Thursday, December 8, 2011
My Animoto video advocating the school library.  I'm trying to spread the word that the school library has something applicable to offer to every student!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Early Literacy

My blog post for the Library Schooled Postings on the Fayetteville Free Library Website:

Early Literacy

Because my undergraduate background is in speech/language therapy, I am very aware of just how important targeting early literacy skills are in the development of language and reading staring from a very young age.  Early literacy skills are the skills a child must acquire before they are able to start to read.  Some of these skills include vocabulary knowledge (knowing the names of things), narrative skills (being able to tell stories), letter knowledge (recognizing letter names), and print awareness (understanding how books and reading works).   

I have been extremely impressed with how aware the librarians at the Fayetteville Free Library are with this issue, and all they are providing to foster those skills from a very early age.  In order to enforce these literacy skills, Karen Rutkowski has developed the free program, ‘Smart Play,’ for children ages 2-5.  Smart Play is a program based on the six Early Literacy Skills from the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library initiative.  It is important to note that early literacy is not teaching a child to read, but rather building a reading foundation so that children are ready when they are taught to read.  Therefore, during SmartPlay, the children are surrounded by fun activities that promote these necessary skills.  For example, the children might work with their parents to solve and read about a puzzle, enhancing letter knowledge, print awareness, and print motivation.  Or they might create a puppet show or play at the imagination station, enhancing vocabulary.    

            As said by Ghoting & Martin-Diaz, “The development of early literacy skills in a child’s life can better prepare that child for success in reading when he or she enters school (2006).”  But these skills are not only important for future reading skill development, but also for expressive (what the child is able to speak) and receptive (what the child understands) language development.  While doing my speech-therapy internship with a little two-year old boy, we targeted the very same early literacy skills featured in Smart Play in order to give him enough exposure to language so that he would develop the pre-skills necessary before he was ready to speak.  Repeated exposure to these skills is so very crucial for a child to begin to understand and utilize words and language.    

            As a means of reinforcing these skills even further, Early Literacy Kits have been developed which are free to circulate among library users.  Each kit contains three books that target one of the six early literacy skills.  Each kit also contains a pamphlet providing opportunities to extend the reading experience even further (ie. through tips and crafts).  These are extraordinarily valuable tools that I have even been able to incorporate into some of my most successful speech-therapy sessions in the past.  This wonderful program emphasizes language/reading development so these children are fully prepared for life-long experiences with the joys of reading! 

Ghoting, S N., & Martin-Diaz, P. (2006) Early Literacy Storytimes @ your Library.  Chicago: American Library Association.   

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cyberbullying Prevention

An event promoting Cyberbullying prevent for Middle School/High School students and their parents.

WELCOME TABLE:  When the attendees arrive they will receive a schedule detailing the events for the day. 

            Throughout the event there will be a large, wall-sized blank poster for all to fill by the end of the event.  This symbolizes that we all need to collaborate and come together on this serious issue.  Attendees can write reflections, words of encouragement, poems, inspirational quotes, draw images, etc having to do with cyberbullying.  The completed poster will then be displayed somewhere prominent in the public.   

PRE-EVENT: Young students will be playing acoustic background music while slides showing pictures and very short blurbs about people who have been affected by Cyberbullying are shown on a large screen.  For example, a picture and brief information about Jamey Rodemeyer will be displayed.  This is for the goal of making the problem of cyberbullying feel more real and relevant by showing pictures of real people. 

            Next, students will perform a dramatic and poignant skit about cyberbullying in order to make this problem more prevalent in many people’s minds, due to the fact that cyberbullying is so detached for many.  This will make it more real because they will be able to visualize it.  As part of the skit, the actor portraying the victim will perform a monologue in which he expresses his feelings and reactions. 

MAIN EVENT:  The clip of Ellen Degeneres speaking against cyberbullying will be played to have an authority celebrity figure, which may be significant to some students.    (

            A motivational speaker will present who focuses on the damaging effects of cyberbullying, but also targets how to help the victims of abuse. 

            There will then be a portion of audience participation:
            -The audience compiles a list of what is considered cyberbullying, so that students are aware if they might be a victim or an abuser. 
            -The audience will then compile ideas for how to make positive cyberexperiences/relationships. 

            A closing comment will be given by a student who has had a personal experience with cyberbullying so they can talk about how it directly affected them. 

