Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reflections on the semester of reading

This semester, I added 7 new professional blogs to my Google reader, and started a twitter account. I now follow about 30 people and have 10 followers. I was inspired to do these things because of the requirement that we read and write about 100 additional items. I had a careful plan to write one post per day in this blog, to meet the required 100 item assignment. I haven't written 100--I've only written 43. I also posted in the class blog 6 times.

In addition to this more informal reading of blogs, I read reports, as well as a lot of research articles. For the other class I took, I wrote abstracts, an integrated literature review, and then a research proposal. I read about 30 research papers from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals for that assignment. None of that made it into this blog. I read at least 4 or 5 blog entries from various library and school-related blogs each day, as shown in my PLE. Some of those things made it into this blog, but most didn't. I think that my PLE demonstrated that I do keep up with new and innovative professional ideas, even if I didn't write 100 summaries about what I've read.

I've appreciated being pushed to read more this semester, and I definitely learned a lot!

California School Library Standards

I read the document titled:
Model School Library Standards for California Public Schools Supporting
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts &
Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

It laid out certain Common Core standards and then the corresponding  school library standard, to help librarians make the link between the two. This is a helpful document that I will be able to use even more as I continue getting to know the new common cores and begin planning learning experiences with the teachers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Final research journal entry

I would like to make this a bit longer...but the stomach flu running rampant in my household is going to make it a bit difficult.

I've found this journal both useful and challenging, at various times during the semester. As I got deeper into the research for my lit review and final project, there were more things swirling through my head and this became a great space for reflection. I also appreciated how my reading this semester dovetailed between my two classes--I am also taking the learning commons class with Loertscher. Although I didn't write as much about the overlap, I did think about it a fair amount.

I think that I will keep a research journal again in the future if I have a big project such as the literature review and final proposal again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Your search engine is your best friend

This article is a great window into the autocomplete/autosuggest features of some search engines. It specifically talks about Google and Bing. I will admit that I pretty much just use Google, so I don't know if there are other search engines that also do this. One line made me laugh and I think it is so true:

“Your search engine is your best friend, and you talk to it about everything, even things you might not talk about to your real best friends,” said Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of Search Engine Land, a Web site that covers the search industry. “It’s a way that search engines reflect society. "

I thought this was just brilliant! I have certainly "Googled" things that I wouldn't talk with other people about--or at least, not before Googling the topic and seeing what I could figure out!!

I also think that it's important to think about this type of feature from the perspective of kids who are trying to type one thing in, and another thing comes up. Sometimes autocomplete is helpful because they don't know how to spell a word, but the one they want pops up when they start entering it. But oftentimes it can really sidetrack you or make you think that you are supposed to use their question, when really it's just a suggestion. I believe you can also turn it off, which might be a good skill to teach students.

Hardy, Q. and Richtel, M. (2012, Nov. 21). Don't ask? Internet still tells. Retrieved from

Research Journal -- Musings on action research

This website has a variety of interesting resources, including a bunch of examples of action research. I plan to read through some of them as I design my research proposal.

My research question is as follows: Do one-to-one laptop programs help students to meet the information literacy requirements of the Common Core State Standards?

I am very excited about this  question because I'm excited about the new Common Core State Standards and the role that I can play as a librarian. I am starting to do my own research--so far, through my personal learning network--about the Common Cores, as they are called. I reached out through Facebook and got responses from three different people for three very different types of information. My goal is to use the Common Cores to focus my information literacy ideas and instruction at my school. The other thrilling piece is that in the Nov. 6 election, a parcel tax for my school district was renewed and my job is funded through 2019 if I choose to stay that long. I certainly hope that I keep loving my job as much as I love it now.

I don't see much potential for a 1:1 laptop program at my school, and that's okay. We will move to a new site in a few years with lots of awesome technology. In the meantime, I intend to figure out what I want to do with tablets, and then procure about 10 of them to use in the library for teaching information literacy. Our PTSA is also buying updated, faster computers for the library. Exciting times!! But I still want to envision this project as a 1:1 program, to give students access to the tools they need anytime they need them.

When thinking through my research proposal, I am trying to decide on qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods. I think that maybe qualitative data in the form of interviews of teachers, students, and parents, plus quantitative in the form of analyzing student work before and after, to triangulate the data. Triangulation was something I learned about this semester that I really didn't know about before this. Turner (2011) wrote about an action research project in an after-school program where students conducated community interviews and then developed raps and music videos that critiqued social issues in their community. The students self-reported changes in their information literacy skills and their understanding of community issues. Turner also spoke with students' teachers, and watched the videos, to triangulate the data. I'd like to learn some more about triangulation to see how I could integrate that into a mixed-methods approach.

I am also considering the research methods employed by Spector-Levy and Granot-Gilat (2012) to assess information literacy skills. They designed a set of tasks that required students to select reliable information, write argumentatively using that information, process and represent information, and present new knowledge.They assessed 7th and 9th graders, some of whom had participated in 1:1 laptop programs and some of whom hadn't. They did find that the students who had participated in 1:1 laptop programs completed the set of tasks more successfully and at a higher rate than the students who didn't participate in the laptop programs. I like this idea of a standardized task for all students to complete. Objectively assessing student work for information literacy would be impossible. Of course, there is subjectivity in all research, but looking at student projects that were self-directed seems that it would not be a sufficient measurement for a research project. I do think it could be a component, but a standardized task like that used by Spector-Levy and Granot-Gilat (2012) seems like it could also be useful. I think this would be considered a quantitative measure.

Spector-Levy, O. & Granot-Gilat, Y. (2012). The impact of learning with laptops in 1:1 classes on the development of learning skills and information literacy among middle school students. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 8, 83-96.

