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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Research Journal: Building ICT skills for all students

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.

I wrote an abstract for this article, but I found that it resonated with me beyond inclusion with my abstracts and in my literature review. The article describes a qualitative study conducted in a media-based extended-day program at a middle school. The school is described as being in "one of the most impoverished school districts in Northern California" with 75% of the students on free or reduced lunch. I work in what would be considered an impoverished district right now, and the other two school districts I've worked in would also fall into that category. While the school and district aren't identified by name, I immediately felt a connection to the school environment described in the study, especially as I continued to read the article and the researcher described the challenges that many students at the school face in terms of technology access and skill.

The students in the study were participating in a program where their teacher taught them critical literacy skills and they did media analysis of different videos, such as documentaries or hip hop videos. Then, they went out into their community, did some research, and created their own videos. Based on the article, it appeared that each student created a hip-hop song where they wrote the lyrics, created the beats, and related it to a community event or issue. Even though I don't think that this program took place at any of the schools where I've worked, having that vision in my head really brought the study alive for me and I think it is a valid mental reference point for understanding the study. I see so many students in a similar situation, who don't have the information and technology literacy skills that their higher income peers have, for such a variety of reasons. It is one of my deepest convictions as a teacher librarian that I need to find a way to help kids develop these essential skills. I don't have the power to implement a 1 3/4 hour extended day program at our failing computer lab, but the results that Turner published are a very compelling. The students, and their teachers, said that the students developed ICT and critical thinking skills that they were then applying in class. The teachers specifically said that kids in the program were showing better progress in class than students who were not enrolled.

While this was my favorite article that I read out of all of them, it also had the smallest sample size and warrants much further study because of that. The results were inspirational, so it would be great to see something like that duplicated on a larger scale. Maybe a study could be conducted in an entire school district, or at least the whole school, with more researchers and the capacity to have more focal students. The reading we've done so far in this class helped me look critically at the methods of the study and see that there are advantages and drawbacks to this type of qualitative research, that has high detail but a small sample size. It also helped me understand the concept of triangulation--the student comments were triangulated with information from the undergraduate tutors and the classroom teachers.

This article should add value to my literature review by demonstrating that multi-modal media production and critical media literacy can have a positive impact on learning outcomes.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Media production and ICT literacy development

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.

Information and communication technology (ICT) literacies are now essential skills for most employment and recreation. Many low-income youth do not have the resources at home or school to develop these crucial literacies, putting them at an academic and/or occupational disadvantage. The researcher studied an extended-day program in an impoverished, low-performing school district in Northern California, looking at whether the experience of producing media would develop ICT literacies in the middle school students. The students were taught ICT skills in two ways: first, they practiced viewing media critically and becoming aware of stereotypes and strategies used; second, they produced their own public service announcements based on community research projects. Turner conducted qualitative research before, during, and after the program with a particular emphasis on five focal students who had very consistent attendance, and triangulated her data with the students teachers and the program instructors. Using technology to do multi-modal media production, the students developed ICT literacies that they then applied to their schoolwork. They also articulated ways that they could utilize the skills outside of school and apply the concepts they learned to other types of analysis. While similar research with a larger sample size would provide more conclusive data, providing avenues for students to develop ICT literacies is needed in schools. Youth from low-income families especially need opportunities to build skills through critical media consumption and production in order to be academically and professionally competitive.

Mobile Serious Games

Sanchez, J. & Olivares, R. (2011). Problem solving and collaboration using mobile serious games. Computers & Education, 57, 1943-1952.

Mobile games designed for academics and learning are called mobile serious games (MSGs). Mobile learning activities are beneficial because they allow students to do learning activities outside of school, either on a school activity like a field trip, or on the bus, at home, etc. The researchers designed the study to determine the impact of MSGs on problem solving, collaboration skills, and understanding of biological science concepts. They utilized a quasi-experimental design with ten 8th grade classes from five different schools in Chile. Half of the students played the MSGs as part of their science curriculum, and half did not. The games were collaborative and were integrated with life science instruction, so that students understood the concepts that were being reinforced via the games. After the three-month study, students in the experimental group playing the MSGs showed slightly higher collaboration and communication skills, and had a slightly better opinion about science class, than those in the control group. The authors recommend a longer-term implementation of similar learning activities to see if more exposure would produce more conclusive results. Developing and implementing mobile serious games for secondary education is challenging but also necessary to keep pace with modern technology.

