I have been wondering how you begin changing a school climate that doesn’t value the position of media specialist. In my current school district, our media specialist left to go to another district. When she left, instead of hiring another media specialist, our principal hired a reading specialist who was in charge of the media center and was also available to the entire school to help improve reading skills. She did a marvelous job getting kids to read, but due to financial constraints, she was moved into a classroom. That leaves our media center without a trained professional. The paraprofessional in the media center works hard, but definitely needs help in maintaining a current collection, working with staff to coordinate curricular needs, and working with kids.
How can we change the current climate in our school to show the importance of a media specialist? The teachers are not utilizing the media center at all for classes or instruction. The only times kids come to the media center is for book check out, and not all teachers take this opportunity with their kids. Our media center is dying, and I would like to have suggestions on how to put the pressure on our administration to revive it? How do we get back to where we were just a few short years ago?
I was reading through a few different blogs on the Internet this week and found one about the Amazon Kindle: http://beyondrefdesk.blogspot.com/2007/11/amazon-introduces-kindle.html
What a revolutionary idea to have books, videos, and blogs at your fingertips while on the go without the need for a computer.
It was such a revolutionary idea that it made its way into Newsweek. The article discusses some of the benefits of a Kindle over that of a traditional book: "E-book devices like the Kindle allow you to change the font size: aging baby boomers will appreciate that every book can instantly be a large-type edition. The handheld device can also hold several shelves' worth of books: 200 of them onboard, hundreds more on a memory card and a limitless amount in virtual library stacks maintained by Amazon. Also, the Kindle allows you to search within the book for a phrase or name."
In addition to these new twists on an old favorite, the Kindle tries to remain true to a book and is no bigger than a paperback book. It displays an entire page on the screen (no need for scrolling).
In the past few weeks, we have been learning about information processing models (Big 6, Handy 5, Flip It!, Kuhlthau's ISP model), and I am learning so much about how much direction and layering kids need in order to be successful in their searches for information.
In the past, I have tried to break projects down for my students, but using words that they easily understand (Focus, Locate, Implement, Present) makes such a huge difference in their understanding of the process. It also helps keep them from being overwhelmed and reluctant.
I read the article "Flip IT! for Information skills strategies" by Alice Yucht. She wrote about how she developed the Flip IT! model, and I was blow away that such an effective process was developed by a group of 7th grade students and the guidance of a teacher! It goes to show how amazing our kids truly are.
Another thing that I like about the models for processing and finding information is that many of them are universal and can be applied in many different situations. In the article by Yucht and on her website, she shows how a research model can also be used to help kids organize their daily "to do" list and to resolve conflicts.
I am currently using the Flip IT! model in research project that my students do on the city of Berlin. We learned some background knowledge for the past few weeks. Today that kids chose their focus. Next class they will begin to locate sources of information and take notes on what they learn! It is so exciting to see!
I'm hoping to teach French in the fall. I'm as excited as I am nervous! I really love the language, so I'm hoping that my enthousiasm will help my teaching. After one year of teaching I'll be able to get my teaching certification, which will hopefully lead to a career in library media education.
When the students first developed FLIP it!, we had many discussions about what to call it. We tried all kinds of letter/word combinations, although I was definitely NOT going to use one boy's suggestion -- Concentrate, Research, Apply, Produce -- for obvious reasons!
Library media specialists have the ability to be the catalyst for change. We are able to work with teachers to incorporate information processing models into assignments /projects, locate new/old/forgotten resources, team-teach literacy and reading skills, create a schedule that meets all patrons’ needs (flexible, fixed, or mixed) and help develop authentic assessments that will create students that are critical thinkers, problem solvers, and members of our society that are able to apply what they learn. Various aspects of a media specialist’s job can improve scores on high stakes standardized tests.
High stakes testing has led to a fear of failure in schools causing teachers to abandon creative interactive lessons to teach to the test so that the kids know the “right” answers. I believe that if students learn grade appropriate skills through problem-solving and thinking, they will be able to pass the test and then some! We want our students to understand that what they learn, not just memorize it but actually understand it. Research done by many states, including Iowa and Minnesota, have proven that schools with media specialists score higher on standardized tests. According to Nancy Thomas and the constructivist model, “learning is a complex activity in which students create their own understanding” (pg. 159). We, as educators, want our students to leave with more knowledge than the “right” answers; we want them to be able to figure out the answers by asking questions like, “how” and “why”. A media specialist who works with teachers and students will foster an environment that celebrates learning and thinking.
There are school districts throughout our nation that do not employ a media specialist. Others do not use the media specialist to their full advantage. It is important for media specialists to track data in their schools and community to prove that they are valuable resources and that they make a difference. We need to be tactfully in the faces of our administrators proving that an effective media program gets results. In order to prove that we are worth our weight (or salary ), we need to keep track of collection circulation (use Alexandria, Sagebrush, etc. to track how many books were checked out, how many kids checked out books, which books are popular, which are not (and why), where is the collection needing updating), collaboration (who, when, why, what were the benefits, how to improve for future), progression in reading scores (lexile levels in fall and spring, MCA scores from year to year), content and literacy standards (who is meeting which standards, where are the holes, how can they be filled, updating curriculum maps with literacy standards too), and overall satisfaction (and areas for improvement) of the media center.
A media specialist’s job begins with knowing where to find good information, how to collaborate with any content area, how to collect data. The next part of the job is creating a positive buzz in the school among staff and students to get people in the media center, using the materials, collaborating, team-teaching, and reading. If students and staff have positive experiences with the media specialist, I am positive they will be back again. It just takes a few sparks to light the fire!
