Friday, December 11, 2009

The Unquiet Library

Keep an eye on this site it's full of stuff about "21st-century" learning and is sure to change and grow as time goes on.
Take a look at the video "Connected Student Toolbox" for a vision of the future.

in reference to: The Unquiet Library 2009-10 (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An On-going Book Fair ... And Thanks!

Support the Library
As gift-giving season approaches in earnest now is a great time to accomplish two things at once: giving great gifts and giving something to Redwood’s library program too!
The library has several ways that allow parents, grandparents, and others to give great gifts and contribute to the library program as well.
The one which we have participated in the longest is Book Passage’s program to contribute a certain percentage of your book purchases to local schools. When purchasing a book or other materials just ask that the sale be credited to Redwood High (code 55). Every quarter Book Passage sends us a gift certificate with the amount they have accumulated from such purchases and we can go in and buy books from them. Book Passage is a great asset to our community and this is a great way support your local independent bookseller as well as the Bessie Chin Library.

Another way you can support the library is by using the widget on the library website to purchase from Amazon.com. Click on the “Support the Library” link at the top of the page and then use the Amazon search box to find the items you are looking for. A certain percentage of the sale will credited against the library’s online account.

Finally, especially for children’s and teen’s books try Gift Lit. There is a link on the library’s page with the code (RHS82302) which you can enter before you check out. As in the preceding examples, the library gets a certain percentage of the sale for materials we purchase.

Most high schools don’t hold book fairs to raise money for their library programs but you can participate in an on-going library book fair all year long.

And Thanks for Your On-going Support
Speaking of gifts, the library and the entire Redwood community would like to thank the Foundation for funding two of our project this semester. We will be replacing 22 old CRT monitors with LCD monitors which will save energy and free up desktop space for students working in the library. We will also be able to purchase nice file drawers to store our archival collection of school newspapers. A couple years ago the Foundation provided funding to bind fifty-plus years of the Bark. Now we will be able to make those historic documents available for students, alumni and the greater community to peruse in a comfortable and secure manner. We are very grateful to the school community for providing these grants which are put to good use for everyone.

Happy holidays, everyone! And seasons readings!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Funny? Maybe Not so Funny!

Just discovered Taylor Mali thanks to Nina Jackson.
"I'll Fight You For The Library" performed by Taylor Mali as part of the Page Meets Stage Series at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City on April 29, 2009.

Friday, October 2, 2009

National Information Literacy Awareness Month



President Obama has proclaimed October National Information Literacy Awareness Month.

Here's the text of the proclamation:


Every day, we are inundated with vast amounts of information. A 24-hour news cycle and thousands of global television and radio networks, coupled with an immense array of online resources, have challenged our long-held perceptions of information management.
Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decisionmaking. National Information Literacy Awareness Month highlights the need for all Americans to be adept in the skills necessary to effectively navigate the Information Age.
Though we may know how to find the information we need, we must also know how to evaluate it. Over the past decade, we have seen a crisis of authenticity emerge. We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace. At the same time, Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information,
as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.
Our Nation’s educators and institutions of learning must be aware of — and adjust to —these new realities. In addition to the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it is equally important that our students are given the tools required to take advantage of the information available to them. The ability to seek, find, and decipher information can be applied to countless life decisions, whether financial, medical, educational, or technical.
This month, we dedicate ourselves to increasing information literacy awareness so that all citizens understand its vital importance. An informed and educated citizenry is essential to the functioning of our modern democratic society, and I encourage educational and community institutions across the country to help Americans find and evaluate the information
they seek, in all its forms.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2009 as National Information Literacy Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the important role information plays in our daily lives, and appreciate the need for a greater understanding of its impact.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
BARACK OBAMA

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


This just in from Bonnie Gosliner, the Young Adult librarian at the Corte Madera branch of Marin County Free Library.

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all having a great start to the school year.

I want to tell you about a new FREE service provided by the Marin County Free Library. “HelpNow! Powered by Brainfuse” is an online free tutoring service for grade 3 to 12 offered 7 days/week from 1pm to 10pm.

