Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Archive for February, 2017

Bubble Bursting

Posted by lpearle on 16 February 2017

I could swear that I’ve blogged before about bubbles and how excited one of my graduate school professors was about how in the then-near future, we could drive across country listening to “our” radio station, rather than continually trying to find a station that played music we enjoyed.  It worried me then, this bubble, and it continues to worry me today.

A few weeks ago, one of my cousins and I were speaking and she was expressing sorrow and confusion that a friend of hers had said that they couldn’t be friends because my cousin had voted for Trump.  (perhaps I should mention that most of my family are Republicans, adhering to those oft-forgotten New England Republican ideas)  This past weekend I had dinner with another group of cousins and one of them said “[your father] is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – how can he be a Democrat?”  Of course, my father would ask the same, in reverse, about this cousin.  Most of my cousins are appalled at what’s currently going on in Washington, and while they may have voted Republican in November, they are not fans – or supporters – of the current president.

My point being, not every Republican supported the presidential candidate.  Just as many Democrats didn’t support that party’s presidential candidate.  But… do we really know that?  understand that?  My first cousin’s friend feels – as so many others feel, and have expressed on Facebook/Twitter – that simply being Republican and voting that way means that you are evil and responsible for all the proposals being mooted now (eg., rolling back environmental protections, changing or repealing LGBTQ legislation and so much, much more)  Why would otherwise intelligent, nice people vote that way?

screenshot_2017-02-14-06-35-55.

It’s not a new observation, but the problem is that we live in increasingly narrow bubbles and echo chambers, relying on confirmation bias only rather than exploring the subject and making up our own minds.  With that in mind, I was interested to read Joyce Valenza’s column about Allsides.com. While I don’t pretend to understand their crowd-sourcing of “left”, “right” and “center” or agree with all their rankings, I do think that it’s interesting as a source of different viewpoints on a topic.  David Wee then started an email conversation about the use of this site (he’s doing great work teaching about “fake news”), and Tasha Bergson-Michelson recommended Burst Your Bubble.  The problem with the Guardian site is that it presupposes you’re liberal – where’s a similar site for conservatives?

At my school, there’s a definitely hostile attitude towards conservatives.  Some are upset that the school hasn’t officially come out against recent executive orders and policies, much less against the president.  What if, instead, we tried to understand why people voted the way they do, or the why they have the opinions they do about issues that don’t conform to our opinions?  I’ve read many articles recently trying to understand why people voted for Trump (here’s one) because I understand what was appealing about Clinton and Sanders.  Have you?  Do you assume that everyone you know feels the same way you do about issues and candidates?  Or do you know that there are some who don’t share those opinions, and do you try to understand what they’re thinking?

We have another year, perhaps, before the midterm election campaigns start up.  Trump 2020 is actually a thing.  What is your commitment to getting out of your bubble before then?

Posted in Musings, School Libraries, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Not quite a day off

Posted by lpearle on 13 February 2017

When you live in the Northeast, you get used to snow.  Lots of snow.  I grew up in Central New York’s snow belt and have spent my adult life in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  And – no surprise, I’m sure – snow days are as exciting for teachers and librarians as they are for students.

Except…

February is when our students do their US History paper.  That’s 7 – 12 classes a day, 170+ students.  Some periods, we have three classes in at once.  Luckily, we have a large enough space for them to spread out and do research in (book sharing is a must on a few topics, but for others, we have more than enough).   We already lose a day to President’s Day, a week before the paper is due.  Then we had a snow day last Thursday, and a delayed opening/shortened classes on Friday.  The weather forecast for today wasn’t heartening.

But this is the 21st century, right?  So when the email/text/phone call (I get all three) stating school was cancelled today, I – and the other two librarians – was prepared.  This morning, I sent out an email to the USH students and teachers, offering online reference help.  Just to be sure people saw it, I sent out a photo on Instagram:

 

snowday instagram

Yes, I could be sleeping… reading books for Alex or the SF award… but instead, I’m online, waiting for students to ask research/reference questions.  Thus far, one student has contacted us – but we were able to help.  And that’s the important thing, isn’t it?

What do you do on your snowdays?

Posted in School Libraries, Student stuff | 2 Comments »

Best. PD. Ever.

Posted by lpearle on 6 February 2017

I’ve had a lot of professional development over the years, in a variety of industries (there was a 12 year gap between college and getting my MLS).  A few times I’ve felt as though I should demand a refund for hours of my life absolutely wasted.  Most of the time there’s been something I can take back to my work, sharing with others or simply using in my own practice.  Then there was last summer and the AISL Summer Institute at Emma Willard School.  Katie has already blogged elsewhere on the overall experience, so I won’t cover everything.  And I’ll be part of a panel presentation at the upcoming AISL Conference in NOLA in March.

What made this the best PD I’ve done in memory (I’ll stipulate to getting old and perhaps not remembering how wonderful I thought something was at that time) was not just the setting – although I am partial to my alma mater – was what we refer to these days as the takeaway.  And OMG how useful it has been and will continue to be.  After introduction and discussion about what design thinking is and how to do it, we divided into groups linked by common problems and began to brainstorm.  My  group decided to focus on how we, as librarians, can help panicked students do research.

When I introduce students to research, even during a 10-15 minute rushed talk, I mention that I understand their plight (as I’ve blogged before, we often forget what that’s like). The problem then becomes how do they remember what I’ve gone through as they work on their projects? Many are afraid to disturb us, particularly when they see we’re busy processing new books or working on other stuff – all stuff we’re happy (eager?!) to put aside to help them.  And teachers frequently don’t emphasize our role as partners or resources, so… Luckily, my AISL group all felt my pain.  And we decided to come up with an infographic that helped the students go from stressed to successful.

I brought that infographic home with me, and we created bookmarks from it.  Those bookmarks went into each teacher’s mailbox at the start of the year and are now being handed out to our US History students as they begin their Big Research Paper.  But bookmarks alone aren’t good enough.

For each project we use Springshare’s LibGuide’s platform to create a Resource Guide and each year we update it.  Here is this year’s guide.  Notice that right column!  Yep, we took the infographic, added live links and posted it on the guide (full size version here).  And we’ll be adding it to our other guides.

It’s too early to figure out how successful this will be.  But I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to help students stress less, succeed more.  And that’s what makes for good PD: something you can use immediately, something you can customize to your situation easily, and something that will have a positive effect on your students.

 

Posted in Conferences, Student stuff | 1 Comment »