Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's On My List

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Sontag

From a dimly remembered visit to California in 1949 (right after his graduation from college, my dad drove cross country; mom & I flew there to join him. I was two years old at the time) to a wonderful trip to Chicago last month, travel has always been a part of my life.

My first tour of Europe came between my junior and senior year of college. Three years later, I was lucky enough to spend some time on the Greek Island of Rhodos (Rhodes).

When our children were small, family trips tended to be shorter and less expensive, although we did make the pilgrimage to Disney World one spring vacation.

Now that I'm retired (sort of), I'm starting to indulge my love of travel again. My husband will join me occasionally (this year, we went together to Puerto Rico, Ohio, and Maine), but the conferences I attend without him always include friends and friends-to-be with whom I can associate.

This was my 2o1o itinerary:

January - EduCon (Philadelphia, PA) - my favorite gathering, a relatively intimate and always stimulating series of conversations

March - Dorado, Puerto Rico - my husband's sister and brother-in-law were kind enough to invite us to visit them at their winter home, a small but pretty condo within sight and sound of the ocean

June - ALA 2010 Annual Conference (Washington, D.C.) - this was my first ALA conference, offering the perfect opportunity to meet with some of my library colleagues and tour our nation's capital

July - Ohio (and the Schinkers in Queensbury) - we went to visit some online friends, and some other online friends came to visit us

October - U.S.S. Hanson Reunion (Portland, ME) - another first, as we attended a reunion of those who served on the Hanson, including some who were shipmates of my husband's during the Viet Nam War

November - SLJ Leadership Summit (Chicago, IL) - this was a gem of a gathering, sponsored by the School Library Journal: authors and illustrators and speakers, oh my

These trips were more than just sightseeing jaunts, although that was part of their charm. Three of the six were conferences; all involved connecting with people. Transforming acquaintances into lifelong friends and learning partners; blending virtual and real life, personally and professionally: that is what travel does for me.

In 2011, we're hoping to visit Puerto Rico again. I may travel to Buffalo, NY in May for the SLMS/NYLA Spring Conference. I plan on seeing Philadelphia in winter (EduCon) and summer (ISTE 2011). There's AASL National Conference at Minneapolis, MN in October; I'd love to fit in another SLJ Leadership Summit, if there's no scheduling conflict. And wouldn't it be fun to meet up with the student members of "my" photography club (and co-advisor, Shannon Miller) in Van Meter, Iowa!

When I created this little map of my journeys, I noticed that the U.S. West Coast, the Southwest, most of the Midwest, and a large part of the rest of the world, aren't represented. I need to do something about that.

Map created at

“Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover / Breath’s aware that will not keep. / Up, lad: when the journey’s over there’ll be time enough to sleep.” -A.E. Housman

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Not Nothing

There's been an interesting conversation going on recently regarding "transliteracy."

Medical librarian David Rothman questions whether this concept is any more than a new buzzword for the same type of information literacy with which librarians have always been concerned. Rothman's stance is that "the world changes as technology changes. Education and libraries adapt (well or poorly, but they adapt). There’s nothing new here. There’s no need for a new movement, a new term, or so much discussion about nothing."

I strongly disagree.

The location, evaluation and aggregation of factual information will always be an essential component of the library experience, whether in a K-12, university, specialized or public facility. Providing materials for scholarly and recreational reading, listening, or viewing is a second key service.

But modern life require something beyond accessing and searching resources...and that's where transliteracy skills become necessary. Our students, our citizens must be skillful in collaboration and creation. They are expected to process, reconfigure, transfigure raw materials (be they data or ideas), sometimes while working with virtual colleagues across the world. They don't just find information: they create and disseminate it.

And they must perform these tasks with tools that are rapidly evolving. Information users need to be adept at learning new skills in a constantly changing information landscape, able to identify, investigate and utilize powerful new instrumentality for storing or communicating information.

In “The Librarian Militant, The Librarian Triumphant," Dr. David Lankes says
"What will kill this profession is not ebooks, amazon, or Google. It will be a lack of imagination. An inability to see not what is, but what could be. To see only how we are viewed now, but not how that is only a platform for greatness... It [librarianship] only survives if we, librarians and the communities we serve, take it up, renew, refresh it, and constantly engage in what is next."