Using 1:1 technology for primary science students

Looi, C. K., Zhang, B. B., Chen, W. W., Seow, P. P., Chia, G. G., Norris, C. C., & Soloway, E. E. (2011). 1:1 mobile inquiry learning experience for primary science students: A study of learning effectiveness. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(3), 269-287. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00390.x

One to one mobile technology is gaining popularity in K-12 classrooms. Innovative schools and educators see the possibilities for increased engagement and deeper learning in the use of personal devices. For two years, the researchers collaborated with a 3rd grade classroom teacher to design and implement an inquiry-based science curriculum that utilized 1:1 technology, providing every student with a smartphone computer. The researchers distinguish between occasional or short-term use of 1:1 devices in the classroom, and integrated, long-term use that transforms the curriculum. To further describe this long-term project, the researchers provide examples of lessons and curriculum using the smartphone laptops. Qualitative and quantitative data collected revealed increased learning and deeper engagement with the material. The science test scores for students in the class increased after one year of mobilized curriculum.  The teacher also developed confidence in her ability to teacher primary science curriculum and gained an understanding of student needs and experiences through the process of teaching with the mobile devices. One to one mobile devices can greatly enhance science instruction by increasing student understanding and building teacher confidence.

Tying a necktie at the reference desk?

Swanson, T. (2012). The coolest thing I did on the job last week. Blog entry, accessed at

Although Troy Swanson is a reference librarian in a community college library, not a K-12 library, the experience he tells in his blog post resonated with me. He was working at the reference desk and a student came up to him, looking stressed out, with a necktie in his hand. He asked if Swanson could help him get his tie tied for a job interview. Swanson taught him how to do it, and the kid was noticeably relieved. What a great, practical experience he had at the reference desk--and he certainly filled an information need.

I try to be available for all types of information needs when I'm working at my middle school (and even with my friends--ha!!). I think that these types of interactions, which seem so simple and practical, are part of what builds trust with our patrons. Especially in a school setting, I am in a unique position as a the teacher librarian to get to know lots and lots of kids and to become an adult who they can trust. The little things make a big difference!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stanford's new library website

Dempsey, L. (2012). Two things prompted by a new website: Space as a service and full library discovery. Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog. Accessed from

Lorcan Dempsey writes here about the new Stanford University library website. He compliments two new features. First, the new homepage has a set of links along the top, including one that offers the actual space of the library as one of the library services. There is also a page with the library hours that will actually tell you what is open in that moment, not just a static list of branches/locations and times open. I would find this soooo helpful for my local public library systems!

Secondly, the new catalog produces results from the entire library, not just books or articles. You can enter any type of search term--author, keyword, subject, title, etc, OR something like worldcat or renew books. It's almost like Google for the library page, but the search results come up in a great "bento box" style format.

I just read about a class that will be offered in the spring by Aaron Schmidt, about User experience (UX). I am very interested in UX both in libraries and elsewhere, and I think that this article dovetails nicely with the upcoming class. Here's the link if you're interested:

What do you think about these new website features? And is anyone else excited about the field of UX? I am really fascinated by it!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Research Journal--Measuring the impact of libraries through the CCSSSE

This morning on the radio (KPFA/Pacifica radio, a local public radio station), the hosts were discussing a $79/parcel tax that will be on the ballot in November in San Francisco. They said that the Community College of San Francisco (CCSF) is at risk of losing accreditation if they are not able to raise significant funding. Students can't get the classes they need, and sometimes those classes they need aren't even running during certain semesters. It is shameful that the community college budgets in California are being so thoroughly slashed, and the radio piece made me feel very disappointed. It's hard to believe that the parcel tax will pass, because $79 seems like a lot of money. Time will tell.

After hearing this piece, I read an article by guest blogger Troy Swanson on Michael Stephen's blog, Tame the Web. Swanson talks about the great importance of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), which is administered every year to many community colleges. He states that it is one of the main ways that his campus determines their level of effectiveness and it's a very important tool for them. However, he expresses frustration that it doesn't have any library-specific questions. The CCSSE has questions about schoolwork such as researching and writing papers, computer labs, advising, and even tutoring, but it manages to leave out any mention of the college library. Swanson and his colleagues talked with the organizers of the CCSSE and recommended four library-related questions, but in the end the surveying organization didn't include any of those questions. Swanson recognizes that "adding a couple questions to a survey is not the only or even the most important avenue in assessing the ways that my library engages students on the campus" (2012). But he also says that it's pretty hard to argue with the idea that when you're talking about engagement with the community, it is simply wrong to leave out any mention of the library. He then goes on to say that engagement and community building are basic tenets of the community college philosophy.

