Today I went to a great jamboree of school librarians from all levels – university, high, middle, elementary, and a few in between (of course, I was my usual hybrid self). This was a first step towards more effective communication in order to facilitate college readiness among K-12 students, and there was a lot of sharing and venting and struggling to get on the same page. Lexiles and DIBELS and critical thinking– oh my!
I promised to share a fun tech tip on the College Readiness group wiki, and I will definitely post a link to this once my membership goes through. Ready?
How to Research a Current Event Without Breaking a Sweat
1) Make sure your cell phone plan is set to unlimited texting.
2) Sign up for TWO Twitter accounts if you do not already have one. You want a PERSONAL account and a RESEARCH account. Since you can only have one Twitter account associated with a single email address, you can open that second Twitter account using Gmail (use your Gmailusernameemail@example.com).
2b) FOLLOW the research account with your personal account.
3) Log onto Twitter with your personal account. Go into Settings and select Mobile. Verify your cell phone number. Make sure you follow the instructions on the right side of the screen with the phone icons – the ONLY account you want to have turned ON is your Twitter research account. (The default for phone following is OFF so this is usually not a problem if you already follow lots of accounts.)
4) Open a new browser tab. Go sign up for Twitterfeed. Give it your Twitter research account info.
5) Open another tab, and find a news site that has RSS feeds for different topics. NYT or the BBC are good starting points, or you can pick a specialized site like AllAfrica that will have just the right info you need. (Stymied? Use the criteria in Consider the Source to select a good online news site.)
6) Once you have an RSS feed selected, copy and paste it into your Twitterfeed account. It will test the feed and make sure that the new posts from the RSS feed will now tweet out THROUGH your new Twitter research account. You have effectively made a custom Twitter news channel!
7) Repeat steps 5 and 6 a few times as needed – don’t get too many, because you don’t want your phone blowing up constantly. (See @readersadvisory and @edunewsus as good/bad examples of custom Twitter news accounts I have created using many RSS feeds.)
8) By now, your phone should be texting you any new stories from the feeds you threaded through your research account. Not only will these stories be stored in your research Twitter account (and you can Favorite the ones you want to use!), but they will also come to you in real time – reminding you about the project on a regular basis and letting you have immediate access to new information.
It sounds a little complicated (especially if you are not a current Twitter user or RSS feed master). Yet this is a perfect example of how a typical social media site can be transformed into a powerful automated research tool! Twitter is not just for sharing with colleagues or chatting with friends – it has the ability to transform your cell phone into a critical support system for schoolwork.
Patrons frequently ask me how they can hook their kids on books. This makes me thrilled, because if books are your crack then I want to be your dealer! (Drug metaphors work quite well in the literary world. Don’t ask.) Depending on the situation I usually recommend one or more of these resources to feed adults information about nifty books.
- For younger kids, try this booklist.
- The Unshelved Book Club gives you a capsule booktalk in their Sunday comic strip. They’re informative and usually humorous, and their in-house reviewers do a nice job of recommendations. The Sunday strips are a quick way to “sell” a book to a reluctant reader.
- Most folks didn’t realize that the Librarian of Congress got a little crazy & decided to name a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The first one was Jon Scieszka, and his Guys Read concept/website/anthology has inspired lots of people to connect young dudes with awesome books.
- Every young person should be taught by a person like Donalyn Miller. Her book and blog, The Book Whisperer, will point you in the right direction to create a reading culture in your school & home.
- James Patterson is an amazingly best-selling author. He also has a site devoted to helping you pick out great books to share with your shorty, called Read Kiddo Read.
- And last but certainly not least, ALA award winners are great resources for readers. Click here and then click on the radio button for Youth Media Awards.
