Monday, October 31, 2011
One of the most useful AVL resources for students is the Biography Reference Bank. They can search for the names of historically significant or famous individuals related to a learning activity (each grade's social studies course of study is chock full of "famous people"), and can also perform as advanced or as basic a search as their needs and abilities require. Older students can define search parameters such as a person's year of birth, place of origin, date of death, and even the person's profession or activity of merit. These advanced search options provide students with experience in utilizing unique reference sources.
There are "Featured Biographies" each day that students can peruse to discover more unique, significant, and interesting people as well.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Leaf Glitter (perfect for Lois Ehlert's Leaf Man book)
Clipboard Organization and Storage
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
ALMO is our pet name for the state department's webpage for Alabama school librarians. It's filled with pictures of Alabama school librarians in action and ways to hone your skills.
Check the First Friday page (under Professional Development) for a list of upcoming sessions and topics.
The Publications page will give you links to all official state documents for school librarians, as well as archived sessions from past First Fridays.
Check the Library Happenings page for everything from Alabama School Library Week (coming up November 14-18!) to photographs of new libraries being constructed around the state. If you are in a school with a newly constructed library, please send pictures to the state department to have your school featured on this page!
The Resources page is also filled with information that is specifically tailored to our needs in Alabama. It is being updated often, so be sure to share any tips or suggestions with the state department.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
3. Once you get your pinboards like you like them, start pinning things. If you are using Pinterest from your computer, you can click on "About" and go down to the "Pin It Button" page. This helps you install a bookmarklet that helps you pin things you see from elsewhere on the internet (as long as there is an image and a website associated with it, you can pin it.)
4. You can leave the pin descriptions as they are or you can edit them to suit your needs. What librarians love about Pinterest is that the nature of the tool is sharing resources, but it is impossible to do so without connecting the image to its original source (read: CITATION). As a matter of fact, Pinterest is pretty serious about copyright violation. Here's a glimpse at their policy:
5. So, with all this awesomeness...what's not to love?
Well, a word of caution...
*Pinterest is social in nature and you must understand that if you choose to peruse the entire Pinterest catalog, there may be pins you come across with offensive language or perhaps a tad more skin than you want to see. Therefore, this is not a tool for students. This is not a tool to use in plain sight of students (ex: do not browse on your projected desktop). Pinterest is an INCREDIBLY useful resource for teachers and librarians...so use it wisely.
I showed Pinterest to some of the classroom teachers at my school and they have loved it. It gives them access to so many resources to use with their students, and our hallway displays prove just how creative some of their Pinterest ideas are. If you'd like to complete a training with your teachers, feel free to use my handout.
6. Just one more thing! :) There are librarians on Pinterest whose pinboards you may want to follow. Here are a few to get you started:
7. And yes, guys, Pinterest users seem to be mainly chicks. :) Don't let that scare you away, though!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Like many of you, I have had this very conversation not only with my mother, but also with some of the tech-aphobic teachers with whom I've worked over the years. Advocating for technology integration is every bit as much about coaching and mentoring as it is providing exposure to new tools and resources. My standard phrase with teachers who are terrified of their computers is: You know way more than you think you do.
For those who really need that extra push to becoming confident using technology with their students, you may want to consider using a screen recording tool to provide them with short tech-support snippets or tutorials. Once you select a screen recording tool, you download the program to your computer and follow the simple instructions for capturing either images on your screen or recording a video of you manipulating and navigating content on your computer screen. You can even activate audio so that you can verbally coach users through the process. These pre-recorded "screencasts" can serve as a living anchor chart to which teachers can refer back later for assistance with computer-based activities.
Screen recording tools are incredibly powerful for visual learners. After all, telling someone how to do something is one thing, but showing them how is another!
Here is a very short example of a VERY basic screencast I've taken using Jing.
Screen recorders aren't just for tech support, either! You can also use them to record ways to access a database, or steps to take to retrieve citation information for a source. Because the screencasts generate a URL, you can post them anywhere from your OPAC to your wiki.
Teachers can utilize screencasting for students who are absent, or for unique tutorials to support English Learners. What other ways can you use/have you used screen recorders in the library?
Here are a few screen recorder tools...happy screencasting!
Friday, October 14, 2011
Library Journal (December 1, 2009)
This distinctive work skillfully puts a human face on the bioethical questions surrounding the HeLa cell line. Henrietta Lacks, an African American mother of five, was undergoing treatment for cancer at Johns Hopkins University in 1951 when tissue samples were removed without her knowledge or permission and used to create HeLa, the first "immortal" cell line. HeLa has been sold around the world and used in countless medical research applications, including the development of the polio vaccine. Science writer Skloot, who worked on this book for ten years, entwines Lacks's biography, the development of the HeLa cell line, and her own story of building a relationship with Lacks's children. Full of dialog and vivid detail, this reads like a novel, but the science behind the story is also deftly handled. Verdict While there are other titles on this controversy (e.g., Michael Gold's A Conspiracy of Cells: One Woman's Immortal Legacy-and the Medical Scandal It Caused), this is the most compelling account for general readers, especially those interested in questions of medical research ethics. Highly recommended. [See Skloot's essay, p. 126; Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/09.]-Carla Lee, Univ. of Virginia Lib., Charlottesville Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
The Young Reader's Edition is slated to be out this month. When I first read a review of this book, I thought it was such an abomination. I can only imagine discussing the subject with teens and how deeply offended they would be for the family of Henrietta Lacks. It would, in fact, make a great book club book and perhaps a service project for raising money for the Henrietta Lacks Foundation. The Foundation raises money for college tuition and various needs of her descendants. If this story couldn't spark a book club to life, I truly don't know what could.