Turner, K.C.N. 2011. "Rap universal": Using multimodal media production to develop ICT literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(8), 613-623. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.54.5.6.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

safety on the Internet--from 4th graders!

This is a great blog post from Shannon Miller, the librarian at Van Meter school. Her fourth graders created Animoto "videos" about Internet safety, addressing password issues, talking to strangers, the age requirement for Facebook, and being careful of what you say online. It's great to see that young kids are learning these things and then sharing them in interesting and creative ways. This is a great inspiration and certainly a fun use for Animoto. I am curious about what led up to this in terms of teaching the information, what it means, and how to use Animoto.

Miller, S. (2012, Nov. 20). No title. Retrieved from

local school voices

I just read a blog post here about the achievement gap in the Berkeley Unified School District, which is where I live and where my daughter will go to school when she is old enough. It details the point spread between the highest API group (White, at 922) and the lowest API group (African-American, at 658). These kids are all going to high school together! There is a very wide range of achievement within the school district, and the woman who started the blog has decided to open up a dialogue. I'm very excited about this blog and I'm trying to share it via my social media outlets.

Mulholland-Beahrs, J. (2012, Nov. 14). "Taking a look at the achievement gap in Berkeley public schools." Retrieved from

Monday, November 19, 2012

Research Journal--Reflecting on the Literature Review Process

Now that I finished the literature review a few days ago and it's turned in, I want to take some time to reflect on the process. I hope that this reflection will serve me in future classes. I think there are some lessons to be learned on the research process, the writing process, and the knowledge building.

The first place that I struggled was with how to write a literature review about something that hadn't been specifically researched. My research question links three topics: Do one-to-one laptop programs help students to meet the information literacy requirements of the Common Core State Standards?

I started by looking for information about one-to-one laptop programs. There are many, many research articles on these programs, where each student in a class or school gets their own laptop (often leased from the school for a small fee) to use for the entire school year. I had a hard time knowing which articles to pick, and I didn't have time to read 40 and choose 6. I think I read about 10 and chose from that. I ended up with articles that looked at a range of different possible outcomes from one-to-one laptop programs. I heavily mined the references lists of various articles to build this collection.

I had originally hoped to have multiple studies that looked at one-to-one programs and information literacy, but I didn't find these articles in my initial search. (When I realized that only two studies had been done, I felt a little bit better about the fact that I hadn't found anything the first few times around.) From there I began looking at information literacy, teens, and computing. I had pretty good success in finding these--again, there were a lot to choose from so I selected things that touched on different topics.

The last main topic is the Common Core State Standards, which will be guiding education in the US beginning in the next few years. Rather than each state having their own standards, states are beginning to adopt these standards that will be shared around the country. I didn't look for research about these standards, because really all I wanted was the information on what type of information literacy the standards would require.

After I had done all of this, I had a little panic that I wasn't doing the literature review "correctly." I worried about this because I was bringing three topics together that weren't necessarily linked in the literature yet. But then I realized that new and innovative research has to come from somewhere, and the thing that made the most sense was just to gather information on the two main topics and synthesize the information. Boote and Beile (2005) cite Lather (1999), saying "a synthetic review should serve a critical role in gatekeeping, policing, and leading to new productive work, rather than merely mirroring research in a field" (p. 6). This was my understanding of what a literature review is, and reading this definitely gave me a sense of relief. There isn't just one set of research that has already looked at the same topic as my research proposal--the topics touch on so many different areas. And I would think that being able to simply run through all of the similar research that had been done would mean that the proposed research wouldn't be original.

Continuing on in Boote and Beile (2005), they cite Hart (1999) in saying that a literature review for a dissertation should "synthesize prior research to gain a new perspective on it" (p. 6), but also analyze the research methods and look at what else needs to be done in the field. This is a huge task! The practical side of me knows that I am not a Ph.D. candidate nor am I even writing a masters thesis, so I shouldn't have expected to do anything this grand. I couldn't have--I didn't have the time! But the perfectionist inside me thinks "aha! I should have done all of that. I knew my review was lacking." Of course it is, as I could have refined and edited it more, found more perfect articles, read and analyzed them more.

Overall, Boote and Beile's (2005) article was helpful to read because they write about how the literature review is a type of writing that is not well-understood, and it's not valued by many education researchers. I actually felt that the example literature review and the lecture given by Professor de Groot were really helpful. I took notes on the lecture and used the step-by-step guidelines to research and prepare to write my review. I also used the literature reviews at the beginning of each research article as an indication of how to write a literature review. I did feel prepared to complete this assignment, but I also found it very challenging and had a lot of moments of self-doubt.

Boote, D. & Beile, P. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15. doi: 10.3102/0013189X03400603

Friday, November 2, 2012

Research Journal--Digging into the database

I'm doing some searching and I want to keep track of where I'm searching, with what search terms, and how useful the results are.
Nov. 2 in Academic Search Premier, I used
1:1 AND students AND information literacy
and searched in the abstract field.
No results. :-(

"students" and "information literacy" both popped up in the search terms list. Now I have to figure out what to say to limit it to K-12 and 1:1 devices in the classroom.

Next search, same procedure:
public schools AND devices AND instruction
No fields specified
216 results
Narrowed by date (2000-2012) and asked for full text
Knocked it down to 146 results
Narrowed to academic journals because I feel like it's a lot easier to find non-academic resources so I want to make sure I'm finding enough academic resources first.
This knocked it down to 50 articles. I can quickly browse the titles of 50 articles and open any that seem relevant.
Out of these 50 articles, I chose two research studies and one commentary from Education Week.
Peng, H. & Chou, C. (2007). Mobile computing as a cognitive tool for middle schools: Connecting curriculum and technology. International Journal of Instructional Media, 34(3), 301-310

Schneider, J. (2011, October 5). Tech for all? Understanding our mania for education technology. Education Week, 24.

