Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” (Greg Anderson)

For as long as I can remember, I have always been curious. My dad used to get frustrated watching TV with me because I would ask questions he could not possibly answer as we were both watching the show unfold together.

Technology has hooked me since I struggled my way across The Plains on an Apple II E computer during a game of The Oregon Trail. I can still remember my sense of accomplishment when I made it to the end with all my appendages still in tact and only one family member swept away in the river current as we crossed in our covered wagon.

I have been an organizer of people and events since I was eight and married my brother (he was five) off to the neighbor girl. They were all dressed up, with a faux pastor and wagon ride to the reception down the street. There are still pictures (and even video I think) that surface every now and then long enough to make my brother blush.

I also have a real love of words. I have read more books then I could possibly count. Starting with my early childhood as part of a bedtime routine and even now a good book will help me settle in for the night. Finding information of all kinds excites me.

So you know I am excited as every day brings a change to the world of technology and I have fully embraced the use of Web 2.0 technology. I will try almost any new technology out there once and it sure beats the original HTML code I tried to decipher as I built a webpage in college.

But as I worked with a group of students this week I started to wonder what all this information at our fingertips is doing to our students? I watched the students rush to be done with very little effort or quality time spent with the information they were supposed to be finding.

Please don't think  I am planning to surrender my iPad and wireless Internet. Online is still my go to if I need a quick answer, (Even though I have been known to challenge a student to see where the information can be found faster - print vs online) but I get engrossed in the process and search of finding what I need. I spend time and will often have 10  tabs open on my browser before I am finally finished because I have come across so many other new things as well.

Before you close the page - what is your favorite Web 2.0 tool to use but how do we get students to slow down and find the joy in the journey in this fast paced society? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. -Lemony Snicket

It is Teen Read Week and in celebration I collaborated with an 8th grade Language Arts teacher to introduce students to Shelfari.  This is not not, but if you have not checked out this Web 2.0 tool (powered by Amazon) for book lovers I hope you will enjoy using it as much as me.

  Good Reads is another popular source out there that has similar features. I have accounts in both because I enjoy to compare what is out there. Good Reads has an app that is connected to my eReader app that lets me instantly share what I just read.  

Thanks to a library list serve I am on I learned about a very awesome site for younger readers to share their reading as well called Bilbliobasium and if you didn't know about it, check it out. I am using it with my daughter and she is loving the challenges I set up for her.

I wish this tool would have been around when I was getting my masters degree and making binders and filling in spreadsheets to keep track of all the books I read.

The students created accounts and put the book they were reading on their virtual shelf. (And of course those tech savvy ones had their picture uploaded and changed before we could get around to all of them.) They also followed me and we sent them an invitation to a group we created to share our books on.

Our plan is as the students finish their books they will add them to their shelf and the group shelf for a virtual one stop shop to book recommendations when they need them.

There is also a feature to create discussions about books so this will be a place to ask questions and explore more about what others are reading. With just a few clicks a book spin on social networking has started!

A BIG shout out to Mrs. Wood and her classes for taking the time to have me in to do this. I cannot wait to see what happens when the pages come to an end and our group shelf fills up! Click back on the same 'book' channel in May to see what we learned.

Before you close the page what are some ways you keep track of what you have read or promote reading with teens?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ask a librarian?

As  I have mentioned I am currently taking a class on the last leg of finishing up my reading endorsement and part of the class was to pick a research topic (related to reading) and look at ten articles about the topic. As a former teacher-librarian I am aware of many studies on the positive impact of libraries and librarians on reading scores, yet (as I am a casualty of budget cuts) it is one of the first positions done without when schools have declining enrollment and can't keep up with increasing budget cuts. So I decided to do my research on the impact of school libraries and also reading incentives (as this is something the librarian is often involved in) on reading scores in schools.

Twenty-one states, including Iowa where I live, have done studies on library impact and reading score. Every study showed a positive impact on reading scores and a quality library program with a certified librarian. So why is this a position that is often shared between buildings or in some cases done without? It made me wonder even more about all the things that can not be done in my former building because one person is now doing the job two used to do. So I created a Prezi (if you haven't tried out this online presentation site, I highly recommend it to any visual learners!) to show what my school was possibly missing with only someone in the library part time. You can click here to check out the presentation by clicking here.

I was not surprised of the information out there about the negative effects of just using Accelerated Reader (AR) or Reading Counts as reading programs. I, myself believe that these programs are not the best way to track reading progress and felt very frustrated when I was student teaching and spent time book talking books with students and having them turn it down because it was not AR or not at their color dot. I am also a horrible test taker, so would probably (and have) done poorly on a multiple choice test over something I just read, but could write, create, or talk endlessly about it.

I was more surprised about the research out there about the negative effect of rewarding reading, as it is suppose to be a pleasant experience for us. I have to respectfully disagree as even though I loved my job as a teacher-librarian I could not make it in society without a paycheck, which in a way was my reward for working. I have also seen reading incentives work with reluctant readers. Not everyone loves to read like I do, but like it or not everyone does read. Even my husband who would never read a book 'just for fun', takes time in the barn each week to read his farm newspapers and pours over manuals to fix equipment almost daily. It is ALL about finding what interests each student. Reading is like any other skill, you are only going to get better at it if you practice and if I can provide a little something extra (be it a bookmark or a small celebration to celebrate reading or even some food) to get a student to take a little extra time to read, I am going to do it.

Before you close the page do you have a full time school librarian at your school and what do they do to promote reading with your students?