I saw a link between the Pacifica piece and Swanson's blog post because it seems that the CCSF needs tools to show its relevance and demonstrate its value in the community. Convincing 67% of property owners in a city to spend an extra $79 per year on a service that most of them don't use is not an easy task--I know this because a parcel tax to fund my own job (as well as other school district essentials) is on the ballot in another city. Survey data is used in many different ways in politics, and I don't actually know what is being used to convince voters to vote for the CCSF parcel tax. However, as Swanson points out, sometimes things that should be measured don't even get measured, which certainly doesn't help a community college, or any type of institution, to prove its relevance.

Service-oriented professionals who want to provide the highest possible level of service will always hunger for feedback on what is going well, and what they can improve. We also need survey data to show others what we are doing and what we can improve. It is crucial that we ensure that our institutions include us in measuring this type of effectiveness--and that we support our institutions when they struggle to survive.

Swanson, Troy. (2012). My frustration with CCSSE, student engagement, and libraries. [Blog post]. Accessed at on Sept. 10, 2012.

Elements of the Virtual Learning Commons

The chart on page 32 of Building a Learning Commons has a great, practical list of elements that can be included in a virtual learning commons, including ways to build a reading community, how to make assignments more interactive, organizing technology tools, creating KBCs for major assignments that get repeated year-to-year, and encouraging the production of user-created content. It also mentions taking design into account--perhaps not trying to have a main web page that is the entry portal for all users, but separate entrance portals for teachers, students, teacher librarians, etc.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Web 2.0 and multicultural education

Md, M. H., & Aydin, H. (2011). A web 2.0-based collaborative model for multicultural education. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(2), 116-128. doi: 0.1108/17504971111142655

Web 2.0, in contrast to Web 1.0, allows users to easily create their own content and engage with others electronically. In particular, students can communicate with those who are different from them, which promotes multicultural exchange. Multicultural teaching and education is needed in schools in order to effectively educate the increasingly multicultural K-12 student population. The authors propose a model for using Web 2.0 to enhance multicultural instruction. The model will engage students from different cultural backgrounds and help them feel more integrated into the education environment, and also help them develop understanding and compassion for others from different backgrounds. Web 2.0 strategies can be effectively used in increasingly multicultural classrooms to improve students’ educational experiences and outcomes.

Web 2.0 and learning

Eteokleous, N. (2011). Developing youth's cultural and social skills through a social-virtual curriculum. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(3), 221-238. doi: 10.1108/17504971111166947

The Internet, particularly Web 2.0, is changing the face of educational and providing opportunities for students to learn in new ways. It has the potential to greatly enhance multicultural education. A study was conducted in six countries of a program that used Web 2.0 to teach social-virtual curriculum. The study administered a pre- and post-measurement quantitative survey that measured three factors of students’ appreciation of multiculturalism: Diversity of contact, Comfort with differences, and Relativistic approach. The study found that the use of Web 2.0 tools in the social-virtual curriculum increased students’ positive attitudes and perceptions towards others from different cultural backgrounds, and also helped increase their learning by engaging them in the learning process. The study recommends that educators integrate Web 2.0 tools into educational practice to enhance learning and social skills, rather than trying to resist using the tools (233).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Research Journal--school reform through networking in schools

Carlitz, R. and Zinga, M. (1997). Creating common knowledge: school networking in an urban setting. Internet Research, 7(4), 274-286. doi:

This article caught my attention because of its link between educational technology and school reform. It's a case study of a school networking program in Pittsburgh, and starts with a history of how computer networks were first introduced into schools. Although it's 15 years old, the ideas are still relevant today, especially in regards to technology and achievement. In a way, these advances were even more exciting and engaging in the 90s, when the type of electronic communication that we take for granted today was novel and unique. Students in K-12 environments were doing things like having international pen pals and completing joint projects with students in other states and countries. The project was collaborative and in the beginning, recruited interested teachers to grow the network. The project activities were focused on specific curriculum projects, and one of the goals was that the network would eventually become a standard part of work in the classroom. It also became apparent that school-wide and district-wide networking could assist with school reform efforts such as site-based management and restructuring.