Palak, D., Walls, R., & Wells, J. (2006). Integration of instructional technology: A device to deliver instruction or a tool to foster learning. Journal of Instructional Media, 33(4), 355-365.

Next search, same procedure:
information literacy AND devices AND instruction
32 results
Out of these articles, I got a few results:

Geck, C. (2006). The generation Z connection: Teaching information literacy to the newest net generation. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 19-23.

Yelland, N. (2006). Changing worlds and new curricula in the knowledge area. Educational Media International, 43(2), 121-131.

Next, to Google Scholar.


Finding the research for this project was really challenging. It turned out that there were only two studies that had been done on the actual topic of how one-to-one laptop programs have impacted information literacy. I found lots of information about one-to-one laptop programs in the course of my research in the King Library databases, but I didn't come across those two studies. I was focused on including "one to one" or "1:1" in my search terms and maybe I didn't find the articles about those two studies because two of the articles (out of 3) had the words "laptop" and "literacy" in them but not 1:1. One of the articles was in a journal that was not in the King Library databases. This was published in 2012 in a journal called International Journal of E Learning and Learning Objects. It seems like it's mostly about distance learning. I found that article by using Google scholar.

The other two articles were both about the same study, which seemed a little odd. They were very similar and had almost identical beginnings, but then highlighted different things in the same study. One was published in 2007, the other in 2008. In fact, I didn't even realize the 2008 article existed until I got to the 2012 article and saw multiple articles cited by the same guy. I was actually surprised that Warschauer published two similar articles about the same study in two different journals--one is called Pedagogies: An International Journal and the other is The Teachers College Record. I supposed maybe they got published this way to reach a wider variety of audiences.

Ultimately, I ended up with 18 sources which was a lot to pull together into a literature review. More on that in my next research journal entry!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the Future of Libraries

This is a blog post about the future of libraries in our digital culture. It talks about the R-Squared (risk & reward) conference and what types of things were discussed about libraries in the future. It highlights the fact that 69% of Americans are currently using their public library, and that it is a resource for people in all types of situations. It also explains ways that libraries can consider innovating in the time of Google.

Martin, P. (2012, October 11). The future of libraries in a digital culture. [blog post]. Retrieved from

Working with deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons

Holly Lipschultz wrote a guest post for Michael Stephens' blog "Tame the Web." She herself is profoundly deaf and wears a hearing aid and has cochlear implants. She lists several things that we can do as librarians to be effective librarians for deaf and hard of hearing patrons. Some suggestions are to talk normally (not with exaggerated lip movements or really loudly), restate things if there is a lot of background noise, use pen and paper or even a word document if verbal communication is not working, and using captioning on YoutTube videos. This is a useful post for any librarian--or truthfully, any person--to read in order to better understand deafness and communication.

Lipschultz, H. (2012, October 20). Reaching all users--deaf and hard of hearing patrons in the library. [blog post]. Retrieved from

The Uncommon Corps blog

Mary Ann Scheuer posted a link to this blog in her blog post about the School Library Journal Summit (Scheur, 2012). It's a group of professionals who are writing about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and in particular the role of non-fiction and how it should be used. The blog is full of resources for addressing the ELA and content literacy as presented in the CCSS. In particular, I may use one of the blog posts about iPads in the classroom as part of my literature review for my 285 class. The blog links to a radio show that addresses the use of iPads in the classroom. I recommend this blog as one to follow in the midst of the transition to CCSS.

Capiello, M.A. (2012, October 25). iPads, textbooks, and nonfiction literature [blog post]. Retrieved from

Scheuer, M.A. (2012, October 28). SLJ Summit 2012 - resources to follow [blog post]. Retrieved from

Monday, October 29, 2012

Research Journal--differences in student achievement

I was reading an article for my literature review that discusses a study of a school district that introduced many laptops into the school (Lowther, Ross, & Morrison, 2003). The researchers studied classrooms where the students each had been issued a laptop by the school district. They also studied control classrooms where students didn't have one to one technology. The control classrooms had five or six classroom computers instead. In order to participate in the laptop program, families had to pay a $5/month lease fee for the computers. I imagine this was to impress a feeling of responsibility on the kids, rather than feeling like they were just getting the technology for free. Families chose whether to do the laptop option or not, and then the kids were divided into their classes after the school determined which students would have their own laptop computer to use in class.

The article made it sound like the researchers had come into the situation after this had all been set up already, so they wouldn't have played a role in having the opportunity to have a control group--it just happened to exist already. However, they probably had a strong interest in the continuing existence of a control group. Ultimately, the students with their own laptops showed increased writing achievement, increased interest and engagement in school (as measured by the researchers), and increased computing skills. The students in the laptop classroom "indicated that the laptop had influenced classroom-level changes in fostering more project work, research, higher-level thinking, writing, and cooperative learning" (Lowther, Ross, & Morrison, 2003, 39). The research was not highly conclusive, but did demonstrate that the laptop students had some advantages over the non-laptop students.

The researchers asked parents for their opinions on the program. One parent stated the following: "The school has made some major mistakes in their implementation of this program. There is a separation between the 'laptop' kids and the 'nonlaptop' kids, and our district makes this separation wider" by doing things like having the two groups in separate halls (Lowther, Ross, & Morrison, 2003, 41). As soon as I read this quotation from the parent, I started thinking about the ethics of the researchers in the study, and also about how it would feel to come out on the other end of your work and realize that some students had been disadvantaged right in front of your eyes. If I were in that position, I would know that I had not caused it, and that I had not done anything wrong, and yet I might feel complicit in the situation. Someone else might have come in, seen the situation, said "this is inequitable" and advocated for all students to have the same materials. The researchers would have had an interest in maintaining the status quo for long enough to finish their research.