Baby Read-Aloud Basics (Blakemore & Ramirez)
Between the Lions Book for Parents (Rath & Kennedy)
Every Child Ready to Read (Pesky Learning Center)
Great Books for Boys (Odean)
Great Books for Girls (Odean)
Growing a Reader from Birth (McGuinness)
How to Get Your Child to Love Reading (Codell)
Read All About It (Trelease)
The Read-Aloud Handbook (Trelease)
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Children Will Change their Lives Forever (Fox)
Start Smart: Building Brain Power in the Early Years (Schiller)
These sites are great, but the most important advice for adults who want their kids to love reading is this: read for yourself, read often, and read in front of your children. Let them see your enjoyment in the printed word. Make time in the family schedule for stories and wordplay. Read aloud, read silently, listen to audiobooks, and reread books that really impress you. Do these things, and I guarantee you will eventually need to send your kids to Book Rehab. (Dr. Drew, if you’re reading this, CALL ME. I totally volunteer to help with the group therapy sessions.)
At Internet Librarian 2009, we got to hear Vint Cerf with Google as our Monday keynote. I found this great video by way of Alec Couros’ blog, which features Cerf talking about the importance of net neutrality.
Net neutrality is a super important concept for today’s Internet users to learn about. Here’s why you should support it:
— Right now, it doesn’t matter what you type into the address bar at the top of your browser. Whether you ask for this blog, Google.com, the New York Times, a friend’s Facebook page, or your mom’s recipe bookmarks on Delicious.com, your Internet service provider (ISP) will serve up whatever you ask for at the same speed. Every site is equal in the eyes of your ISP, and they are *neutral* when it comes to giving you access to these wildly different sites.
— Without net neutrality, the doors are open to wealthy corporations and other people with influence to pressure the ISPs into delivering some sites more quickly than others. Or not at all. Can you imagine paying for Internet access and not being able to go to the sites you want to visit? Or having to sit and wait while the “right” sites are being delivered quickly, and your ISP deprioritizes your choices because the site owners couldn’t afford to pay off TimeWarner, AOL, or (your ISP here)?
Net neutrality is something you should know about. It’s a wonderful thing, and it keeps the voices on the Internet flowing in a democratic and fair way. Your choice is what matters – not the choices of the wealthy or well-connected.
I’m excited to celebrate 2 years of blogging here! I wanted a new place to collect library thoughts so began this blog at IL2007 in order to do just that. This has been a great space for me to explore the random library, education, and literature-related ideas that flow through my head. Sometimes I feel like I should have named this blog schooling.ME because that’s a more accurate way to describe it 🙂 Having a dedicated blog space has really helped me to think deeply about all the bits and scraps I read about in my RSS feeds, tweet about on Twitter, and text about with friends.
That said, there are even more issues (relatively speaking) this year at IL as compared to two years ago. I have been following the Twitter backchannel chat and trying to pull out the themes that seem to be dominating the conversation this year:
THANKS. First, thanks to all who attended our presentation yesterday, with @lorireed & @librarianbyday & myself (@erindowney). For the lady in the audience who wanted to learn more about RSS, I recommend my wiki at http://cyber64edu.wetpaint.com/page/aggregators%2Freaders and to follow up with http://tinyurl.com/2rf25c . Good luck and drop me an email if you’re not feeling it gel for you!
PART ONE from Bobbi Newman
PART TWO from me:
NOSTALGIA. Despite our love of all things shiny & techno, there was a lot of talk in the keynotes about the solitary experience of reading, the scent of paper, and the sensory cues that tune us into this alternate world of deep contemplation. Although we acknowledge that libraries provide a new and wonderful node of community convergence, walking the line between preserving that singular & personal experience with information and the collective experience with the same is proving difficult for us emotionally. (Imagine how this affects how our patrons see us!)
CONTROL. Directors and other decision-makers are no clearer, according to attendees, about the fact that controlling dialogue online is at best illusory and at worst dictatorial. Transparency and extension of professional trust is the sentiment of the day. The boat has sailed: Internet communication means that we’ve created a sort of uber-democracy where voices cannot be stifled, no matter how much we may not want to hear them. The new proactive approach to service is to constantly scan the conversation and to become a part of it in productive, positive, and meaningful ways. Not participating is no longer a viable option.
