Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ Category

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Phelps Kindergarten students on teeter-totters, Winona, Minnesota

Of course!  It’s all about finding the right resources, starting small, and creating connections. Photos are an ideal starting place. For example, children can relate to pictures of other children their age and want to talk about what they see. I love this 1920 photo of children on a teeter totter!

The Library of Congress Teachers’ Page has several “ready to use” primary source sets that will help busy teachers looking for ideas. Children’s Lives at the Turn of the Century has photos of children at work and play, “1904 Baby Parade” (movie) and an image of a game depicting cities.

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School Children’s Thanksgiving Games 11/27/11. Library of Congress

Thanksgiving has photos and documents appropriate to the day. Symbols of the United States has posters, sheet music, cartoons, and photos with recognizable symbols of the United States.

Many State Memory Collections have teachers guides that will work in classrooms everywhere.  The Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch and Families Then and Now from Minnesota Reflections are two examples that could be paired with the primary source sets or used alone. Visit your State’s Memory Project!

Kindergarten Historians: Primary Sources in an Early Elementary Classroom from the Teachers Page Blog explains how students were hooked by two old movies.

Picture books or early reader chapter books and primary sources complement each other well. Kate DiCamillo: Stories Connect Us, also a blog post,  includes book titles and related primary sources. There are some ideas for connecting primary sources with picture books  in Primary Sources–Enriching the Study of Historical Fiction (Internet@Schools, Nov. 2014)

A great way to gather an arsenal of ideas is to subscribe to the Teacher’s Page blog.  Weekly updates are full of ideas! Subscribe by RSS or email!

Making Learning Interactive (The New Media Center, Column,  Internet @ Schools, March/April 2015)

 

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. 

BOOKCOVER_CCS

I recently participated in a discussion with a group of media specialists who met virtually to engage in some conversation with a few HS librarians who are actively teaching to the CCS with their teachers.  Sharing was facilitated by author/speaker and former school media specialist Toni Buzzeo.

School media specialists want to be involved and work with teachers, but many are overwhelmed. They want to know how to collaborate with teachers and what to do to get started.  Several shared what they are doing. Examples include focusing on standards, what resources will support them, and meeting with teachers. Others are updating media center web sites to meet new needs, aggressively updating collections, and acquiring more resources to meet the CCS informational text requirements.

Throughout our discussion I thought of how this is not that different from what we’ve long been doing– collaborating with teachers to integrate and infuse information literacy throughout the curriculum. I would apply my “work with the living” philosophy and reach out to those who are interested in trying new things and using new resources such as digital primary resources from the Library of Congress.

But, what may be familiar is not all the same.  High stakes testing and the emphasis on accountability in the classroom and media center place a greater importance on successful and educational meaningful collaboration and integration.  The CCS standards are more complex and more far-reaching than the  others.

After our discussion ended I came across The Common Core Companion: The Standards Decoded, Grades 6-8. It’s a very practical book that makes CCS very understandable.

I am impressed with this book! It clearly depicts the alignment/integration of Common Core Language arts standards in reading, science/technical subjects, speaking/listening and writing.  Many clear examples, including several involving technology are included.  The format and layout clearly shows the cross-disciplinary nature of CCS.  The easy-to-read bulleted text and generous note-taking spaces are a plus. I shared the book with a social studies teacher/future media specialist. She instantly saw its potential as a tool for her own teaching and as a PLC leader.

I examine many books as a reviewer for LMC magazine; this one stands out! Debbie Abilock said Burke’s a pro – his teaching strategies and student-focused instructions are a proactive, intelligent approach to synthesizing and integrating information while avoiding plagiarism.

 References

(Originally published as a guest post on  A Media Specialists Guide to the Internet,  Julie Greller’s Award Winning Blog!)

Addressing a statewide group of media specialists, my former principal said, I have two simple wishes for my school–that when the students wake up in the morning they want to go to school, and when the staff wakes up in the morning they want to go to school.  He also talked about the importance of technology, staff development, and media specialists partnering in the school and beyond. Scott Hannon wanted the media center to be a place where kids wanted to be, where things were happening; joked that something was wrong if it was too quiet. I was fortunate to work with him; I miss middle school as I hear about exciting possibilities for today’s media specialists and for our students.

And, something is on my mind. Why are so many people still entering the field because they love books? One administrator told me she would not hire that person. I love books, too. That is not enough for today’s media specialist. Why do I read comments such as, I didn’t know technology and advocacy were part of my job. Do you mean I have to learn how to use all of this technology?

A soon-to-be media specialist now teaching third grade knew the teachers she worked with did not know how to access electronic books for their iPads. She knew the current media specialist would not help. She saw this as an opportunity to provide staff-development sessions; she recognized that staff development is always an important role.