As with any research project involving human subjects, the researchers would have gone before the review board and had the work approved. They were simply studying a program that was already in place. The students without the laptop instruction still had trained teachers and even had technology in their classroom. Nothing about the study seems that it would violate the tenet of beneficence which states that the researcher must do no harm, and maximize the possible benefits and minimize the possible risks (National Institute of Health, n.d.) . It is interesting to think of what happens when, at the end of the study, researchers find that one group of people they studied, or one part of the study, ended up having a significantly higher risk or benefit than another. What is the responsibility of the researchers to step in and interrupt a situation that they can identify as problematic, even when it would invalidate their entire research project?

This also made me think about my final project and whether I feel comfortable proposing a research project that grants special materials to some students and not to others. Maybe this situation could be avoided with a pre and post-test on the same group of students, rather than comparing one group to the other (the laptops and the nonlaptops, so to speak). It is also complicated because in a setting like a school, it is highly unlikely that every student could be loaned a device. Does this mean that no one should be loaned a device?

Maybe my project proposal could involve several classes that do a similar type of project several times during the year. One of the times, they could use 1:1 devices in some way. The other time, they would not use 1:1 devices. Instead of having a control group, there could be a control situation within the same classroom. Many possibilities to consider...

Lowther, D., Ross, S., & Morrison, G. (2003). When each one has one: The influences on teaching strategies and student achievement of using laptops in the classroom. Education Technology Research and Development, 51(3), 23-44.

National Institute of Health. (2011, February 4). Protecting Human Research Participants. [online training module]. Accessed at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Myths about 1:1 classroom technology

Andrew Marcinek is an information technology specialist in Boston. He works at a high school that has a 1:1 iPad program--every student and teacher began the school year this year with an iPad. Marcinek points out that there are many myths and misconceptions about the role of 1:1 technology in schools, and he dispels five myths based on observations he's made at his school. His myths are:
1. The digital generation needs technology.
2. The iPad is simply a tool.
3. It's not a distraction.
4. Creating or purchasing textbooks for the iPad is a grant innovation.
5. Going 1:1 with iPads teaches one product.

His ideas seem very valid, but seem to be based only on anecdotal evidence. It's certainly not research study material. He says "My assertions are not based on opinion, but on evidence directly observed in secondary classrooms at Burlington High School and from the students that traverse these halls daily. Our school launched 1,000-plus iPads last year, and we're starting our second year with the device in the hands of all students and teachers." At the end of the article, he restates this point: "Some may strongly disagree with the myth-busting mentioned above, but the evidence posted is not my opinion. As stated before, this evidence comes from my daily interaction with students and teachers working and learning in a 1:1 iPad Environment." He seems a bit emphatic about the idea that it's not his opinion--but either way, his points are worth considering. I won't be using the post in my literature review, though!

Marcinek, A. (2012, Oct. 5). "Dispelling the myths about 1:1 environments." [blog post]. Accessed from

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Research Journal--Reflecting on Personal Bias

I've been thinking about the idea that the researcher is not a neutral party and brings his or her assumptions, values, hopes, and interests to the situation. Being open-ended and as neutral as possible with verbal language and even body language and reactions will help capture more of the participants' ideas and experiences and less of the researcher's hopes and interests (Ellis, . This also speaks to the need for the researcher to enter into the project with as few pre-conceive notions of the outcomes as possible.

I think that a well-researched literature review can help the researcher approach the project more neutrally than if they did not do research in advance. For example, I am interested in edtech and in particular 1:1 devices in the classroom. I am fond of saying "it's 2012 and working adults use electronic devices frequently, as well as the kids when they're not sitting in class. How can we not be using personal devices in the classroom?" It is clear that in approaching this research project, I have a particular agenda on the topic. However, a colleague in one of my other classes posted a NY Times article about a school district in Arizona that is very edtech heavy, and yet has not seen an increase in test scores as a result. The article generalizes that schools across the country are cutting budgets and laying off teachers, and yet adding much more technology to their classrooms. Oftentimes, this technology is not actually making a difference (Richtel, 2011). The article shifted my perspective on edtech by reminding me that simply because devices are ubiquitous and people enjoy them, they don't inherently improve the classroom and the research needs to be approached neutrally--it's possible that research would reveal few measurable improvements.

This type of research study also raises the issue of quantitative versus qualitative research, particularly because much of the large-scale quantitative research in education utilizes test scores. Test scores don't measure children's experience of the classroom, but qualitative research could do so.

Creswell (2005) also discusses postpositivism, the concept that “we cannot be ‘positive’ about our blaims of knowledge when studying the behavior and action of humans” (p. 7). She refers to Phillips and Burbules (2000) as being more recent writers to discuss postpositivism and explains that this is a traditional approach to research, having been discussed by "19th-century writers, such as Comte, Mill, Durkheim, Newton, and Locke (Smith, 1983)" (Creswell, 2005, p.7).

If I were going to actually embark on the research project I'm interested in, I might read the Phillips & Burbules (2000) book prior to beginning my research.

Creswell, J. (2005). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Ellis, J. (2006). Researching children's experience hermeneutically and holistically. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 52(3), 111-126.

