - it was fantastic. While I was being given the grand tour, she asked me about book trailers. Well, I didn't know what a book trailer was, so she pulled out her laptop and showed me someo the sites and resources she was learning about book trailers in this professional development course she was taking. I was instantly hooked. I am a huge fan of moves. I especially love historical fiction, biographies, well scripted drama and action movies, and anthing that is witty, funny, or generally entertaining. The site she showed me was . It was visually appealling and was interesting as soon as I set eyes on the screen. In lieu of doing a more traditional, but effective, book talk, educators, librarians, teachers, professors, for example, generate hype and interest about a book. Just like a good movie trailer draws in a TV or Online audience, a good book trailer has a similar function, but for more entertainment and academic purposes. I am no book trailer expert, but I will be investigating this way to have a talk, chat, or discussion about books. This is not to be confused with a book mobile, which simply offered you booksto read. Instead, it offers you a multimedia approach to learning about a specific book in an engaging and entertaining way. My curiosity will lead me to investigate this further.

Friday, January 22, 2010

LIS Weblogs Richardson Chapter 2

My first experience with reading a weblog on a daily basis is the coupon site I have posted on my Blog. To be honest, I love reading it everyday. However, before I began reading weblog, I loved to read two 'old-fashioned' weblogs - Dear Abbey and the advice column in Reader's Digest called, Ask Laskas by Jeanne Marie Laskas. I appreciate their candid and upfront answers to all of life's mundane and wild questions. Furthermore, I loved Carrie Bradshaw's advice column on the fictional TV show(which ended its successful six year run in 2006) Sex and the City . All are education, entertaining and honest. To me, these are 'old-fashioned" blogs.

As a teacher, I can easily see how Richardson wants educators to make themselves more aware and capable of creating weblogs for their classrooms. Most children love to be challenged and they are just as fascinated by technology as many of their teachers. Not only could weblogs serve as a powerful learning tool for traditional education approaches, it can also serve constructionist learning styles by encouraging teachers to share tools and experiences in the digital world that many students would not be able to experience in their physical classroom world. By creating an educational weblog, a teacher can open up a dynamic digital portal for learning. Everyone wins! Sure, we need to be prepared for safety issues, but an organized and ambitious teacher can save a lot of time passing out papers, orchestrating transitional activities, preparing packets of work for absent students, etc., by having a portal or weblog that provides student and teacher access and communication before and after a lesson. Teachers can allow for important discussions to take place after a class is over to help students who have questions, to allow more informed students to help answer questions, or to serve as an outlet for those in the class who have a desire to learn more about a certain topic. This may not be for everyone. I am taking my third Online graduate class, and weblogs have been very helpful in my own studies. I hope all districts in New York State have professional development opportunities to teach teachers about weblogs and other emerging technology.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

LIS 568 - Public Domain, Does that mean free?

This class continues to pretty much rock as I learn more and more about technology, resources, and services for libraries and library media centers. Why do you ask? This week we're learning about, among other things, what 'pubic domain' means. According to Richardson it is "a work not protected by copyright" or "may not be eligible for copyright protection at all".(Note that I am giving the author credit as to avoid a copyright issue.) For example, facts can't be copyrights. However, manipulating the facts into a catchy poem to help children remember it for a test could be copyrighted. So why am I excited? My wonderful boyfriend got me a Kindle for Christmas. Check it out at . As I have been eagerly waiting to download books, my thrifty self has also been investigating what books I can download for FREE! Yes, FREE!
Our assignment this week lead me to a website that has an ongoing list of free books. The site can be found at From here, you can locate hundreds of free books. Just out of curiosity, I cross referenced several titles with the amazon list of available book downloads. Amazon has many free titles that can be downloaded with in seconds. Although you have an account for your Kindle with Amazon, it is not charged, but instead is added to your Kindle book inventory. At the Project Gutenberg site, you can download the books right to your computer via HTML or to an audio file. You can read or listen to the books at the click of your mouse. I did find, however, that many of these overlapping titles at Amazon downloaded much faster. But, I am not complaining.

Most of the books availalbe are older books, but many are classics. Some are terrifice and some are just, well, available. Sill, what a cool project the Gutenberg Organization has undertaken. Thanks to public domain laws, many works by Charles Dickens, E. Frank Baum, Mark Twain, are all free on your computer to read or listen to.

If you're still interested in Public Domain Law, check out these sites

As a new LIS student, I'm an avid reader and just love books. Reading books that I have only seen movies about or have forgotten about has been a great joy in my life. Thanks public domain laws.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


My first love at college, or so I thought, was history. I was so eager as an undergrad to take all the classes I could about anthropology, cultural studies, anything about history, and keeping up on my love of the French language. This lasted from 1998 - 2002 (BA in history, and from 2005 - 2007 (BA in adolescent social studies education). I'm now enroute to become licensed to also work in school libraries. This is my second semester for the LIS program at the University of Buffalo and my third Online class. I've completed projects in the first week that have generated so many questions and head scratching moments, that I hope this all becomes easier. I am also a very eager learner, so I am confident it will. History is still pretty cool, but I have learned that like many of my LIS classmates, I am a closet information junkie. I am really turned on by learning about organizing, manipulating, teaching about, and learning about information.

Helpful hints and funny anecdotes are always welcome!

Blog Blog Blog

Despite growing up, or atleast living through, this emerging tech generation, I am dazzled and amazed by all the technology that's out there. I' am setting up this blog for a class I am taking at the University of Buffalo as I pursue a career in the world of Library and Information Studies. It's not as old school or boring as it sounds, trust me.