What other books have begun as adult books and a young adult version has been published?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
In my first year as a classroom teacher (so many moons ago!) publishing student books meant having students use crayons/markers/colored pencils to draw out the illustrations and hand-write the content for each page, then physically binding them with either tape, metal clip rings, or those plastic comb things that tended to pop up in your face if you didn't get them positioned juuuust right. :)
Not that that isn't also a good option for publishing student work today!!! After all, the authorship process is basically the same no matter what tool you use. At the end of the day, publishing is publishing.
There are a few of the many services available that can take some of that labor off your hands and also provide your students with a polished, professionally-bound copy of their work that they would truly cherish for years to come. These are listed in no particular order, and no one is receiving any compensation whatsoever for their mention. They seem very useful resources for use in a collaborative lesson in with classroom teachers or as an ongoing project in the computer lab. They will have their own respective planning tools to use in creating student work, as will be the payment process. Talk to your local school officials and financial record keepers about how to make these work for you!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
There are many schools of thought on this issue. The technology is less expensive and growing in prominence. Think about it. How many people do you know personally who had an iPhone/Droid/Blackberry or other "smart" device a few years ago? How many more have those devices today?
As librarians we really need to embrace this mobile technology revolution. Even in the most impoverished communities, many parents still have access to iPhones or other smart devices because they are available at an affordable cost. The reality for many of my students is that though they may not have a personal computer at home, they do have access to the internet through mobile devices.
One of the most important ways we can bridge the Digital Divide today is to make sure that all of our web-based library resources are enabled for mobile access.
Is your OPAC mobile-friendly? If not, submit a request to the software company to include mobile capability in their next update. For some companies, this may mean devising an application to be downloaded through the respective app markets for mobile devices. For others, this may simply mean updating the encoding to detect mobile access (yes, they can detect everything from what operating system you are on to what web browser you are using) and adjusting sizing to fit the mobile screen.
Recently our very own Alabama Virtual Library updated its encoding for mobile-friendly use. This is a prime example of making every effort to enable equitable access to materials. My prediction is that the AVL's usage statistics for the mobile operating system will skyrocket!
Using the Overdrive iPhone app, Jefferson County Library Cooperative users can download audiobooks from the system's collection. JCLC patrons can also check out books for their Kindle or other mobile reading device.
How much more likely are you to use a web resource on your phone if everything fits the screen nicely and is easy to use, or if it's one where you have to scroll back and forth and up and down and you mistype because the data entry screens are too small (then too large, then too small...ugh!).
QR (quick response) codes are one of the fastest growing tools utilizing mobile technology.
Here are other resources on mobile technology in school libraries:
Library in Your Pocket
Are our school libraries mobile?
Mobile technology is changing the relationship between libraries and their users...
So, what do you say? How is your library MOBILE?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The very first observation I had about this book was that Greg Heffley is a little jerk. He's narcissistic, rude to his parents, completely self-absorbed, and the most inconsiderate, selfish "friend" any kid could ever have. But, you know what? A lot of upper elementary/middle school boys are just like Greg Heffley. I suppose at the end of the say, it's all a part of their emotional development and that they are who they are at this stage for a reason. Still. He might be funny, but he's still a little tool.
And he is most definitely funny. Greg Heffley makes some pretty witty observations about the social order in schools that I think most educators and maybe even parents miss out on. There is a tinge of a "bully or be bullied" theme which I definitely believe is part of the under-the-table social interactions between students. Another observation I have is that the books are 5th grade level readers, which I think is overestimating a bit. These books are not exactly solid 5th grade level material. There are illustrative comics interspersed throughout, which make it even more popular with kids. These kiddos do love their graphic novels (sigh)...
Overall, it's a good set to have in the school library. As for me, I'm done with you, Greg Heffley. But I like that my kids like you, so maybe you were worth my time after all.
Monday, October 10, 2011
HeLa is a building block of cell science and a cornerstone of modern medical research. Among numerous other very interesting uses, HeLa cells were used in the first space missions to test the effects of space on human cells, they were used in nuclear experiments, and they were (and still are) used to develop important vaccines, chemotherapies, and radiation treatments that have and continue to save millions of human lives. HeLa is widely known in the medical science community as one of the most important tools in the development of modern medicine. The purchase and sale of HeLa cells for the purpose of medical research over time likely numbers somewhere in the billions.
