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Monday
May052008

Tom Chapin video

 

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
from Not On The Test by John Forster & Tom Chapin

 

I suppose I am the last person in the world to see video/website, but it's wonderful:

chapin.jpg 

 http://www.notonthetest.com/

Especially meaningful right now when we are up to our ears in testing, testing, testing.

Thanks Barbara Braxton for posting this on LM_Net. Finding our what your countrymen are up to via Cooma, Australia. Amazing still to me. 

Sunday
May042008

Sanctity of print

What is cumul.us? cumul.us is a place to get simple, accurate, and useful weather information.

What makes it simple and accurate is that it collects weather forecasts from several sources and combines them together to give you a more accurate average, using the idea of the "wisdom of crowds". In short, cumul.us is the "wisdom of clouds". Not only is there data from meteorological sources, but people can make predictions themselves.  (from the cumul.us help page)

Monica Hess's article "Truth: Can You Handle It?" (Washingtonpost.com, April 25, 2008*) uses culum.us as an example of "what happens to the concepts of truth and knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation," questioning the "wisdom of the crowds" theory and students' attitudes toward information quality. Although the article doesn't cover tons of new ground, it is well-worth spending a few minutes reading.

Among other topics, Hess describes a number of ways teachers and librarians are working to insure students pay attention to the quality of the information they use in research projects. In one example a teacher requires that students use a certain number of print sources of information. Not an uncommon requirement.

But is requiring print sources of information in a paper or project desirable, practical or effective in 2008? Why is print - a format - considered sacred by so many teachers and librarians?  Should we automatically assume that the quality of information in a book or magazine is superior to that "found on the Internet?"

Here are three reasons that we should drop the "must contain print resources" requirement:

  1. Such a requirement does not require any analysis of information quality on the part of the student. BOTH online and print resources need to be judged by their authority, currency and objectivity. The automatic assumption thatsacredcow.jpg print resources are reliable is dangerous.
  2. Such a requirement may limit the questions students might explore. A few years ago, my son Brady wanted to do a term paper for a college psychology class exploring the question whether playing video games (his passion) lead to increased real-world aggression on the part of the player. Because of strict requirements on the ratio of print to online resources, he found that he could not find enough sources for the topic (or so he said.) He changed his question to one of less personal interest and relevance to him. Does this happen to many students wishing to explore contemporary issues in their research?
  3. Such a requirement ignores that many resources are identical in print and online formats. As many students (but possibly fewer adults) recognize, much of what can be found in hard copy is available online. Must a Newsweek or Encyclopedia Britannica citation come from its print incarnation - and why? Does information from a Google BookSearch count as an online or a print citation? The line is blurring.

Here is my modest proposal. Drop the requirement that students use print resources. Period. But ADD the requirement that each citation include a sentence that argues for the authority of the source.

Is requiring print resources a sacred cow that needs to be put out to pasture?


*thanks to Cheri Dobbs for sharing this on the AASLForum

Sunday
May042008

Best Practices for School Library Media Programs

Thanks to Sharon Reynolds <Reynolds.Sharon@brevardschools.org> from Brevard Public Schools in Viera, Florida for her permission to repost the document below (from the AASLForum.) Does your program have something similar?

Best Practices for Library Media Center Programs and for Library Media Specialists
Brevard (FL) Public Schools

Purpose/Philosophy
Effective library media programs are creative, dynamic, enthusiastic, and committed to the development of a community of learners that is centered on the student.  Library media specialists provide the essential link in this program connecting students, teachers, and others with the information resources they need.  The effective library media specialist draws upon a vision for the student-centered library media program that is based on three central ideas: collaboration, leadership, and technology.

Effective Media Center Programs demonstrate that:

  • The program supports the mission, goals, objectives, and continuous improvement of the school
  • The library media center is staffed appropriately with at least one full-time certified media specialist who is supported by additional qualified staff
  • Administrative support is ongoing
  • Funding supports a large, diverse, in-depth, school-wide collection
  • State-of-the-art technology is integrated into the learning/teaching and information-seeking processes
  • Cooperation with other libraries is practiced

Accomplished library media specialists are teachers who

  • understand students and their diverse social, emotional , and intellectual needs
  • support the learning of all students in the school community
  • encourage and engage students in reading, viewing, and listening for understanding and enjoyment
  • create an environment of mutual respect and trust
  • use their expert knowledge in acquiring and evaluating, developing and promoting the effective use of learning resources in different formats and media, both on-site and remote, to support the instructional program
  • integrate information literacy standards for student learning into the content and objectives of the school’s curriculum
  • integrate technology for learning and teaching
  • plan instructional units collaboratively with classroom teachers
  • provide leadership in collaborative program planning and teaching to ensure both physical and intellectual access to information
  • know curriculum programs mandated by the state, district, and school
  • model strategies for locating, accessing, and evaluating information within and beyond the library media center
  • provide appropriate information, resources or instruction to satisfy the needs of individuals and groups and foster individual and collaborative inquiry
  • use appropriate information technology to acquire, organize and disseminate information
  • manage library programs, services and staff to support the stated educational goals of the school and district
  • work collaboratively to define policies of the library media program
  • evaluate the library media program and services
  • are committed to program excellence, and remain flexible and positive in a time of continuing change
  • have effective communications skills, and work well with others in a team
  • are committed to lifelong learning
  • serve as teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and program administrator

References for these practices include

  • Information Power:  Building Partnerships for Learning, (1998) and A Planning Guide for Information Power (1999) prepared by the American Association of School Librarians,.
  • Program Evaluation:  Library Media Services (1998) prepared by National Study of School Evaluation.
  • Teacher Librarian, The Journal for School Library Professionals (Dec. 1999) published by Rockland Press
  • “Proof of the Power:  A First Look at the Result of the Colorado Study” by Keith Curry Lance
  • “How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards” (1999) from Library Research Service, www.lrs.org
  • For Your Information, Media Guidelines,  printed by Brevard County Public Schools (July, 1998).
Just a friendly reminder - this is the good work of Brevard Schools - not the Blue Skunk! Thanks.