· Math -- including Algebra I/II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus
· Science -- including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science
· Social Studies
· Writing Assistance
· English Language Arts
· Reading Assistance

Students must enter a library card number but no PIN. To try it, go to our website www.marinlibrary.org click on TEENS and then Help Now Homework Help


You should be aware that the Bel-Tib Library has its own homework help service available from its Teen Zone Page.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

September Is Library Card Sign-up Month



According to the American Library Association "Library Card Sign-up Month was launched in 1987. Library Card Sign-up Month is a time to remind parents that a library card is the most important school supply of all. Since then, thousands of public and school libraries join each fall in a national effort to ensure every child does just that."

I'd like to recommend that every student at Redwood have a public library card. If you don't have one this is the perfect time to apply. Applications for the Marin County Free Library are available in the the library. Just ask for one.

Applications for each of the libraries in Marin is also available online.

WNBA star and Olympic champion, Candace Parker, honorary chair of Library Card Sign-up Month, says that a public library card is an essential school supply. I agree.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Information Literacy Tutorial Series

I just came across this series of information literacy tutorials featuring the director of the Pima Community College in Arizona.
I'm hoping to do something similar for Redwood this year. Keep posted and we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twitter Feed

I just added a twitter feed from BessChinLibrary on Twitter. You can find the twitter updates further down this page.

I had already decided to do this and had just added the widget when I read a post on David Lee King's blog in which he discusses ways "not to tweet" for libraries. The first thing I did was open my tweets. I'm not sure why I set it up so the viewer would have to ask permission to follow the library tweets but I think he's right--it should be open to all.
In the post he also says that before setting up an institutional account you should answer these questions:
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • Why are you setting it up?
  • Who’s going to maintain the account?
  • Who’s going to answer tweets?
  • Who do you plan to connect with?
I plan on using this feed to inform students and staff as well as interested community members about current library happenings on a more regular basis. I would hope to get some interesting feedback from those folks who follow the tweets. As the teacher librarian, I will be maintaining the account and answering the tweets.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Library Named One of the 7 Wonders

As mentioned earlier, the recently published Log, the yearbook of Redwood High School, had as its theme this year "The Seven Wonders of Redwood."

Named as "Wonders" were the spirit ball, the senior parking area, the new lunch plaza, the library, new gym and pool, the amphitheatre, and Mount Tamalpais.

When I talked to the yearbook advisor about the process used to pick these seven things, she said that the easiest one to pick was the library. The kids had started out wanting to name the librarian but decided that the library would be a better choice. It's really great to hear that they value both the staff and the library program at Redwood. As at most schools, it's not every day that we get feedback on the value of the library to students. So we say thanks!

Each section of the yearbook is headed by a two-page spread which speaks a bit more to one of the wonders. The Library heads the section on Academics which has photos of the staff and each of the departments as well as club pictures.
The copy which accompanies the spread reads as follows:

From dawn 'til dusk, Monday through Friday, August to June, the rooms of Redwood are filled with minds at work. We keep ourselves busy for all four years with everything from English 1-2 and AP Chemistry to Drama. Starting out as Freshmen we wander the halls, peering into Junior and Senior classrooms, and waiting for our turn to take those more exciting classes. We are offered a wide variety of challenging and intellectually rewarding classes. However, through our years at Redwood High School, one place remains the same for all: the library.
Whether we are looking for books, doing some last minute homework, picking up the IJ [local newspaper] or just hanging out before the bell rings, the library remains a constant at the center of our school: a meeting place that is always there and offers everything we need as students.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Two Things

One of the Seven Wonders of Redwood
Last week my assistant got her hands on a preview copy of our annual, the Log. The theme this year is "The Seven Wonders of Redwood." And guess what one of the "Wonders" is? Yes, the Library.
It was really neat to see that the kids value the Bessie Chin Library and it's programs. The introductory article says the following: "Always a blessed place in our hearts, the library serves as a resource for students: providing computers, fiction and nonfiction books, and presentations from our librarians. The library is in constant use for studying after school and during lunch." It's always great getting unsolicited praise, especially from the students.

