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!