Sunday, April 25, 2010

Looking Forward

At the end of every semester, I usually get very happy that it’s all over. I celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief. However for this course something unusual has happened. I feel like it’s not the end but the beginning. I feel excited and hopeful about all the new information I have learned. It’s like there is a portfolio in my brain rearing to be put to use. And now that I will have some time off from school, I am planning to put all of these ideas in a collective area. I am sure that I will come back to them over and over again once I become a media specialist.
My wish for all of my fellow classmates is one of hope and an open mind. Schools need librarians who are not afraid to dive into the world of technology. And students need school librarians who are knowledgeable and prepared to share their expertise with them. So what does this mean for us who are preparing to be media specialists? We have to be awake and alert. We need to stay current in all topics of technology. And most importantly, we need to be able to say “I didn’t know that, teach me”. Saying those words does not make us weak.
Happy trails everyone!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Feeling Accomplished

As the semester comes to an end, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. The progression of topics and assignments went smoothly and I felt excited about everything we were working on. Prior to this class I felt a bit out of place when I volunteered in the classrooms and the students were working on some computer applications. I often found myself gawking at whatever they were working on. Now I can join in and actively participate. This course has taught me that there are endless possibilities with the Web 2.0. I feel fortunate that my chosen profession is so exciting. Libraries are constantly changing and the role of the media specialist will definitely continue to evolve. We are not only equipping our students with tools that will make them employable in the future. We are also helping ourselves to the ever-growing and expanding world of computer applications.
I know that at the end of every semester students say they have learned a lot of new things. But in my case I did learn new things. I even enjoyed Diigo which I thought would be boring. (I am constantly playing around with the toolbar and coming up with my own “tag” words). The professor mentioned she would keep to herself some of the overt objectives for this course. And in this case I’d like to guess it was getting the students to fully immerse themselves into Web 2.0 tools. Believe me it’s not easy learning new computer lingo and applications, especially under deadlines.
All in all, it was a great class with good flowing discussions and interesting classmates. It’s one that will be kept in my records for a long time to come.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Staying Focused

This week I found myself trying to stay focused in the midst of a flu outbreak in my home. My kids were sick and miserable and by the time they felt better, I felt horrible myself. Still, I did my best to read the weekly materials and review some things about copyright I missed the first time. It seems both the Simpson book and some of my classmates believe the SLMS is completely responsible for enforcing copyright laws in the school. But I still believe that this issue is an administrative one and that it should not fall only upon the shoulders of the school media specialists. In the past months I've personally have witnessed how the media centers are the "catch all" for the school. Staff come in to use the computers, borrow books and media (which they sometimes don't return) and interrupt the story times. The SLMS are really taken for granted and many times overworked. (I just don't know how one person can do story times, book fairs, circulation duties, class visits and put books back on the selves, by themselves. It's just too much. And as if the above duties weren't enough, now the librarian has to monitor the staff and students when it comes to copyright enforcement.
I say let's have a mandatory teacher conference at the beginning of the school year, bring in a copyright attorney, the school superintendent, and the principal and discuss the issue. It's also a good idea for the SLMS to put up signs and have a couple of copies available of Simpson's book for staff to reference. This way everyone is informed and everyone is held accountable.
On another note, I was disappointed in myself for not adding more information about my second half of my presentation. I meant to have it as a hands-on segment but I should have included my thought process behind this. I will keep all of this information for future reference. All in all, I learned a lot while doing the assignment.
On a happy and ending note, I participated in a Web 2.0 activity with PBS. It was my first Webinar (seminar on the Web) and it was awesome. We were connected with educators from around the country and we discussed the upcoming movie "The Diary of Anne Frank". We also discussed how to implement the story of Anne Frank in a curriculum. The chat during the Webinar was very interesting because many of the teachers and students are creating great projects that will inform the world about the Holocaust. This is when the Web becomes a great learning tool.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Winding Down

