Can You Read This?

“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtsy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is becuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas thuhogt slpeling was ipmorantt.”

I’m afraid I can’t find the original creator of this, (maybe Cambridge University?!), but it’s pretty cool, right? I sometimes think that it’s amazing that we can read; putting 26 letters and all sorts of punctuation together like puzzle pieces, while at the same time making meaning out of them, does not sound easy to me. For some of us, it isn’t, and I totally get that.  Any thoughts?

S*cks

I can’t believe that I even feel uncomfortable writing this word out in this post! You guys say it all the time, and it’s continually used in current fiction. I’m sure it’s generational, but it’s not something I’m comfortable saying, or for that matter writing. This is my issue though, and I would never think of not purchasing a book simply because the author chose to use this word. Until….the other day I was introducing TumbleReadables, a read aloud database, to a class of fifth graders. While listening to the beginning of  what was labeled as an age appropriate book together as a class, the young female voice, who was reading the text, came to the sentence, “My life pretty much s*cks”, and I was taken aback;  I even questioned myself sharing this reading with the class. So my question is, “Does a word seem more offensive when it’s spoken, as opposed to written?” and “Should my criteria for what’s acceptable in audio books be different than what’s acceptable in written text?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Calling All Collectors!

Pez Dispenser Collection

Lounsberry’s Library is your Library. Your place, for amongst other things, sharing. In light of that…

Did anyone see the signs outside the library doors? They read, “Are you a collector? Will your collection fit in this display case? Do you want to show your stuff here? See Mrs. Schiano.”

Someone asked, “I don’t really get it. What does this have to do with a library?” Any thoughts?

(photo by Benimoto See http://www.flickr.com/photos/benimoto/971015670/)

Does School Kill Creativity?

This is a video was taken at a TED talk conference for kids, run by Adora Svitak, (A truly amazing kid!). The presenter is Priya Ganesan, a poet and blogger at Book Crumbs, and she believes that students’ creativity is stifled in school, because assignments come with too many rules and leave little room for out of the box thinking. I do agree with her observations that kindergarteners and lower elementary students, in general, tend to be more creative, in many ways,  than upper elementary and middle school students. What do you think? What could we do to keep kids thinking creatively?

Book Heroes

Each year Scholastic chooses a theme for their book fairs; this year’s theme is Heroes. Some schools are focusing on real life heroes such as firemen, and others are focusing on superheros. Last night I was talking with my sons, and they asked, “Why not book heroes, like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson?” and I replied, “Yeah, why not? That’s a great idea!” So this year’s book fair at Lounsberry, which is only about a week a way, will have a “Book Heroes” theme!  So now I need your help, “Who are your favorite book heroes?”

Communal, Societal, Social…. Studies

Are current issues and events included in your state’s content area standards? What about information skills? Recently, my son mentioned that his social studies teacher had failed to discuss the recent earthquake and devastation in Haiti, in class. You see, they’re studying American History this year, and I guess current events or Haiti don’t fall within the confines of the curriculum. When did social studies become all about history? What happened to the social part of social studies?

What’s in the news? How do I find out what people are talking about and dealing with? Are people’s lives and/or freedoms at stake? Is this issue really a nonissue, contrived by an individual or group for irrelevant reasons? How do I filter out the noise? How can I find out more about this issue or event in order to participate in intelligent dialog? How does this news story make me feel? Am I more interested in issues that affect me personally?  Do I want to pursue this issue in a participatory manner?  How can I connect in a more meaningful way? How do I let my voice be heard?

Real life information skills are vital. Developing a personal plan for further understanding and communication are necessary and empowering. Continual discussion about current issues and the lives affected by those issues inherently foster empathy, compassion and connection. Kids need to be included in the conversation; they need to be a part of something larger than themselves.

Just for fun take this Pew News IQ quiz, or better yet, have your students take a try and get the conversation started! http://pewresearch.org/politicalquiz/quiz/index.php

Educon in Words

These words are my attempt at describing Educon, the Science Leadership Academy, and all those who shared their time, vision, and voice, especially the students.

Attending this conference was my first experience at being physically surrounded by over 500 people who shared my beliefs about education. To say the least, it was exhilarating. The energy and enthusiasm, yes enthusiasm, about the potential for the direction of education was contagious. Yes, all of us were very aware of our situational constraints and they came up in many discussions, however it was not the place for bashing. Our concentration centered on vision, possibilities and how the collective “we” can provide for real, authentic learning experiences and communities of care.

The Science Leadership Academy itself was awe-inspiring. Is it impeccably furnished and maintained? No. Is it outfitted wih the latest and greatest technological and scientific instruments for learning? No. Are there elaborate performance or presentation areas? No. Are students all about academics and drive? No. Actually, from an unknowing eye SLA may appear to be “rough around the edges”. I hope I’m not putting my foot in my mouth by saying that its not perfect appearance, fits this school perfectly. Perfectionism is not something that’s highly regarded here.  Nobody is perfect, the world is imperfect, and SLA is about real life, real world learning.

SLA is proud to be a “community of care”. Teachers are student advisors; they offer continual support in all facets of student life. This is a democratized learning environment, where teachers are co-learners and questions and ideas are encouraged and honored. SLA’s focus on inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection, fosters and reflects real world, life long learning.

The students at SLA are welcoming, intelligent, passionate, supportive, enthusiastic, fun loving and unbelievably wisdom filled. They are proud of their school. They have a voice here and they love to share their thoughts, views and passions. These kids are a product of this learning environment; it works. They are respected and in return they respect.  One might argue that these kids are the cream of the crop and that’s why it works as well as it does. I say, prove it!  Copy this model and see what happens. I can’t wait to see the results.

What will be my reality?

Yes, I’m just a lowly library student,  (see “About the Author” ->), but I do have some real life working-in-schools experience. I know that the reality is not always as it seems in Library School land. I realize that there will be frustrations, obstacles, and differences of opinions. I’m aware that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and I can’t expect change overnight. I know that there’s never enough time in the day and that not all teachers are as enthusiastic about collaboration and 21st Century skills.   I recognize that districts vary when it comes to their needs, requirements, and understandings of the role of their teacher-librarians.

Although I’m aware of these issues, I believe in  AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner. I believe in empowering students to be able to learn what they want to learn. I believe in the potential of authentic inquiry as the motivation and guide to learning. I believe in real life learning situations and unrestricted access to information and sharing tools.

I believe that this is a crucial time for teacher-librarians to establish their role as leaders and collaborators. Media, in all shapes and sizes, is in flux; changes are happening (almost too) quickly. In general, learners feel confused and overwhelmed, the very opposite of empowerment. New state standards are loaded with 21st Century requirements across content areas, including global connections, learning and sharing technologies and real world applications. Teachers librarians can will be the catalyst for the change needed to transform traditional teaching methods. This is the Age of Information and Knowledge, who better than library media specialists to take the lead.

This is the thing. What happens if I’m lucky enough to find a position, however, the administrator wants a librarian who’s only about the books. Not to say that I don’t believe in the power of books. I truly believe my own son, is all of who he is today, because of the identifications he’s made and empathy he’s shared with characters and their stories. There’s nothing better than contributing to a student’s love of reading by offering a book which affords a lasting influence. However, I would only be doing part of my job if I was only about the books; there’s so much more I have to offer.