Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse

Vaile Fujikawa
IL
ET
CO
Thibodeaux, B. (2013, March 14). Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse. Education Week. Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2013/03/14/index.html?intc=EW-TC13-EWH

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Summary: Very inspiring video about a new take on learning at a school in Texas. Lots of hands on, see how things work, do it yourself type learning in environments that differ from traditional learning spaces. Instead of a teacher telling a child how something works the student gets to look it up or build a model of it herself.
Evaluation: What a great place to go to school. I wish these kinds of opportunities were available for all kids everywhere. It seems like it’s kind of the trifecta of learning: you get to hear it, you get to do it, and you get to see it.

The Object Formerly Known as the Textbook

Vaile Fujikawa
IL
Young, J.R. (2013, January 27). The object formally know as the textbook. The Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/Dont-Call-Them-Textbooks/136835/
Summary: What is the future of textbooks? Some publishers are creating an entire course worth of content with video, text and homework included in e-versions of their textbooks. How do these ebooks (or personalized learning experiences as some would call them) play into the future of education, especially MOOCs? Will MOOCs become the new textbook? How do these changes effect the publishing industry?

Evaluation: Reading this article really helped me see the value in these kind of interactive textbooks. The stuff that Young reports on in the article is a lot like what we have been doing in 250 and SLIS as a whole. I have a lot of questions about where we go from here and how these kinds of programs can be developed to help students who don’t learn as well on their own. The move toward all “E” everything is slightly disconcerting to me, because I feel very strongly about the value of presenting materials in several ways to students. I just don’t think that an ebook, even with a bunch of interactive software is going to appeal to all students. I guess that on some level it doesn’t matter how far we’ve come, some students are still going have to learn in ways that are uncomfortable for them. 

How to Make Your Classroom a Thinking Space

Jessica Jones
ET

Summary: Starting with an exert from Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry, a new book by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss, Boss asks readers to imagine a creative work environment. After readers come up with their image of a creative environment, Boss discuss how schools are a work environment for both teachers and student, therefore it should be a creative environment for problem-based learning. Boss then discusses how to make your classroom more creative, providing examples from schools around the country. A total of eleven suggestions are made, most of them a small adjustment that could easily be made in most classrooms.

Evaluation: After having read this article, I see how easy it is to incorporate creativity into the classroom space. Not working in a school presently, I am also trying to see how we can incorporate some of these ideas into the public library. While many suggestions, such as “Independent Work” and “Conversational Classroom” are strictly for classrooms, libraries can incorporate color, a video booth (for programming or Summer Reading Program), and new furniture. With suggestions easy enough and inexpensive enough for all teachers to incorporate, Boss is helping make it easier for students to do problem-based learning.

Allergic or Not? Middle School Students Design an App that Tells You

Jessica Jones
IL
STEM education is a trending topic in education, resulting in many schools embracing science, technology, engineering, and math programs and projects. In her article, Schwartz discusses STEM integration in at the Hampstead Academy. The eighth graders at this school created an app that allows people to scan a food’s barcode or search for it to see if they are allergic to it. They worked with advisors and the MIT Media Lab’s App Inventor Training Corps, mainly relying on the students designing and coding their app. Through her interviews with students and teachers, Schwartz shows that students are more engaged with what they are learning when they can see it turn into a real product in the marketplace. By examining an implementation of STEM in the Hampstead Academy, Schwartz shows the positive responses of students and practical applications to STEM in schools.

A Collaborative Community

 Kaelyn Shaw

CO

Montgomery, S. E., & Miller, J. (2011). The Third Place: The Library as Collaborative and Community Space in a Time of Fiscal Restraint. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 18(2/3), 228-238. doi:10.1080/10691316.2011.577683 

Profile of Rollins College’s Olin Library serves as a model for the campus library’s reinvention as a “third place” offering students a collaborative community-building environment in which they can both utilize library-stored learning materials, as well as share information in an informal and casual workspace.  Rollins College demonstrates that in spite of the “new normal” of budget constraints and space/staff reductions, a thriving learning community can and should be built to enhance student and faculty participation and interaction with each other and library materials.  Literature reviews suggests such a “third place” preserves the traditional library model while allowing space to increase community and collaborative learning. 

Meeting the Millennial’s Needs

Kaelyn Shaw

CO
ET 

Lippincot, J. (2012).  Information commons:  meeting millennials’ needs.  Journal of Library Administration, 50(1), 27–37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01930820903422156

Information Commons are popular with millennial (also called net generation) students, who often work in groups, use technology avidly, and combine their academic and social lives. Enhancing the configuration of services for the Information Commons can assist in leveraging the value of the available content, hardware, software, and physical setting to support learning and academic programs. Understanding millennial students’ lifestyle is key to developing a robust service program to engage and support them.

