Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

catalogA delightful display greets visitors arriving at the home of a Minnesota Media Services and
Instructional Technology Program Director. Click the photo to view these reminders of school library media center things past in more detail! How many of these artifacts do you remember?  How many were part of your career? Are some things puzzling?

Enjoy. . . reminisce. . .  think about how much school media centers and technology have changed since 1980.   Change is sometimes hard to see when we are part of it!  Celebrate!

Jane Prestebak, the owner of this collection, would like to know if anyone  has a book that held the cards that one checked magazines in with?  “What’s it called?”  She hopes someone “can part with one of those magazine thingys.”

A picture really is worth a thousand words!

 

Quilt_1b

Get Carried Away ~ 2014 Great River Shakespeare Festival ~ Photo by Sydney Swanson

A Stitch in Time Turns a Dime.  Our quilt made the Front Page, Winona Daily News July 24, 2014.

In May I described the inspiration for the design of this year’s Great River Shakespeare raffle quilt.  The post also has links to primary sources about quilts. Our 2014 GRSF  “Get Carried Away, Birds in the Air” themed quilt is complete and hanging in the Festival’s performance lobby.  The original painting that inspired the quilt design is nearby.  It is incredibly beautiful and a true collaborative project. We are thrilled and excited.

Quilts have a major role in Sue Monk Kidd’s newest novel, The Invention of Wings (Penguin, 2014).  The historical fiction novel expands on (and heavily imagines) an actual relationship between abolitionist Sarah Grimke and her house slave, Handful. Charlotte, Handful’s mother, the Grimke household seamstress, creates story quilts telling stories of life in Africa and America.  She wouldn’t say what happened to her with words. She would tell it in the cloth

Red and Black triangular quilt blocks also are described in Monk’s book.  In Africa, her mauma was quilter, best there is. They was Fon people and sewed applique, same like I do. They cut out fishes, birds, lions, elephants, every beat they had, and sewed em on, but the quilt your granny-mauma brought with her didn’t have no animals on it, just little three-side shapes, what you call a triangle. Same like I put on my quilts. My mauma say they was blackbird wings.

Kidd used many primary sources and visited historic sites as she prepared to write the novel. The quilts that inspired Kidd as she researched background information  for the novel were created by Harriet Powers, a slave.  Powers’ quilts are archived at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Powers is highlighted in Americas Library,  a Library of Congress selection of primary sources young learners.  Powers is also featured in Seven Southern Quilters from the University of Virginia.  Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers (Mary Lyons) is an ALA notable book for children.

Have you seen quilts that tell a story? What stories do your quilts tell?   Quilts are primary sources too!

May 6 post: Quilts are Primary Sources too!  Includes links to primary sources about quilts and a photo of the original painting.
Great River Shakespeare  Festival

carried_away

Get Carried Away, GRSF 2014. Painting based on an original painting by Julia Crozier

Let us, ciphers to this great account, on your imaginary forces work.
Chorus, King Henry V, Act I Prologue, William Shakespeare

 

Each year a group of quilters create a raffle quilt highlighting  Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) costume shop fabrics. The inspiration for this year’s “Will Quilt” group was the Festival’s Get Carried Away tagline and the season poster of birds flying.

Our own imaginary forces guided us to select fabrics in the poster’s color palette and design a quilt reflecting the poster’s theme. Fabrics used in costumes for King Lear, Cordelia, Olivia, King Henry, Desdemona and a host of other Shakespearean characters are combined with quilt cottons in a traditional “Birds in the Air” design.

Our quilt tells a story about GRSF.  It also depicts a historical story connected to freedom and possibly the Underground Railroad. The connection between  the “Birds in the Air” design origin and the Underground Railroad is uncertain, but the design is an inspiration for many variations and fictional books. A few suggested links for learning more are below.

Creating a GRSF quilt is an annual project. Ten unique blocks representing ten plays recalled a decade of plays in our 2013 quilt. Our 2012 art quilt wall hanging included nine  panels of “wavy” fabric representing nine Festival seasons and the Mississippi River.

The Library of Congress acknowledges the stories in quilts tell and includes quilts in digital collections of primary sources. Collections include oral interviews with quilters and photos of quilt including some made by students. Historic photos show us quilting bees; historic sheet music celebrates the art of quilting. Letters tell stories.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America 1978-1996 from the Library’s American Folklife Center is a digital collection that has recorded interviews with quiltmakers and graphic images from two collections in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress: the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection and the Lands’ End All-American Quilt Contest Collection (Text abbreviated text from the collection overview)

Searchers can also go to www.loc.gov and simply search for quilts. Select the gallery view for a quick overview.

Let your imaginary forces work to imagine the stories these quilts tell.  Come back later to see the GRSF Birds in the Air Quilt!