            Everyone who leaves this event will receive a anti-cyberbullying button which they can wear to raise awareness for this issue. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Filtering (IST 611)

Before I started the readings, I entered this assignment thinking I was going to be pro-filtering, expecting to disagree with the schools that were vying for no filters because I don’t think my students need to be exposed to inappropriate, vulgar material.  But throughout the readings, I realized that the anti-filtering schools were not exposing the children to inappropriate material at all.  Their purpose is not to give students access to inappropriate content, but rather to allow knowledge facilitation, and I found myself agreeing with what they had to say.  I especially agreed with the comment from Belltones, that if students are only exposed to ‘good,’ pre-approved sites that they know are valid, and then they will have absolutely no experience in website evaluation when they enter the real world. 
I think that we, as teachers, are responsible for the safety of children online.  However, that safety primarily comes from knowledge.  I think the most effective way to protect these students is to educate them so that they are capable of protecting and informing themselves.  This is the kind of protection that will last and go beyond the school property at the end of the day.  It is something they can take with them throughout their life.  This being said, I do think there is certainly some cause for filters in the school system, particularly when working with young elementary children.  There are plenty of sites available online that are not necessary or appropriate for young second graders to have access to or accidently stumble upon.  But perhaps the best system is to educate the students as to what is and is not considered an appropriate site.  A procedure can be implemented so the students can inform the teachers if they come upon an ‘inappropriate site,’ which then can be reviewed and blocked if necessary.  This way, the students are given the tools to take control of their own internet experience, which I believe will protect them far more than just filters will.        

A White Blank Page

I'm really quite taken by Meg Backus and her library dog from NOPL.  I remember her from the admitted students reception all the way back from last March, and she left an impression on me then too.  I wrote down a quote of hers from the evening: 'We are all creating society together.  Society is social; made by human beings.'  I think this idea of hers is well represented in her by the large white papers she displays at her library, along with the markers that are provided for people to create as they will (This is an idea which I adore, by the way).  There is something very epic in the idea of beginning with a clean blank page of nothing- and creating something out of that emptiness.  The beauty in this is that these white pages could be put up anywhere around a city, around a world even, and no two would come out exactly the same because no two people are exactly the same.  Therefore society is already being created, merely out of people's differences. 

How fascinating it would be to put up the white pages in different societies and among different groups of people and see what society creates?  At the end of the day, what would be on these pages?  The results would be entirely different when being presented to children vs. medstudents vs. an acting troupe vs. a group of artists vs. a tribe in Africa vs scientists at NASA vs. college students studying in Europe.  No two communities are the same, and so no two white pages would turn out the same. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tuesday was a good class in 511.  It was applicable and gave me much to think about.  I loved having the school librarians come in to talk about their experiences.  Getting to hear about real-life experiences made everything just so much more tangible and applicable to my life.  Granted, I’m a little biased because I am in the school media program, but I found them to be fascinating and really inspiring.  It was certainly a reminder that I am in the right field, and it made me excited to get out in the real world and get started.  This is an excitement that I’ve never felt about any other career-related path I’ve taken, so this is encouraging. 
I was also quite struck by the image of library work in Kenya.  One of my passions is the children of Africa, and so I think somehow incorporating that into my job as a librarian would be ideal.  I’m not sure how I would do that, but it is something to consider. 
I also really enjoyed going to NYLA.  It was my first conference-type event like that, and I was very impressed with how involved everyone was.  There was definitely an excitement about the air that was contagious and encouraging.  A whole hotel full of librarians who are willing to make things happen. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Special Collection

Perhaps it is because at heart I will always be that child book nerd who is reading under a tree while everyone else is running around playing tag.  But I really loved seeing the special collection of rare books at Bird Library.  I was very impressed with the first edition Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver’s Travels, Origin of Species, etc.  And I love the effort and work that went into all those handmade leather bindings.  It did open my eyes to the importance of book preservation, something that I had honestly never given much thought to before.  I think it speaks volumes that even with all the incredible technology available today, there is still enough value placed in books that someone would spend hours and hours repairing a single book (for example, the fairy tale book that was reconstructed).  Pretty impressive. 


             I have an idea for podcasting as using it as an opportunity to learn about other cultures and locations, as well as for students to teach about life where they live.  Students can podcast about their classroom/neighborhood, as well as watch other student’s podcasts from around the world.  I actually developed and got really excited about this idea before I saw that someone else had the same thought process and mentioned it in the book reading.  However, I think that it is valuable enough of a project to still use and develop it!

            One of my favorite applications of new technology is that it can bring other cultures to life right in front of us.  We can have a true understanding of how others live that is much more vibrant and meaningful than if we just read about it in a textbook.  I think having this knowledge shapes us in to a well-rounded person, and so it is quite important to teach students at an early age.  Because this project involves students from all over the world, it is going to require some global collaboration.  As an instructor, I am going to have to develop some way to get teachers from other countries interested and on board.  But with all the amazing resources available today, somehow I don’t feel that it is an impossible task!

