Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diversity and Booklists
This fall as school started I was lucky to learn from an engaging speaker at a teacher inservice day. Alison Park  (her company is called Blink Consulting) spoke with our k-12 faculty about diversity at independent schools and it was a valuable day. I remembered learning from Ms. Park at a CAIS workshop a couple of  years ago and was excited to see her again. After her workshop, I subscribed to her blog, Rethinking Diversity. This is actually one of the few non-librarian blogs I read, and I wanted to share it with all of you, especially because her thoughtful latest post, Books for Middle Schoolers, and how relevant it is to our work.
Her blog posts are always clear, short, and thought provoking. In this post, Ms. Park  asks us to consider,
What’s wrong with using “diverse” as code for “minority”?
Read it, and let me know what you think. Will it change how you view, describe, or make booklists?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rules.. Yes, Rules.

Wow! This was an amazing start to year two as Head Librarian of a library where I have been for 17 years. I feel as though the high school curriculum I am going for is actually happening, the professional development I am giving is making a difference, and I am learning now what to improve.

Last year, so much was new. Our 1:1 iPad initiative, our library apps, our middle school librarian, a new look to our beloved NoodleTools, and some new library privileges. This year started much more easily.

Nothing was really new, except much to some faculty's dismay, I decided to allow eating in our library. Yes, eating. Last year I allowed drinks. The kids brought in their Gatorade, coffee, tea, and water, and nothing happened! The world was still OK. And the library was still tidy. So this year I allowed food. That's right! Bring in your hamburgers at lunch! Your sushi, chicken tenders, and granola bars. And still.. the world is fine, the kids are studying, the library is tidy enough, and the kids really appreciate it.

Studying in Starbucks by quatar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  quatar 

Some people are aghast, but I just could not figure out why food wasn't allowed in our library. I even had one faculty member say under her breath, "well I guess it it just isn't a library anymore!" I assured everyone it is still a library and I wondered if her classroom has all the same rules she has had for 20+ years! Does she still teach the same way? I don't think so!

A very happy moment for me was last week when I watched 3 junior boys studying together at a table. Another boy walked in with bagels and cream cheese and drinks. They all quietly ate and studied and cleaned up without being asked. They do not take this new rule for granted, and they were able to get work done and eat quietly. And they are teenage boys!

Another new rule is about library noise. Our library is mostly one big room, and although we have silent "areas" the majority of the library gets very loud at lunch (even before we allowed food!). This year, thanks to advice from a couple of librarians on the amazing Association of Independent School Librarians listserv, we instituted Silent Tuesday Lunches, and after a survey of the students we added Thursdays. We allow very little whispering on those days, and so group study is difficult. But the kids who need to do independent work are thrilled, and just like the other days, the library is full of high schoolers at lunch.

The survey was quite informative and we learned that a slight majority of kids need silent space sometimes to work and they weren't finding it anywhere at lunchtime when everyone on our campus is free. Very few kids wanted the library silent all the time, and some even smartly pointed out that the silence will disrupt the exchange of ideas. But so many kids were happy to have a silent place just a couple times per week, that we are happy to oblige.

One new rule seems too permissive to some, and one new rule seems to strict for some. I believe that while working with small communities we should be concerned with caring for everyone and making rules that make sense. Our rules need to show we care. Our rules should matter.

I visited another school library recently that had many rules posted: cell phone free zone, no eating, you must reserve this room, do not lock this room, etc. I wondered how those rules came to be and if my students would follow them.

I believe I gained respect by listening to the students and pondering what they need from our library. It is their space, after all. My students may tease me about teaching too much NoodleTools (do you get that?) or about being geekily excited about books, but they do not tease me about the rules and comfort they have in our library. In fact, the library is the favorite place to be of many of our students when they have free time on campus. Friendly and understanding are words I like them to use to describe the librarians and our policies.

Have you critically considered some of your rules recently? Do they have meaning? It is good practice to revisit them once in a while and see if they are all still needed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

23 Things: Pinterest

Some people love it, some don't, but here is how I feel about Pinterest. I'm conflicted, a wannabe, a lapsed user.
I want to use it for non-librarian related things. I have librarians in my twitter, facebook, and feedly. So to avoid information overload and overlap, I'm saving Pinterest to be about activities to do with my kids, recipes, garden ideas (one board I hope to keep up is about recipes using food from my garden - I have to add Jon's habanero salsa to it - YUM), inexpensive but tasty wine, ideas for my home, etc. I am busy creating boards, but I am not really attached to anyone in particular to follow yet. I started following some cooking magazines that might give me good dinner ideas for my family.