Why, moving towards our third decade of Internet access in the schools are so many media centers lacking enough technology for even one class to do 21st century research? Why are there concerns about giving up shelving for more technology? Why are so many educators, including media specialists, not aware of the wealth of free database resources provided to their schools by their states? Why are still discussions about when to close for inventory? Technology has long made that unnecessary. A university professor said it well. I’ve visited many media centers; the thing teachers dislike the most is when the media center is closed at the end of the year for inventory.

The other day I caught a bit of a public radio discussion about accessing information. A panelist shared a discussion between two children. A boy said, I go to our school library and they only let me check one book out. His friend replied Why don’t you just steal? Why do people who want students to read put up barriers? It saddened me to hear this public dialog from non-educators. Perhaps the public airing will do some good. It saddens me that after many years of profound change in our careers I still hear about media centers that are unwelcoming and underutilized. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a new media specialist to make change.

When I discussed plans with Scott he often said, Do what’s best for kids. Along those lines, a few lost books are the cost of doing business. Teach responsibility, but fight problems that are worth fighting.

A few other nuggets of wisdom from administrators and other educators have stuck with me for years:
1. If people see you doing clerical tasks that’s what they will think your job is. (Yes, some of it needs to be done; some does not.)
2. It’s all about relationships.
3. We want a media specialist to help us with technology. We can take care of the literature.
4. Just do it; that’s why we hired you.
5. You can have any kind media program you — or you and principal — want to have!

Now nearing retirement as the district Superintendent, Dr. Hannon said,  It’s just a pleasure coming to work every day . . . and trying to do good things for all of the students in the district. **

I hope that all media specialists love going to work every day, are good things, and making your media center a place where kids – and teachers — want to be.

November/December Internet @Schools column, THE NEW MEDIA CENTER: Questions, Musings, and Other Things On My Mind  (Full Text)

Dr. Scott Hannon, Minnesota Educational Media Organization Conference, October 1996
Winona Daily News, Winona Area Public Schools begins search for new leader

Absolutely! A media specialist just asked about the logistics of using Library of Congress professional development resources to deliver professional development in her own school!  The Teachers Page Build and Deliver materials and the Interactive Online Modules were both developed for that very purpose.

The PDF Build and Deliver files, along with the highly interactive multimedia materials, will help teachers and media specialists learn how to search and use The Library of Congress American Memory Collections effectively.   Both PD formats have  extensive selections of professional development resources that educators can use individually or to teach others. These resources are ready to use and free!

Engaging Students Through Photos, my guest post on Julie Greller’s  Media Specialists Guide to the Internet blog, describes adult learners participating in a photo analysis activity using Lincoln’s Pockets, a Build and Deliver Module.  You will also learn a bit about ready-to-use Primary Source Sets and Primary Source Analysis Tools.  The Power of Primary Sources tab above has journal articles on these PD  tools.

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MigrantMother12883Most of us are familiar with Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph.   The symbolic photo correctly titled of Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California is the inspiration for Mary Coin.  (Marissa Silver. Blue Rider Press, NY, 2013.)

 Silver weaves together the a fictionalized story of  Mary Coin (Thompson),  Vera Dare, a photographer modeled after Lange, and Walker Dodge, a contemporary cultural history professor in California. Dodge challenges his students to “see” photos and look beneath the layers.  The fictional characters are connected when Dodge  discovers a copy of the photo after his father’s death.

Silver’s story moves back and forth between the depression era and the present, creating a vivid and somber picture of life for migrant workers.    It is a memorable novel, worth more than 1000 words.

Lange’s photos are accessible through the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.   An overview of the Migrant mother and other photos Lange took at theTent same time has a brief account of Lange’s experience on that day.

Lange’s photography was done for the Farm Security Administration.   Many of her photos, along with others are easily accessible in Depression Era to World War II ~ FSA/OWI ~ Photographs ~ 1935-1945 an American Memory Collection of over 160,000 items and 1600 color photographs.   The Teachers Page has  related  teacher and classroom ready resources.

A Dorothea Lange archive collection is available through the Oakland Museum of California

Learn more about  challenging your students to see photos and other ideas for using primary sources in your classroom:
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources

Above: Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children.
Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California

growingschoolsStaff development is an important, exciting role for school library media specialists. Media specialists have a unique perspective of the school and curriculum; they work with all learners and staff and have the expertise in technologies, literacies and information resources.

I was excited to see that Noodle Tools founder Debbie Abilock, along with co-editors Kristin Fontichiaro and Violet Harada have compiled sixteen essays by a diverse group of contributors that address both the why and practicality of the staff development role. I enjoyed the “real-life” examples, tips, and sample lessons.

This welcome book is available from Libraries Unlimited. It’s a great addition to all professional development collections and for media specialists who want to be instructional leaders and impact change. It will be a wonderful resource for me as an online educator.

A few personal real-life examples.


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