Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy

As the school year begin a media specialist posted a request for help on LM_Net.*

I know [we] used to be able to set up free accounts to databases such as EBSCO and must admit, I just never seemed to get around to taking care of this  . . . Are any databases still available at no charge to school libraries ? And if so, which ones?

A new media specialist was thrilled by the resources available, but, the topic that has been the most taking my brain has been developing and organizing how to advocate the materials and tools.  I’ve wanted to do it, but I don’t have any ideas about how to do it. Another media specialist also sought help. Our databases are on school websites, we have brochures and instruct students doing research projects, but the school tech support people and I know we need to do more.  

Many years ago, when I taught an English class along with my media job I spotted a video I could have used to teach concepts in the novel the class had just read. My oversight is a reminder of how easy it is for busy educators (and media specialists) to forget what’s there for us. Now with far more choices, it’s even easier to forget or ignore what is available.

Even when we know what ‘s available  it can be challenging to get students and teachers to use them. Database underutilization is a common discussion topic among media specialists.  There are easy solutions.

Making the horse drink

The most effective way to reach students is direct instruction with students at the time of need.  My memorable experience with younger students was a teachable moment inspired by a You Tube April Fool’s video. Penguins can Fly was the perfect introduction to research for a rain forest project.    The students “got it” in seconds; they knew why it’s a good idea to begin research with World Book Student or Kids.  Enjoy the flying penguins! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG5dzybHgTo

Other solutions:

  • Reaching out to teachers through collaboration and staff development
  • Sharing ideas with colleagues
  • Less is more — just promote what is really needed and will be used
  • Promote with tangibles — flyers, book marks, newsletters, stickers

More ideas and details are described in Subscription Databases in the Age of the Internet: A Problem with an  Easy Solution,  Internet@Schools, September/October 2011,  The NEW Media Center column.   Partial column  now available online.   Full text is available through EBSCO.

Previous post on flying penguins!

*LM_NET, August 20, 2011


Recently I visited a new public library that represents another new way of thinking. Anythink Wright Farms is a part of the Rangeview Library District in suburban Denver. I first noticed the colorful flags in the parking lot that suggesting food, places, adventures, and more things to think about. Next I saw the drive-up book return with a service window. These signaled a new concept before I even entered the building and saw the self-serve pick up for holds, multiple self-check out stations and “service points ” for information guides. Materials on the most popular topics were front and center. Going further in the room I saw materials organized with the system’s WordThink Classification system—no Dewey numbers, but instead words and phrasing similar to those used in the bookstores. I visited the 7000 sq foot Children’s Experience Area, a huge teen section, a computer lab for classes and quiet work, classrooms, picnic area, a relaxation area and meeting rooms. This new public library was busy with patrons and families on a beautiful fall day. It is clearly patron friendly and welcoming. Would you like to work there? Job applicants for many positions need not have a library degree; bookstore experience is helpful if you would like to be a concierge, materials dispatcher, wrangler or sidekick. Wow! There is so much to think about.

Shakespeare in Winona! 2004: I was quite excited to learn a professional theatre  group was forming right here in our island city along the Mississippi. I added links to our district web site volunteered in the costume shop, ushered at performances and delivered brochures to the schools. I fully intended not to do any volunteer work that required me to use technology. Then along came web 2.0.

2010. My work as a Friend of Will was the last place I expected to learn. Learn I did. I’ve applied old skills (word processing and email) in  volunteer communications, learned something totally new (e-marketing newsletters with Vertical Response) and applied transferable skills from this blog to my work the Festival blog.   Next on my agenda: A little tech training session for other Friends of Will.   I appreciate and enjoy how the Festival successfully reaches out with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. An innovative costume shop employee created a VoiceThread discussion surrounding  Desdemona’s costume in Othello.
Media specialists can (and must)  reach out with web 2.0 too.  It’s a best practice!

What a silly question! With new web 2.0 tools available every day none of us can. But, we all can learn by challenging ourselves to learn a few new tools this fall AND share them with teachers or use them to enhance our web sites. One of my favorites is Picture Trail, a wonderful photo sharing tool. Picture Trail Photo Flicks enhance web sites or blogs and get people’s attention – a great way to advocate your school’s media program. Kids love them, parents love them! Keep scrolling to see a sample flick.

I’m making my way through some of the exciting tools students in Innovations and Opportunities for Media Specialsts taught each other.  Join the fun and collaborative learning. Our next class begins in September.

How’s “your’ media center web site doing these days? Is it  a “Let’s stop here first” shopping center for information? Is it current? Or, has it been left behind as you move forward with nings, Twitter, blogs, wikis or other web 2.0 tools are there for us to use? Or, worse yet, have district policies and limited access prevented you from doing anything? Whatever the tool, a web presence is essential for advocacy, visibility and information access.  I’ve tweaked some handouts used at conference workshops I’ve given on why media center websites are essential. The forms are here to help you plan. A presentation created for workshops in Kentucky and South Dakota is also included.    No web site yet?  Too many issues to deal with?   The University of Wisconsin-Stout Innovations and Opportunities for Media Specialist class beginning Sept. 28 will help you get going! Create a web site for your class project!

Form_barriers (A brainstorming form to think about perceived and real barriers to creating a web site)

Form_audience_needs (A tool to help you think who will use the media center’s web site)

Essential_Components (A list of key ingredients to help you plan what to include on the web site)

Web_site_workshop_ (PowerPoint)

Show me the Numbers (PDF)

Data Gathering, Why you Needs the Numbers and How to get themData Gathering, Part 2. Developing your Spreadsheet, Multimedia and Internet@Schools “Media Center” columns.

You gotta have the data. Administrators and school boards understand data.  The presentation and articles address examples of successful data gathering and using data to advocate for media programs.

NCLB_and_Media_Programs (PDF) presentation created in 2007 for  state media organization conferences in South Dakota and Kentucky.

NCLB and Media Programs.Multimedia & Internet Schools Article July/August 2004.

Love it, hate it. It doesn’t matter. NCLB is here to stay. Like many other media specialists, I am concerned that it has deprived us and the teachers we work with some of some fun and creativity. Yet, NCLB also offers opportunities to work dig into our tool boxes of ideas and resources as we seek new ways to work with teachers and help students succeed.

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