Monday, June 20, 2011

Arne Duncan teaching summer school ...

…in a school library?

This past spring, at the TEDxSFED talks, David Orphal (Skyline High School) suggested that Arne Duncan should consider teaching summer school. I would recommend teaching in the school library. It would be informative to juggle the preparation (identifying sources, pulling books, and creating PathFinders) and the teaching for the numerous subjects, grade levels, and student backgrounds of those who utilize the library. Here, for example, is a summary of the classes taught this week in our summer school library:


  • Consumer Product Reviews In a state required Consumer course, we worked with high school students to select a product and review a Consumer Reports summary, plus identified additional online sources of product evaluations.


  • Magazines and Newspapers – these English Language Learners had a tour of the library, learned about a special collection of resources for them, met in our periodicals room on multiple days and selected stories of interest in preparation for creating their own newspaper.
  • Zeitoun Background Research – these rising Juniors began researching about Hurricane Katrina and its impact, prior to reading Zeitoun. We were fortunate to be able to collaborate with librarians at other schools and colleges preparing for similar units.
  • Using the list of Abraham Lincoln Book nominees from our state professional association, we devised an assignment to help rising Freshman practice using the library catalog and databases, plus gave them a tour of both the physical and virtual library spaces.

Social Studies

  • The multi-grade level group of students participating in this summer’s Chicago History Seminar researched several projects, including a Timeline of important events and information to support their Worker Roundtable
  • Presidency Project - An advanced US History class (rising Juniors) came to the library on multiple days in order to locate primary sources and to create annotated bibliographies in support of a research paper, presentation and monologue about a US President.

Speech and Theatre

  • Debate: Interviewing and Company Research – these high school students learned about company information and interviewing techniques and questions in order to stage and critique mock interviews during class.
  • Debate: Famous Speech – A library tour highlighted those aspects of our collections (plays, monologues and anthologies with speeches) for students to use in selecting a piece to memorize and present to their class.

Yes, that was just one week of summer school in the library…

Teaching summer school in the library would give an overview of curriculum across multiple disciplines, an opportunity to collaborate with classroom teachers, and, most importantly, a chance to work one-on-one with students of differing abilities and motivations. Even more so than during the school year, some are freely pursuing a passion while others are merely attending because it is required.

You may have been smiling as you imagined Secretary Duncan teaching summer school, but seriously think about what a perfect assignment it would be for him and for Department of Education’s Director of Education Technology, Karen Cator. That’s because while all of those classes were occurring, we also were

  • Learning about how to run a trace route to help address a tech issue;
  • Requesting that the filter be reset so as to unblock the Chicago History Museum site on the Great Chicago Fire (it is available now);
  • Coordinating with the Technology Department as we continue a conversion in operating system;
  • Reviewing set-up and directions for weebly so as to be able to anticipate and answer student questions;
  • Thanking our Web Master for solving a display issue on the main library page; and
  • Responding to numerous student questions about netbook operation, passwords for network access and so on…

Yes, that was five half-days (just one week) of summer school in the library…

Wait! While teaching in the school library, one would also be involved with

  • Providing direction on several summer projects for the Circulation Desk Staff and;
  • Assisting an alum with research and directing him to the archives;
  • Updating and posting links for the high school Seniors who will be writing drafts of College application essays
  • Ordering new books and materials based on student requests and reviews from professional journals;
  • Mentoring a teacher undertaking a Practicum in Library Science, including supporting her professionally by attending a webinar and providing daily feedback.

Yes, that was roughly 1500 minutes (just one week) of summer school in the library…

Even if Secretary Duncan will not be teaching summer school this year, it is worth considering the assignment of a little “homework” to Department of Education (DOE) staff in support of school libraries. In addition to the ideas listed here, what would you add?