Some of the types of projects that are listed in the article are certainly part of schools today, such as research projects or using the Internet for communication. Other projects are great ideas that I have still not seen implemented. The end of the article lists eight lessons learned, which are extremely insightful and are still relevant today. Some of the lessons learned are that change takes time, planning and infrastructure are needed, and teachers need support.

I was so fascinated by this article because I thought that it is still extremely applicable today, at least to the urban schools where I work or have worked. In a way, this is disappointing because it shows that we still have so much farther to go--if we're in the same boat that we were in 15 years ago (or similar), how will we ever move forward. Of course progress has been made in every school--there are eight computers (ten years old) with Internet access in the library--but there is still so much to be done before most schools catch up with the culture of First World countries and the ubiquity of technology everywhere but the educational system.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Articles to read for 233

A few things I want to read (with abstracts written by de Groot)

Branch, J. L. & de Groot, J. (2011). Personal learning networks and participatory culture: Getting teacher-librarians connected in the 21st century. In L. Marquardt & D. Oberg (Eds.), Global Perspectives on School Libraries (pp. 44-56). Berlin: De Gruyter Saur.
This chapter explores the implementation of courses and assignments that prepare students in a teacher-librarianship program to work with 21st century technologies and with the ideas behind participatory culture and connectivism.  The authors explain the development of information and communication technology courses for teacher-librarianship education, the first forays in Web 2.0, and the evolving thinking and reading about participatory culture, connectivism and personal learning networks. The purpose of these changes was to encourage students in the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning program at the University of Alberta to create personal learning networks and to participate in global conversations about teaching, 21st century learning, school libraries and technologies. The authors recommend that education programs for teacher-librarians incorporate assignments, assessments and opportunities for exploration of Web 2.0 tools and that instructors in these programs model the creation and maintenance of personal learning networks using social media.
Branch-Mueller, J. & de Groot, J. (2011).  The power of Web.2.0: Teacher-librarians become school technology leaders. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(2), pp. 1-13.
This paper reports on a study that sought to understand the impact of a graduate level Web 2.0 course on the personal, teaching, and professional lives of teacher-librarians. An online survey asked teachers and teacher-librarians about their experiences before and after completing the course. After taking the course, participants were familiar with a variety of Web 2.0 technologies and were able to use these tools personally, for teaching and for professional development.  Participants gained confidence and competence in their technology skills and have taken on leadership roles in terms of technology integration and are often the “go to” person in their school for Web 2.0 technologies.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Library 2.012 Virtual Conference

Stephens, M. (2012). Blog post with introductory information on Library 2.012 Virtual Conference accessed at

I would love to (virtually) attend some parts of this conference and this year I will try to prioritize doing so. I plan to post more about the conference as parts of it come out. I wonder what type of interactive opportunities there will be.

Back to School Special from Gwyneth Jones

Jones, G. Back to school special: Rocking the new year. Blog post. Accessed on September 10, 2012 at

Gwyneth Jones gives five great suggestions of things she wants to focus on at her school this year, including nurturing readers and reading behavior, and supporting staff members on their tech work and skills.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sacks, Ariel. Catching up with Edmodo. blog post. Accessed at on Sept. 6, 2012.

Sacks, an inspirational teacher leader, writes about Edmodo. It's an educational social networking site that provides many great benefits, and she talks about various ways that she might use the service. I got another recommendation for this from another friend on Tuesday, so I definitely will check it out.

Research Journal--Contemplating my research question

I am deciding on a research question for LIBR 285, to guide my selection of five articles to abstract, and ultimately to guide my literature review and research proposal. The topic I chose is Youth & Technology. I want to reflect a little bit on my interests and find some readings to help me develop my ideas, so I decided to use this space as a brainstorm area so I could record my thoughts.

At my school, we have an absolute rule: NO ELECTRONICS on campus. No phones, electronic games, music players, or even visible headphones. Nothing. We are supposed to confiscate electronics and return them at the end of the day, or turn them in to the office. What are the consequences? Nothing, as far as I can tell. It's time consuming for everyone and often takes away from instruction.