The Draft District Mission Statement
Yesterday at Instructional Council we got our first look at the District's new draft Mission Statement. Here it is in full:

-- The Tamalpais Union High School District is dedicated to the development of passionate, self-motivated learners.
-- Upon graduation, students will be prepared to become engaged citizens who contribute individually and collaboratively to address the challenges of a dynamic, interdependent world.
-- To these ends, all students will demonstrate mastery of core competencies and will be offered meaningful learning experiences to enable them to access and critically analyze information, pose substantive questions, and communicate effectively.


The important words to me are highlighted above. Our current Mission Statement does not mention anything about information skills or competency so I see this as a real step forward for the library programs in the District.
I know that one Trustee who I have talked to extensively about these issues had a strong hand in making sure that such language was included in the Statement.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Loertscher and Farmer Webinar

This afternoon I took part in an interesting, if a bit frustrating, webinar. It was lead by David Loertscher, and Lesley Farmer also participated.

The frustrating thing was that wasn't interactive like most webinars I've attended before. But maybe that will come eventually. They plan on hosting more of these sessions.

The presentation, which lasted an hour, was full of tips for keeping track of what we are doing with students and teachers in the library, a challenging endeavor for sure. What's the purpose? Well, with budget cuts happening all over the place, we are ever more pressured to demonstrate that what we're doing for kids and teachers is highly valuable. By keeping track of what and how our kids are learning we can demonstrate exactly that when the crunch time comes.

In general we teacher librarians don't do a great job collecting that kind of data although this blog helps me a little to track what my staff and I do in our library. So I was glad for the reminder about Doug Achterman's California School Libraries Work! wiki. As soon as I get approved to edit I will begin adding things to the Marin County page.

It was interesting to see that Lesley is still using examples from her time at Redwood to make points about the value of collaboration. Fortunately today we have very good professional tech support for the library and the school as a whole. The world of the Internet and library service has changed dramatically in the ten years since Lesley was library media teacher here at Redwood and I think we're doing a great job keeping up with it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How I Spent My Spring Break


I apologize for being away for a while but I was determined to post my impressions of Library LegiDay in Sacramento on April 15 before the CSLA board meeting tomorrow.
The picture is of CSLA's president, Connie Williams, and me standing on the steps of the Capitol after our "press availability" that morning. Senators Lois Wolk and Ellen Corbett had announced the proclamation of National Library Week and there was a crowd of public and school librarians chomping at the bit to get inside the Capitol to speak with various state representatives. I was scheduled to see my assemblywoman, Nancy Skinner, at 11:30 so I had a bit of time to kill before the meeting. That was also the day that the anti-tax "tea parties" were meeting in various locations around the country including our own capital. There was a lot going on in the capital that day.

I spent some time in a Senate Education Committee meeting were the senators were hearing about bills and voting on whether to sent them on. Two I remember had to do with eliminating the requirement that second graders be required to take the STAR test and opening interdistrict student transfer opportunities. Both were popular with the senators present.

At 11:15 I went to Assemblymember Skinner's office and introduced myself. As the substitute for Ellie Goldstein-Erikson, who is the official liaison, I was to present Ms. Skinner with the packet which had been prepared by the LegiDay organizers explaining our issues and asking for her support. Ellie couldn't be there that day because of other commitments and Barbara Jeffus asked me to take her place. About 8-10 public librarians from District 14, which includes much of the East Bay, then showed up and were lead into a small office by one of her aides since she wasn't available at that time.

Her aide was very personable and I think the theme of "Educate to Legislate" was very evident in the remarks all the librarians made in the meeting with him. Because Skinner is a brand new member of the legislature it was very important that she be brought up to speed on the issues facing all library programs in the state. After several public librarians had pointed out how important their libraries are in these uncertain economic times and how they relied on state funding for many of their literacy outreach programs I mentioned that if we had more and better school libraries our populace would be more literate, better at using information sources and more economically productive. The aide seemed to understand what we were saying and promised to pass our concerns on to the assembly member.

