Free Educational Posters

Poster-Street offers an array of free posters that teachers and teacher librarians can download, print, and display. And with dwindling (or disappearing) budgets, free looks even better.

The posters are divided into several categories:

*office

*home

*teacher

*kids

*teens

Visit the site to discover posters that will inspire both you and your students.

(Screenshots of posters used here, but the site does provide embed codes.  WordPress.com does not allow me to use them, however.)

ALA and ISTE: Attending Conferences Vicariously

Cold Light

Ever feel like you’re on the outside, looking in?  It’s not a bad thing!  If, like me, you are not attending either of the “biggie conferences” this weekend, you can still keep connected to those who are and learn vicariously though them.

Getting Live Feeds

First, you need a Twitter account.  (If you have never used Twitter, now is the PERFECT time to see this powerful learning tool in action – promise!)

Have no idea how to get started?  Visit David Wees’ “Eight Videos to Help Teachers Getting Started Using Twitter.”  He includes information on not only how to sign up for and customize your Twitter account, but also videos on how to use Tweetdeck, an application that simplifies and organizes your Twitter experience.

The Twitter client I use is HootSuite which is an online application (you don’t have to install anything on your computer).  There are many YouTube tutorials to help you get started with HootSuite, but I’ve embedded one below you might want to watch.

HootSuite

Using Hashtags

Once you have chosen your Twitter client, you want to set up columns, or threads, based on hashtags.  Then either Tweetdeck or HootSuite will do all the work of finding the conference tweets for you and you can sit back and let all the conference updates come to you!

American Library Association Conference – #ALA11, #ala11

International Society for Technology in Education – #ISTE11, #iste11

HootSuite Conference Columns

Let the Learning Begin!

Some of the best professional development of the year is about to begin.  Are you ready?

Image used through a Creative Commons license

“Cold Light” by Scott Ripton (Quasic) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ripton/3108800277/

Show Your Stuff!

Gloom and Doom

When animals feel threatened, they become defensive and attack.  When school librarians feel threatened, they become__________________.  If I had to fill in the blank based on what I’ve been reading on our state’s listserv, I’d be filling in “negative and whine.”

Yeah.  That’ll protect our jobs.  Let’s just sit back and whine – others will feel sorry for us and not only save our jobs, but pay us double and get us library assistants, and give us unlimited budgets, and, and, and….

Loud and Proud

Instead of feeling defensive, let’s do what some of our colleagues have done and toot that horn, blast that trumpet, raise that roof!

Kelly Knight, librarian at Fork Shoals School in Greenville County, South Carolina, began today what I hope to see as a continuing theme on the SCASL listserv and forums:  a thread entitled “Tooting my own horn.”

In the post, Kelly shared the success she has been experiencing while teaching her 4th graders about blogging. Today the students learned netiquette and began posting comments on the library’s blog.  Next they will tackle book reviews and are revved up and raring to go!

After wading through several negative “gloom and doom” messages, Kelly’s post was like a breath of fresh air.

We are doing AWESOME things in our school libraries.  Let’s share them with not only one another, but also with our school communities.  They’re dying for fresh air, too.

Challenge!

Let’s inspire one another.  Please share one (or more) awesome thing(s) that you are doing in your library in a reply to this post, or in a post of your own (and then share the link to that post here).  And remember to share it with your faculty, administration, parents, and community.

Image “African trumpet‘ by smithadri  is  used through a Creative Commons license

Dr. Stephen Krashen: Education is Not Broken; the Problem is Poverty

Tori Jensen shared this YouTube video with me today.  It is worth the time it takes to watch it!

Do you want proof that school libraries are a major part of the solution to our problem in education?  Watch this video!  Do you want to know where we can get the money to support school libraries?  Watch this video!

As an aside, do you want to know three ways to prevent dementia?  Watch this video!

Common Sense is No Longer Common: An Open Letter from April Hays

In the Classroom4

I came across this on Facebook today and received permission from April Hays to share here.  Thank you, April, for your wit and wisdom!

April Hays

Anderson 5 [South Carolina school district]

Common Sense Is No Longer Common

I have just taught all day long in a third grade classroom. The kids were fine. The day went smooth. But I have come to two conclusions. I either:

a. Have a brilliantly blessed cranium, or

b. Am missing a few vital neuron connections in that cranium.

Now assuming I have been brilliantly blessed, I’d like to propose legislation that would dramatically change life for the better here in SC. Read on.

1. I would like to see all branches of law enforcement held accountable for the crime on our streets. If there is crime, surely that means they aren’t doing their jobs. We, as tax payers, deserve to live in safe neighborhoods. Regardless of whether the police serve retirement villages or drug infested prostitute hang outs, they will all be held accountable. If a policeman patrols a community with no crime, he will be paid. If a policeman has a community with crime, he will not be paid. Additionally, police may only use positive measures to enforce the law. They may no longer use any type of weapon or rude words. This may scar the self esteem of us citizens. We would then need counseling services, and the police would be responsible if one of us snaps and blows up a public establishment. If we are following the law, they must pull us over and tell us “Good Job” and perhaps give us a piece of candy. Note: personally I wouldn’t care if they congratulated me or not. If I knew I wasn’t going to get a ticket and my insurance go sky high, I’d drive at least 70 on my way home from school every single day.

2. I would like to see accountability on all dentists. If there are cavities in our mouths, obviously the dentists aren’t doing their jobs. We go to the dentist for a reason – to prevent our pearly whites from rotting out. Why can’t these highly paid professionals do their job? There should not be a cavity in any mouth in all of SC. If there are, then the dentists are falling short, and they should have their licenses revoked. They should not be allowed to practice dentistry in our state.

