Untangling the World of Books, Technology, and Instruction

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Be or Not To Be...

Image from Behold.com
I continue to struggle with the procedures for electronic devices in the school library.  District policies range from no use of devices to access during non-instrutional times (lunch, between classes, etc.).  I am fortunate to be in a district where the policy is on the more liberal side. Since the library is a learning environment should no devices be allowed.  But....it's not a traditional classroom and the instruction is pretty informal unless I am teaching a class. Further, our students often use devices for study purposes and learning, even texting a parent to pick up a book at the public library if it is not available in our library.

This is a trending topic in the #edchat discussion on Twitter. 21stPrincipal has made some ground shaking comments about electronic devices which I have to say, I kind of agree with. "Simple Cell Phone Policy: None, only ask them to put it away when it distracts them or others." and "Why do we continue to fight the Cell Phone Battle? We are losing!" Additionally, students are bringing their e-readers and Ipads in the library, as well.  I am not going to ask a student to put away their Kindle in the library - Duh!

Currently, my thoughts are leaning toward considering the appropriate use of electronic devices in the library when students ask for permission. I am hoping that provides some accountability and some reminder that we are in a learning environment. I'm not sure outlawing the use in the library setting is an appropriate response to their presence in our students' lives. Instead, I am hoping that by providing some guidance and positive modeling, we can make better use of those resources in the learning environment.

This philosophical debate lends itself to the discussion of technology  integration as a whole. I am reading Heidi Hayes-Jacobs book, Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World.  I found this through Twitter as well. Basically, we are expecting our students to function in the 21st century but often educating them in the 1980's.  I don't think it is a matter of funding because there are plenty of free resources out there for educators, but instead it is the manner in which we teach. We can't put Smartboards and projectors in classrooms and call them technology integrated. Technology integrated has to mean instruction that is engaging and learning that is authentic.  A fabulous librarian that I met during the first few months of this school year told she doesn't ask her students to complete any task that isn't authentic and applicable in another area of their lives.

We are on some boggy ground, but also in a position to be a part of some exciting shifts in thought and learning.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And Above All - Be Grateful

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this bowl of soup and gratitude.

It is turkey noodle from the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I made it at my parents' home with leftover turkey that my husband brined and cooked for us. The bowl next to it belongs to my dad who had a heart attack just about a year ago. At the moment I took this picture (with my family laughing at me) I was so extremely grateful for the fact that my dad was sitting next to me.  We almost lost him. I was also so grateful for my husband who started the turkey process on Tuesday, drove us to Iowa, cooked the turkey, and survived midnight Black Friday shopping to get the items his daughters really wanted as Christmas gifts. Both of these men have listened to me and held my hand through the most challenging months of my life.

That gratitude started to creep into my thinking about my library. My thoughts kept turning to all things I have not done, all the times where I felt like I had failed, and do I really know what I am doing? I realized, looking at that bowl of soup, I needed to look up.  I am so truly grateful that I am in a library following my dream.  It has not been what I expected. It has been worse and far better than I could have imagined.  However, the struggles taught me lessons I will never forget and made me a better educator and stronger advocate for my students. I am grateful for my students who are wonderful readers and for those who are just finding the wonders of reading. I am grateful for a mentor who guides me and motivates me and has taught me to teach from my feet and not my knees. I am grateful for the two hour drive to class once a month where I could step onto campus and start to feel solid ground under my feet. Also, for the Starbucks I stopped during those drives - coffee and cranberry orange scones.

Cherish and treasure the little blessings that find you each day.  They may seem few, but they will carry you through every day.