I was also able to visit Assembly member Tom Ammiano's office. Tom was a neighbor of mine in San Francisco and I've known him for many years. Several of us met with his aide and thanked him for being supportive of libraries in San Francisco, both public and school. We asked him to arrange visits to school libraries so he could see for himself what the people of San Francisco are getting for their very crucial tax dollars. CSLA Government Relations co-chairs, Barbara Duffy and Pam Oehlman, were also at that meeting.

Overall the day was inspiring and very different from the "Day in the District" meeting I've attended. Although I didn't get to see the legislators, their aides seemed very willing to listen, take notes, and I'm sure passed on to their bosses, what they heard that day.

Just so you don't think I spent my entire Spring Break in the capital here's a picture I took at a wonderful B & B I stayed at Wednesday and Thursday nights in Columbia. The shot is of a cat which could be a twin of my own "tuxedo" cat. And note that it is a Manx which mine is too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mainstreaming of e-Books in Our Library


eBooks @ Adelaide

I recently added over 1300 ebook records to the library catalog from the eBooks @ Adelaide (University of Adelaide, Australia) website.

To access the books search for the series "eBooks @ Adelaide" (from home; from school). This will bring up the entire list of 1306 titles. Most of these books are older and therefore are out of copyright and many are available on such sites as Gutenberg and Bibliomania. The nice thing about the Adelaide e-books is that they provide downloadable MARC records which are the records librarians use in online catalogs. The records are not great and require some tweeking to make them really useful but their availability certainly makes the task of getting the records into the catalog and therefore accessible to the library patron a very simple task.

Once you've opened the record you just click on the link which says "Connect to e-book online" or, for records which haven't been modified, on the URL, to get to the online text. Authors in the collection range alphabetically from Edwin Abbott to Emile Zola and chronologically from Homer to Orwell. This collection will enable the library patron to access many books which we don't actually have on the shelves and electronically many we do have even when they aren't physically in the library. One advantage of e-books is the ability of two or more patrons to simultaneously use the same book.

The eBooks @ Adelaide website allows the user to browse titles by author, title, chronologically, and thematically and allows for full-text searches of all the books on the site. The books are also available as zip files to download to the user's own device for reading offline as well.

America.gov

Also recently discovered a new e-book resource on the America.gov website which provides access to full-text books as well. America.gov: Engaging the World is the new public face of the U.S. Dept. of State to the international community and presents quite a change from the previous administration. One of the missions of the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs is to present the United States to the rest of the world as well as its own citizens. Some recently published titles include Being Muslim in America, Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom, Dreams of Edgar Allan Poe, Free at Last: The Civil Rights Movement, Sketchbook USA, and American Popular Music. While these books might be considered propaganda they also give the reader an opportunity to see what the U.S. government considers important for the world to understand about us.

Another publication available on the site is an electronic journal. Recent topics of the e-journal, which is thematic, include the movie business, American teenagers, the changing English language, and college education in the U.S.

The publications from this site are available for downloading as pdf documents and are available in a variety of languages including Russian, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

As e-books become more and more ubiquitous and accessible I expect all of us will be reading more and more online.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What We'd Love Our Graduating Seniors to Know


Joyce Valenza's statement to her high school seniors in a recently published article in VOYA says it all for me: "I hope you will do more than what the researchers call 'satificing,' a cross between satisfying and sufficing. I want you to use your skills to find quality. I want you to go further than any of your peers will. I want you to search for quality, relevance, currency, and credibility. I want you to find excellence, display excellence, and distinguish yourself from other freshmen."

Joyce is a model teacher librarian in Springfield, Pennsylvania whose contributions to school librarianship are numberless. She has unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for her kids and her work. In her NeverEnding Search blog at School Library Journal Joyce is continually challenging us to find better ways of teaching and learning along with our students in this ever-changing world of information overload.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Delaine Eastin Endorses Tom Torlakson

This video shows Delaine Eastin's April 3rd endorsement of Tom Torlakson's bid to run for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Delaine is a real hero to the school library community and she mentions school libraries a couple times in the course of her speech. If Torlakson has only half of the passion Delaine has exhibited for school libraries over the years we will be well served by him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Short Stories, Conic Sections, and the Magic Eye

It's not that often that a teacher brings a class in to find short stories to read. Today Jeff Ryan brought two of his American Lit classes to the library to find short stories.