LEARNING. Folks have expressed in various forums that libraries are still doing something very well – being one of those places where true learning can take place and personal passion can be pursued. Traditional schooling and the idea of teaching is transforming mightily, and the attendees here seem to be of the opinion that creating life-long learners is a process happening outside traditional institutions of learning. But this means letting go of our egos and seeing ourselves as coaches or facilitators rather than “teachers,” and is a point of friction.
RADICAL CHANGE/BUREAUCRACY. This dichotomy is not working for people. Librarians need to be set free to experiment, to fail, to try and dabble and poke about in order to bring about the change that’s needed to keep up with our users. The world is moving very quickly, and we stand the chance to exponentially lose street cred & relevance. Red tape, delays, paperwork, and other things keep us lumbering along like the dinosaurs (and many see us this way). Flexible, nimble, and ephemeral teams are more relevant as an organizational structure for today’s library.
From my perspective, these were all topics we were talking about 2 years ago at IL2007 but today’s conversations are much more intense. Transformative change only occurs when we can get our home institutions on board and gain critical mass with our own coworkers. If IL2007 was “try something new,” IL2009 is “DO something NOW!”
I gave a little talk today to folks from all over the world online! It was delivered via OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) and it’s still going strong – I’m definitely tuning in tomorrow for more awesome talks!
In these budget-crunching times, an online conference is a great way to network and learn without traveling and spending a lot of dough. I was pleased to talk about education, libraries, and technology… and pleased to see so many interested “faces” in the crowd!
One of the most popular series for teens is a limited-time free download in .pdf format! Of course, they’re promoting Westerfeld’s newest book, Leviathan, but who can complain about that? As more and more publishers make their works available in online forms, I can see more and more ways that you could leverage this free/cheap material for classroom use. Of course, the best aspect of the online text is its infinity – instead of having to police limited numbers of physical copies and tell students to hustle and read so others can have access too, every student could log in and read online, or download to their personal device– no waiting.
On a related note, education stands to gain the most from asking publishers to give up on DRM and concentrate on better ways to maximize revenue.
Chris of BetchaBlog posted on the New Digital Divide. Just more anecdotal proof that the education field is suffering from the same (digital?) malaise as the library field:
I think what often shocks me the most about teachers who don’t take technology very seriously, is just how far behind they really are. They don’t have any idea just how out of touch they are with the kids they teach each day… kids who in most cases are far too polite to say anything about their teachers’ lack of technology understanding. But trust me, they know who you are…
Some of the classic excuses for why some teachers don’t integrate technology might include the following… how many have you heard before?
- “Im retiring in a couple of years anyway” (yes, but your students are not)
- “I’m too old to learn this stuff”
- “I’m too busy, I don’t have the time”
- “I have too much content to get through” (this one is usually followed by “you just don’t know what it’s like”… ah, yes, I do.)
- “I don’t really like computers” (you don’t have to like them, you just have to use them)
- “I just don’t understand technology” (as though they think no one has noticed that yet)
Chris goes on to say he’s most scared about the growing chasm between the “information-wills” and the “information-will-nots.” I hear that! Honestly, this has nothing to do with age – I meet just as many younger folks who use these excuses as older ones.
Reading all the nominated posts was a pleasure – it was great to hear diverse voices in the field from all around the world! The international nature of online education dialogue is really what will help change the nature of “doing school” in the 21st century. It’s not going to be just one school or one state/province/district or even one country – I now truly believe that the education revolution is going to be driven from a global perspective. Is there even any other? Thomas Friedman only said what was obvious: the world is flat, and we affect each other more than ever on a daily basis.
I can only hope that holds true and that this magnificent online educational community will grow, keep learning, and use their voice to speak for true change and authentic learning experiences for students the world over. This movement is more important than ever: if we’re all too busy and cannot make the time to do the important work of our day, what sort of example will we set for youth?
It’s been a busy two months since my last post… besides ALA and some much-enjoyed vacation time, everything seems to have piled up! Off to the right you will see myself and Cory Doctorow, happy to meet briefly at a Tor event in Anaheim. I told him how rad we all found his new YA novel, Little Brother, and he was glad to hear it.