There's an army of librarians working to keep librarianship relevant.

Bobbi Newman has given the term translitercy new traction with her Libraries and Transliteracy blog. Buffy Hamilton's Unquiet Librarian blog and innovative SlideShares highlight the elements of both transliteracy and participatory librarianship. Joyce Valenza, Gwyneth Jones, Shannon Miller, Carolyn Foote, Cathy Nelson and others model the rich, multi-layered learning that can take place when transliteracy is regarded as a medium for learning.

Perhaps Mr. Rothman, Information Services Specialist at the Community General Hospital Medical Library, doesn't see evidence of transliteracy in his professional life. But any K-12 teacher/librarian can testify that information literacy is only a part of what their students need to learn. Exemplary student projects demonstrate mastery of the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

In a world that demands learners and creators, not just consumers, "transliteracy" makes sense to me.

"Lighting enTrails/Tunnel Trails/Tunnel Vision" by Mr Magoo ICU

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Greetings

Christmas Past...

Christmas Present...

I don't know what Christmas Future will hold, except that it will be infinitely better for your presence in it.

To Family and Friends, both near and far: Have a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Tired of serving as the IT person for your extended family? Google has created an interactive "letter" that can help you construct an instructional package tailored to a recipient's needs.

Although Google has named the site "Teach Parents Tech," these tutorials would benefit anyone new to computers - from grandparents to students to teachers - as well as help fill in the gaps for those of us who have acquired our digital skills haphazardly over the years.

This "gift" is free, doesn't require wrapping, and will last a lifetime. Pretty good deal!

Thanks to @pfanderson for sharing this link on Twitter!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reflections At the End of the Year

As the calendar year draws to a close, many bloggers are posting reflective pieces. Some people focus on achievements won or lessons learned. Others resolve to be better, stronger, more effective or more famous (because, let's face it, no one is altruistic all the time).

These past 12 months have been interesting ones for me, with some unexpected disappointments that were more than offset by surprising bonuses. There's no need to be more specific: I know I am blessed in family, friends, and the freedom to choose my own path.

Two songs drifted through my mind today, each appropriate in its own way for this pensive time of year.

Make of them what you will - they are an early Christmas gift from me to you.

John Lennon - Happy Christmas (War is Over)

"So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun"

Alanis Morissette - You Learn

"You live you learn
You love you learn
You cry you learn
You lose you learn
You bleed you learn
You scream you learn

You grieve you learn
You choke you learn
You laugh you learn
You choose you learn
You pray you learn
You ask you learn
You live you learn"

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Way of Seeing

Want to get your students started on a photography project? Here's a quick introduction to spark discussion.

A way of seeing
View more presentations from Diane Cordell.

"What is art but a way of seeing?" -Thomas Berger

Cross posted on Resources and Links

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Absolutes? Absolutely Not!

Absolute can be defined as "expressing finality with no implication of possible change;" that which is "pure, perfect, or complete."

As I grow older, I realize that there are few absolutes in life - and this is a good thing. Without absolutes, there is always the possibility of new ideas, deeper understanding, and broader knowledge.

Mentors are simultaneously mentees; students and teachers can become co-learners; old dogs might acquire new tricks.

Everything becomes a work in progress. The journey is the destination.

Image from Absolut Bottle Generator

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Juan Proteus

A twitter friend, William Chamberlain, commented to me today, "I really need to learn more about that period [the 1960s] since it is really affecting our culture today." Later in the day, P.F. Anderson used the phrase "Singing rocks of Greece." These two seemingly unrelated tweets resurrected a long-forgotten family story.

On July 19, 1968, Life Magazine published a feature about "Young American Nomads Abroad." Reporter Thomas Thompson visited the Greek Island of Crete, where he found "40 or 50 caves filled with young people," one of whom called himself "Juan Proteus."

