Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blog Tour - Engaging the Eye Generation

On March 3rd, Archipelago will be stop one on a four-stop blog tour for the new book Engaging the Eye Generation: Visual Literacy Strategies for the K-5 Classroom by Johanna Riddle. Download Engaging the Eye Generation, read it, and send me questions for the author before February 28th. I will forward the questions to her, along with some of my own, and she will answer them for the March 3rd blog tour stop. Also, let's discuss the book together in the comments - I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Ms. Riddle's 25-year career in education has included being a media specialist, classroom teacher, art teacher, and arts administrator. She is also a writer, focusing on multiple literacies and integrated learning. In Engaging the Eye Generation she walks the reader through her philosophies about visual literacy as well as hand-on projects using technology she often learned with, or right before, the students. Her practical ideas should inspire middle and secondary school teachers and librarians as well.

I recommend reading this book for the practical tips but also for the well-thought out reasons for teaching visual literacy. Drawing from educational standards as well as ideas from A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, Ms. Riddle shows a sequence of skills and projects that not only engage students but excite them about research and creating visual images with meaning. She emphasizes collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and trying something new. Students of every age are bombarded by images now more than ever. Giving them the tools to not only understand visual media but to make their own (and make them well) should be an important part of teaching information skills for the 21st century.

Let's talk about the book and how, or if, you teach visual literacy at your school!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Rainbow List

The Rainbow List 2009

Rainbow List 2009 « The Rainbow List via kwout

I just blogged about The Rainbow List in my blog for my school. I notified the kids that we have many of the books from both this year's and last year's list. I will put some of the books on display too. The problem that I have with these books is that it is difficult to get kids to read them! Even though our school seems to be a supportive community and has an active Gay-Straight Alliance, I think it is still hard to be labeled. Usually when I booktalk a book with gay themes to 8th-9th graders, it does not get checked out. Even when I try to downplay that part of the story it still sits in the library after class. Sometimes the books with gay characters get checked out for required reading for a Human Development class (at least I got that into the curriculum!), or I might notice an older student checking one out, but hardly ever an 8th-9th grader. I blame it on their age, that they are probably afraid of being labeled as GLBTQ, and so they stay away from books with these themes (What they don't realize is you don't have to be a boy to read a book about a boy main character, you don't have to be a clone to enjoy a book about a clone as a main character. Why does reading a book about a gay or lesbian character possibly signify that the reader is gay or lesbian?). Of course, this doesn't stop me from buying and promoting these often excellent books, because I think even if one student reads and connects with a book like this it can be a life-changing event for him or her, and therefore the books are worth buying.

Do your students check out the books they know have gay themes? Which ones are the most popular? I would say, without doing any major research on it, that Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan is probably the most checked out book with gay themes in my library. What about yours? How can we as librarians combat this subtle homophobia in young teens? Or, is it not a problem in your library?

Along with The Rainbow List, please look at Lee Wind's blog celebrating YA GLBTQ books, I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell do I Read? (Twilight fans must see his video Love Sucks: Good News for Gays and Vampires).

Elementary School Databases

Our 7-12 grade library subscribes to some fantastic databases that we have selected as useful for our school curriculum. I am wondering what are the favorites and why at the elementary school level. Is there a great one (or more) out there for issues like smoking, littering, pollution, etc? I am wondering about an issues related database for 3-6th graders - any suggestions? What is your favorite?

Friday, February 6, 2009

LibGuides as Pathfinders

At ALA in Anaheim this summer, I discovered LibGuides, and my teaching has changed dramatically because of it. Known in the university library world but new to the school library world, this amazing service will transplant your pathfinders into the 2.0 (r)age. My students love it, the other librarian I work with loves it, my consortium of Southern California independent school librarians love it - we all agree - it makes teaching research easier.
With a flexible and easy-to-use application, you can use links, text, RSS feeds, Word documents, embedded slide shows, embedded videos, and more to make multi-page web-based pathfinders for you kids. It is easy to put a LibGuides widget on your homepage, link to LibGuides via Facebook, and more.
Going a few steps beyond wikis in flexibility (but not necessarily in collaboration, although you may give your students an add a link option in LibGuides), my school instantly became a LibGuides school from the first research pathfinder. Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, put together a slideshow about library pathfinders from yesterday to pathfinders of today, with LibGuides being an example of today's 2.0 pathfinders.
Although there is a fee for subscribing to LibGuides, we have found that it is quite worth the investment.

Take a look at our LibGuides, and explore what others are doing too! I am excited to see what elementary school librarians are doing with LibGuides. Our K-6 Librarian hasn't made one yet, but hopefully will soon. I can predict that it will be useful for that age range as well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Are Video Games a part of Your Program?

We do not allow video games in our libraries. In fact, our upper and middle school library doesn't allow games in general (including cards and board games). Kids are often noisy when cheering their friends on in a game, even noisier than they usually are in the library (a topic for a later post!). The students have a lounge on campus where they can play ping pong, chess, other board games, cards, and video games on the computer. They sometimes have video game tournaments on other platforms as well, but not in the library.

Public libraries have embraced video games, and I believe some public school libraries have as well. I just don't see the need or the value of video games at our library (however I do have a Wii and a PS3 at home for my husband and kids!). I even ignore that part of the library conferences and literature, although I do keep up with the studies done on the benefits of gaming in general. I wonder if I am missing something valuable. Are you offering video games and tournaments at your Independent School Library? Why or why not? And if you are, how it is working?