            The students can select have specific topics to podcast about.  For example: the food their family makes, holiday traditions, daily routine, their neighborhood, how they interact with your siblings, etc.  What seems too monotonous and normal to them might be completely eccentric to someone watching this podcast across the world, so nothing is too ‘boring’ to talk about.  I also really want to focus on images, because actually seeing something is what can really bring it to life.  Therefore, the students should be instructed on creating a screen podcast, not just an audio.  For example, the students should include pictures of their house, backyard, school, playgrounds, and grocery store.  I think the students will be amazed to see how different even small things like this are across the world.

            As a side note, I had never even heard of QR codes until I learned about them in class this semester, and now I am seeing them absolutely everywhere!  I don’t know how I missed them for so long, since they’ve been literally under my nose!  Now I just have to get an iphone so I can start actually using them! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


As an extension to my School of Ed activity:
While reading up on WebQuests, one of the important aspects that stuck with me was the fact that this is an ‘inquiry-oriented activity,’ in which the students are constructing their knowledge, not just mindlessly accepting information given to them by their instructors.  An idea that is intriguing to me is to use online collaboration as a way to combine brainpower in order to solve a problem.  This way the students are coming up with their own ideas and solutions based off of their own research and inquiries; not just being fed information!  The problem should be relevant to the students- and this is where the faculty collaboration comes in!  My idea is that the teacher/ school librarian works alongside the students in order to problem-solve for another member of the staff.  For example; one problem could be that only unhealthy meals are being selected in the cafeteria.  The students can work with the Health teacher or the school nurse to promote healthy eating.  Or there is the problem that too much littering is occurring on the school grounds.  Students can work with the maintenance workers to come up with a solution.  Putting many heads together that are continuously feeding off each other’s ideas will open a whole new world of potential solutions.  In addition, this gives students an opportunity to collaborate with members of the staff they may not have otherwise had reason to interact with.    
One way to do this is to use ‘Google Docs,’ where individuals can constantly be contributing useful links, excerpts from articles, their own ideas, etc.  The students would be required to complete research on their problem, brainstorm solutions, develop and implement a plan.  All of this can be done right within Google Docs, and all the involved staff can be a part of the document, contributing ideas and feedback all along the way!  I like the idea of using an assignment and technology to create something applicable and useful, such as solving a problem for another staff member! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh to be technologically savvy

While reading the International Reading Association (IRA) Position Statement, I was struck by the line stating that students have the right to teachers that are able to use Information and Communication Technologies skillfully.  I think the wording is important: it is the student’s RIGHT that I know what I am doing and give them instruction and access to the most innovative technology.  That rather changes my perspective on everything.  I was never one to rush out and purchase the latest and greatest new thing.  It took my family years to finally get around to getting a DVD player.  So staying on top of technology just isn’t usually on my radar.  But if I don’t do my job keeping up with the latest technology, I am actually doing my students a great disservice.  This makes learning new technology less about me and my duties, and more about the students and what they deserve.  I like looking at it that way; it increases my own personal motivation to stay on top of the latest technology

Also important: the position statement emphasizes that merely making new technologies available in classrooms will not suffice.  The students need to be taught to effectively use the technology.  And there is no way that they will be able to do this is I, as the teacher do not have full confidence in what I am doing! 

Quote for Today:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Paradox of Choice

I was very very interested in 'the paradox of choice' which was referenced in class, because I absolutely suffer from this phenomenon; the idea that the more choices we are given, the more dissatisfied we become.  When you are only given one or two options, the result may not be ideal, but at least you can find satisfaction that this is the provider’s fault and not your own.  But when you have a million choices, suddenly you are stuck with the responsibility if something is not perfect, because you are the one who chose that item!  I find this when I go grocery shopping, and most specifically in the salad dressing isle.  Who would have thought something as innocent as salad dressing could possibly give me so much grief?  But the number of options makes picking out salad dressing a truly stressful experience for me!  Not only do I have to consider the flavor of salad dressing I want, but I have to deal with sorting through the varying prices, calorie count, brand name…all in all making this an extremely stressful isle. 

I also notice this when I go out to a restaurant.  I take absolutely forever with my menu because if I am going to be spending a lot of money on a meal, I want to be fully satisfied that I got what I actually wanted.  I often leave restaurants feeling disappointed in my decision, and not because the food wasn’t delicious!  I am the absolute opposite of a picky eater; but if I have the notion that there could have been something else that I would have enjoyed more in that moment, it makes it difficult to ever grasp perfect satisfaction? 