At my old middle school where I taught, I was super strict about this, and I would confiscate almost anytime I saw electronics in my classroom. Of course, I was teaching, and it was so hard to spot everyone using phones. So I know I missed a ton of stuff and it felt unfair. However, I believed that electronics (this is pretty much before kids had smartphones) were a distraction, and I also knew that kids were texting students in other classes, thereby interrupting at least TWO peoples' educations. Plus kids got stuff stolen all the time, so keeping things put away and out of temptation's reach seemed better. But now? Now, I'm starting to think that strict electronics policies that involve confiscation are one, super impractical and unrealistic, and two, not necessarily what we want to promote. Why can't kids use their phones or iPods to access the Internet to do research for class? There is soooo much amazing information online, and yet we are barring kids from accessing it anywhere at school besides some dinosaur computers in the library and and a few classrooms.

I think there should be wireless in every classroom and technology should be intelligently, and heavily, used in school. But how can we go from this draconian NO TECHNOLOGY policy to a 21st century model that actually prepares students for the reality of our world--work, high school, college, etc. So I guess one research question idea is, How can individual electronics, either furnished by students or something like iPads, be used productively in schools and enhance instruction?

A related question is how can individual electronics use in classrooms shrink the digital divide? How can it improve educational outcomes for low-income youth?

Another idea, more directly related to the library: What type(s) of information literacy instruction will truly teach kids to safely and productively use technology?

How are flipped classrooms impacting educational outcomes?

I'm most interested in technology in the classroom and library, so I'm going to start there, but if I get really stuck I think I'll come back to these questions and tweak or change.

Now that I'm thinking about my research question, I am looking for relevant articles. I found two articles that seemed directly relevant to personal technology use in the classroom, but they have been published in the last few months and are not yet online. My search terms so far:
personal technology
technology use

After seeing one of my group member's ideas, I also realized that maybe I could include the names of specific devices or categories of devices in my keyword searches, such as:
smart phone

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.

Williams, B. Leading double lives: Literacy and technology in and out of school. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(8), 702-706. doi: 10.1598/aJAAL.48.8.7

Md, M. H., & Aydin, H. (2011). A web 2.0-based collaborative model for multicultural education. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(2), 116-128. doi: 10.1108/17504971111142655

Porcaro, D. (2011). Applying constructivism in instructivist learning cultures. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(1), 39-54. doi:

Eteokleous, N. (2011). Developing youth's cultural and social skills through a social-virtual curriculum. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 5(3), 221-238. doi:
Skouge, J., Boisvert, P., & Rao, K. (2007). Pacific voices: Educational technologies for literacy learning. Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 1(1), 25-35. doi: 10.1108/17504970710745184

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Research Journal--measuring student use of the library

Bleidt, S.A.  (2011). How students utilize and perceive their school library. American Secondary Education, 39(3), 67-85.

I was interested in finding a study related to students' feelings about and usage of school libraries. My PTSA has paid for a Survey Monkey account and has offered me the opportunity to use it multiple times. I would love to do a student survey about the library, but I'm not sure what to ask. I already get a lot of informal feedback, but that is only from students who are comfortable enough to tell me what they need, or from what I happen to overhear.

The study focused on four research questions. Each research question corresponded with a set of survey questions designed to provide an answer to the research question. The research questions were:
1. How often are middle school students utilizing their school library?
2. How are middle school students utilizing their school library?
3. What are middle school students' perceptions of the usefulness of the school library?
4. What do students perceive as the strengths/weakness of their school library?

As I continued reading the article and reached the findings, nothing surprised me. Students use the library to find books, good things to read, use the computers, and have a quiet place to work and read. They wish there were more new books, it was more attractive and comfortable, and more technology.

The findings of this study were extremely predictable. That is, they were predictable to me as a middle school librarian with a pretty "traditional" school library. I provide a calm, safe space for students to read and work, computers for student use, books, book recommendations, and help answering a variety of questions. While I initially began reading this study with the thought that I might want to administer a survey, I was able to conclude that it would not be a good use of my time. I think it would be more useful to develop a survey around specific programs and projects (such as Battle of the Books, flipped classrooms, technology-based projects) to gauge the impact and interest level.

In addition to gathering data on specific programs, I also hope to implement some new programs and projects inspired by my work in Dr. Loertscher's class this semester (LIBR 233, The Learning Commons). At that point, it might be worth doing some surveying to decide on next steps. My students' answers to the above research questions would certainly provide me with some interesting information, but I don't think that the quality of the information would make the time worthwhile.

The technology petting zoo

Library offers technology petting zoo & laptop checkout
in the Glen Ellyn Public Library blog, accessed at on September 4, 2012.