I was able to show them how to find short stories using the catalog--search for the subject "Short stories," for example. Then I explained than in our library story collections by more than one author are kept in a special collection at the end of all the fiction books but that short story collections by one author are interfiled with the authors novels in the main fiction collection.

We also explored some online sources for stories. Since I had just recently downloaded the MARC records (1306 titles!) for the e-book collection at the University of Adelaide (Australia) I showed them how they could access the books directly from the catalog. Of course, most of the stories online are in the public domain and therefore fall into the "classic" designation.

Jeff had already alerted them several other collections online from his web page and I plan on linking to those sites as soon as I can from the library catalog. Some of the better ones included Bibliomania, Short Story Classics, and Classic Short Stories.

A couple other classes also used the library today.

Aaron Simon brought his Pre-calculus class to work on conic sections and vector projects. There's a well-established Mathematics page on the Library website which features a Google Custom Search box that searches good quality math websites. Students find the search and the links to specific sites to be particularly useful for this project.

And Matt Tierney brought his Psych class in to view some "magic eye" images.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mock Senate Spring 2009


Today the Government classes held their Mock Senate exercise in three different places around the campus. One of the sessions, featuring the students in Mr. DeNardo's classes, was held in the library.

It's always great to see the students dressed up like young ladies and gentlemen and taking part in this "exercise in democracy." The Mock Senate gives the students an opportunity to debate issues which the country is grappling with and they do it with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm.
video
Ian Kaufman talks to fellow Senators about changing the drinking age. Mr. DeNardo looks on in the background.

The students in all the government classes use the resources of the Library extensively in preparing for their debates and it show in the evidence that they present to their classmates.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weeding, Teaching, Searching, Mock Senate Preview


Today was fairly quiet in the library.

I'm continuing to weed items from the library. I'm focusing right now on the 500s--especially the 580s, Botany. A lot of the items were given new call numbers in the 333 (Environmental protection area). We have a lot of material on the rain forests which were purchased in the 1980s and 1990s which had been classified with botany but are more properly located with forest conservation. Next year I will look into updating this collection with some newer titles.

Another area with a lot of older titles is the wild flower guides and other general botanical guides. Books such as these are used when Integrated Science students are doing their ecological transect projects. I've set up a Category in the catalog which brings many of these items together under the topic of California field guides. I tried to tag all of the appropriate books I reviewed today with that topic. It makes it easier to find the titles when the kids are working on the project--for them and for me.

I helped Jean, an aide in the Sheltered English class (ELL students), to explore the library's home page with its wealth of resources. She was a bit overwhelmed so I showed her some specific databases and how they work. We accessed periodicals through the library catalog, Sequoyah, as well as playing around with PowerSearch Plus, Gale's federated search engine.

Robert Winkler came by with copies of an article he had seen in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books about the treatment of terrorism suspects in the War on Terror. He wondered whether the secret report it referred to could be found online. It was produced by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2004 and all of their reports are officially secret. I looked using various search engines and databases but couldn't find the specific report he wanted. I did find some other documents so I printed them out and will add them to the Pamphlet file on Torture. His students are producing reports on topics related to Orwell's novel, 1984, and current events.

Tomorrow the Mock Senate will be held in several different locations at Redwood. One of the venues is the Bessie Chin Library where students will present, debate and vote on various bills they have been working over the past several weeks. They have been using CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center intensively for this project. The main library portal for information on Congressional resources can be found on the Library's Government page.
Look for pictures in tomorrow's blog posting.

Several classes were in the library today. Emily Satterstrom brought her AP Language and Literature classes in to continue doing research on their controversial topic papers. I had questions about educational law, environmental law, and suburbia in the 1950s among others. It's great when students are willing to ask for help and realize they don't have to do it all on their own. I'm looking forward to seeing the completed papers.