This week was crunch time. I completed all the major projects and now just have to look forward to revamping my resume and the open-book test. I finished my workshop presentation, completed the I-safe training and will finish my other course requirements this coming week.
This week we discussed e-books. And although I find them fascinating, I don’t think they could take the place of books on print. I am curious however about the non-fiction and reference e-books available to schools. I’d like to see the topics available and their content.
Also, this week’s assignment left me thinking about my presentation skills. I am a worrier by nature. (It’s the middle child syndrome. We like to keep the peace). I often find myself with so many things to say that I can’t seem to be able to put them all down on paper. When it’s free writing I do perfectly, but when it’s specific my brain freezes up. I intend to keep the downloaded information on presentations for future use. I have a feeling I will need them again in the future.
Finally, with the semester winding down, it seemed appropriate that the weather this past week was nice. I plan to spend this coming week reading the weekly materials and enjoying the rain.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tools For Growth

This week we discussed the tools we felt were of benefit to a school media specialist. And I have to admit that I have been enjoying the different types of tools we’ve discussed. Google for example is one of my favorites. I use it for email, documents, chatting with family, locating addresses, my own homepage, reader, etc. There is much users can do with Google apps. Case in point, when flights where cancelled a few months ago to the island of Puerto Rico, (due to volcanic ash from the Island of Montserrat), I was able to use Google Earth and see live footage of the eruption. Google has also helped me communicate and collaborate with my family.
Since my sister has dyslexia, I have always had to proof read her papers and then she makes corrections. We use to have to email the document back and forth, which took forever. Now we use Google Docs and can collaborate at the same time. I insert comments in her work and make suggestions on how to make paragraphs flow better. I underline or highlight things that need to be re-written and she changes them. This tool has really helped me, to help her.
I think I have mentioned this before, but I wasn’t too happy about the requirements of this course when I first read the syllabus. I imagined having to be glued to the computer and using these “headache inducing apps”. However, this has been a great introduction to tools I look forward to continue using both personally and professionally.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Learning While Having Fun

I have to admit that I freaked out when read we had to attend all of these presentations. I knew this week was going to be a long and busy one, and I wondered how I could sit still enough to watch them. But boy what a tremendous amount of valuable information did I learn in these presentations. It was like going to a conference in my pajamas. The combination of listening to the presenters and being in the classrooms during the day brought it all together for me. I kept thinking how advanced our children are today. They can Skype with other students from around the world, take quizzes on the smartboard, use Google docs to collaborate on projects, know how to work cell phones, apps and all kinds of Web 2.0 tools. Just the other day my son created a book project with Photo Story 3. I had never seen that before! And I love techy stuff. It was so amazing. My daughter also collaborated with my son and they created a digital movie out of their own drawings. It was so cool to see the still pictures become animated.
This brings me back to Rachel Boyd’s presentation from New Zealand. What an amazing and fun way to teach a class. The children were engaged and actively participating in the lessons. I didn’t see any of the children sleeping or bored. As a matter of fact they spent much of the time moving.
I hope some day we move away from that “sit in your seat with your hands crossed” attitude. Maybe as we continue to find new Web 2.0 tools for use in the classroom, our children will have more opportunities to become active learners. Like Diego Leal expressed in “Kicking it up a Notch”, we have to learn to “entregar las llaves” to the students. And this literally translates to “handing back the keys”.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stellar Presentations

This week I learned new ways of making my PowerPoint presentations stand out. The element mentioned such as logistics, objectives (overt and covert) and topic management, reminded us of how important details can be. I was grateful for the Effective presentation demo. This is a tool that can go in my reference file. That being said, I wish this type of lesson would've been offered in the LIS505 or 506 courses. Most librarians work with PowerPoint at one point or other,and it would've been nice to have this information earlier in the MLS program. Don't get me wrong, this is valuable information and training, and is helpful to me even though I know how to prepare a PowerPoint presentation. It's just that this information on workshops is so crucial that it should have been taught earlier.
Yet, I am grateful for the insights of Professor Allen and Dan. Their collaborative efforts provided me with new things to think about as I prepare my assignment.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sometimes I don't like the Web.