Changing habits and academic practices of millennial students influence a change in library priorities and design considerations; especially given the evolution of the traditional library into information commons spaces.  Focus is given to the connection between the information commons and the way that millennials conduct their lives suggesting that the commons design should address this connection.
Specific considerations include space flexibility, accommodation of group activity and collaborative learning, space that reinforces community, access to technology and instruction on technology use, as well as the inclusion of some more traditional instructional and presentation space.
The definition and preferences of millennials is addressed, as are the many misconceptions and stereotypes of this age group. Knowing who the millennials are and how they differ from students of past generations provide insights into how libraries can best support this dynamic population.  Focusing on how students ideally will use the space takes priority over purely aesthetic considerations for commons design and will allow future information commons to address the needs of all students.

Reinventing Ourselves in the Digital Age

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan

ET
CO
IL

Hammond, J. & Barnabei, C.  (2013, May/June).  Reinventing ourselves in the digital age.  Library Media Connection.  31(6), 14-16.

This article is about Chris Barnabei, who is the teacher librarian for the Chambersburg Area Career Magnet School in Pennsylvania.  The high school is project-based and Barnabei helped to create the Knowledge Commons.  He writes about how he collaborates with teachers, the management of the 1:1 iPad initiative, partnerships with local businesses to identity real-life problems and solutions, etc. 

This is a fascinating look at how one teacher librarian is at the cutting edge of what we have been discussing in our LIBR 250 class.  It is an exciting read because it shows the potential of what communities can do to engage their students and solve real-life problems.  One thing that I noted was that the magnet school is competitive and only some students are allowed entrance.  I wonder how project-based learning could apply to everyone in every public school.

One helpful thing was that he has an app libguide that he mentions in the article.

Collaboration: What it is, What it Takes, and Problems

Cooper, O.P. & Bray, M. (2011). School library media specialist – teacher collaboration: characteristics, challenges, opportunities. TechTrends, 55(4), 48-54.
CO

Cooper and Bray supply readers with a great amount of detail in the different roles that teacher-librarians can play in schools. They spend equal amounts of time covering the different subtopics they identify in the title. One of the greatest portions was the characteristics of collaboration. They draw readers attention to the fact that often times collaboration is used as a broad overreaching term to apply to many different scenarios. It is their belief that true collaboration is not often achieved in schools. They do make that point that if teacher-librarians want to be viewed as indispensible, they will have to make their skills/ abilities and contributions known to the administrative personal just as often as they do with teachers. They also caution that the end result of collaboration is not just collaboration, but collaboration has result in increased student achievement. I found a great amount of merit in the portion Cooper and Bray spend in helping readers understand what true collaboration is. I think too often the term is tossed around without really examining what it is or what it takes. They offer a quote from another author that fully explains “true” teacher and teacher-librarian collaboration, one that I think is the best I have encountered yet:

When teachers and library media specialists work together to identify what students need to know about accessing, evaluating, interpreting and applying information; when they plan how and where these skills will be taught and how they relate the content are learning; when they co-teach so students learn the skills at the time they need them; and when they assess the students’ process as they work with information as well as the end product, they have truly collaborated.

Posted by Jessica King

The Shallows: Recommended Summer Reading

Greco, Rebecca
ET, IL

Carr, N. (2011) The Shallows:What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Norton, 280 pages; ISBN 0393339750.
Nicholas Carr’s Blog,  Rough Type: http://www.roughtype.com/

The series of short articles and infographics through which I’ve learned of many new tech tools and trends in education made me yearn for something longer and more fully developed, so I went old-school and read a book.  While I regret the 11th-hour nature of this posting, I think this book is a must-read for anyone working in education who thinks about technology and information literacy.  I highly recommend it to everyone as summer reading.

Carr traces brain development in human beings through varied communication forms across human history. His book is not as strident or skeptical of technology’s impact on our minds as his blog is (see above address); nor is he sounding an overt alarm about technology’s harm to children, as Jane Healey (1999) does in her book Failure to Connect.  However, Carr points out a key difference between reading linear, book-style text and reading online, with its links and sidebars: this second form of reading does keep us from reading one thing deeply; instead, it further develops our awareness to possible distractions and novel information.  Carr points out this this awareness to outside stimuli was crucial, for instance, for hunter-gatherers, who had to be constantly alert to new information all around them.  He describes his own experiences as a reader who came to miss the longer, deeper stretches of text immersion when he began to read–and skim– online more, but he is careful not to privilege one form of reading over the other.  Instead, Carr points out that we are communicating in a  way that affects our brain wiring, and that the long term effects of these changes have yet to be seen.

I was surprised by Carr’s measured tone in the book; I’d expected more of a rant. The brain research he cites does remind me of the changes I see in the middle school students I teach, though. Like many teachers, I see a big difference between the kids who read a lot independently and the kids who do not. In addition to having larger vocabularies and deeper background knowledge, the kids who read tend to be more patient, better able to venture a guess or prediction and see it through– they are easier to sit next to in a movie because they’re less apt to ask aloud what will happen next. In early adolescence– a time of tremendous brain development the maxim is that “the neurons that fire together, wire together” is true.  Carr’s work points out the difference between the kinds of wiring we develop through text exposure and through online “reading.” While I know that I personally prefer deeper, longer reading, I can see as well that a more varied information field with multimedia availability has the potential to engage students who struggle with immersion in text.  What will it mean for their minds to be engaged in this way, rather than less engaged?  We will have to see.