Phillips, D.C., & Burbules, N.C. (2000). Postpositivism and educational research. Lanham, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Richtel, M. (2011, September 3). In the classroom of future, stagnant scores. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Research Journal--Contemplating Ellis

Ellis (2006) cites Smith (1991) as saying that "being hermeneutical entails awareness that each person has a standpoint, horizon, perspective, forestructure, or prejudice and that dialectical engagement is needed to support a 'fusion of horizons' with others (Ellis, 2006, 112). She also describes that hermeneutics describes the ongoing cycle of the part-whole relationship that plays out in all parts of human life. The hermeneutic circle, for the purposes of this article, explains how a possible research subject's experience of a particular situation is related to their experience of the whole context of the situation.

This goes hand-in-hand with the idea that Ellis states at the very beginning of the article, the "recognition that children are social actors in their own right rather than pre-adult beings" (Ellis, 2006, 111). We see adults as situated within the context of their lives, but often children are seen as less full, or still developing, beings. By recognizing them as social actors in their own right, we also recognize the importance of the broader context of their experiences to whatever is actually being researched.

Ellis is suggesting that researchers need to have good social skills, be comfortable in their own skin, and also comfortable working with children and youth. She says that qualitative researchers must also have the ability to draw stories out of people and to sit with those stories, in order to gain deep and meaningful information that truly represents what the interviewee experienced. One possibility that she suggests is researching a participant throughout the process, rather than just at the end. This aids in the researcher's larger contextual understanding of the participant.

This is similar to what de Groot talked about in the lecture discussing her experience working with kids who were part of a library summer reading program. She sought out certain students and their families at the beginning of the summer and spoke with them throughout the summer, rather than waiting until the end of the summer to learn about their experiences. This also allowed her to conduct interviews and then transcribe them throughtout the summer--transcribing many interviews all at once is a daunting proposition.

The pre-interview activities that Ellis lists remind me of components of play therapy that I've heard about. These type of activities are designed to elicit genuine, personal information sharing from children. Verbal communication is not always effective, or it's not always a good first step with kids, regardless of the context.

Also must us open-ended questioning to not put words in subjects' mouths. All people have different perceptions of the world, and researchers need to spend time pre-interview with children (or really any interviewee) if possible, whether or not they can do this, use open-ended questions to not be leading while they are gathering information. The pre-interviews can set the stage for understanding the whole context and embracing the idea of the hermeneutical research process. (I like this concept but I'm still not totally clear on how to use the word hermeneutical).

Pre-interview activities will also be an important component of my research proposal, because if I want to understand student engagement and attitude toward certain classes and/or school in general, I will need to engage in the situation long before the devices are introduced into classroom learning. In addition, middle school students can take awhile to trust an adult enough to share their experiences in a deeper, more meaningful way.

I am interested in proposing an action research project but I'm not sure if that will be an acceptable way to do the assignment. I will need to ask about this in the discussion forum.

Overall, I agree that the Ellis article is extremely helpful for thinking about working with children. I can see why it has had a big impact on de Groot's work as well. It really changes the idea of just walking into a room, doing interviews, and leaving, into a relationship and process.

Ellis, J. (2006). Researching children's experience hermeneutically and holistically. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 52(3), 111-126.

Hashing out my research question

I know this is looking ahead a little bit to the final project, but I really liked the way that Stetar laid out a systematic approach to thinking through a research question.

I think that my question is basically: What is the impact of 1:1 devices in the middle school classroom on student engagement, attitude toward learning, and achievement measures?

I am interested in iPads or other tablets--something that imitates (at least to some extent) the smartphone experience. I think that those skills are very forward thinking, and plus lots of kids have smartphones. Sometimes I look at a classroom (or my own meeting and work habits) and see kids who look much more engaged with their phones than their school work, even though this is against the rules.

Using the information in the Week 8 Slideshare by Dr. Josepch Stetar, I am going to try to work through my research question here:

Criteria for identifying research problem:
1.      Must be interesting enough to hold my interest
YES, definitely interesting to me!
2.      Must be within my range of competence.
   I think it would be within my range of competence. I might have to say that I need to learn a little something more in order to do an analysis of the test scores, as it might involve some qualitative data analysis.
3.      Must be a manageable size
   Maybe three different schools with similar demographics and similar data going into the situation? This might require a co-researcher
4.      Must have some basis in theory—ie, topics found in the lit review
  Yes, there has been work done in this field already. Certainly there is a lot around engagement and achievement.
5.      Must have the potential to make an original contribution—can’t be a duplicate of something that’s already been done.
   Yes, I think that it would not be an exact duplicate of something that's already been done. But I will need to find more articles for my lit review to determine whether that is actually correct.
6.      Must be based on obtainable data—research plan must be viable and practical.
   Test scores, student interviews, observations, teacher feedback, maybe administrator feedback (these different information sources could serve as triangulation)
7.      Must permit me to demonstrate my independent mastery of both subject and research method
   Yes, I think the research methods would be solid and I already have a good grasp on the subject, so I would just be adding more knowledge/expertise as I prepared for and engaged with this research project.

The research question must look for a relationship between 2 or more variables.
Yep, as listed above. 1:1 devices and engagement, attitude, and achievement scores.

The next step is to delve more into the research for my literature review.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This is beautiful. Exquisite, to my eyes. The polar opposite of my hideous library website.

Okay, hideous is an overstatement and my apologies to Charlotte Gonzales. It's not her fault--the site already existed before she came on board. But seriously. Beauty, personified. How do I make my site simple and functional like this?

There's plenty of information, even though it looks sparse. Each white bar pulls down (click the link above to see the actual template).

Sure wish I knew more web design...doh!

One thing Schmidt talks about in the article introducing this template is what to do about the information below the fold (ie what you would have to scroll down to see). Here are his rules on that:
1. Get ride of it.
2. Go to rule 1.

Next step: How to fix my library's VLC...stat!

