Thursday, January 28, 2010

Library Day in the Life: Reflection

My Library Day in the Life is a bit different today. After three hours at work, my son's school nurse called me to tell me he was sick and I needed to pick him up. I suppose he has the cold my daughter had earlier in the week. Instead of writing about the work I didn't really finish today, the meetings I didn't have, or the fun things I missed this afternoon (a Patricia Polacco visit and making Valentine's Day cards with our amazing lower school librarian and Stampin' Up demonstrator ), I want to quickly reflect on  this daily blogging activity (so I can go to sleep and blog again tomorrow!).

I look at the past few posts and I think how lucky I am to have such a great job. I have written about good meetings with great colleagues, satisfying library and non-library tasks, and a supportive administration.

I realize that this week, since I didn't teach much, I had less interactions with the kids, but more interactions with the faculty. Both are very valuable and I enjoy being able to have the best of both worlds.

I never wrote of being bored - which makes sense as I am never bored at work (well, there was one boring moment, but it had purpose!). There is always something interesting to do or learn at my library.

Frankly,  I just enjoy being a school librarian. I love the community of the school, working with passionate, smart, and silly  teens, and being surrounded by books, technology, and nice people. Add  summers off, and I feel very lucky. It is nice to be reminded of that by this experience of blogging about my daily work! Thanks Bobbi Newman and Library Day in the Life!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Library Day in the Life - Calm

Day 3 of Library Day in the Life went by fast. My daughter magically got better around 3:00 PM yesterday, so she went back to school today. At work I organized, collaborated, and caught up on a bunch of smaller things.Today was a very calm and productive day.

  • I started my day at the reference desk, astounding one girl with the amount of resources we have on Kurds, helping a student with Diigo, loaning a DVD of  The Crucible to a teacher, and having typically random conversations with students.

  • After grabbing some Cheerios, I cleaned my desk, putting together working files and filing away old paperwork. Then I made a to do list. I am rarely without my little blue or purple pad of paper with my ongoing lists. I have tried many electronic list-making tools, but nothing satisfies me more than crossing items off my list with a pen. My address book is digital, my photos are digital, my lists are on little blue pads of paper from Office Depot.

  • Next I collaborated with the Lower Division Librarian about  our approach to co-chairing the library chapter of the WASC accreditation report, which we have to start next month.

  • I met with my Advisory group. Every week for about 25 minutes I meet with the same dozen teenagers. I have been with this group for almost three years now, and today we talked about our school community and if it upholds its stated value of caring. It was a good conversation, and we commented how different it would have been if they were in 9th grade (they are now in 11th).

  • Next I hopped into the Educational Technology Specialist's office in the library and we met about how to better reach reluctant teachers and encourage their professional growth in the realm of technology. We also decided to formally meet on a weekly basis with the other Ed Tech guy as well. Very productive meeting.

  • Today for lunch I made a nice salad at the salad bar and ate outside in the sunshine with my friends/coworkers

  • Next I caught up on my email and Twitter (professional development at its finest), followed the tweets about the new  iPad for a bit (nice price!), and I discovered that my new UCLA mentor is just 1 degree of separation from me already - we were bound to meet even if I weren't her mentor.

  • Then I took an Atomic Learning assessment about 21st century skills. Luckily I passed (I got a  B), but the test was mediocre. I took it as a favor to the Ed Tech guy, who was wondering if all the teachers should take it. My response was, "Only if you want people to talk about you behind your back." We agreed that test is boring and unimaginative, and really not a clear indicator of knowledge. If the school wants to assess our teachers in this way, we could probably design a better assessment for our community.

  • Next I had to work on some non-library related committee work for about an hour.Fun, but nothing to blog about.

  • Off to pick up the kids from school!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Library Day in the Life - at Home