This week, my love-hate relationship with online technology almost drove me insane. I was so busy trying to get everything done that I almost forgot to write on my blog. It’s not that I don’t like the Web, but I don’t particularly enjoy spending hours on it. In all honesty, classes that require me working constantly online become stressful to me. I fidget, get up from the desk, stretch my arms up and down and still can’t seem to concentrate for long periods of time on the Internet.

This leads me to this past week’s discussion on wikis and blogs. We have read about the potential benefits these tools can have for students, but I am not convinced that they are being used as much. In my local school district, I have yet to see any of the school media specialists using wikis or blogs. What is being used is the library webpage. On the webpages librarians are setting up book review segments, trivia contests, and other library information. I wonder if the avoidance of using wikis and blogs is because these require constant updating. It makes sense that if you are providing students with information by way of wikis or blogs, it should be up to date. One of the most important details about using Web 2.0 tools in the school library is having a person who will dedicate themselves to its maintenance. And of course it wouldn’t hurt if this person enjoyed spending hours working on the Internet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Conondrum of Romans 7:15.

As my kid’s spent a week off from school, I did my best not to feel like I was off too. The week before had been extremely busy and I began to question whether I really wanted to add a school library media certificate to my background. I also thought about the copyright issue. Do school teachers learn about this and if so do they talk about it?

I’ve worked around teachers for a long time and had never heard about movie licensing or copyright infringement until I took a communications course. And the only time I’ve heard public librarians speak on these issues, was during a pre-summer reading program meeting. The term movie licensing came up when a Children’s Librarian mentioned how their library had purchased one. She advised us to do the same if we wanted to show movies during our summer reading program. Our manager never spoke of such things. Looking back, many copyright laws were broken on a daily basis.
I think sometimes we just see what we want to see. You know the see no evil, hear no evil thing.

I remember taking a family member’s advice on a site for movie downloads. This was before taking the communications course, and I thought the site was people just sharing files. Boy, as soon as I found out what it really was, I erased it from my computer. I also had a talk with my children and explained that what I had done was wrong. We talked about illegal downloads and file sharing websites. I explained to them, that it didn’t matter that someone was willing to “share” the movie or song with me. That movie or song was someone else’s creation and we needed to purchase it.
I learned a lot from that particular experience. And it’s still a point of conversation in our family.
Now if we would only talk about it in libraries, and schools and continue to re-enforce it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teaching what we've learned.

This week’s visits to school media centers left me pondering the question of what happened to the theories learned in library school. I know that district and school politics play big roles in what a media specialist does in her media library, but I still wonder how the theories are being applied. This week we are learning about search engines, Internet searching methods and how a library catalog can be efficient, but will we be able to teach it to our students? Will we be able to equip students with the necessary technological library tools for high school, college and beyond?
Some of the librarians I spent time with, told me there wasn’t time for curriculum based learning. Others said the teachers just wanted to send the unruly students to the library and the library is not a detention center. And while I agree with them, I squirm a little inside of me and I hope for that something “extra” to be taught in school media centers. (I say “extra” because the librarians are doing what they can while being limited by all sorts of red tape). But more needs to be done to teach the knowledge we are learning.
Oh boy! Have I opened a can of worms with these comments? I can imagine some of the media specialists shaking their heads at me and saying “just you wait”. But I have high hopes, and I hope to be able to share the lessons of this course with my students when the time comes.
Fortunately for me that plea of hope was answered when I saw a library media specialist prepare a lesson on searching for books by call number this week. I could’ve cried for joy. It was truly one of the highlights of my day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do you know how to IL or ICT?