Schmidt, A. (2012, September 18). Starting with simplicity. [web log post]. Retrieved from

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Creating and Maintaining an Online Presence

In my mind, the PLE has a few components. One of these components is keeping track of your information sources. For example, a big part of my PLE is my Google Reader. Anytime I find a blog that I would like to read regularly, I add it to my reader. Then, I check my reader most days. I have different folders--friends/family, local, and professional/LIS. This is a significant source of information for me. I have also started using Twitter as a significant information source, and I'm noticing that it's rapidly getting used more and more, in so many different ways. I'm excited to be reading Twitter--and now I want to start producing content.

All of this relates to a blog post that I read on a cool block called Hack Library School that's in my Google reader. It's a blog maintained by library school students, and a lot of the entries really relate to my experiences and interests in SLIS and librarianship in general.

The blog post of mention is called "Online Presents, a.k.a. You 2.0" (Pho, 2011, February 2). Pho stresses the importance of having a Google-able online presence, and says this is something that she has spent some time discussing in library school. Certain things should be kept private (most likely your FB page) but you should also be aware of what is public--it can be surprising. In this vein, it's probably a good idea to "google" your name once in awhile. One comment that came up on the blog was that if at least one (or more) other people have your name, it can be problematic. People agreed that if this is the case, you have to try even harder to establish your online presence, so that if someone searches your name on Google they will recognize that your online presence is that of a librarian/librarian candidate with your name.

So my question to all of you is, how do you establish an online presence? What type of online presence do you have? Whose online presence do you admire? And when do you Google search someone? For what purpose?

Pho, C. "Online presence, a.k.a. you 2.0." (2011, February 2). Blog post. Accessed at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Research Journal--Information Overload

I was reflecting yesterday on the fact that I'm feeling a certain level of paralysis about graduate school this semester. It's the first time I've ever taken two classes at the same time, and it's A LOT. I've been working full time as a teacher or school librarian ever since I began at SJSU SLIS, and things have always been busy. But this semester feels like things have ramped up, what with my one-year-old who seems to perpetually have a cold or be teething, more responsibilities and expectations at work, and the looming pressure of needing to finish my teacher librarian credential before funding for my current job disappears in two years.

All of this is fine--it's a lot, but I could handle it if I was organized. But my brain seems to be working in high gear constantly. I have had trouble focusing on any one task, and I think it might be because there are so many tasks on my plate that I'm having trouble staying focused. Maybe this picture of my desk at work can shed some light on the situation. Our family desk at home looks about the same.

 The calendar is because I was just recruited to be a new teacher support provider and the highlighted dates are trainings I have to attend. The book with the Golden Gate Bridge is the YA book from my library I just started, and the stack of books with Aviation on top are new books from Donor's Choose that I need to get students to read for photos and write thank-you notes for.

I'm taking 285 together with LIBR 233, the Learning Commons, with Dr. Loertscher. He is a staunch constructivist and in his class, we are supported but definitely left with things fairly open-ended. He doesn't use D2L so the information for my two classes is contained within two totally different systems. While I am adept at navigating both (and I respect and understand his rationale), it does complicate my work to constantly be visiting two different sites.

However, this is all logistics. The beauty of taking the two classes together is that my work in each is informing my understanding of the other. In particular, I'm expected to read and comment on/summarize approximately 100 articles for 233 over the course of the semester (a major contributer to the information overload). I am including in this 100 the articles I'm reading for this class, as well as some assigned reading and posts from about 10 related blogs that I follow. Yesterday, for example, I came upon an interview with Scholastic editor David Levithan, posted by Mary Ann Scheur, who is a classmate and becoming a friend. I know Levithan as an author who writes unique books on many themes, but often has gay male teens in his books. He portrays gay teens in a way that I have not seen in other YA literature, so I've definitely noticed him. For me, the big "aha" in his interview was his discussion of transmedia publishing, first the series/experience 39 Clues and now a new transmedia project from Scholastic called The Infinity Ring. I'm not sure how these have passed me by as an avid YA reader for the past five years, but now my eyes have been opened. Transmedia sounds to me (from what I know so far) a part of my dream of what education can and should be. I want to focus my research proposal for 285 on BYOD or at least 1:1 devices in the classroom. I love to use games and puzzles while I'm teaching, and so the idea of digital quests and games and other media just makes my brain start racing. After reading about the concept of transmedia, which was explained as using multiple platforms for telling a story, I immediately thought of my educational vision for what schools should be like. I believe that all schools should be rapidly catching up to the 21st century, this world where 6 million new iPhones are sold in the first three days after release. I think progress is crucial and  is a matter of survival for public schools, and I am also starting to pay more attention to online schools for K-12. They will need more teachers and librarians and information professionals who are tech-savvy and focused on modern technology and teaching techniques. This is the future, this is what's happening, and public education needs to keep up. I can see how kids are drawn to games and multi-media platforms, and I am, too! So much more exciting than static textbooks, and so much more fun to teach with, too.

I did a simple Google search on transmedia and education and found several articles. Laura Fleming has a blog entry on, titled "A new model of storytelling: Transmedia." She says that two components must be present in transmedia: "1) Critical parts of the story must be told across multiple story spaces, and 2) there must be active participation on the part of the readers." Fleming states that these components can help engage learners, and that young people are accustomed to taking in information via multiple sources. She finishes by saying "Transmedia storytelling exemplifies learning in the 21st century." I agree with her point, and I think that transmedia is a great example of what could be done with a 1:1 device program in schools.