This library has developed a collection of laptops and other electronics that people can learn about and use while in the library. At first it was just for teens, but it was so popular that they also purchased devices for adults. People can learn how to use all types of e-readers and other devices, and can learn how to download library books for this program.

Building the Learning Commons

Koechlin, C., Rosenfeld, E., & Loertscher, D. (2010). Building the learning commons: A guide for school administrators and learning leadership teams. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing.

This book begins by defining the authors’ vision of a learning commons. It is an integration of the school library and the computer lab, an online and physical space, and a collaboration between the teacher librarian, the teacher technologist, and other educators at the school. The learning commons at a school provides a space for collaboration, research, technology use, and transforming information into knowledge. It also provides opportunities for students to shape their learning and have authentic learning experiences. At the end of chapter 2, several examples of learning commons from different schools are listed. These are examples of schools that emphasize different areas or strengths for the learning commons. The book provides guidelines on how to create a learning commons at a school. It emphasizes the need for teamwork, program development prior to physical space development, and areas of focus. It also recommends shifting to a client-centered model as opposed to top-down direction from teachers and administrators.

The book gives concrete suggestions and information to guide a school's transformation from library + computer lab to unified learning commons. It includes guidelines for planning, and interview questions for hiring new learning commons-related staff. The emphasis is on creating a site that encourages collaboration, and isn't just a one-way information dispensing street.

Bulletin boards in the learning commons

This is not an article but it was too amazing to leave out here:

 It’s a back-to-school bulletin board suggestion. It integrates slightly edited words to a popular song that kids are sure to recognize (I heard them singing it at the middle school where I work). It is about book trailers so then it has color printouts/copies of five book covers with QR codes on them. If you scan the QR code, it takes you to the trailer to that book. BRILLIANT!

Professionalism as a librarian or library student

Stephens, M. (2012). Professionalism matters. Library Journal. Accessed online on on August 28, 2012.

Michael Stephens is my adviser at SLIS and I subscribe to his blog, Tame the Web. I linked to this article from his blog. He discusses the need for professionalism in your librarian web presence. This includes what you write, the quality of your work, how you interact with others, and valuing the quality of your online contributions above your number of followers, links, and re-tweets. It also gives suggestions on how to make yourself an appealing candidate when you are competing with 200 others for a library job.

Common Core blunders

Sacks, A. (2012). Two common core blunders to avoid--and how to do it. On the Shoulders of Giants (blog). Accessed at on August 30, 2012.

 Sacks states out that the new CCSS guidelines say that students should spend 70% of students reading and writing activities should be non-fiction/information, and 30% should be narrative or fictional. She then points out that she has a friend whose social studies teaching time is being cut down so that more non-fiction and informational reading and writing can be done (huh? isn’t that exactly what happens in social studies?) and another teacher who is cutting her curriculum from four novels down to two novels, in order to put in two new non-fiction sections. Sacks says that instead of making such rash, dramatic decisions, all teachers and administrators should be pushing to integrate reading and writing into all subject areas in order to help shift the percentages to this recommended 70/30. She then goes on to recommend practical tips for reaching this 70/30 split.

Another meaning of the "common" in common core

Aronson, M. (2012). Another meaning of the “common” in common core. School Library Journal. Accessed online at on August 28, 2012.

 Aronson discusses the need for teacher collaboration, especially around the CCSS. He proposes the idea of helping students understand the ways that subjects are related to each other by thinking of the Renaissance, and the role of mathematics in so many parts of culture.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Common Core Toolkit

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Common Core Toolkit

This toolkit is a helpful resource for educators embarking on implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It describes areas of overlap between the CCSS and 21st century skills, with a focus on math and language arts. It details how math and ELA can integrate 21st century skills, and then how 21st century skills instruction can overlap with core subject areas. The remainder of the document gives useful examples for various grade levels of lesson plan overviews that can integrate common core standards and 21st century skills. The document also lists many helpful web links for implementation of P21 and CCSS. The last part is an appendix that gives more details on what each of the 21st century skills means.

I also read the MILE guide, and I can see how it would be useful for school districts who are implementing the 21st century skills framework and making strides in instruction. I think this is primarily a tool to begin referring to when I am actually engaging in this work.

21st Century Skills Implementation

Standards: A 21st century skills implementation guide, produced by Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Accessed at on August 22, 2012.