It is Library Day in the Life, Day 2, and instead of reporting for duty at the school library, I am home with my daughter who has a low fever and a strong cough. What does a school librarian do when home all day?
First I had to negotiate with  my husband about who would stay home all day. I won. I get more sick days, and my library schedule didn't look too busy today. These sick days make it both hard and delicious to be a working mom. It is hard to call in and say I'm not coming, knowing it just means more work for the other librarians. Many independent schools do not hire subs for librarians. The day is delicious because my daughter isn't that sick, and we can just hunker down and try to enjoy the unexpected day off. Here is what we did.
  • TV on (when sick, children love TV even more than usual, and I tend to let them watch).
  • Checked in at work via email.
  • TV off.
  • Made breakfast.
  • Made Valentines. 
  • Made lunch.
  • TV on.
  • Added my library as a venue on foursquare - wondering who will participate.
  • Blogged/facebooked about the above to spread the word.
  • TV off.
  • Finished Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson while daughter read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Found out I am a mentor for a UCLA student and contacted her via email.
  • TV on.
  • Had the washing machine repairman tell me my washer is totally broken and too expensive to fix. 
  • Fretted about the above. 
  • TV off.
  • Picked up son from school and dropped him off at an after school activity.
  • Did laundry at my mom's house.
  • Met son and husband at home to make dinner.
  • Made and ate lovely dinner.
  • Folded laundry.
  • Wondered if I will return to work tomorrow. Check in tomorrow to find out!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Library Day in the Life - My School Library

I am participating in Library Day in the Life this week. Each day I will blog a bit about my day as Librarian at  the 7-12 grade campus of a K-12 school, starting now!

  • Woke up at 5:30 and headed to campus to exercise for an hour and shower before work.
  • Arrived happy and with a cup of coffee to the library by 7:25.
  • Wondered if I am allowed to post some pictures of my students using the library on this blog. I decided to put some old pictures to let you see the Library, but I avoided showing the faces of the students.
  • The other librarians opened up the library, so I ran up to the cafeteria to get warm oatmeal. A perk of our school - they feed us breakfast and lunch. Yum!
  • Back at the circ desk - I ran overdues in InfoCentre for students. I email them via InfoCentre to the students - very easy. Then sent out "Community Conduct Reports" via email out to the kids who have books over 2 weeks overdue. We don't charge fines, but they do get demerits which add up for detentions.
  • Spoke with freshman about getting the third in a Garth Nix trilogy. We'll order it today!
  • Met with weekly Activity. I co-sponsor the upper school's blog about student life, written by students, for students. We have podcasts, videos, and text. It could be better, but it is growing.
  • Helped students using Diigo.
  • Spoke with another Independent School Librarian about our 40 school consortium concerning changing our groups' correspondence from GoogleGroups, which has become unreliable, to Google Sites, which looks better now anyway. We are going to work on it during the summer when we have more time to think!
  • Covered the reference desk while the other librarians went to lunch (remember we get fed).
  • Had a working lunch while at a committee meeting - nothing library related, but an interesting committee about the life of the school.
  • Read a review journal at the reference desk
  • Taught the seventh section of a 6 part research project. This lesson is about using SIRS, ProQuest, and CQ Researcher. The students then need to find 2 articles either in class or for homework on their chosen topic that they have been researching for 2 weeks. Next week they will learn about note-taking on NoodleTools. The past 2 weeks I was very busy teaching all 120 eighth graders the steps of the research process, including a wiki reflection. This week should be much quieter.
  • Missed the after-school faculty meeting to go to my son's first ever basketball game at the lower school campus a few block away. Both my kids attend school there, and everyone understands when I need to leave for one of their events - my administration even encourages me to go. Many faculty and staff have children who attend our school, and it really adds to the community feeling.
  • Tonight I will probably read Patterson's  Maximum Ride for my student book club, answer a few emails about research questions, and just be a mom!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Overview of the Week: Diigo, Wikis, and Guest Speaking

I am so happy this week is over! I want to share about what might be one of my busiest yet satisfying work weeks in a very long time.  I will write reflections as I (and my students) finish up the projects.
I taught Diigo for the first time to all of the seniors. I set up Diigo accounts for each of the 120 students using Diigo Educator. I chose to use the educator version so that I could manage their accounts, set up groups, and basically be in charge. Our seniors write a thesis paper which they work on for several months, and it is a great culminating research activity of all they have learned in the library. I like to update them with some new research skills or tools though, and this year I chose to add Diigo. Many of the kids seem to like it. In fact, I believe the boys, and not just the highly motivated boys, were very impressed with Diigo and even started using the word as a verb ("Let's Diigo."). I chose to install the Diigolet on Firefox on many of the library computers and taught the kids how to install it from home. I will post an update in about a month with impressions from the seniors, but right now, I am happy with all the preparation I did (setting up their accounts, installing Diigo, making my account as an example for them), and with the interest of the students even though using it isn't required this year.  Do any of you Diigo? What grades enjoy it? For what projects?

