Information & Society- what we’ve been doing

When the course was approved last year, I had grand visions of being able to manage and administer a library program without assistance, manage textbook distribution for the whole school, create and teach Info & Society from scratch, and still manage to blog following each lesson reporting on lesson plans and what worked.

Yeah, right!

So, though I’ve been remiss in reporting on our classroom activities so far, I am going to do so in one fell swoop in this post.

1. We started the year making a master list of all sources of information that students could come up with. Students ranked them in terms of reliability/authority.

2. In continuing with the evaluating information theme, students were divided into four groups for their first “ON THE FLIP SIDE” topic, which was global warming. The idea was that students would research the same types of information with the same guidelines, and would present to the class using that information to persuade that: Global warming is a human-made phenomenon OR Global warming is simply part of a natural temperature cycle. Students then voted on which group made the best/most persuasive use of their researched information.

This helped students to see that information and statistics can be selected, used, and manipulated toward a particular agenda. A couple of mistakes I made this round: I did not have students take notes while their classmates presented. It would have worked much better if they had jotted down what it was about each group’s presentation and info that was persuasive so that the discussion afterward would have been more effective.

Docs used:

3. Students set up accounts on iGoogle, Delicious, and set up hosted blogs with WordPress. Students selected “Personal Interest Topics” and gathered RSS feeds on their topic in iGoogle, bookmarked and tagged links in Delicious, and wrote inquiry posts on their topic on WordPress. These items are ongoing, and will hopefully set up the foundation for students taking the initiative to set up and use personal learning networks even after they leave this class.

4. We began a two-week long discussion unit on various topics. All involved subject introduction, article reading and annotation, and discussion either in online format or face to face, Socratic Seminar style.

First topic: Freedom of Information/Access

Intro info:

View more presentations from Stigge
Articles read and annotated before discussion:
Second topic: Hacktivism
Articles used:
Third topic: Privacy
Articles used:
Facebook (CNN)
Socratic style discussion used for this topic.
Upcoming: Information Organization unit, How Search Engines Work, Search Engine Optimization/Content Farming, and then Digital Communications unit.

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Presenting, Prezi

Judging by the number of teachers that requested last year that I work with their students on improving Powerpoint presentations, I can infer two things:

1. “Present to the class” assignments are popular

2. And yet, you all as teachers aren’t terribly impressed with your students’ presentations.

So I will offer today an alternative to Powerpoint presentation software: web-based Prezi.

Prezi is a cloud based presentation editor, which means that presentations are created and stored online, rather than on a hard drive PC or student H drive.

Pros:

  • It is different than Powerpoint, which alone can help to break student Powerpoint dependancy (slide after slide of bulleted lists read to the audience)
  • It allows for easy embedding and showing of YouTube videos
  • Because of the way you create presentations, it requires critical thinking about sequencing of the information presented

Cons:

  • Students have to create their own accounts, which can lead to forgotten passwords, etc
  • There is a definite learning curve because it is so different from Powerpoint (which students have used so many times at this point)
  • Free accounts that your students would create default to public, which means that their presentations are open for the world to see
  • Presentations are saved online, which means that if the site is having server issues, students wouldn’t be able to present
  • There is a way to download and save a version of the presentation, but I am fairly unfamiliar with the process and know that it saves in zipped form

Here is a simple sample Prezi presentation that I created to work with Mrs. Sadrakula’s Leadership students:

(the image is linked to see the full presentation)

As always, let me know if you would like me to introduce your students to this tool!

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Helping students save and organize info on the web- Delicious!

I want to highlight the web tool Delicious today and outline potential uses for students. Delicious is called a social bookmarking service, but has so many potential uses in the classroom. Basically, it allows the saving of bookmarks, only unlike doing so in your browser, you can access your bookmarks on any computer- home, school, laptop, library desktop- wherever! Other features that enhance classroom use:

  • You (students) can ‘tag’ bookmarks with descriptors to facilitate organization and retrieval (by unit of study, by paragraph subtopic in essay writing research, etc)
  • Students can discover new websites and resources by looking at what others have bookmarked with descriptive tags
  • You could have students bookmark webpages that you would like them to read and/or visit throughout the year

To give you an idea, take a look at my Delicious account:

I know, I'm a nerd.

