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.