Tag Archives: librarians

To GAFE? Or not to GAFE?

GAFE:  Google Apps for Education

Many school districts are jumping onto this bandwagon.  They want to be a part of the technological evolution that is occurring across the world.  Google, as anyone who is even remotely in the know already uses, began as a search engine, but now, is SO much more!  They are Microsoft’s arch nemesis–a competition among suites.

GAFE has so many features:  classroom, sheets, slides, forms…the list goes on for a bit!  But they are also user friendly and compatible with pretty much any electronic device and other popular tools out there, such as YouTube.  And, if you already have a gmail account, you have access!

I, myself, have been a gmail account holder for over a decade, and I’ve never wanted to part.  Gmail is easy to use, never has never issues, and I’ve never been hacked.  It simply makes sense.  And with access to so many of Google’s services, the deal is sweetened up a bit more.  So when my district offered workshops on GAFE, I did not hesitate to sign up.

We spent three long days doing a lightning introduction and review of everything, and today, we are given the opportunity to take the certification exam.  If my experiences and (short) training did its part, then I will be a Google Certified Teacher by the end of today!

Honestly, in terms of tactile rewards, the certification doesn’t give much.  (You can print out the digital certificate they email you.)  But, it does allow you a lot as an educator in this tech-driven world.  As we spent our days practicing, I was brainstorming lesson ideas in my mind.  I feel energized and excited to tackle the school year ahead!

My district is lucky enough go one-to-one with Chromebooks this school year, so we are most definitely supported to infuse as much technology as possible into our lessons.  And slowly, but surely, I am feeling equipped to take on that challenge!

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Book Club Meets Movie Night

For my final Book Club title of the school year, I had selected Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.  I thought our end-of-May meeting would correspond perfectly with the June release date for the movie.  Not only did this get my “loyal members” a little more excitement than usual for our discussion, but it also had new students gravitate towards the club.  I even have some of them asking if we can all see the movie together!

Some die-hard book lovers argue that the movie almost always ruins the book and completely alters the story.  Now, that may just be the case, however, I say use that movie to your advantage.  Our students, especially teenagers, generally enjoy going to the movies.  So why not use that to propel them to read?  Why not use the new release as a tool to inspire a student to pick up a book and read for leisure?

I am thrilled to see that all of my Book Club members, both old and new, are excited to read the book and then compare it to the movie.  It will be enjoyable for all, and the best part is that it inspires literacy!

In addition to our monthly Book Club meetings, I also host a Page-to-Screen monthly movie night in the library.  Since the beginning of the school year, once a month I selected a movie that was based off of a book, and I invited students to purchase a ticket (only $2!).  I would pull out my projector screen, pop in the DVD to my projector, and make some popcorn.  Then we would all sit around and enjoy the film depiction of a beloved book.  This, too, is a form of literacy.  Quite a few times I’ve had a student want to read the book AFTER watching the movie!

Sometimes as educators it is easy to grumble and point fingers at something or someone else for the apathy our students feel towards reading.  But why not DO SOMETHING to fight against it?  Use something that already interests them to inspire them to pick up a book.  Even if only a couple students out of a huge group start to read, it is a victory!

I once saw a cartoon that had the caption, “Why did you become a school librarian?” and the answer read, “To avenge the decline of literacy.”  Even though it gave me a chuckle, I couldn’t agree more–whether you call yourself a librarian, a media specialist, a cybarian, et cetera,  one of your main duties is promoting literacy.  And, I believe you must do anything you can to ensure that.

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This is What a Librarian Looks Like

Slate has posted a photography piece on librarians this week that portrays a wonderful profile of the diverse population.  When the average person pictures a librarian, their mind might go directly to cat eyeglasses and a cardigan, but this article has done a phenomenal job at going against that stereotype.  It not only shows the spectrum of ‘looks’ to a librarian, but it does a wonderful job at presenting all the roles a librarian takes on.

There is so much to delve into in the world of librarianship and they truly work in the front lines to make sure the leaders get the information they need in the best mode possible.  But, because most of their work is behind-the-scenes, many people do not know about their duties.