This book goes into painstaking detail about the relevance of HeLa cells in the existence of mankind, but its primary purpose is to shed some light on how HeLa came to be...which went a little something like this:
Once upon a time there was a woman, a wife and mother to several children. She suffered several medical ailments on and off in her life, but one day she became very ill and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The doctor treated her with radiation, but the cancer spread and in her very early thirties this young woman died. After her death, cells were removed from her body and used in an experiment of cell division. Unlike any other cell in that experiment, this woman's cells kept dividing. And kept dividing. And kept dividing. And even unto this very day, they are still continuing to divide. Because of this unique type of cell division and multiplication, the woman's cells were extremely valuable for a multitude of research purposes. The woman's name was Henrietta Lacks. Likely because it was the 1950's and even more likely because Henrietta Lacks was a black woman, her family was never informed of the cultivation of her cells for research and certainly not informed of their value. Today, Henrietta's family is trapped between an expired statute of limitations on the several infringements committed toward them and an understandable inability to trust anyone in the legal or medical communities after a lifetime of betrayals they have experienced. They have lived 60 years of intense frustration, and no one in the Lacks family has lived happily ever after.
What a sad, sad story. Henrietta Lacks left a legacy that has transformed medical science, yet her own children stated at one point that they were so poor that they couldn't even afford health insurance.
Somehow the author of this book won the trust of the Lacks family and was therefore able to put together this very comprehensive tale of Henrietta's life and background, her medical treatments, and the process of the discovery and subsequent uses of HeLa cells. It is incredibly thorough and in the author's own words was extensively fact-checked.
The thoughts that continued to run through my mind while trudging through the bits of cellular science history were that the real untold story here is that this family has been exploited in ways unimaginable. Their disadvantages due to poverty and race (at that time) made them easy prey for the people who they should have been able to trust: the doctors. What has been done to the Lacks family is positively inexcusable, and why no reparations have been made to Henrietta's descendants is beyond me.
In addition to her cells' contributions to science, the controversy surrounding Henrietta's family's experience has led to a revolution in the way patients are required to be informed and to give consent for their treatments or for bits removed from their bodies. What you and I take for granted in that stack of release, privacy, and consent forms we fill out at the doc's office or for pre-operative processing, Henrietta was never given the opportunity to consider. You can thank Henrietta Lacks for her seemingly ceaseless contributions to science, but you can also thank her for your right today as a patient to be informed and to give consent to procedures that involve your body and what is removed from it. And we can all thank Rebecca Skloot for telling Henrietta's story.
*The author used a portion of her earnings from sale of her book to establish the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which is a foundation that provides scholarships and grants for descendants of Henrietta Lacks as well as descendants of other research subjects (ex: the Tuskegee experiments). Learn more about that here: http://www.henriettalacksfoundation.org/
For more about the author and Henrietta's story, go to http://rebeccaskloot.com/.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
AASL's National Conference theme is Turning the Page (photo credit: http://www.aasl11.ning.com/). As I reflect on Turning the Page on my own career, I think of the new activities I have done so far this year and my own hopes and dreams for the future. Skype with an author. Check. (Really! It was the most fun thing in the world for the 6th grade class who spoke with Jennifer Nielsen, author of Elliott and the Pixie Plot (photo at left courtesy of Jennifer Nielsen's website).
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Skyping and Webcasts: Some of the Benefits of Professional Magazines and Memberships in Professional Organizations
- As a subscriber to School Library Journal there's still an opportunity to join a free live webcast event on October 13 from 1:15 to 2:00. Students can submit questions to James Patterson, author of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, about writing, middle school, or anything they can think of.
- Sometimes a publisher will offer a Skype event with an author. Sourcebooks recently did with author Jennifer Nielsen's Elliott and the Pixie Plot. Go ahead and download Skype to your computer to be prepared when an opportunity comes along. Sometimes free books are even thrown in.
- Scholastic and Dear America are teaming up for a webcast with Lois Lowry, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Kirby Larsen on October 26 at 12 p.m. central time. Create a login at Scholastic and join the event (Scholastic is free, of course, but there are many professional resources here).
Monday, October 3, 2011
Horseradish is a collection of maxims that are categorized by applicable areas of life (as Lemony Snicket sees them), including Home, Family, Literature, A Life of Mystery, the Mystery of Life, and An Overall Feeling of Doom that One Cannot Ever Escape No Matter What One Does, etc. There are some adages that are of a more serious nature, and others which seem serious but end silly. And then there are those that start silly and end serious. Something for everyone, you see.
Just a few of my favorites:
"No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don't read is often as important as what you do read."
"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late to read them."
"A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."
"Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby - awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess."
"Just about everything in this world is easier said than done, with the exception of "systematically assisting Sisyphus's stealthy, cyst-susceptible sister," which is easier done than said."
Easily consumed in one sitting, Horseradish is sarcasm at its best.