Thursday, April 02, 2015

School Library Month Resources

Happy April! Take a few minutes and celebrate School Library Month. 

Watch and SHARE this great, short new video from Common Craft called “Libraries in the Internet Age.”  They say, “We love libraries and librarians. We want them to succeed and we made this video to help the public understand how libraries have changed in the Internet Age.”

This year’s theme for School Library Month is “Your School Library Where Learning Never Ends” which reprises the very first theme celebrated 30 years ago on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. So much has happened since 1985 and so much innovation, imagination and collaboration is underway as essential school libraries transform learning across the country.  For a few more facts, browse this infographic from AASL which is available online (and for download) :

Also available to download is the recent American Libraries issue which was produced in partnership with AASL and focuses on advocacy for school libraries.

With articles titled “Do Kids Even Use the Library Anymore?” and “Creating Coalitions,” it is designed for librarians to share with stakeholders like parents, colleagues and administrators.  So keep sharing … it’s exactly what school librarians are all about … learning that never ends!   

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam

Is income inequality a serious concern? Impacting opportunity for upward mobility? Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University professor and author of Bowling Alone, argues yes to both in his new book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Putnam combines observations of his 1959 high school classmates and of current students with statistics, data and research to support his argument. 

Putnam and his book Our Kids were recently featured on pbs so if you only take one thing away from this rather long post be sure to watch that interview:


Video and transcript available here.

Putnam focuses on families, parenting, schooling, and community in separate sections of his book.  He makes many wise observations, including, “Because of growing class segregation in America, fewer and fewer successful people (and even fewer of our children) have much idea of how the other half lives. So we are less empathetic than we should be to the plight of less privileged kids.”  Don’t agree? Then take the “quiz” proposed at a recent Ted Conference by journalist and author Anand Giridharadas; he says:

“If you live near a Whole Foods; If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth; If you married once and remain married; If most people you know finished college; If you aren’t one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record. If any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that, actually, you may not know what’s going on, and you may be part of the problem.”  

Read that again – and then turn to Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis for more detailed insight.
In the past few years, I have noticed much more interest from our students on economic and social class issues.  They have been sharing ideas recently as they grapple with questions for a major research paper.  Here are a few examples of questions that interest them:
  • Why do people end up becoming homeless? What factors contribute to it? To what extent are parents obligated to sacrifice their dreams to provide for their family? 
  • Should the Federal minimum wage be raised? Who works in fast food establishments? How has this changed over time? Can those workers earn enough to support a family?
  • How do parenting styles impact children’s ability to cope with stress and to succeed at school?
As we research, I am certainly mentioning Putnam’s Our Kids and the pbs interview, but I am also encouraging them to be on the lookout for other articles and editorials that will contribute to their arguments.

Here are a few that we found recently which are worth a look by everyone. Each probably deserves its own blog post, but they are certainly more powerful when read together:
  •  The Global Flight from the FamilyWall Street Journal (Feb, 20, 2015) which provides additional examples to show that these changes are not just happening in America.

Kudos to the teachers involved for encouraging exploration of these issues and kudos to the students for their critical thinking and raising some important, timely and relevant questions. If you are looking to explore these ideas further, read Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam.  Think about it – maybe take it with you on your family’s Spring Break trip to Mexico or Belize – we will have plenty to discuss when you return.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Illinois Computing Educator Resources

The Library Department spent our Institute Day (Friday, February 27th) at ICE, the annual conference for Illinois Computing Educators.  The schedule included an opening keynote and then a variety of poster and breakout sessions. Especially helpful this year is the set of online resources which are posted here. It means that even though we did not attend Thursday’s keynote on the Maker Movement, for example, we can still access the shared notes or look at presentation materials from other sessions like the one which Kathy Garneau  with husband Marc (who is New Trier technology Staff Developer and Librarian)  presented on “My school is 1:1 what do I do now.”  Use the drop down menus at the top of the main page to search by presenter, by day and time and so forth to find materials of interest to you.