This is just one example of how my work in 233 crosses over into 285, and vice versa. What an amazing opportunity for an action research project this would be! (If we had wireless and handheld devices or even a laptop cart at my school.) There is always the future. On the other hand, this also exemplifies my issue with my scattered brain right now. I read the Levithan article last night at home, started investigating transmedia and education then, got interrupted by my baby waking up. I spent some time last night and this morning reflecting on why I feel unfocused and came up with the idea of information overload. I began this research journal entry 2.5 hours ago and over the course of the last 2.5 hours I've spent writing this, I've Googled "transmedia and education," read several articles on the topic, helped some students take a computer test, and supervised two passing periods. This year is an exercise in time management for me, and I clearly also need to be careful about creating an intellectual and academic focus so that I can get my work finished in a timely manner. But what an exciting and engaging semester it is turning out to be!

Fleming, L. (2011). "A new model of storytelling: Transmedia, August 26, 2011. Retrieved from

Greenfield, J. (2012). "Scholastic's hit-maker on Hunger Games, digital reading and transmedia." Digital Book World, August 24, 2012. Retrieved from 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Interview with David Levithan

Before reading this article, I had never heard of transmedia. We have the book 39 Clues in my school's library, but I didn't know what it was. Since it's by Rick Riordan, I thought it had some type of relationship to his other series.

I loved this article for a few reasons:
1. I have enjoyed several of David Levithan's books and he writes books about gay teens (among other topics) in a unique style that I have not read before. Plus, there just aren't that many authors writing about gay teenage boys. So he is interesting to me for that reason, plus he deserves serious props for doing so.
2. I got to learn a little bit about transmedia, 39 Clues, and The Infinity Ring. The concept of transmedia is fascinating to me and seems like it could be a way to integrate games and digital media into the classroom.
3. I use regularly, and it was interesting to read that it is one of the things helping to blur the line between YA and adult literature.

My main takeaway, though, is that I need to see what 39 Clues and The Infinity Ring are all about!

Greenfield, J. (2012). "Scholastic's hit-maker on Hunger Games, digital reading and transmedia." Digital Book World, August 24, 2012. Retrieved from

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

American Association of School Librarians. (2007). Standards for the 21st-century learner. Chicago: American Library Association.

This eight page document created by the AASL lays out foundational beliefs around technology, reading, information literacy, and other literacies, as well as some concepts of learning and equity. It then lists the process that learners go through, over and over again through the course of their (our) lives.

For each step of this process, it lists the skills needed, dispositions in action, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies (these four terms are defined at the end of the document) needed to succeed in each stage of the learning process.

A teacher librarian can use these standards, in conjunction with the concepts in Empowering Learners, to guide instructional planning, library programming, and collaboration. Just like a subject area teacher would start from the standards, the SLMS can use these as a jumping-off point as well.

The standards dovetail with the fluencies put forth by the 21st Century Fluency Project (, and could also be used together with that as guidance.

Empowering Learners

American Association of School Librarians. (2009). Empowering learners. Chicago: American Library Association.

Empowering Learners sets out a set of guidelines for the school library media center program. It is an inspirational text that sets high expectations for any teacher librarian seeking to develop and improve their practice. The text addresses four main areas, as follows:
1. developing visions for learning, which includes guidelines regarding creating a 21st century environment and embracing 21st century skills. It also addresses the transition of the teacher librarian (here called school library media specialist, or SLMS) from checking out and cataloging books to the role of instructional leader at school.
2. teaching for learning, which covers much of the instructional role of the SLMS. This section defines many different literacies beyond reading/writing/speaking, but also does address the need to focus on reading in addition to utilizing technology for learning
3. building the learning environment, which focuses on the actual school library/learning commons--the people and things that are in the library, collection development, and professional development,
4. empowering learning through leadership, which again emphasizes the role of the SLMS as a school leader and the various responsibilities and tasks that fall under that role.

The book has fantastic and varied supplemental reading suggestions in each chapter, allowing someone to use it as a resource to develop much deeper knowledge in any of the areas that it briefly covers.

In addition, it has a rich set of appendices that cover aspects of working as an SLMS.

Overall, this small book is packed with information and guidance for any SLMS. It is a good resource for anyone, and should be required reading for any new SLMS, particularly someone working with an emergency credential who is still completing their degree.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to create a successful BYOD program

Schwartz, K. (2012). How to launch a successful BYOD program. Accessed from

This blog post piqued my interest because I am very interested in BYOD programs and the use of games and instantaneous feedback for learning. The article discusses a suburban school district outside of Houston that slowly rolled out a mobile device program and ultimately allowed students to bring their own devices to school. The Chief Information Officer, who led the BYOD movement in the school district, said “It completely changed the dynamic of the classroom. The students became excited to demonstrate what they had learned or how they worked out a problem. And they didn’t seem to mind school work anymore — Schad said kids played educational games for hours without realizing they were learning."

I think that this type of program would easily lend itself to an action research project. In the school district described in the article, the adoption process went slowly and began with teachers who were interested and willing to be early adopters. At first, they were using devices provided by the school. They began giving students permission to use their own devices in the classroom. The high schools were able to ease up on the strict policy against electronics at school, because they found that they weren't being abused in the classroom. The middle schools continued to allow the personal devices only in the classroom, but they have begun to consider easing up on the passing period/free time electronics restrictions, based on the success of the new policy at the high school.

The article emphasizes a point that I have now seen in several places, which is that electronics need to be fully integrated into the curriculum in order to be effective. Rather than being an add-on, the curriculum needs to be altered to best utilize the devices. This is where the idea for an action research project comes in. I think a BYOD curriculum probably needs a second adult in a room of 40 middle school students and one teacher--and I could be that second adult, in addition to helping remake the curriculum. I believe that games and digital devices are no longer something that schools can legislate against. Instead, we as teachers and school officials need to harness the immense power of the digital world and open our eyes right now to what students need to succeed.

