Archive for February, 2011

Reading Cafe Day

Yesterday Mrs. Kohrs’ classes had a Reading Cafe Day in the library. Cappuccino was consumed; books were read; horizons were broadened; literacy was furthered; world peace was instituted. Well, maybe everything but that last one happened.

So much research shows that giving students the TIME to read is one of the most effective strategies to improve reading skills. It was a good day down here.

Schedule a day for your classes! I would be happy to showcase books and resources that the library has that pertains to your content area.


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Teaching This Stuff in Course Format

Flickr Creative Commons Attribution cliff1066

The school board approved my course proposal for an information/library centered course! Provided that enough students enroll for the course to make, I’ll be teaching “Information and Society” starting Fall 2011.

I feel like a first year teacher again, nine years after starting in education: excited to fulfill professional goals, but also a little queasy about creating course content from scratch!

I’m using the Kansas Library Media and Technology Standards as a base, but have a lot of decisions to make in terms of content sequencing and tool use.

I have a few questions for my fellow high school librarians out there: (Please leave comments or shoot me an email!)

1. Which would you address first: specific types of information sources (concrete stuff) or the more theory/discussion based information topics (ethics; equitable access; privacy; etc)? Why?

2. Do you know of anyone that teaches library/information skills as a high school course? I would LOVE to visit with someone who has created a course like this.

3. Do you have ANY materials that you would be willing to share with me? ANYTHING!? (squeezing my stress ball, squeezing my stress ball)

Here is a tentative sequence of topics we’ll address in case you are curious- definitely up for revising:

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How we encourage plagiarism

Flickr Attribution CC license digirebelle

By assignment design, often students are encouraged to plagiarize. There was a time when the textbook was one of the only sources of information for student assignments, so when assignments or worksheets drew from the textbook, it was obvious where the information came from and therefore no need for citation. Now that students have such access to the exponential amount of resources on the internet, expectations for citation should be even more of a focus than ever before. Assignment types that encourage plagiarism:

1. “Research” ____________ topic on the internet and summarize your findings (encourages copy and paste and does not require citation.)

2. Read _____________ article online and summarize (does not require citation)

3. Fill in this worksheet, finding your answers online (does not require citation but uses a variety of sources)

4. Write a paper on _____________ and include a “bibliography” but don’t worry about in-text citation (encourages copy and paste, does not differentiate between sources used,  and makes students believe in-text citation is optional)

5. Find a current event and report to the class or summarize and turn in (do they give the source?)

I know citation rules are nitpicky. I know some readers are thinking, “Get a life, lady- I can’t expect a full-out research paper on a random Tuesday.” But by assigning broad, knowledge-level assignments using internet sources without requiring specific citation, we are contributing to a generation of students that have no concept of intellectual property, have no problem with taking things that are not theirs to take,  and no ability to deeply think about things and synthesize or evaluate. I’m sure some readers are also thinking, “But it is the content that we are after!” Granted. But we should be asking our students for no less than would be expected of them in college or the work force. Not convinced? Ask Will Selva of ESPN.

This is high school. They should be citing- every time: every assignment that uses the internet or source other than their textbook. In-text if they are writing more than a sentence. The format isn’t as important as the requirement that they do it. Every time. We are cultivating habits, here.

I know grading may be a barrier for some, so I make this offer to Piper teachers: I will grade the citation portion of any assignment so that you can focus on the content grading. I will even promise a 24 to 48 hour turnaround! (Unless you give me the stack to grade on a Friday. I won’t be delivering them to your home on Saturday.) Or, I would be happy to give you a simple rubric to make the citation grading a snap if you prefer to do it.

I’m here to help!

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A Day in the Life (of a HS Librarian)

Just what does a librarian do all day?

I have been asked this very question by many students, friends, and family members. Interestingly enough, no classroom teacher colleague has ever asked me and I’m not sure whether it is because they understand what goes in to the job, or because they fear that I might stamp “overdue” on their forehead in response.

The romantic in me kind of likes that my profession is shrouded in mystery, though it is definitely problematic when broke state and local governments start looking for programs to financially disembowel. Many librarians participate in a biannual project called “A Day in the Life of a Librarian,” that serves to showcase what various library specialties entail. So, in the interest of transparency, I present to you an account of a day’s worth of tasks in A Day in the Life of…a High School Piper High School in Kansas City, Kansas.

7:10-7:25      (Before School)

-One printer issue to solve for a student
-One test of embedded video in a student Powerpoint
-One printing issue related to Backpack to solve for a student

First Block

7:30-8:58 First Block: English III

-Eight research questions answered
-Two rounds of the room, assisting students on their research focus
-Cross check of rosters with 2nd quarter novels not turned in
– Clean flash drives for student checkout
– Return one laptop cart to teacher classroom
– Three books checked out
– One tech issue to solve

9:03-10:31 Second Block: No Library Reservation

– Work on textbook issue with classroom teacher’s help
– Work on new course proposal
– Improve blog tags and email staff about new tool description offered
– Professional reading
– Check books in and work on “We Read” display
– Email upkeep and assist teachers with emailed questions

10:36-11:01 Seminar

– Formative testing
– Individual students report here to work from other seminars
– Young adult reading (for book recommendations)

Comparing amt. of research gathered!

11:06-1:03 Third Block: English III

– Sort mail
– Work on resource projects for two teachers
– Seven research questions answered/ assistance given
– Research rounds to assist students with topic focus

1:08-2:35 Fourth Block: English III

– Finish resource project for a teacher
– Five research questions answered
– Finish new course proposal
– Two books checked out, one flash drive
– Assist scheduling for off campus staff
– Process magazines

This is simply one day. English III students happened to be working on a research paper this week, and the next few days might look vastly different. (I.E. there may not be as much individual student contact but more time spent on collaborative planning, or direct instruction, or a specialty project for the collection, etc.)

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