I think that libraries encounter this problem with the sheer volume of books available.  I sometimes get overwhelmed when going into the library because I always think- my favorite book in the world could be right there- the book to change my life.  Yet I don't know which one it is so I am missing out!  I really don’t like reading a book I don't love because it feels like wasted time- and what’s worse its wasted time that is my fault because I made the decision of what to do with that time.  I can deal with wasted time because of unforeseen circumstances like a flat tire or waiting in a doctor’s office because that time is not up to me.  But when I do get free time- I want to make the most of it.  That’s why I think reader’s advisories are so important in libraries.  People want to be pointed in the right direction towards a good book to take some of the pressure off making that decision themselves.  I find that for many people (of course, not all) it leads to greater satisfaction.  As for me, my stack of ‘to-read’ books by my bed has all been recommended to me, and that works perfectly well for me!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

RSS Feeds

For IST 611:
This surprised me; I ended up loving the RSS feel on Google Reader.  I heard about RSS feeds for the first time in my 511 class, was skeptical, and after a failed attempt at setting one up, decided RSS feeds were not for me.  Apparently I was wrong.  I love having all that information there at my fingertips.  I feel like I am up to date on what is happening, and I can already anticipate the time this will save.  While I feel that the concerns that were posted in the readings that RSS feeds are becoming irrelevant are valid, I personally see great potential in these feeds.  I think that the RSS feed ought to be here to stay…especially if blogging is going to become more prevalent in the classroom setting!   The easiest and most efficient way to keep track of classmate’s new posts is through an RSS feed. 

I’m currently busy trying to come up with more websites to add to my RSS feed… 

I really like the idea of using blogs in the school community as an expression of ideas and creativity.  Young students have really great, inventive ideas- and a blog would be a non-threatening environment for them to explore and voice those ideas.  They might also feel more comfortable writing in a blog because this is their own space- they can design it and personalize it to fit who they are.  Some of the blog entrees can be course-related (responses to readings, assignments, questions, interactions during class, etc) but I also feel that it is very important to give students an opportunity post about whatever is pressing on their mind at that moment.  This way, the blog will actually be a creative outlet personalized for each student, and in the process they will be developing and hopefully taking pride in their own voice.  This could also be an ideal way for students to start brainstorming about papers/stories/projects for school.  Anything to get those creative minds working!    

If only there was someone available to facilitate knowledge...

I had a wonderful, satisfying light bulb moment this week.  Apparently all my school/paper writing experiences up to this point did not adequately prepare me for searching databases for scholarly sources.  I was spending my evening attempting to find scholarly articles online (specifically, scholarly articles on piracy in the music industry); and coming up to dead ends at every turn.  Using SU's databases was not proving to be effective either.  (This is because I didn't know what I was doing.  Even in my frustrated state, I still could realize this on me; and was no fault of the school's website).  For some reason, nothing was working and I all I was accomplishing was becoming ever more upset.  I mean...I'm going to be a librarian, for crying out loud- I'm the one who will be helping other people find information, and I can't even find any scholarly articles?  This was a little disconcerting.  And then I had my light bulb moment.  Librarians help people find information...I'm a person...and I need information.  What a drastic idea, asking a librarian for help?!?  Here I have been attending classes for a month now specifically teaching the role of librarians, yet it didn't even occur to me that I could be one of those people on the receiving end of that interaction!  The realization was quite invigorating.  The next day, I shuffled off to the SU library to have my very first (and successful; the librarian I spoke with was lovely and as helpful as could be) reference interview.  I knew my first reference interview was going to be coming up soon, I just didn't realize I wasn't going to be the all-knowing librarian in the situation.   

Also something I discovered this week:,,20190897_20437960,00.html  Entertainment Weekly's list of 18 Wild Trips to the Library.  18 of the best movie scenes featuring a library...I love when libraries are made to look appealing. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


In reference to my last post, I did some thinking about ways to help as a teacher in an inner-city school.  While I don’t think any of these ideas are going to change the world, at least it is a starting point.   

-Take the time to actually talk to the students as a friend; not as a teacher.  Actually take the time (after school) to make an investment in their lives; ask them about what is going on in their life- so I can discover what their needs are.

-Find ways to relate and form a relationship based on mutual excitement on something.  For example, discover what books/media/games are exciting to them and actually learn about those things.  Be able to carry a conversation about those items.  Even if they aren’t items that I love- learn about them anyway and be able to get excited because they are excited!

-Build off of those things that they love.  For example, if ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ is what will get them to read, that is what projects/lessons will have to be based around.  It is important to get creative with lesson plans.  I’m starting to think that it is not worth it to stick to standard, typical lesson plans if they are utterly unrelatable for the students.  I’ll lose their attention immediately.  But if I can peak their interest with something they care about, or with an unconventional lesson plan…then there is a start!    