My husband was teasing me the other day, asking if I would want to go on and earn a Ph.D. in library and information studies. At this moment, in the midst of two classes and full-time work and a 15 month old kid and a job that's on the line if a local parcel tax doesn't pass, I said "no way." But I don't think a master's thesis is totally out of the question--and maybe a Ph. D. someday, too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Accelerated Reader

Silva, T. (2012). Accelerated Reader: Instigator of readicide. Hack Library School blog. Accessed at

I am just beginning to implement Accelerated Reader in my library, so I wanted to start learning more about it. Do I want to embrace it? It's time, and I think that I can help to implement it intelligently. There are a lot of criticisms of AR that are raised in this very valid blog post. One, which I've been thinking about, is what does this do for readers who are at or above grade level? Should they be exempt from participating in AR? Could you be excused from AR requirements once you hit grade level reading? What a cool motivation!

Google Apps for Education

Nevin, R., Melton, M., & Loertscher, D. (2011). Google apps for education. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Publishing.

I was initially skeptical about this book, thinking "Oh, I know how to use Google apps. I use them all the time for work and my personal life. I bet I can just find all of this information on the web." The last part of that statement is true--but this book is filling a knowledge gap that has been really holding up my understanding of how to build and use an interactive VLC and how to design collaborative online experiences for lessons and units. The authors write realistically about how technology is used in schools right now, acknowledging that teachers are in many different places, and implementing something like Google Apps for Education is not automatic and easy.

In addition to a general logistical introduction to Google Apps for Education, the book has chapters about the applications and numerous suggestions and examples on how to use them to do collaborative work in the classroom, often using one of the curriculum models presented in Beyond Bird Units. It is really helping me understand what types of collaborative work I could have students do in KBCs and just in general in class.

The book also explains administrative concerns, and gives practical tips for getting started with Google Apps for Education.

The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win!

Loertscher, D., Koechlin, C., & Zwaan, S. (2008). The new learning commons: Where learners win! Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing.

In The new learning commons: Where learners win!, the authors offer a fresh perspective on creating the physical and virtual learning commons. The book helps us to reimagine the school library/media center and the computer lab as a learning commons that is physically flexible and also virtually accessible 24/7/365. The chapter "Knowledge Building and the Learning Commons" addresses inquiry, teaching, learning, and other academic-related pursuits in the learning commons. It provides examples of how the learning commons can become a space to work on collaboration and integrated curriculum.

The chapter "Learning Literacies and the Learning Commons" describes the major literacies and how the learning commons can become "Literacy central." It also gives examples of ways that the learning commons can support literacy instruction throughout the curriculum, in collaboration with many different members of the school community.

"Technology and the Learning Commons" clarifies the crucial distinction between administrative and instructional computing, and then goes on to describe the role of the learning commons in the technology world of the school. Technology in the learning commons should be up-to-date and reliable. This was hard for me to read (although I know it is true) because we are so far from this reality at my school and the library in particular. It's a work in progress, and I am gathering information in the course of this class and the 285 class I am taking with de Groot to begin a discussion about BYOD (bring your own device) in the classrooms or learning commons. I know that it will be controversial but I feel that the time has come when students should have access to what they need, and if school isn't providing it, then they should get to bring their devices. Now I just need to get wireless up in the library and keep the device use hush-hush.

In "Collaboration and the Learning Commons," the learning commons is described as a place where all combinations of people can come together and collaborate, on curriculum, projects, learning, school improvement, and many other topics. The virtual learning commons is another place where people can come together virtually from different geographic locations and time zones to collaborate and learn together.

In "Building the Learning Commons as a Client-Side Organization," the authors reinforce the importance of having the clients contribute actively to the site, because this will lead them to also utilizing it. The learning commons should empower the teachers and the learners. It also describes the role of each specialist at the school, and gives examples of what the school library and computer lab can become when they are transformed together into the learning commons.

In "Evidence Based Practice and the Learning Commons," the authors discuss the necessity of using a feedback loop to inform instruction. Students and teachers reflect on their teaching and learning processes in order to push themselves to do better. This feedback loop can happen in the context of an action research project, which is a highlight of the Experimental Learning Center.

In the final chapter, the authors give summaries of people and concepts that have made a significant impact in the field of education.

Each chapter emphasizes collaboration between teachers, students, teacher librarian(s), learning specialists, and other community members where appropriate. The book also describes a client-centered learning commons, and states that the learning commons will be more useful and utilized when the clients help to create the content.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wikis for action research collaboration and library services improvement

Burger, S. & McFarland, M. (2009). Action research and wikis: An effective collaboration. Library Media Connection, 28(2), 38-40. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier. Permalink:

Three library media specialists in a suburban school district outside of St. Louis used a wiki to collaborate on an action research project. They recognized that their school district's central library services office was spending a large percentage of their budget each year on electronic databases. The researchers were concerned that students and teachers were not using the databases enough to justify the expenditure, and so set out an action research project to investigate the usage at each of their schools. They used the action research process of developing a research question, conducting a literature review, collecting data with three tools (triangulating data), forming conclusions, and applying their conclusions and learnings to improve their practice. In some cases they conducted trainings for students on various underused databases, and in other cases made recommendations to teachers of which databases they should encourage their students to use.

This article caught my attention for two reasons:
1. it gives a great example of how teachers at school can use collaborative tools (in this case, a wiki on pbworks) to work together and improve practice; and
2. it addresses the realistic issue that some districts have underutilized electronic resources.

It also gives suggestions on how to investigate uses of these resources.

I am already training students on using our database plan to access BrainPop, and I plan to create several screencasts this year for the school library website that demonstrate how to use other electronic references resources such as the Khan Academy videos and Encyclopedia Brittanica.