There are levels of isolation here. At the outer edge is Juan Proteus, an American, 24, thin, blond, who has lived for a year on Crete. Hardly anyone knows him because his cave is across the bay from the colony, halfway up a cliff, reachable only by a good climb that you feel quickly in the backs of your legs. You can see Juan, though, because he sits outside his cave much of the day, and if you walk on the sea rocks below him, you can hear his exquisite guitar music.

I caught up with Juan as he carried water back from the village. I introduced myself and wondered if he would talk to me. “I wouldn’t have anything to say,” he said. He sat down and started playing the guitar. It sounded like Scarlatti, but he had written it himself. He. told me he had gone to Annapolis, then to Hunter. He pointed to Mount Ida, which you could see in the distance across the sea, and told me it was where Zeus had been born. His cave was neatly swept; he had built a bed. There were no books, no radio. There were the beginnings of a wall of stone he was putting up outside his cave. He spoke in the manner of a man who had not talked in a long while; the words were dry and few.

“Why have you stayed so long?”

“I don’t think they’re gonna drop the bomb on Crete,” he said. “It’s not of strategic importance.”

“Are you going back to America, ever?”

“It would be a cultural shock to go back...What’s gonna happen is gonna happen. All the rest is irrelevant.”

Was his last name really Proteus? “Yes.”

Many days later, when I could find a book on Greek mythology, I looked up “Proteus.” It said: “The prophetic old man of the sea; he knew all things, past, present, future, but disliked telling what he knew. Those who wished to consult him had first to surprise and bind him during his noonday slumber in a cave beside the sea...”

My father showed me this article, and kept a copy of the magazine tucked away on a shelf in his bedroom closet. The enigmatic Juan Proteus was, in fact, my mother's nephew, my first cousin. He was an intelligent young man from a loving family. After asthma ended his sojourn at Annapolis, he began what must have been a personal quest for meaning. His journey finally ended in Hawaii: when a hiking companion was injured on Molokai, Juan went for help, and was never seen again. It is presumed that he fell from a cliff and his body was washed out to sea.

Although I know his birth name, I won't reveal it here. Juan Proteus is the identity he chose, and I will honor it.

So, @wmchamberlain, if you want to learn more about the 1960s, you could do worse than to read this issue of Life. Among other things, there is an editorial about whether the voting age should be lowered to 18; a review of the movie, The Green Berets, starring John Wayne; an ad for Vista volunteers; a photo spread about Julie Nixon (daughter of Richard Nixon) and her future husband, David Eisenhower (grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower)...

...and there is a brief conversation with Juan Proteus.

Related post:
Age of Aquarius

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Character One Needs

Those of you who are on Facebook must be aware of the campaign to post cartoon avatars as a protest against child abuse.

Recently there have been warnings - with vague mentions of the FBI - that these cartoons are being used by pedophiles to mask their identity and make contact with children.

Snopes addresses both these issues, and reminds us that:
"Real problems don't disappear as a consequence of 'slacktivism;' they're fought through the mechanism of donation of time and/or money. The character one needs display to the world is not that of a cartoon, but of a benefactor."

A further note regarding adult online predators

Police agencies and family safety groups (as well as purveyors of child safety software) warn parents that
"Sexual predators do exist and are a very real threat. They target both boys and girls of all ages and use the anonymity of the Internet to their advantage since they can be whomever they want. Many are master manipulators with skills that can cripple any child's sense of awareness." -Family Safe Computers

How real is this threat?

"While the abduction, rape, and killing of children by strangers is very, very rare, such incidents receive a lot of media coverage, leading the public to overestimate how common these cases are. Most sexually abused children are not victims of convicted sex offenders nor Internet pornographers, and most sex offenders do not re-offend once released. This information is rarely mentioned by journalists more interested in sounding alarms than objective analysis." -Predator Panic: Reality Check on Sex Offenders

Based on his research studies, David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, testified at Congressional hearings that
"...the public's perception of Internet pedophiles tricking children into revealing personal information and then stalking or abducting them is false. Most Internet sex crimes begin with weeks of explicit conversations that exploit a teen's sexual curiosity and desire for romance and adventure...To prevent these crimes, we have to take on more awkward and complicated topics and start with an acceptance of the fact that some teens are curious about sex and looking for romance and adventure...prevention efforts should focus on educating teens about drawbacks of a sexual message" (Foster's Online, 7/25/07, linked from CCRC in the News)

So...change your avatar, if you like, but back up your convictions with RL advocacy.

