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Thursday
Jan102008

Anticipating TV changes

This question showed up in this morning's e-mail from a librarian friend down in Florida:

Yesterday I was appointed to a district committee to plan for the 2009 TV changeover - what we need, what we can do, etc.  Instead of reinventing the wheel here, I'm asking an expert: What plan does your district have for the HD switch?  Any information will be appreciated.

Gulp. Yes, I am the head of the projector sector (I mean AV department) for our schools, but the crown is pretty dusty.poltergeist-041505-big-tm.jpg Here's how I replied:

There are basically two issues involved as I understand the future of TV.

The first is that by 2009 that all television transmissions must be digital. This has lots of people worked up but will ONLY effect those who get their TV signals over the air via antennae. They will need to buy a converter for their TVs for about $60. The government is supposed to offset this cost with a $40 coupon of some sort. If you get your TV signal via satellite or cable, you need do nothing and can use your current television sets.

The second change which is more problematic for us in our district is that it’s rumored that manufacturers will only continue TVs with LCD or plasma screens and stop making CRT screens. To me this is an issue because I don’t think our current mounting brackets (or carts) will hold the new flat screens. And I have no easy solution to this one. I expect we will eventually either stop buying TVs and just use LCD projectors connected to VCR/DVD tuners or buy the flat panels and mount them on the wall somewhere in the classroom and just remove our expensive mounts. But this I will worry about in onsies and twosies as the old TVs break down.

I hope there are Blue Skunk readers who follow this more closely than I do and have thought more about it. Advice?
 
And wouldn't you know these changes happen JUST as we mounted TVs in all our classrooms after about a 15 year effort! Dang.
Tuesday
Jan082008

Advice to rising stars

 I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid. (from my t-shirt list)

brightstar.jpegThe blogosphere is a wonderful place to get to know the rising stars in the fields of school librarianship and technology. It's great fun to read the excitement in the posts of younger professionals who are being invited to speak at conferences, to write for professional publications, and to be recognized as experts in their respective fields.

Knowing that some you read the Blue Skunk, I'd direct your attention to the recent post, How to be “famous” (wink wink, nudge nudge) by library "superstar" Karen Schneider over at the Free Range Librarian blog. I am having these words of wisdom from her post embroidered on a small pillow for my bed: "Don’t assume that because you’re well-known, your poop don’t smell." (Of course I am lucky to have the LWW around to remind of this now and then as well.)

Karen's advice is both practical and humorous. You'll enjoy it, rising stars! 



Monday
Jan072008

The rest of the AASL standards

AASLStandsm.jpg

(For a larger jpg of this diagram click here for top half, and here for bottom half. Click here for Inspiration file of complete diagram.)

As I indicated in yesterday's post, I compared the ISTE Standards only to the Skills section of the AASL Standards. To be fair, I thought I should diagram the other three parts of the AASL Standards: Dispositions in Action; Responsibilities; and Self-Assessment Strategies.

These sections are both the most visionary and the most problematic of the new standards.  A quick glance at the diagram above shows that these three sections deal with HOTs, ethics, and especially attitudes toward learning. The visionary part is that if we listen to Daniel Pink and Tom Friedman and Richard Florida and the enGauge people, these are just the sorts of attributes globally competitive workers need. The question is: Are these attributes actually teachable and assessable?

I guess we will find out. Sara Kelly Johns, AASL President, assures us there will be more material to support these standards:

... the Learning Assessment and Indicators piece, the Implementation project (that task force is chaired by Susan Ballard) and, coordinated with the standards, Program Guidelines (that task force is chaired by Bonnie Grimble).  Some people have asked why the standards came out on their own without the other pieces but in my mind, it does give the profession an opportunity to study and reflect and develop ideas for teaching and curriculum. Your comments will be  carefully considered as were the comments from the field as the standards were developed.

Here are just a few interesting snippets, pulled from LM_Net postings, that indicate the range of reactions to the AASL standards after Sharon actually got us reading the damn things. (A few of these messages can be read in full as responses to Sharon Grimes original LM_Net posting on the AASL Blog.)

I didn't really know why I was uncomfortable [with these standards], since I do hold dear the principled but vague picture of idealized learning described and illustrated in the new report. Now I realize that there is a disturbing disconnect between the role I have in my building to support student achievement, which is valued, and the role described in the report ... Susan P

Documents like this should never be placed in mailboxes or dropped off on desks, they need to be shared in a carefully constructed social context that includes your professional and expert thoughts on how this broad national document will be applied in the local environment.  ... Don't give standards to your principals, give them solutions. Chris H

I expected to LOVE them, because of their emphasis on twenty-first century learning.  Instead - they feel very "slippery" to me.  I have assumed the problem was because I have not yet studied them as thoroughly as I should - but perhaps there really IS little to grab onto. Jacquie H

AASL, ALA, and other organizations can publish all the standards they want. The only ones that count, though, are those published by our own Boards of Education, our own States, and the Federal government, since they are the only ones with the force of law. ... Use what actually works best for you. David L

I'm very excited about the new standards and looking forward to sharing them with faculty and administration over the next semester. For me, the standards seem visionary, not vague. ... Listening to education/tech gurus like David Warlick or Ian Jukes and witnessing what happens every day with my students has convinced me that education needs to/will change, and I think the new standards are the start (just the start) of a new road map for school libraries. Anita B

Like Sharon Grimes, I believe that teaching reading comprehension strategies is a large part of what we do in school libraries - at all levels. To that end, I created a matrix that aligns the new AASL standards with seven reading comprehension strategies. http://storytrail.com/Impact/matrix.htm Judi M

With all due respect -- visionary is wonderful -- however - reality is – they have to be concrete -- for the majority of end users and there has to be a reason to use them -- and normally that means tied to testing and/or funding or you won't get most supt., administrators, principals or teachers to use them. Paula Y

I have thought about this and feel VERY strongly that we do ourselves a disservice by emphasizing our role too broadly in terms of inquiry based, problem-based, critical thinking, lifelong learning, etc.  Yes - teacher-librarians and library media programs contribute to the effectiveness of these, but our CORE, unique curriculum contribution is information literacy - defined as information problem-solving and involving the learning of information skills and understandings.  It's the INFORMATION side that is uniquely ours - among all educators, we are the ones uniquely responsible for ensuring that information skills are learned by students. Mike Eisenberg

I've been struggling with [with standards] at the school level.  Here's what I'm juggling:
1) New state standards for Georgia (Georgia Performance Standards)
2) New AASL standards
3) New ISTE standards
4) A state information-literacy check-list (that has been waiting for AASL's and ISTE's updates for revision) ...
The AASL standards are an overview of best practices.  What will they mean K-12?  How do we make sure the rigor and the quality is there?  More importantly, how do we convince our faculty, admin, and politicians that we are driving these standards and pushing American education to a higher level? Lindy P

So, everyone confused at a higher level? Good.

Just what should be the skill focus of our programs and teaching efforts - reading, information literacy, tech skills, none-of-the-above? Are national standard of value and if so how? Are these new standards visionary or vague? Far-sighted or flakey? Will anyone but ISTE and AASL members actually buy into them? Who really did kill JFK? Is Roland Smith actually Bigfoot? Does she or doesn't she? Where's the beef? How can I get rid of that embarrassing wax build up on my floors?

Don't worry, we'll solve all these problems - and more - right here on the Blue Skunk.