National Information Literacy Awareness Month

Information Literacy Supporter Badge

It’s been three years since President Barack Obama proclaimed October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  This year I served on a committee to word a proclamation to present to Gov. Nikki Haley so that South Carolina could also shine the light on the importance of information literacy. Eighteen states have now followed Obama’s lead; is your state one of those?

Three for: Library and Classroom Free Lessons and Printables

This morning as I was pinning, I came across several great FREE items.  Who doesn’t love free?

Lessons

  • Use this search:  “Lynn Farrell Stover” “Library Sparks” This generous lady shares her Library Lessons – and they are awesome!  They are geared for elementary students but I have found ideas to “eduplay” with my grandsons.  (Hmm…don’t know if that term will catch on.)
  • The Book Bug‘s Destiny (catalog) exercises – for elementary, but I know I can use the general idea for my high school students:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8Hp3hxOmva9ekZhUVdUWkZKd28/preview  If you have some time, surf through her site.  Treasure trove!
  • Teacher Vision’s Library Resources for Teachers Most of the activities are geared toward elementary and middle school students, but some can be modified for use with high school students.  For example, librarians can add another level to the Dewey Relay game which divides students into teams tasked with being the quickest to locate books with a specific Dewey number.  Perhaps combine this with gathering citation information to have students not only locate, but also use, library resources.

Printables

Screenshots:

“Remembering the Titanic” from the PDF available from Highsmith at www.highsmith.com/pdf/librarysparks/2012/lsp_mar12_ll_titanic.pdf

“Always, always, always consider the source” from Technology Rocks Seriously’s Scribd. document.  http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/2012/01/blog-post.html

Calling Public Librarians to Action! FCC’s Digital Literacy Corps Proposal

After reading my last post, my friend Jennifer Tazerouti (who can be reached through the Auntie Librarian blog and through her Twitter handle @AuntieLibrarian) suggested I should expand my call to action to public libraries.  When you are right, you are right.  Thanks, Jennifer!

The FCC proposes to send its digital literacy corps into schools, libraries, and community organizations. The difference between the organizations and schools/libraries is that the latter already have digital literacy gurus in place.  This seriously undermines our authority and the public’s perception of librarians.

Evidently the old stereotype of librarians is still hanging on.  We all must do a better job to dispel it.

Connect 2 Compete

Jennifer’s suggestion and introspection on my part motivated me to discover more about the FCC’s proposed digital literacy corps.  What I found was both reassuring AND upsetting. The proposed digital literacy corps is NOT something new, but it is new to me (upsetting). How have I missed something so threatening to my profession?

Perhaps it is because it is part of the Connect 2 Compete initiative that is limited to a small fraction of public schools.  Information on it needs to be shared with families whose children who attend these schools (any child attending one of these schools who receives free lunch is eligible to participate in this program that offers inexpensive refurbished computers and $9.95 a month hi-speed Internet access).

Many companies support training our citizens in digital literacy (reassuring) including Best Buy, Microsoft, CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and Metrix Learning. (Check out all the Connect 2 Compete partners here.) I am pleased to notice that Discovery Education is on board – but it is bittersweet pleasure.  As a Discovery Education DEN STAR educator, I know that DE is well aware of the school librarians’ role in our schools today.  I would hope that they have voiced a concern that a treasure trove of experts is being overlooked in this initiative.

Public Librarians

I am extremely fortunate to live in a county with a strong public library.  The Spartanburg County Public Library System consists of one main branch and nine other branches spread throughout the county.  One look at their events calendar will convince you that they are a vital part of our community, reaching out to all age levels. The dedicated staff responds to community needs and would gladly (I am sure) include digital literacy training for families meeting the requirements of the FCC’s digital literacy corps.

I’m sure my public library system is not an anomaly; public libraries throughout the country make it their mission to improve the lives of those in their communities. The FCC needs to use the sense of community each library’s staff has created and provide them with the funds to train their patrons in digital literacy.

Please email Chairman Julius Genachowski (Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov) to share your concerns about his plans for a digital literacy corps.

Calling School Librarians to Action! Another Attempt to Undermine Our Jobs

My blood is boiling.  I read this article online today after it was shared on Twitter by Rebecca Oxley (@LibrariansFTW).  This excerpt is what got my dander up.  And that is a dangerous thing to do with a Southern gal:

“The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

Looks like the FCC has no idea that our schools have a ready-made “digital literacy corps” in place.

Chairman Julius Genachowski was quoted in the article.  He recognizes the importance of digital literacy, but he is ill-informed. He does not know that there are already trained professionals in many schools who work, against great odds at times, to train our students and who volunteer to teach parents these skills.

Let’s not let him claim ignorance before spending this money.

Send him an email( Julius.Genachowski@fcc.gov) informing him that WE ARE THE DIGITAL LITERACY CORPS (feel free to copy or adapt the following):

I just read the NY Times May 30, 2012 article entitled “Wasting Time is New Digital Divide in Digital Era.”  As an educator, I realize the importance of information and digital literacy.  As a school librarian, I have been trained to teach information literacy skills.  I collaborate with classroom teachers to teach lessons in which I incorporate these skills.

However, the recession has had an enormous impact on school libraries.  Many programs have been completely cut; others are being run by volunteers rather than a certified school librarian; and other programs have lost their assistants, whose job of handling routine procedures freed the school librarian to plan with teachers.