The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. has finally hit the book stores and there's a great deal of energy being expended on the library listservs about the changes to MLA style. We had a preview last year when the 3rd ed. of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing came out. The Library has begun to change its web page about Citing Sources to reflect the new style. We have also developed a presentation which explains the new conventions and which is available for anyone to use. Updates will be provided as soon as we get our copy of the Handbook.
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University has an interesting page on the changes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Busy Day for Kids and Teachers

Today I had four classes in the library.

Two of Mr. Winkler's classes came on a follow-up visit to continue finding information about their papers related to their reading of Orwell's 1984. Robert had started this project last year and this year gave his students four sheets with directions for the project including one specifically about library resources. He is requiring that they use Opposing Viewpoints Resouce Center or CQ Researcher to find information on several topics related to the post-9/11 world including the PATRIOT ACT, torture, privacy rights, etc. The students will relate the issues they have been reading about in their text to similar contemporary issues.

So far the kids really seem to be using the resources very well; specifically steering away from Google searches which bring them too many hits which they realize they can't really begin to read or undertand in the amount of time they have to produce the paper.

The students are also encouraged to use library print materials about the topics and today were able to check out library books for the first time since the project began.

Sharing the library today were two other classes. Mike Keleman brought his U.S. history classes in for their second day finding primary source documents for their research project on various civil rights topics. Some are looking for info on the women's movement, others are researching the African American civil rights movement, still others Hispanic Americans or Native Americans. I didn't have as much time to show them how to find primary source documents online but did show them how to identify books with primary sources in the library's catalog by searching for subject headings which include the term "Sources." Most seemed to be finding enough material. Mike commented today that helping the kids was real exercise in patience--theirs and his. Most find it quite difficult to go beyond the obvious--the first link in a Google search being a familiar favorite--and digging deeper when they are looking for such resources.

We all know this is a modern syndrome--the inability or reluctance to go beyond the obvious--but it's our obligation to give the kids the motivation to go beyond the easiest and head for things which are not so accessible to those which have meaning for what they are trying to demonstrate in various papers and projects they are working on.

The kids from Emily Satterstrom's Non-fiction class are also beginning their research papers (12 pages--fairly daunting) and are coming one-by-one to inquire about topics and possible resources. I know she's encouraged them to seek me out as a resource and I think I'm up to the task. One boy had decided to investigate the relationship between music and current events and I had to think about that for a while. After sharing insights about the likes of Bob Dylan and hip-hop as reflecting the events of the times I told him I'd do a bit more research and he could check back with me. He then suggested I email him some suggestions which I thought was brilliant. I did find a terrific page at About.com about folk music which supplied some interesting jumping-off places. I also suggested that he use terms like "civil rights movement" and "music" in a search to locate more resources. I hope to find out whether these tips were useful or not and will let you know.

All in all an interesting and productive day. Some teaching, some learning. What more can one ask for?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Friday

Friday was a very busy and productive day in the library.

I spoke to five classes--all 9th graders--which are my favorites.

Three English classes came in earlier in the week to take the TRAILS information literacy assessment survey. The teacher, Jeanne Woltering, is my peer evluation partner this year and I decided that I was going to work with her classes on information literacy skills. Earlier I had done a couple presentations with them on the new MLA format for citiations which went over quite well.

During 9th-grade orientation last semester, I had requested social studies teachers to have their students do the survey as a pre-test of info lit skills for all incoming students to Redwood. Not enough actually did the survey to provide an adequate base for data comparison. I find that if I don't follow up personally with each class I really don't get the response we need. Since I knew Jeanne, whom I've worked closely with over the years, would follow up I decided to give the survey another attempt.

Since 9th-grade English classes at Redwood are 20-to-1 classes there were a total of fifty students who took the TRAILS-9 survey. Scores ranged from 25% to 88% so we realized a quick follow-up would probablly be useful for the kids. The weakest sections of the test were on the evaluation of information sources and the ethical, legal, and responsible use of information. The sections where the students tended to do better were the sections on topic development; the identification of potential sources; and the developent and use of various search strategies.