3. Doctors, also, should be held accountable on the job. If a doctor has a patient that has cancer, that doctor is not doing their job. Why do doctors become doctors? To heal people. Thus, if they aren’t healing people, they aren’t doing their job and should not be paid. Doctors are highly paid individuals, and we citizens deserve to be healthy. If we get these incompetent doctors out of practice, that would reduce our medical costs. Then this hoopla over health insurance would no longer be an issue (told you I had a blessed cranium).

4. Owners of gyms, health clubs, and all registered dieticians should be held accountable on their jobs. If there is obesity in their cities, obviously they aren’t doing their jobs. If health clubs and gyms have any member that weighs over 130 pounds, their establishments should be shut down. Obviously they are incompetent, and thus, should not be allowed to perform these services to the people of our state. If these individuals were held accountable on their jobs, we’d all be thin. There would be no diabetes or heart disease.

Sound ridiculous? We teachers think so, too. Yet, there are legislators, the Superintendent of Education, and our newly elected governor that want these mandates placed on teachers. They have this mentality that if a teacher performs the right combination, the human mind will click into place and our entire population will be educated. Thus, underperforming teachers will not be paid. One of these so called professionals said on tv the other night, “if our show ratings went down, we wouldn’t get paid either”. Ding, ding, ding – they choose their cast. We teachers and doctors and dentists deal with anyone that walks into our places of employment. We can not pick and choose the “best”.

Classrooms are microcosms of society. Each year, I have kids with privileged backgrounds and kids with adverse living conditions. I have kids that live on the lake, and I have had kids that live in their car. I have kids that have loving, supportive parents, and I have kids with parents that simply should not be parents. I have kids that were born with high IQ’s (this is why they are labeled as GIFTED), and I have children that are like the rest of us – normal. I have children that have been through tragedies – deaths of parents, a handicapped sibling, a terminally ill loved one, and living arrangements that make me shudder. I have children that have been taken into custody of the department of social services, and I’ve had children that have never traveled out of Anderson County. I have had children born to mothers on drugs, and I have students with no mother at all. Yet, all of these kids are expected to perform proficiently, without exception. Something is clearly not right with this picture. These students with challenges, with hardships, and who were not born “gifted” deserve an education, too. They are the reason I went to college to become a teacher – to touch lives. When this passion is being trampled on by ignorant individuals, I take that as a personal offense. SC school children deserve teachers that love them for who they are, not for the scores they achieve.

Not only is this just outright ridiculous, it is also discriminatory. Many, many people are born with handicaps. These are documented, medical conditions. They are clearly outlined. These individuals have IEPs for a reason – they have challenges. These legislators do not have the qualifications, nor do they have the authority, to lay expectations on these students. IEP’s are legally binding documents that are taken seriously.

Furthermore, teachers do not decide the content of what they teach, how they teach it, or how it is assessed. When students take the PASS test in the spring, it is illegal for us to discuss it in anyway. We are not allowed to discuss ways we can make it better, how we can improve, or how we could be better able to meet it’s demands. We are silenced. Yet, we are held accountable for the results. Always.

Anyone, regardless of position, who can not see why paying teachers based on student performance would not work, clearly has mental challenges themselves, and an obvious inability to think above a third grade level. I challenge them to take the third grade PASS test to prove my point.

As I stated earlier, I am either brilliantly blessed or missing a few screws. This seems like a total no brainer to me. I have no idea what could possibly be going through the minds of the people out there that think teachers should be held to those ridiculous expectations that no other occupations have to answer for.

Teachers/Educators/Administrators – we’ve got to stand up for our rights and demand integrity in the schools.

Parents – your child’s future is important. Take a stand. If your children have developmental delays/learning disabilities, these new mandates are discriminatory. Make your voices heard.

As for me, I’m instilling in my students self worth. They are important. They are special to me, and I believe in each one of them. They will make their marks on this world. I guarantee. And if my salary is docked because one of my students has a bad day and doesn’t do his absolute best on the PASS test, I’m going to be floating on a yacht in the Caribbean.

Ignorance is, indeed, total bliss.

Image attribution:  “In the Classroom4” by best librarian

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lbryfun/5166911211/

Tech ‘n Treat

Addressing Burnout

We are nearly through the first quarter of the 2010-2011 school year in my school district.  As the end of the grading period nears, deadlines loom:  grades to be entered, reports to be filed, parent-teacher conferences to prepare for, yet more paperwork to be completed.  Teachers are stressed.

How cans school librarians help alleviate the stress classroom teachers are feeling as well as provide ways to ease some of it in the future?

Schedule Time Out

Why not plan an end-of-the-quarter event in your library?  Invite your staff to drop by during their planning periods or after school one day for a “Tech ‘n Treat.”  Play soothing music, provide refreshments, offer door prizes, and let teachers go “trick or treating.”

Set up stations throughout your library where your teachers will not only find a container filled with goodies, but also discover terrific ideas to incorporate technology into their lessons.  At one station, teachers can discover Flip Video cameras and examples of how they can be used to enhance student learning.  At another station, they’ll find an interactive Jeopardy game that could be used for unit reviews.  At still another, they can watch video “how-to” tutorials – choose a tool that would be helpful to your faculty and either create a tutorial or find one online.

And at another station, play an inspiring video.  One of my favorites is Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make.”  Here is an edited version which is more faculty friendly than the original.

Remind your teachers that they shape the future, one child at a time.  Remind your teachers that you value them. Remind your teachers that you are there to assist them.

If you were creating a Tech ‘n Treat for your faculty, what stations would you include?

Credit: The title of this blog post was borrowed from an upcoming meeting of the Media Specialists of Spartanburg County.

Photo Attribution:

Burning the Candle at Both Ends by Julianne Villaflor

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennailuj/3611354390/

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?