Pinterest was really helpful while I was planning my son's Bar Mitzvah, which was on Cinco de Mayo (2011), I made a planning board for that, and the visual page was excellent for me when organizing the color theme and a general look for the party. Other boards I haven't kept up well, but I am going to try to remember it.
I had started using Evernote to keep track of some images and products for my home that I wanted to remember, but Pinterest is better for displaying images so I should be using it instead. Evernote is just so easy because I can take pictures from my devices within Evernote of things I like, and not have to find them online at all!

So many tools overlap - I like to pick one or two and go for it, but then I feel like I am ignoring other tools that people love and I don't want to be out of the loop! I feel a bit out of the loop with Pinterest so I am glad to have a nudge to give it another try.

Note to Readers: I am exploring my 23 Things course on my blog. Some updates will be my learning and some will be my observing of other's approach to the course.

23 Things: Twitter

This is my post for Thing 3 in the class I am teaching with Yapha Mason, Jessica James, Pam Horrocks and 2 more fabulous ed tech people from our school. Yapha wrote a concise, humorous, and fabulous twitter introduction and assignment and this is our homework:
Write a post on your new blog about some of the people you choose to follow. What are their Twitter handles? Why did you choose to follow them? Please list some interesting things that you learned for them. If you have a themed blog, you can list ones that match your theme

Well, since I have been tweeting for over 5 years (!), I think I will keep participating. I am off and on with twitter, getting into it, then pulling back when I am really busy in other areas of my life or just need a break.

I loved looking back on my information using Twopcharts.

A few tweeters who have influenced me, taught me, and inspired me over the years stand out in my twitter journey.

@DavidLeeKing - introduced me to social media five years ago, and whether he knows it or not, he was a huge influence in my social media and library life. His public library work is community-building and it spoke to me.

@Buffyjhamilton - Soon after finding David, I found Buffy and she quickly became my mentor and friend. Meeting her offline was like meeting a superstar, but as a leader in school libraries, she really articulated (and still does)where I wanted to go in the field of school librarianship. She blends the personal, political, and innovation, making her twitter stream a "must read." I found many of the people I now follow through her. And, she is a lot of fun!

@michellesfromme@Davewee1 , and @annalynnmartino are independent school librarian friends in Southern California who have twitter conversations with me regularly. We share information and jokes  and it has just been a fun part of twitter for me for the past few years! And they all have such great advice and ideas!!!

Recently I have started following the #tlchat conversation in twitter. Sometimes I just check into that hashtag and see what people are talking about. Today they are talking a bit about weeding collections and banned books week, which starts today.

Also, @bwslibrary has been on twitter since 2010, and I use hootsuite, a social media dashboard, to keep track of my accounts. If you have multiple accounts, what tool do you use to organize it all?

Note to Readers: I am exploring my 23 Things course on my blog. Some updates will be my learning and some will be my observing of other's approach to the course.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Makerbreak Update

The #makerbreak is going well. These two weeks were all about Lego. I brought in my son's huge bin of old Lego, and the upper school boys were so happy. One 11th grader gave me a hug for bringing in Lego and requested other games like Risk (which I immediately bought along with some other games including Loteria, Quirkle, and more). Some girls are building, but the boys are much more interested. Some have taken pictures, but haven't posted them to Instagram @bwslibrary or our twitter. They may be having trouble getting used to that aspect of our low key maker space. Next week I am putting out 5 magnetic poetry kits and offering up some apps that simulate the same thing.

I think by next year, maybe sooner, we might be able to do some electronics or more typically "maker" activities. We are building the space as a zone for creativity and building, and if I can prove that kids would be interested, maybe I can get the right people involved and some small financial backing, and a maker space could evolve in the library. That is a goal of mine, but I think baby steps are just fine for my school and staff. I want to build up the idea with care and interest from the students.

I am also planning our first Friday lunch expert class. We have a fabulous teacher who makes elaborate balloon creations, and he has agreed to teach a class on making balloon animals in the library one day at lunch. The kids will love it - and it might be the first in a series of faculty teaching a craft or skill to the kids in an informal setting in the library. As I am reflecting on it, I am reminded of activities I did as a public librarian, and i thing this would fit in there too.