My students in Information & Society have set up accounts with the purpose of gathering information about a Personal Interest Topic that they have chosen. Throughout the semester, they will be adding bookmarks, tagging them for organization, reading and learning more about their topic and reflecting on their learning growth within the topic. Those that are seniors are using Delicious to gather Senior Project information.

Already, a number of them are venturing beyond the assignment requirements and are saving and organizing other links beyond their Personal Interest Topic. THEY ARE CHOOSING TO SAVE, ORGANIZE, PRIORITIZE, AND MANAGE THEIR OWN INFORMATION!! ON THEIR OWN!!

As always, please contact me if you would like me to help you make use of this tool with your students!

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Back in Action- Library and Class

Wow. Four days into the school year, and I already found myself Googling stress management techniques last weekend. The year has started off in a whirlwind week of approximately 2,500 textbook checkouts, 81 library book checkouts, five of my own classes taught, four collaborative lessons taught, Open House night, and lots of coffee.

On the bright side, Information & Society has 26 fantastic students and the library is a bustling place for all other students and teachers!

I’d like to progress this year using this space to highlight some of what we do in Information & Society, what worked/what didn’t, as well as to continue to highlight information/tech/teaching tools that teachers in my building might be interested in incorporating into their lessons.

So, what we have done so far in Information & Society:

1. Taken an informal information opinion survey:

I’m keeping their surveys and they will take it again at the end of the semester to see whether their thoughts change.

2. Gotten students registered on our class wiki:

 

 

 

 

 

3. Attempted to have our first online discussion thread on the wiki and found that it was blocked, even though the tech department had whitelisted our particular page. Wikispaces in general is blocked- but I’m working on them to get that changed! 🙂

So, had a successful, on-the-fly discussion using this prompt: When is it important to be conscious of the quality and type of information that we use and when does it not really matter?

4. The rest of this week we will be selecting personal interest topics, setting up accounts on iGoogle and Delicious, exploring blogs on their personal interest topics and adding to their iGoogle feeds, reading from a chosen book, and attending a pep rally! Whew!

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Year End Report Time!

I do need to wrap one more thing up this year: Year End Report time! This has been  the most professionally rewarding year yet in the library.

By the numbers:

Collaborative media or information literacy instruction sessions:

Primary sources

Booktalks

Copyright: images

Improving Powerpoint (wildly requested)

Ethics & Copyright: digital photography

General and subject research projects (go Math department!): pre-research, searching, evaluating, and using ethically

Read In Cafe events

Goals Achieved:

Goals for 2011/2012 School Year:

  1. Successful implementation of new elective course: Information and Society
  2. Select pilot department for e-book implementation (instruction and determine viability for other departments)
  3. Continue to expand collaborative ventures with classroom teachers
  4. Possible shift of senior portfolios to electronic format

A few images from the year:

This has been an extremely successful year in terms of increasing the library’s reach toward being a center of information, technology, and media instruction. I can’t wait for all of the expansion opportunities and goals set for next year!


Text version:


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A little break…

I’m taking a little break from blogging. The last few weeks of school are always madness, from getting 2,500 textbooks checked in to making sure all library books are returned and all of the other wrap up details required in the library. The summer months are devoted to family time and specifically, my son.

When August rolls around, however, I have grand plans to jump back in to this blog, intensively writing about my information literacy course. I hope to include lesson plans and reflections about how it all turns out.

See you then!

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Fiction section by genres

I took the plunge. I rearranged the fiction section in to genres. While the traditional arrangement by author last name makes for quick location of specific books, I believe it was a barrier to student motivation to read. Looking at a wall of book spines was overwhelming to students and if we are to encourage them to read in addition to all of the other activities that compete for teenagers’ time, I believe we need to make selection and access to books as user friendly as possible.

Since much of fiction selection is on a browse basis, and so many students come in wanting a genre type, this just made sense to me. Plus, reports from fellow librarians that circulation increased after implementing this type of organization sealed the deal for me.

I began by assigning a colored dot to each of these categories:

Historical Fiction

Classics/Literature

Sports and Action

Realistic Fiction

Romance

Mystery/Supernatural

Fantasy/ Science Fiction

Then, I placed the appropriate category dot on each fiction spine. I then changed the call numbers in cataloging, and finally, moved the books to the appropriate section.

Mrs. McPherson’s graphic design students made me signage:

Realistic Fiction

Final product:

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