As a school librarian, my favorite quote from the article was:  “Libraries are important because students these days are not actually competent at navigating the digital world, but we as librarians help them not only navigate the digital sphere, but become better global citizens.”  Although as adults we may think that kids, especially teenagers, are constantly starting at some type of screen–cell phones, tablets, computers, et cetera–that does not necessarily mean they are tech-savvy.  Through my everyday work, I find that the high school students I work with have no idea how to use a database or navigate the internet to locate reliable sources.  It is the job of a librarian, especially those in schools, to show them the correct way to use technology for information and educational growth.

But librarians do so much, whether they are archiving at the Met in New York City or researching at a medical library, they are leading the way for many communities.  I believe the institution of libraries and the role of librarians is here to stay.  It may change with time, but I think it’s a rather adaptive tool and field, and it will continue to prosper and prove its relevance.

See the article at:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2014/02/11/kyle_cassidy_photographs_librarians_at_the_american_library_association.html

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Apparently Chicago and Education Don’t Mix

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/10/02/mayor-rahms-grand-experiment-libraries-without-librarians

So you may have heard about the horrible things happening in Chicago public schools–hint, hint:  closed down 50 schools recently–but believe it or not, they’re not done yet!

Mayor Rahm has decided to lay off every single school librarian in the district.  And, as if that isn’t bad enough, he did this is in a very sneaky way.  He made an announcement in the library (yes, you heard that correctly–the LIBRARY!) that he would be using $17 million from the district budget to build a new wing in the school to accommodate an extra 400 students.  What he neglected to mention is that he had to fire “nonessential staff” to make this renovation possible.

Now, all the administrators in the various schools have to scramble to figure out who will be ‘manning’ the library to attempt to fill the void that Mayor Rahm has created.  The article mentions that a teacher’s aide is covering the front desk at the library while the actual librarian is now the Spanish teacher.  Does this make any sense to you?  (No, not for me either…).

I am left wondering what exactly is the long term plan here.  If the Mayor continues hemorrhaging money that the city clearly does not have, then what will happen to Chicago Public Schools?  Although I am extremely angered by his complete dismissal of librarians, I know that it probably won’t stop here.

Hopefully, the Chicago voters will think twice for their next mayoral election.

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Reading and Social Media: Both In and Outside of the Classroom

Reading and Social Media:  Both In and Outside of the Classroom

Social media has taken over so many aspects of life. There are news reports about what is happening on sites such as Facebook and Twitter–it is nearly inescapable!
So how to books fit into this? How does the tactile written word, which seems archaic as technology sweeps by, stay relevant?
Well, sites such as GoodReads and The Copia help make books ‘tech savvy.’ GoodReads, as I like to affectionately refer to as the “Facebook for Books,” is wonderful, and has the same sickeningly addictive effect as other social media sources. GoodReads is rather user-friendly and easy to use. You pretty much set up an account and start adding books and friends. You can create an entire network on GoodReads based off of your readings interests alone. If you are absolutely obsessed with Beautiful Creatures (or YAL in general) you can not only ‘add’ and ‘review’ the book, you can create an entire page dedicated to how much you love that particular novel or the genre entirely! It’s great and I think it has a lot of untapped potential.
The Copia is something I have recently discovered. It is similar to GoodReads, in that you can add books and comment and review, while creating a network of ‘friends.’ But, The Copia seems to have more features. You can create chatrooms and have literary discussions on a more advanced level through this website. You can take a hightlighted section from a book (of your choice), and start an analytic group review of it all at your fingertips!
Now, as a school librarian, I like to think about the educational possibilities of literary social media such as these. What can we do to place a finger on the pulse with the younger generations, and make literature a part of there highly tech-savvy world? I think sites such as GoodReads and The Copia help answer this question.
I can see a school, especially with access to tablets and/or eReaders, adopting a section of their curriculum strictly dedicated to technological dialogue. Educators can download a classic piece of literature (which is what most school curricula consists of) onto eReaders and tablets and have their students read them digitally. Then, they [students] can go onto literary social media, and create online classrooms. They can create chat rooms, highlight text, have debates, and so much more all online. These types of activities can be small homework or classwork assignments or they can expand into culminating projects–the possibilities are endless!
I think, we as educators, need to not shy away from technology, but rather EMBRACE it all! Our students are always young, but let’s face it, we are getting older. They will always be a step ahead of us in terms of the ‘next big thing,’ but we can stay relevant and run along with them. I think these types of steps will not only engage students through a technological forum (that they are becoming more and more comfortable in), but also allowing education to be available around the clock.

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September 11, 2013 · 2:33 pm