Do you have a makerspace? Have any ideas for mine?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

23 Things: So Far, So Fun

This week is the kick off for our 23 Things program. 23 Things is an online professional development training course about web 2.0 tools. The 3 librarians and 3 educational technologists from our k-12 school teamed up to create a 10 week 23 Things course that we tailored to our community and the online resources we use at our school as well as other free resources worth playing with. So far we have 52 people signed up - teachers, administrators, staff, and maintenance workers. This week is dedicated to getting everyone into our Schoology (our classroom management system)  course and introducing themselves. People are making friends and connections already by commenting on each others' short introductions which include our roles at the schools, a fun fact, and favorite cookie. I have learned a lot just by the favorite cookie answers, which was a surprise!
Our school is on two campuses so sometimes we don't know many of our colleagues. I am hoping that this course, along with teaching new skills and giving time to play on line, will also bring our community closer together.

The six leaders of the 23 Things course have been collaborating for several months while we decided what 23 Things to teach, who wanted to take which things and write those lessons, and now how to organize looking after, or mentoring, a surprising 52 participants. We have decided to randomly split up the list, each taking 8-9 participants to shepherd through the course. We will check in on them, make sure they are completing the courses, and give them comments on their blogs.

One of the fun ideas that came up in a planning meeting in June was to style each short lesson as a dinner party. So, each lesson has a particular format:
SET THE TABLE: This is where you get a background for a Thing.
MAIN COURSE: Thing lesson.
 SIDE DISHES : A few links and more information related to the Thing. 
BRING YOUR DISH TO THE TABLE: A detailed activity for you to do, so you get experience with the Thing (often involving creating an account or making a blog post).
KICK IT UP A NOTCH: This is like extra credit for go getters. If you want to do more with the Thing, do this optional activity. 
DESSERT: Reflection, usually a discussion in Schoology (this will be located in a discussion thread that is in the same week's folder as the Thing).

Week One, Thing One, is making a Blogger blog to be used as a platform for many of our exercises. I am going to use this blog as my 23 Things Blog, so I can comment on our lessons and reflect on how the course is going. So, if you are instituting something like this at your school, stay tuned! I will write about many of the things and do the lesson exercises here, while also reflecting on the process of leading this type of professional development.

During this time I will also continue with the Maker Break program we are doing. We have Legos out this week, and some upper schoolers seemed interested but nothing too fabulous has happened so far. We had more success with origami, where we had specific things for them to make. See pictures and notes on twitter or instagram (bwslibrary).

Have you run or participated in a 23 Things course? Have any tips for us? Thanks!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Give Yourself a #makerbreak

Today we prepared for our new library program, Maker Break. We introduced it in the back to school student weekly calendar, and put up signs physically and then virtually in our @bwslibrary twitter stream.
I also posted the following description on the Library page of the school's website:

Give Yourself a Maker Break
Libraries foster finding information and creating something new from that information. If we extend our thinking of libraries from housing books to making all types of information easily accessible, we see that we can use videos, works of art, and even tweets for information, evaluate that information, and build upon it. Satisfying intellectual curiosity and creativity doesn't always have to happen in the classroom. Often that spark happens elsewhere.

Introducing Maker Break, a table in the library where you can learn new small skills - in the time of a lunch period or half a free track. Relieve some stress, have fun with others, and create something new. Maybe you will be inspired to take these skills and expand them to something else. Maybe you will just feel good for having spent 20 minutes not thinking of school. Maybe you need an alternative to video games to clear your head. Whatever the reason, come to Maker Break for a little dose of fun, sometimes old-fashioned, sometimes high tech, sometimes crafty, sometimes literary. But always with potential for creativity and learning.

Want to know what is happening with Maker Break? follow @bwslibrary on twitter or bwslibrary on instagram, where we are hoping people will post photos or short videos of their work, #makerbreak.

Week #1 is Origami. We are putting out instructions for making some beginner to intermediate origami, including our school mascot, an eagle. We also have paper to fold, and instructions on how to share their creations with the school community. We are excited to have the kids write poetry some weeks, make stop motion with lego, and do other small, inexpensive, put fun "maker" activities, without the 3-D printer. We are trying to get our kids from just hanging out to messing around...maybe someday to geeking out. I'll keep you posted!

What maker activities are you doing at your library this year? Do you have any new programming?