When I got home, I got my new issue of Knowledge Quest in the mail and read with interest the article called “Copyright and Portfolios” by Rebecca Butler. I found the ethical questions of the subject fascinating. It concerns electronic portfolios of graduating seniors where the students have used copyrighted materials such as music and film clips: fair use or infringement? Butler concurs that yes, it’s fair use as long as the students were using said clips for public school curriculum and used them to “realize their specific learning objectives.” She cites some sources (this was the only online one, sorry) and goes on to say that such “class-generated portfolios” can be used to demonstrate expertise in applications for jobs or higher ed. Butler adds that you should inform students that the portfolios should not be used for profit (“[don’t] sell any of the pieces […] or use them in a paid presentation.”)
I was worried after reading this, because a quick scan of the article seems reassuring… if your students have “added entire popular songs to their projects, as well as large clips from movie CDs, DVDs, and videos” then maybe everything is just a-ok and kosher. It takes a close reading of this brief article and a little deep thought to conclude that A) you might need to do more research into fair use before you let students create portfolios with such egregious “sampling” (the last time I checked using a work in its entirety is not sampling) and B) you’ll need to figure out how to break it to your students that a more-than-passing understanding of copyright may be the most important “technological skill” thy could have in the 21st century.
While I think it’s imperative that students (and citizens) have the right to fair use of copyrighted intellectual work (especially in the cases of criticism and parody), I believe that it may be encouraging intellectual laziness to reach for the latest Coldplay song and pop it in as the musical backdrop to a PowerPoint report. Sure, it’s popular culture; sure, it’s handy; sure, it’s easier in the short run than searching for music where the creators have given explicit permission for its use. I maintain that in the long run, using apparatuses such as Creative Commons can serve to build students’ appreciation and understanding of copyright so that they may gradually build up to the use of commercially copyrighted works with full knowledge of the risks and benefits. By making the due consideration of copyright and fair use integral to the construction of such electronic portfolios, we can equip students with skills that they can put to good use in the workplace and/or academia.
Rebecca P. Butler. (2008). Copyright and Portfolios. Knowledge Quest, 36(5), 74.
This article from today’s NYT is thought-provoking, but I find the commentary a richer food for thought.
The conversation we are really having is about what kind of society we live in, and what we want to do about it. What would it really look like to truly close the “achievement gap”? Are we asking schools to solve all of our socio-economic problems? Is that possible?
— Eli Rector, Palm Desert, CA
I share the sentiments in other comments – esp. the one where these hand-wringing articles about the state of education today are characterized as jeremiads – but I think Eli’s comment is right on the mark. Obviously, when we talk about education we’re not just talking about books and kids and test scores. We’re talking about our shared common experience as citizens, a loaded concept that transcends any dictionary definition of education and enters into sociocultural commentary.
I am not finished reading all (100+!) comments on this article. But I think it will be time well spent to hear some of these voices. Our education, our selves? Absolutely.
An article from the Christian Science Monitor points out the rewards that teens and teachers in rural Maine get when giving (and getting) tech assistance. I liked the multimedia feature that accompanied the article. But one thing nags at me– they talk about how relieved the teachers are to get tech help and how the students benefit from sharing their knowledge, but I sincerely hope that this program isn’t replacing adequate professional development and training that teachers need to effectively implement technology in the classroom.
When I think back to my high school days in the mid 1990s, the district was bragging about having a computer in every room (for the teacher’s use, of course). But who were the ones actually using it? In many cases, students. There were several teachers who didn’t know how to do something as fundamental as retrieving files… I vividly recall demonstrating how to save a file to one teacher, who was just baffled by the whole process. I guess we were sherpas, too, in our own way. (Ah, the heady days of Windows 95, so radically different from 3.1!)
I guess I hoped that in 10 years, things would have changed fundamentally in the edtech world. Am I being pessimistic? Should I look at these new tech sherpas as an advancement, the next iteration of the teen tech support desk? Or should I be more skeptical of these glossy stories about how “cutting edge” teens seem to perennially be beside us older folks? (and holy cow, am I older folks now?!?)