 This document briefly explains how K-12 curriculum standards, which are generally state-by-state, should integrate 21st century skills such as technology skills, problem-solving abilities, financial literacy, and social skills. They use the traditional sequential approach to discussing education: standards and assessment, curriculum/instruction, professional development, plus a focus on learning environment. But then they describe how 21st century skills integrate with those fundamental educational concepts, and give examples of how states and other organizations are doing this. I will be curious to see how the Common Core Standards are interpreted, because I think they place at least a little bit more emphasis on 21st century skills, at least as compared to the California State Standards.

A school without bells

No school bells for Joplin’s East Middle School. News story on KOAM 7, reported by Lisa Olliges Accessed on August 19, 2012 from

 East Middle School in Joplin, Kansas is doing away with bells and specific class times to give teachers more flexibility and avoid the way teachers or students often have to end class without actually be finished. Teachers will be teaching five classes instead of six, but this is going to require more planning and collaboration between teachers. I think they must be in families or cohorts and use some coring, because I can’t imagine how this would work otherwise. We didn’t have bells at my high school, although things weren’t this flexible, and it was definitely calmer and less hectic in the hallways. I’m going to be working with a history teacher to implement some flipped classroom strategies in his world history class, so I am starting to do some research into that. This blog post,, accessed on August 30, 2012, gives an overview of flipped learning strategies, suggestions, the evolution, and a great infographic on flipped learning. It’s something I can share with other people to help them understand what is going on in his classroom and what they could do.

My Research Journey

After beginning the reading in Creswell as well as the articles and lecture about journeys into researching, I am compelled to begin my research journal with a reflection on my research experience. The more I read, the more I realize how much formal and informal research I’ve done. I will have to divide this into several categories. The first is my undergraduate coursework and thesis at Smith College, 1998-2003. The second is my work as an executive assistant and then development associate at a small non-profit organization in San Francisco called Legal Services for Children. The third category is my work as an Americorps partner at an elementary school in San Jose, CA (I lived there long before I started at SJSU SLIS!) and then in my work as a teacher both through Teach for America and then independently from Teach for America. I haven’t done much research in my past two years as a teacher librarian, but I hope that this class will inspire me to do more data collection and analysis in my work here.

 My fondest and most substantial (although also a big hazy) memories of research is from my time at Smith. My first experience of research came in my qualitative methods class as a sociology major. I worked in a group to research transgender students’ self-identities. The group conducted interviews, took notes, and we may have recorded the interviews. Then we wrote a paper. I remember that I was finishing my sophomore year at that time, so I often deferred to some of the more experienced students who were seniors. I did enjoy the independent nature of the work, although I also remember a lot of stress. That experience of interviewing and reading became a jumping-off point for my honors thesis project. It spanned almost half of my time at Smith and involved studying high school student activist identities. I wanted to find out what motivated the students to get involved in activism, and also whether their activism in high school would motivate them to do social justice work in college and beyond. I did interviews with kids from a group that was against the new high school exit exam in Massachusetts. The summary of Kuhlthau’s stages of research resonated and stirred up memories of times during my thesis work that I got stuck. I think that I’ve read her work in library school in relation to the search process, but I didn’t think of it in relation to the research process. I guess I should have--it’s ultimately all the same thing. I remember times when I felt really unmotivated to work on my thesis and I would just put it aside and then eventually guiltily tell my adviser what was up. Then he would give me a little nudge in the right direction, I would realize I had been procrastinating out of confusion/uncertainty, and move forward. What a great model!

 My honors thesis is one of my best memories of college, especially the academic parts. I loved working closely with my adviser, and was so touched at the end of the whole thing when he wrote me a card saying that working with me was the best experience he had with any thesis advisee, and he learned a lot from me. It was very hard work but I am so glad that I did it, and I still feel proud when I think of that research.

 The research I’ve done while working in education has primarily been based on the concept of a cycle of inquiry. It’s been called different things at different schools, but the spirit of it has always been the same: look at assessment data to determine areas of weakness in student skills, select a strategy to strengthen those skills, implement them in the classroom, assess to determine effectiveness, and either return to that skill or move on to another skill that needs support. While this is different than the types of research that Creswell describes in chapter one of Research Design, I still consider it a research experience. The data analysis is the most closely aligned with his ideas. Overall, my honors thesis is the most consistent with the type of academic research we are discussing in this class, but the other types of research that I’ve done are also relevant. I look forward to delving into graduate-level research methods and approaches.