This year, tons of resources covered topics like “Creating with iBooks Author” to “Getting the most out of your ChromeBook” and many, many more ideas. In fact, even though they were applicable across a range of grades and subjects, it did seem as though the sessions were more stratified by device and I am wondering what that portends for the future of both the ICE Conference and student exposure to technology.

As always, it was great to see friends and colleagues from sending schools and many local high schools.  I found myself missing Judy Gressel and thinking of how she always encouraged us to come away with at least one new thing that we could use immediately.  Lisa Dettling of Stevenson provided the one for me.  Her poster session was highlighting primary sources now more easily searchable due to a Library of Congress grant to Barat Education Foundation.  I know that are Modern World History students will love the cartoons and other information about Imperialism in the Philippines. Certainly, our AP US students who are building DBQ’s will be grateful for the general link, too.  

But the learning doesn’t stop – it will be fun to go back and review presentation materials from bloggers and tweeters like Nick Provenzano, Josh Stumpenhorst, Vinnie Vrotney, and more.  Also, several of us attended a session on Flipboard and decided  to explore its functionality further at an upcoming Library Department meeting.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Wes Moore to Speak at New Trier

Most of you are probably aware that Wes Moore will be speaking at the Cornog next week.  Here are the details:
Wednesday, January 14
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Northfield Cornog Auditorium  7 Happ Road, Northfield, IL 60093

This event is sponsored by Fan and more details are available from the press release and on the FAN (Family Action Network) web site.

The Library is also purchasing two copies of his new book called The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters with review comments as follows:

Booklist noted: “He tells his own whirlwind story of Oxford, investment banking, military service, a White House Fellowship—all the while questioning how the work he did contributed to the lives of others…. This is a beautifully philosophical look at the expectation that work should bring meaning to our lives through service to others.”

Kirkus: “Though a less-charismatic offshoot of that former effort, Moore's writing remains consistently articulate and escorts readers through a decade of pivotal years ….The takeaway is crystal clear: Take pride in your endeavors, and make every attempt to discover the ‘meaning of success in a volatile, difficult, and seemingly anchorless world.’ An inspired story of a passionate American who has delved into a variety of livelihoods and made a distinctive mark on each." 

I like the way that Wes Moore has interspersed the stories of others (for example, a combat veteran or a Teach For America educator) along with his own experiences as a Rhodes Scholar, on Wall Street, fighting in Afghanistan and as a family member.  Overall, I personally think that this new book will be hugely inspirational for students and adults; I am looking forward to hearing him speak at New Trier.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some end of the year lists worth a look

At this time of year we are often thinking about lists of numbers so here are a couple of others to peruse:

5 Things We Know about College Students in 2014, published by The Chronicle of Higher Education which summarizes the findings of a recent survey:
  • They love Apple
  • Print is not dead to them
  • They are not that into Twitter
  • They think libraries and computer labs are swell
  • They have not ditched scholarly works for Wikipedia
Of course, I particularly liked the positive comments about libraries and I found this pretty consistent  with observations of our own high school students and with scholarly studies such as those profiled by Emily Singley in How College Students *Really* Do Research

100 Top Tools for Learning 2014 – which includes results from the 8th annual survey.  Based in the UK, this survey compiles results from learning professionals in 61 countries.  The top ten are shown nearby.  

School Library Journal also publishes several lists of top Apps, Books, Tech and More.

For more top 100’s see these Book lists:
 Above image from SLJ's Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2014

Prefer a video instead? Here are the 10 Best TED Talks of 2014 for Educators.   And one personal suggestion that combines tech and art: Tim’s Vermeer is a fascinating movie about an attempt to replicate the work of Vermeer using lenses and innovative technology from the 17th century. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and highly recommend it.  And for fun - an absolute favorite created by students at Mount Desert Island High School in Maine:

There are many, many more lists … feel free to share your favorites in the comment space below.