And share the University of New Hampshire's CCRC factsheet, Internet Safety Education for Teens: Getting It Right with your students and family members.

If you truly care about children, give them the knowledge necessary to function freely and safely in their connected world.

"My South Park Character" by Clearly Ambiguous

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Because They Wanted to Connect: My Tribe and the Edublog Awards

"And it turns out that tribes, not money, not factories, that can change our world, that can change politics, that can align large numbers of people. Not because you force them to do something against their will. But because they wanted to connect." -Seth Godin

Voting is now open for the 2010 Edublog Awards, a yearly opportunity to acknowledge the blogging and tweeting efforts of educators who choose to connect and share online.

The "
Best librarian / library blog" category is a roll call of some (but by no means all) of the best and brightest in my field. I am happy to note, however, that teacher/librarians, and their sites, appear under a number of other headings: I believe that these nominations reflect a necessary broadening of our profession's vision and a continuing commitment to explore new ways to better serve our students and staff members.

Vote for excellence, not for job titles, but be proud of those nominees who represent TLs in this very public forum.

Good luck to my friends and colleagues: Buffy, Carolyn, Cathy, Doug, Gwyneth, Joyce, Shannon, and all the rest of our Tribe.

"There ain't no rules around here. We're trying to accomplish something." - Thomas Edison

P.S. I've been nominated for Best Individual Tweeter. If you feel it's warranted, I'd appreciate your vote!

"The Group" by Grzegorz Łobiński
Badge from the 2o1o Edublog Awards site

Friday, December 3, 2010

Magic Mirrors

History can be defined as "the aggregate of past events," but also as "the discipline that records and interprets past events involving human beings."

It's the human element which sometimes gets lost.

I've recently come across two options for exploring family histories, one digital, the other, at least in its initial stages, very low tech.

Our local newspaper shared a project called "the memory jar." According to blogger Carol McDowell, of Burlington, Vermont, "the best Christmas gift" she ever received started with a jar full of questions and a journal in which to record the answers. McDowell placed 52 slips of paper, each with its own question, in a decorated Mason jar and asked 89-year-old Ruth McDowell to answer one each week, then return the completed journal to her granddaughter for a Christmas gift.
"My grandmother loves to tell stories, so she not only did the questions, she pasted in old pictures and newspaper bits that she had saved. I ended up with a most cherished piece of her that I probably would never had known and she enjoyed every minute of doing it."

While McDowell's project involved paper and pen, a new website, Proust, offers the opportunity to digitally archive the same sort of information.

Still in beta, Proust aims to help people "discover stories you never knew about your family and friends, gain insights you'll long cherish, and enjoy sharing your own memories." A few of the sample questions might seem a bit trite: What did your mom always pack in your lunch? but such details make up the fabric of a person's life and may, in fact, serve as the key to unlock deeper truths.

Proust is a free service; information is kept private, only shared with chosen family members and friends. Individuals can use questions from the site or substitute their own queries, with the option of adding images or video clips.

The Memory Jar project and Proust share a common goal: to capture and preserve personal history. Imagine the power of combining the two! Ms. McDowell could record reminiscences in her grandmother's own voice, scan the fragile clippings and photos, and preserve them all on Proust. Not only would they then be accessible to other family members, but there would be less danger that these artifacts might be lost or destroyed.

As the holidays approach, why not plan to initiate a Family History project, whether on Proust, Voicethread, Flickr or elsewhere? Create a gift that will have value long after the ornaments and tinsel have been packed away.

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future." -Gail Lumet Buckley

"If one could make alive again for other people some cobwebbed skein of old dead intrigues and breathe breath and character into dead names and stiff portraits. That is history to me!" -George Macaulay Trevelyan

"23 Reasons" by ShawnMichael
"Mom, WWII" by dianecordell