As a librarian, I thought I knew "everything" about information technology. At the public library we always referred to this as information literacy and we sort of group everything under that title. But this week I learned the two very distinct terms of IL and ICT. IL (Information Literacy) is defined as not only knowing how and where to find the information online, but also being able to identify, locate, and evaluate said information. This is big because most people who do know how to use a computer, fall short in this area. And I believe the ability to identify, locate and evaluate material found online is essential for a SLMS. I remember some years ago, my branch manager sent me to a class at the RRLC about searching online. It was enlightening to say the least. We were given websites to evaluate and it was humbling to see how many experienced librarians really thought some of the websites were legitimate. At that seminar, I learned the differences between .com, .net, .org etc. What a class! I left that seminar informed and empowered. Sadly, I don’t see much of those seminars being offered anymore. And boy do we need them because there is too much of what I call nonsense information in cyberspace.
The ICT (Information and Communication Technology) aspect refers to what I call the “techy” side. This is when we know how to use the computer and its components. When information can be properly collected and retrieved. It’s when you know how to move around in the digital world. These of course are my own definitions. I have to be honest and say that I kind of like this world because I love collecting information on the Internet. I’ll admit there are still some tools I dislike, such as templates, but it’s still an exciting environment to move around in.
This week discussion left me hungry for more on the subject. I downloaded the webquest on my desktop and have gone over it many times. I’d like to see this type of information available to students and teachers and the public library. They should be taught in the schools. We need them. In today’s society of advanced technology, we need both IL and ICT skills.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This week I learned a few new things about the art of blogging. I view blogging as an art form because one definitely needs critical thinking skills to be able to blog successfully. When the word blog is mentioned people often think it's just online journaling. But I learned that blogging is much more than keeping a journal. A journal or diary is for writing one’s daily activities or feelings. A blog on the other hand is in my opinion, more sophisticated in nature. You can write about your feelings or daily activities, but in a true blog there is more depth and professionalism. A blog’s content elicits a response and rebuttal whether positive or negative. It “feeds” on the response of others because this in turn perpetuates the existence of the blog.

It’s funny how you see things differently after you study them. I’ve seen and read a variety of blogs for different reasons. But after last week, I found myself examining their content. I began to analyze their topics and check out the links they provided. It’s one of those learning experiences I want to pass on to my students as a media specialist. Sometimes we have to look at things in an objective way. It’s a real eye-opener.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So I struggled with Diigo yesterday.   Everything was going well and I had even bookmarked a few good websites.  Then, suddenly it seemed I couldn't view any followers or people in my group.  I went through the tutorials, searched in the help menu, and did all I could to find a solution to the problem.  I was convinced that the "malfunction" was the result of my wrongdoing.  And boy was I steaming mad.  The more I searched for an answer, the angrier I became when none could be found.  Finally, I decided to Google the situation and found that the snag was with FireFox.  It turns out that Diigo has some shortcomings when used in FireFox.  Well, by that time I was livid but somewhat satisfied that it wasn't my fault.
Web technology is exciting but sometimes makes me want to smash my laptop with a hammer.  Luckily I didn't resort to any violence against my laptop and will use this as a good learning experience when working as a media specialist.  I think children have a higher tolerance when working with faulty technology.  They seem to know how to let go and move on.  I am going to practice counting backwards from 20.  Take a deep 20, 19......

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Beginnings

This past week has been a flurry of activities.  I was preparing myself to observe school media specialists in action and setting up all of my LIS568 online accounts.  It's amazing how much the Internet has influenced our lives.  We can communicate with friends in other cities, states and countries, all via a cell phone, laptop or desktop computer.  Our children know how to text, blog, Skype and use word process applications better than most adults.  Yet, why is it that adults are still reluctant to accept and use Web technology?  I have friends older than myself who still refuse to use online pay for bills, let alone buy anything online.  Young people on the other hand are adventurous when it comes to the Web.  They seem fearless when it comes to exploring the many online gadgets.

As I thought about all these new ways of communicating via the World Wide Web, I realized how important it is for school media specialists to keep current with this new technology.  Just as physicians need to stay current with new medical breakthroughs in order to provide better care, media specialists need to do the same.  Sure, we are not exactly saving lives, but we do provide a service that benefits and educates our future generation.  Pretty special responsibility huh?
And so, while I might not always be comfortable using online gadgets as much as my kids might, I will definitely dive in and give them a try.