I am committed to being my school's catalyst for change. My goal: A licensed media specialist on a flexible schedule to collaborate with teachers, build information literacy skills, and create a positive buzz about young adult literature at NPMS.
I already checked out your site earlier, when you did the ISP models video. Nice job! I will have to explore this site more after the school year ends. I liked the video with the guy singing about librarians--pretty funny!
Your site looks fantastic - great work! I read your reflection in your posting and I think that your final paragraph with your goals for being a media specialist summed up everything that we are learning so far. I have no doubt that you will do a great job!
Excellent posting on how media specialists can be "catalysts for change." I like that.... we may not be the driving force (i.e. a mover or shaker) but we can definitely be someone the classroom teacher, building administrator, and of course, the student can rely on to help them move forward in so many ways. I look forward to sharing my new knowledge and seeing how it can make a difference. I think- I know- you'll make a positive difference for New Prague, Natalie! Keep up the good work over there! All-feet-are-the-same! (bad joke for "Auf Wiedersehen!")
I enjoyed your site. It is very informative. I will have to come back on when I have more time to really look at everything this ning has to offer. I enjoyed reading your posting and agree that it sums up what we have been learning very well. I also enjoyed your movie. You did a great job with it and this page.
Over the course of the semester I have grown in my understanding of what a media specialist is and does. Prior to this class, I was still under the assumption that a media specialist dealt with literature and promoting reading within a school. While that fact does remain true, media specialists should also be teaching research skills, promoting reading within the school, maintaining a collection of paper and electronic reference materials, leading staff development on technological advances/changes, promoting collaboration with teachers, analyzing the use of the media center and its resources to see how it is/isn't meeting the school's needs, tracking student scores for lexile levels, and the list could go on.
In addition to learning more about what a media specialist does on a daily basis, I have grown in my ability to teach research skills to students. Before this class, I didn’t really see where my students were struggling to find information. I was assuming they had more skills than they actually do. Through our discussions and research on various ISP models, I overhauled a major research assignment that my students complete on Spanish-speaking countries. I spent a lot more time working with the kids on how to find effective and reliable sources. I also gave them more guidance in the presentational portion of the assignment. I had always assumed that by 8th grade students would be familiar and comfortable with programs like PowerPoint and Word, but there were many that needed instruction on how to make a PowerPoint on top of the new research skills and information they were in charge of finding. With some small changes in the research process, my students have been more successful in their research and their enthusiasm for the project hasn’t been lost yet, which is saying a lot for 8th graders at this point in the year.
Not only do I understand my own students’ ability levels better, I also understand how long it can take them to put a PowerPoint or Photostory together. After using Photostory for the ISP assignment, I was ecstatic about how simple the program was to operate but shocked by the amount of time needed to really get a polished final video. I have used that knowledge to also adjust time schedule and due dates for projects to allow students more time to get their assignments finished.
The Web 2.0 part of class was a huge eye-opener for me. I thought that I was pretty technologically savvy before this class, but I have learn about new programs and web tools that I didn’t know existed. I have learned how to set-up a Wiki page to allow my students to communicate with Japanese students. I have started my first blog, which also allows me to access discussions surrounding media centers, young adult literature, and information literacy. One of the simplest, most useful web tools is del.ico.us. I absolutely love the features of this site; I can access my favorites from anywhere by going there. It has been a huge time saver. The Web 2.0 portion of class has taught me that I will need to be continuously learning and researching new technology tools and programs that will work for my students and colleagues.
I am also excited that the media specialist is supposed to be such an integral part of staff development. There are so many helpful tools and tricks that I have learned that other teachers might benefit from learning. I also know that I can learn from working with them. I know that I will ideally work in a school with a flexible schedule which will allow teachers, media specialist, and students to work with collaboratively with one another to plan small and large assignments and projects.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give up “teaching in the classroom” to be in the media center, but through the discussions and reading in this class, I have come to the realization that effective media specialists are teachers, as well as researchers, critics of information, collaborators, and statisticians. I am looking forward to a new classroom filled with resources, technology, and collaboration. Teacher librarian will be my title.
I'm a teacher librarian & recently started a community based blog for getting boys to read - http://GettingBoysToRead.com. Please send me a friend request if you'd like to network, share ideas, and learn more about getting boys to read.
I'm Mike McQueen, teacher librarian and founder of http://www.GettingBoysToRead.com. Like many school districts, we are in a financial crises. Our school board recently proposed to eliminate ALL 20+ middle school teacher librarians and also cut all 90+ elementary schools to half time. Since we are the biggest district in all of Colorado, we worry this will cause other districts to follow suit. We launched an online movement and are going to do our best to put up a good fight.
If possible, please visit our Facebook page and "Like" us http://www.facebook.com/SupportSchoolLibraries . Adding a positive comment and sharing with your friends would help our morale as well. The board finalizes the budget soon so your timely support would be greatly appreciated!
Teacher Librarian at McLain HS
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Mansfield University Scholarship Program – Begin in January 2012
In an ongoing effort to recruit a new generation of school library leaders, Mansfield University recently received a fifth Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) grant to fund scholarships for its totally online School Library & Information Technologies Master of Education degree program with school library certification. If you know of an educator or non-certified librarian seeking school library certification, please pass along the news that we are still accepting applications for the spring 2012 semester.
The Master of Education program, ideally suited for working educators
with no time to drive to a university, offers a convenient and effective path to school library certification. For detailed information and contacts please refer to the Fulfilling the Promise homepage, at http://libweb.mansfield.edu/promise/, or contact Cynthia Keller, Department Chair email@example.com