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making that difference

While reading the text book this past week as well as during the in-class discussion, I was struck by the reference to the graduate class that set out to improve the world and do good by entering the inner-city in order to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of the underprivileged.  They were surprised, I’m sure, when the people they thought they were helping turned out to not want their help at all- and even asked them to not return.  This must have been discouraging, I can imagine- wanting to make a difference but having your best efforts rejected.  Might have even been enough to make them even question the point of all their efforts.  If the people don’t want help, then why waste time and energy on something that is not going to make a difference anyway?  This would be an easy conclusion to draw.  But then I have to think about it from the perspective of those in the city who were trying to be ‘saved’ by these privileged students (This is an assumption on my part; I don’t know the background for any of these students so I don’t want to assume incorrectly…however, I do know that they at least had the privilege of attending a not-so-inexpensive university such as SU).  When looking at it from that perspective, the implication is that the lifestyles of those in the city are so inadequate and that they need someone to come in and improve them.  I can see how that might be a little off putting.  It involves the assumption that their lives are inferior.  And so I can begin to understand their attitude of not wanting the student’s help a little more clearly.  Its not that I think the SU professors and students were wrong in wanting to help- they saw a need and wanted to make a difference!  But I think it is how the issue is approached that makes the difference.  Instead of entering the situation with the mindset that something must be fixed because it is broken; how much better it is to enter and ask ‘what can be done to help?’  Ask the question, ‘what am I capable of, that you WANT me to do?’  This is something one might do for a friend, which is a genuine sentiment that may be easily translated.  I think this might create a much more positive relationship, which might actually have the potential of making a difference.
            I’m in the school media program, and so, naturally was attempting to do some applying of this concept to my own life.  My mother works in a city school, and so I hear plenty of stories about unruly students who just don’t want to behave or learn.  The majority of classroom time is not spent on teaching, but rather on attempted behavior management.  Similarly, it would be so easy for teachers to ask, ‘why put forth wasted effort, when it is not going to make a difference for these kids anyway?’  But I’m trying to put myself in these kids shoes; and their impression of the teachers that are drilling them all day…instead of ‘how can I, as a teacher improve their lives,’ I want to ask, ‘How can I, as a friend, help them?’  I’m going to think on this- if I come up with any sensational ideas I will be sure to post them accordingly!                   

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I wrote down this quote during class last week: 

‘We are new to this (the field of librarianship).  We have the ability to look at it with a new set of eyes.  We can tell where things need to be changed.’ 

I’m taking that as a challenge.  A challenge to be radical; to actively seek what things can be improved.  A challenge as well to be someone with enough gusto to actually make a change.  I’ve never considered myself much of a leader…I’m much more comfortable being given an assignment by someone else.  You can be certain I will work hard and complete that assignment the absolute best I can, but I’m still being the follower, not the innovator.  I think this is a role where I have gotten comfortable, and where I feel most confident.  Problem is, its not really stepping out of my comfort zone at all because it doesn’t require me to take any risks- to propose an idea that not everyone will agree with (I’ve never been very good at any form of conflict), or to attempt something that might fall apart.  These are my insecurities about being a leader; but I’m realizing those are things I’m going to have to get over if I’m going to be working in this field.  I shouldn’t be naive about job security- this world is changing, and librarians to have to potential to be left behind if we don’t change with it.  This calls for innovation!  For taking risks!  For looking for things that need to be improved and doing something about it!  Not one of my strengths yet, but certainly something to consider and work on.                         

Friday, September 9, 2011

Starting out on a Journey

When I first started telling people I was going into Library Science, one of the first responses I received was ‘Why?  Isn’t that just checking out books all day?’  It was a little disheartening, especially because I had no quick-witted answer to retort back.  I knew librarians did more than that; I had spent enough time in libraries since I was a child to figure that out- but I wasn’t really sure what it was that they did.  So my frantic search was to discover what it is that actually makes someone a librarian, so I would have a legitimate answer next time someone questioned my career path.
One of the lines that stuck with me from the first class was, ‘What makes you a librarian is your mission.  It is what you want to accomplish.’  What a relief that is!  I don’t have to run around frantically in search of what makes someone else a librarian in order to justify my career decision; I can figure out what it means to me- and feel proud of that decision because it belongs to me.  I also don’t necessarily feel the pressure of a time constraint to determine that mission anymore…I think of it more as a journey.  I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m excited to start taking that journey!  And I’m taking pride in it too!