Using primary sources in your classroom; Online course for educators

Resources
Library of Congress Digital Collection: Quilt Making in America, 1978-1996
Civil War Quilts Reproduction Quilts and Fabric
Jennifer Chiaverini, the Runaway Quilt
Underground Railroad Quilts & Abolitionist Fairs

 

CD Rom Encyclopedia

I loved being an early adapter and introducing technology to students when technology first became available for school media centers. We piloted a circulation system on an Apple II, the text only CD-ROM  version of World Book on CD-Rom, and Gopher Internet with its text driven commands.  We explored software, collaborative initiatives and multimedia.  We  tried out a few non-computer innovations such as video disks and created a video production studio with a mix of scavenged old and new technology.  Cutting edge technology was not without it stress and there were a few failures But, through trials, errors, and frustrations we learned what works, what doesn’t work and what’s best for real learning.  We expanded possibilities for students and the media program. We were part of change and it created change.     The Verge post of photos and animated GIFs of old-school technology (including a few audio visual items) are worth a few seconds of reminiscing. Be thankful for wireless, and no longer hooking up zip drives or pry jammed floppy disks out of drives.
Enjoy  Reboot: these stunning still-life photos will take you back to the future

Photo: The CD-ROM still worked after a  dunking in a boys’ bathroom toilet!  Remember making signs with Print Shop?

housegirlTara Conklin’s House Girl is a popular book club book and appropriate for high school students. The historical fiction novel tells the story of Lina, a contemporary New York attorney working on a slavery reparation case. Through her work she discovers connections between art, a client, and a slave. As Lina begins her research she compiles a list of the slaves, making a comparison chart of the harm they received.  Several names caught my eye.

The familiar names were drawn from  Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938, an AmericanLukeTowns Memory collection of more than 2000 first-person accounts. These interviews were collected as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930’s. Take a look at Luke Towns, a centenarian, born in Georgia in 1835.

When I read historical fiction I am always curious about the author’s source.  These primary source interviews clearly tie in with the novel. They support the study of slavery,  inquiry, and reading/understanding/comparing informational text

Conklin cites the slave narratives and other collections  in her list of sources.  There are countless primary resources to complement The House Girl and movies such as Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.07.29 AM12 Years a Slave.  For starters,  The Emergence of Advertising in America collection has powerful, thought-provoking flyers from slave auctions. Voice from the Days of Slavery from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center has recorded interviews of former slaves.

Primary sources like these offer engaging learning opportunities for  classrooms. Learn how!

Images: Luke Towns selection from Born Into Slavery: Slave Narratives From the Federal Writers Project and The House Girl, p 75

The May 2012 post Google’s Information Literacy Lesson Plans ranks high on Random Thoughts’ stats list. Is there is quite a bit of interest in these practical tools?  I tried to find out by making a personal contact and by posting requests about usage on LM_Net. I was surprised to hear from only a few people.

Several said they are considering using one or some of the 15 lessons.  A high school librarian explained:  I am in the process of systematizing the research process in our district.  I’m meeting with the Elementary, Middle and High School to get a handle on exactly what is being done at each level.  Ideally I’d like to scaffold the process, building each year.  We will be using NoodleTools as our citation making program and that has a note taking component, but we all know there is so much more than that involved.  I would like to involve all the disciplines, and have found that sometimes teachers in disciplines other than English feel intimidated with the research process.  I believe that if we can document a system it should ease their fears, (we’ll train the Teachers as well as the students) . . .  Lessons are more geared towards Middle School but I was wondering if the advanced level could be used as a refresher at the High School level.

It was great to hear from two librarians who use the lessons with my fifth grade students to teach them how to be better Google searchers.   It’s good to start young! Even primary level students prefer Google to many “age appropriate” resources.

A library director uses Picking the Right Search Terms with 6th grade.  Students “race” to find the correct answers and share their search terms with the class. I have selected 10 searches that utilize various skills, and placed them in a presentation on my Google Drive account, and the presentation is projected on the board. The kids, especially the 6th graders find Google alluring and a little mysterious, so they feel like they’re peeking behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.  She also uses Narrowing a Search to Get the Best Results with 9th grade history students.  They’ve had plenty of experiences with finding too many or not relevant results and are eager to learn. It’s discussed in terms of making their desired results “rise to the top” among all the muck. We continue to refine search strategies so they are typing keywords, not full sentences or questions, and then we limit the results in various ways. She also uses some lessons with older students, including some now in college, who rated themselves as better searchers than their peers. She plans to expand more to the high school level said by incorporating lessons in future web evaluation lessons.   These are skills that adults use in their daily lives, and we want it to move from explicit lessons to implicit understanding.

Have you discovered  Google Literacy Lesson Plans?  Are you using any of the 15 lessons?  Share your experiences by commenting on this blog.  Thank you!  

Google Literacy Lesson Plans: Way Beyond Just Google It.  Internet@Schools, Sept/Oct 2012
May 2012 post

A special thanks to: Christina Pommer (Florida); Marianne Kerrigan (New Jersey) and Mary Catherine Coleman (Virginia)

Internet@Schools

On My Mind! The NEW MEDIA CENTER, Internet @Schools, Dec/Nov. 2013


I just wanted to thank you for your article in this months Internet @ Schools, “Questions, Musings, and Other Things On My Mind”.  It was fantastic and I couldn’t agree with you more about what you said about library media specialists and our jobs. I have been the LMS at my school for two years now and feel that libraries in schools are vital to the life of our schools. Though we have clerical duties as you pointed out in the article, our main focus should be on the students and staff in this building—helping them.  
Keep up the great work.  Sincerely,
Kimmie Vogt, Library Media Specialist, Hastings Middle School

Interacting with History; Teaching with Primary Sources, edited by Katharine Lehman.   It was a lot of fun writing the chapter bookcover Discovering Local History in your own Back Yard.  The types of local history treasures like those I’ve written about on this blog are included along with  stories of how media specialists and teachers are bringing local history resources and activities into their schools.  Other chapters are by Sara Suiter, Sherry Galloway along  with contributions by Library of Congress American Memory Fellow and an introduction by Barbara Stripling.  Other selected content: Overview of the Library of Congress Resources ~ Teacher Pages Resources ~ Professional Development Materials  and Lessons ~ Teaching with Primary Resources Partners ~ Interacting with History is available from ALA , Spring 2014. 

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