I noticed that the FCC is considering “a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.”

Although I applaud the intent of teaching digital literacy skills to our students, I question the expenditure of these funds.  Why not instead funnel these funds into school library programs to allow trained, certified professionals to teach the skills?

I look forward to hearing from you on this vital issue.

Will you contact the FCC?

Image used through a CC license:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5683575389/

Three for: Free Resources for You and Your Library

Free is always good!

  • The Libraries Agency offers free templates for posters, notices, announcements, and more.
  • Have Playaways or considering purchasing them?  Circulation Station provides both  Click & Ship and a Build & Print options.  Get free posters, stickers, info takeaways, and shelf tape through the Click & Ship option.  Customize posters, trifolds, and newslettters on the Build & Print page.
  • Love, love, love this downloadable pdf (see photo above) to display in your library!  Gale Cengage Learning offers this and more.  School librarians can find resources designed specifically for K-12 here.  Check out the Lesson Plan Library.

Food for Thought: Data Collection and Analysis

Last month in an effort to improve my own practice, I studied monthly reports from several high school libraries around the country.  I found many outstanding examples which assisted me in creating a new format for my monthly reports.  (I reported on this process here and here.)

I am still pleased with the transformation of my monthly report, but….

New and Improved?

This wonderfully relaxing five day holiday has provided time to further reflect on the data I collect to share with the school community.  School librarians understand the value of statistics and measure such things as student and class visits to the library as well as items circulated. These numbers are the backbone of many school library monthly (and yearly) reports.  In the past, library resource and facility usage = proof of the necessity of a school library.

However, the more I contemplate this, the more I am convinced that these statistics are not enough to prove the need for a school library program.

In my annual report, I include statistics on the number of pages read by those participating in our voluntary reading program.  But even that does not provide proof positive that my program is impacting student achievement.

Using Collaboration Data

Pam Harland of Plymouth Regional High School includes a Monthly Collaboration Highlight table in her report. She indicates five levels of collaboration in her table that range from merely scheduling classes to teaching an information literacy skill concept and planning a unit with teachers.

Armed with her monthly reports and test data from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), Pam could correlate data that indicates her program’s impact on student achievement.  Having taught only in South Carolina, I do not have specific knowledge of the NECAP, but if it is similar to our High School Assessment Program (HSAP), then New Hampshire’s students’ research skills are tested.

Extracting the research skills data from test reports of students who benefited from an information literacy skill library lesson would be time consuming and tedious, but it could be done. However, school librarians do not have to await state test results to obtain proof of their program’s impact.

“Our Instruction DOES Matter!”

Sara Poinier and Jennifer Alevy**, teacher librarians at Horizon High School in Thornton, Colorado, successfully proved their program impacts student achievement.  In “Our Instruction DOES Matter! Data Collected from Students’ Works Cited Speaks Volumes” (Teacher Librarian, February 2010, p. 38-39)* they share that success.  Partnering with health classes, they spoke with the students about available reliable resources and demonstrated how to create citations and Works Cited pages. When the students had finished their reports, the teachers shared the Works Cited pages with the teacher librarians.

Sara and Jennifer also collected a class set of Works Cited pages from a science class that did not receive library instruction.  Then they began to analyze the papers and gathered data concerning the types of resources students had used as well as the format of the Works Cited pages.  When the dust settled, these ladies proved their instruction made a difference in student achievement.

How Can You Measure Your Impact on Student Achievement?

We know that our programs increase student achievement, but being able to provide data that demonstrates it can be powerful.  What suggestions do you have for measuring your program’s impact?

I’m starting small.  Tomorrow, two English classes are coming in for brief instruction before they begin researching aspects of the Roaring Twenties.  I’ll ask them to complete a Google form and use the feedback to help us as we plan library instruction for next semester.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*You’ll want to read this excellent article for more details on their accomplishment.  I do not subscribe to Teacher Librarian but was able to locate the article through SC DISCUS, the databases our state library helps provide.  You might be able to locate it through databases in your own school or public library.

**Jennifer Alevy is now a teacher librarian at Northglen High School.

Image attribution: “Clementine” by ilmungo   http://www.flickr.com/photos/48094050@N00/392088926

Let’s Play!

Want to add some excitement to your lessons?  Incorporate online games.

Identifying Genres

Library media specialist Dorothea Johnson created Name that Genre to help younger students learn to analyze a book’s  cover to determine its genre.

Using Call Numbers to Shelve

Order in the Library provides three library skills games:  Sorting, Shelving, and Reordering.  Although it looks elementary, the skills it introduces/reviews/reinforces can be adapted for middle and high school levels.  I plan to use the Reordering game with my service learners this fall as we introduce them to the concept of “reading the shelves”.

Keywords

Students become more proficient information searchers when they understand the concept of keywords and tags.    Can You Guess the Tag presents several photos  and gives you thirty seconds to guess the tag they have in common.  Some of the tags are very simple to guess, while others will leave you wondering, “Huh?” when you are provided with the answer.

A similar game, Guess-the-Google, provides more images, but only gives you twenty seconds to make a guess.  I haven’t been as successful with it and have been frustrated when the time is up and the game doesn’t provide the correct keyword.

Choosing Resources

Carnegie Mellon Library offers two games in their Library Arcade.  When they play “I’ll Get It!” students will have to use critical thinking skills to determine the best resource to answer a question presented to them by a library patron.

What games have you found to use with your students?


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