The three classes came in on Friday and the plan was to go through the test question by question so we could discuss the questions and help the kids see why the correct answers were correct. As usual in these situations we were able to learn from the first presentation and adapted for the later ones.

The first thing I discovered was that we couldn't go through the entire test in one fifty-minute period and still allow for adequate discussion. For the 2nd and 3rd classes I quickly covered the sections the kids did better on and then spent most of the time on the last two areas mentioned above.

I did not intend this to be a lesson in place of regular library projects which the kids are doing on a regular basis but it turned out to be an excelent teaching and learning experience. It seems that the issues brought up by the evaluation questions were mostly about the notion of bias in information sources. Delving into the questions gave the students the opportunity to explore what constitutes bias and hopefully clarify the ambiguities in some of the questions and answers. The other major area of confusion or general lack of knowledge was copyright--what it is, when it goes into effect and how to prevent violating copyright (including a discussion of fair use in the classroom setting).

I'm looking forward to working with these cclasses againt and bringing this exercise to the other English classes as well.

I'll post more on the results and my work with the other two classes later.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Public Libraries vs. School

Interesting point of view from a young man which I saw on Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog and which he discovered at Walt Crawford's Liminal Librarian blog. I actually came to it via the AASL (American Assoc. of School Librarians) blog through a comment by Deborah Stafford! The wonderful world of blogs. Enjoy!?



The original (AASL) posting was about a grant opportunity available through AASL for gaming in libraries. The headline was "97% of your students want you ..."

What do you think about game playing in the library?

Friday, February 13, 2009

A New Course for the District


At its February 12 meeting the TUHSD Board of Trustees approved a new course which will be offered next year at Redwood. The course, called Advanced Library Research, will offer students an introduction to college-level research skills. While we teach students at Redwood, and throughout the Tam District, how to use information efficiently and effectively through class projects in a number of different subject areas, this course will allow students to go beyond the basics of research and explore the world of academic libraries. The course will be an independent study course, taught partially face-to-face and partially online. Students will be expected to work with partners or in teams to complete various projects using all kinds of library resources. As the course of study states: “Many college librarians and professors report that students are not prepared to undertake college-level research when they reach post-secondary institutions of learning.”


We think that we can help students make the transition to college a little less traumatic by providing them with the ability to determine the nature and extent of information they need; access needed information effectively and efficiently; evaluate information critically; use information individually and in a group to accomplish a specific purpose; and understand ethical, legal, and socio-economic issues surrounding information and use information ethically and legally.


A little story. When I went to graduate school to begin my library science degree I had to take a prerequisite course about basic library research since I’d never worked in a library before. It was the best course I took in library school and I wondered why I hadn’t had the opportunity to take such a course as an undergrad—it was really eye opening to find out about all the resources I hadn’t known about but could have used. Even though that was long before the World Wide Web was developed, the same conditions apply today. As a result of the Internet the world of information has gotten infinitely larger and more complicated so having a guided tour of all kinds of resources is even more essential than it was in 1974!


Eventually we would like to have the course available across the District to all students but for the time being it will be offered at Redwood only. Encourage your sons and daughters to talk to the librarian, Tom Kaun, about the course and sign up for it during course enrolment time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teacher of the Year


Last spring at our annual end-of-the-year staff party, the "Ginny Luncheon," two staff members where honored as Employees of the Year. Kelly Starrett, our outstanding information tech, was honored as the classified employee and yours truly was honored as certificated employee. The only reason this info is being posted now is that Mike Dibley, a highly respected member of Redwood faculty and member of the social committee, which organizes the honor each year, appeared in the Library today in a way which only he can: Voice booming, he annouced that the plaque for the award had been completed and he was presenting it to me in person. He had hoped at least three classes would be in the Library at the time but unfortunately it was only me and my assistants and a couple kids. Oh, well.

Anyway I've reproduced here the very nice plaque which I received. Now have to rearrange my various awards, diplomas, etc. which I have prominently display behind my desk to make them even more obvious to the community. My motto is: If you've got it, flaunt it!

Thanks to my entire school community for this singular honor.