  • Study the research that supports the important contributions that libraries and librarians make to avoid further cuts in funding for literacy programs;
  • Go on a “field trip” to the 15th National Conference and Exhibition of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL); Listen, participate and share ideas with librarians from across the country;
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed for award winning blogs, including Buffy Hamilton’s The Unquiet Librarian and Carolyn Foote’s Not So Distant Future;
  • Read and discuss Joyce Valenza’s Revised Manifesto as published in School Library Journal and interview a local school librarian for additional perspective on the librarian’s evolving role;
  • Visit a school and experience a day (or a week!) in the life of a school librarian.

Libraries and librarians make a difference as research has shown for years. Secretary Duncan would recognize that, too, if he had the opportunity to teach and then to read the thank-you notes such as those I just received from summer school students.

Yes, that was just one week of summer school in the library – and those notes were certainly a highlight!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Salem Press Announces Library Blog Winners

And here is even more summer reading (though these are so good, you'll want to continue throughout the school year): Salem Press Announces Library Blog Winners

The school library blogs include quite a variety, amongst them commenters on our blog like Cathy Nelson and many other familiar names such as Nancy Keane (booktalks), Doug Johnson, Richard Byrne, and Carolyn Foote and Buffy Hamilton - this year's winner for The Unquiet Librarian.

A couple other high school blogs that were recognized in addition to New Trier Library:
21st Century Teacher Librarian
Rich Meland
Rich is currently making the transition from English teacher to teacher-librarian at Sunnyside High School in Fresno, CA.

Not So Distant Future
Carolyn Foote
Web 2.0 tools, teaching strategies, and library research tools for educators. Carolyn is a high school and district librarian in Austin, TX.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Options

In between planning for and helping teach a couple of classes a day at summer school, I have been trying to do some reading and thinking. Here's a few ideas worth exploring:

I am reading the book Is the Internet Changing the Way you Think? This series of essays by Edge contributors (about 150 in all) has a new perspective to offer on every page.

As to online articles and posts, everything seems to have a number in the title and it is a bit overwhelming, but choose one to explore -- you have PLENTY of options:

* From THE Journal: "6 Technologies that Will Change Education" and

* From MindShift Blog: "5 Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for Educators"

* Shelley Terrell's "What will You Learn this Summer? 26 Professional Development Resources"

* Richard Byrne list "77 Web Resources for Teachers to Try This Summer".

* Laura Turner's "20 Technology Skills every Educator Should Have" is from Tech & Learning and pretty daunting (she needed to publish a part 2 and part 3 - which I saw on, but the breadth of links is amazing.

And in many ways it all started with Joyce Valenza's "How to retool yourself - a road map of at least 15 ways" or Helen Blowers' 23 Things which Alicia Duell will be reprising in her AASL presentation: "Facilitating Staff-wide “23 Things”-style Web 2.0 Learning Programs in Your School or Organization".

Next on the reading list are Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants and Eli Pariser's The Filter Bubble. Any ideas to share?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Information Just Wants to Be Free....more open access

Just learned about SpringerOpen: important open access to scholarly science journals which cover science, technology, and medicine (STM) fields.

From their website:

"The entire content published in a SpringerOpen journal is freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication. SpringerOpen views open access to research as essential in order to ensure the rapid and efficient communication of research findings. SpringerOpen is committed to maintaining high standards through full and stringent peer review."

Springer Journals are known for quality; it is exciting to see the open access feature blossom and grow.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Check out this very simple aggregator for a website "made in minutes"...great looking splash page/portal for an online identity that brings together social networks and other aspects of your online presence. This free service routes viewers towards aspects of your online identity you want to share including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tumbl.r, and a dozen more.

View the New Trier Library from Hiidef on Vimeo.

Friday, June 03, 2011

YouTube's new Creative Commons remix feature in its video editor!

This is amazingly good news for education:

Students will be able to make their own videos and create mashups with documentary video from reliable sources such as C-SPAN, Voice of America and Al-Jazeera. 

Additionally, users will be able  to publish any of their own videos under CC-BY simply by selecting the licenses as an option during the upload process. CC is hugely successful for Flickr images; YouTube's adoption of creative remix has huge potential for students' multimedia projects.

Read more here. 
We are fortunate at New Trier that YouTube is not blocked for students and that they can make use of this fabulous resource more fully.