Moodle Wiki
In a big collaboration effort between the four 8th grade English teachers, one of our educational technology specialists, and me, we created  wikis in Moodle to use as a reflection and collaboration component in the big research project. I made a LibGuide to accompany the wiki.
Each class has a wiki similar to the one below.

Each student has a page on the wiki where they are reflecting on the inquiry and research process, adding links to research, and posting comments on other student wikis. I was nervous to start this and teach wikis (and Moodle) for the first time. I am proud to report - so far, so good. Moodle is mostly stable, the kids are getting it, and the collaboration is going well. I am lucky to work with a great educational technologist and a team of teachers who trust us. We have completed 3 of the 7 library related lessons for this project so far, and I will post an update at the end to let you know about how the teachers and students feel about it in the end.

Guest Speaking
I used to work with a friend who became a consultant about issues concerning the Internet and schools. She had scheduled some presenting engagements at another school, and she asked me to cover two of them.  I  spoke about Internet ethics and cyber-bullying to a group of 8th graders at another local independent school. My Dean of Faculty said it would be great professional development, and it was. I was nervous to present, although my friend had great presentations to follow. I wanted to make a good impression, and I wanted my friend to be proud of me and be able to call on me again for help. I think the days went very well and any practice presenting to strangers is good experience.

All in all, I had a week of new experiences, new lessons, new collaborations, and not enough sleep because I also started reading a new book (The Help) which I love! And, the other librarian also was busy introducing two other major research projects, so some days we had about 230 people (that is one third of the student body) learing in the library throughout the day. A great week, and more to come this week. Look for reflection pieces for each component in upcoming weeks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To the Fans of My Library's Facebook Page

Please, don't become a Fan! I hope you are not offended, but try to understand, it's not that I don't like you...

Late last year I was thrilled when my school library's Facebook page had a record 70 fans. When I went to see who those fans were, I was met with a lot of unfamiliar faces. Yes, there were about 30 current students, some faculty and staff, and even lots of alumni. But there were many people who I am assuming are librarians. If you are one of them, I am sorry to tell you that I "removed" you from my fan base.
Yes, it was nice to be part of the library Facebook community. And yes, I do want lots of fans, but I want fans from my school community. I want my students to browse the fans and see their friends, teachers, and siblings, not a bunch of ladies (mostly) from around the world that they do not know! I think they might be more likely to become a fan if they see their community in the library's virtual space. I want to encourage informative conversations and publicity for our school library programs, books, and research projects. Maybe when I have 200 or so fans, a couple dozen librarians will be fine. But for now, it just doesn't suit the purpose of the page.
Does your school library have a Facebook page? Have you looked through the fans to see who your online community is? Do you want fans from outside your community? I am working on getting more student fans - any ideas on how to spread the word?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blogging Goals

Happy New Year! 
I spent the past few weeks evaluating a lot of things, both personal (my budget, my garden, my clutter) and professional (my school blog, my lessons/collaboration for January, my presentations, my blog), as many people do this time of year. After thinking about why I blog, new ideas for the blog, and when to blog,  I made some new goals I'd like to share with you.

A Goal to Heaven

1. Redesign Archipelago. I am currently working on a new look in WordPress. I hope to have it all done by the end of January. I want to make it easier to read on different browsers, and I want to give it a cleaner look. Anyone have any tips in what to look for in a WordPress theme?

2. Diversify the perspective and the dialog. I want to attract guest bloggers. Would you like to be one? Some are already in the works with seeds planted and minds pondering. I also want to encourage more collaboration through enticing more people to comment on the blog, and therefore I need to start more interesting conversations.

3. Find a schedule. In order to make the blog fun and not a burden, I need a schedule of minimum posts. So, my goal is to write at least one new post every two weeks.

4. Increase visibility and readership while maintaining balance. This one will be difficult, but is most crucial. I enjoy being part of the blogging librarian community, but I do not want it to take over my life - I am a working mom and I do have other hobbies! I think the word balance will be my mantra. 

This month is going to be very busy with teaching Diigo for the first time, working with the whole 8th grade on a research project with new technology components, two presentations at another school, a presentation to the faculty, and I am sure more adventures will surface. I am apprehensive about how busy I will be and I hope to tackle reflecting on the projects in my next posts.