Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

"New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights." -Hamilton Wright Mabie

During the past decade, we've had two college graduations (four, if you count our children's spouses), two weddings, two retirements, and a 35th anniversary. One very sad note was losing my dad to cancer. But he's still with us in so many ways.

In my professional life, I
  • transitioned from full-time employment to semi-retirement (I miss the students and my colleagues, but oh, the joy of a self-scripted schedule!)
  • went to my first NECC (San Antonio), AASL conference (Charlotte), and EduCon (Philadelphia)
  • began blogging, tweeting, plurking, and interacting on Facebook (as @dmcordell)
  • took my first online workshop and began a wonderful relationship with the CyberSmart! Education Company
  • met some of my PLN in Real Life (the connections were immediate and immensely satisfying)
  • discovered a new hobby/passion in photography

I have high expectations for 2010 and wish all of you a very Happy New Year!

Looking Back, Looking Forward created on Animoto

"cinderella" by twenty_questions

Monday, December 28, 2009

O Selfless Saviors

#567; O Selfless Saviors

I bookmarked this cartoon in November, then became sidetracked by other things and never got around to the posting I had envisioned.

Since 1983, Joel Best has been tracking reports and complaints about contaminated candies given to trick-or-treaters. Best, professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, assures concerned parents that "Tainted Halloween candy is a contemporary legend, spread by word of mouth, with little to support it."

Why bring this up in December, long after costumes have been packed away and pumpkins relegated to the trash heap?

While Halloween is a once-a-year occurrence, children and teens can access the Internet daily. Alarmed by news reports of online predators, unsure of how to navigate an unfamiliar digital landscape, parents and, in many cases, school districts, turn to heavy filtering as a protective measure for students.

What do adults fear? In the Final Report: Friendship section of the Digital Youth Project, lead author danah boyd spells it out:

"The same 'stranger danger' rhetoric and 'terror talk' that limit youth from interacting with strangers in unmediated public spaces (Levine 2002; Valentine 2004) have also taken hold online. There are school assemblies dedicated to online dangers, primarily the possibility of sexual predators. Mainstream media, law enforcement, teachers, and parents reinforce the message that interacting with strangers online is risky. While the percentage of teens who have experienced unwanted sexual solicitations has declined through the years (Wolak, Mitchell, and Finkelhor 2006), the fear that youth—and especially girls—are at risk has increased (Cassell and Cramer 2007; Marwick 2008). At a deeper level, the public myths about online 'predators' do not reflect the actual realities of sexual solicitation and risky online behavior (Wolak et al. 2008). Not only do unfounded fears limit teenagers unnecessarily, they also obscure preventable problematic behavior (Valentine 2004)."

To some, the solution rests, ironically, in reliance on technology.

Enhancing Child Safety (released by the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States) has this to say regarding filtering and monitoring software:

"The Task Force remains optimistic about the development of technologies to enhance protections for minors online and to support institutions and individuals involved in protecting minors, but cautions against overreliance on technology in isolation or on a single technological approach. Technology can play a helpful role, but there is no one technological solution or specific combination of technological solutions to the problem of online safety for minors. Instead, a combination of technologies, in concert with parental oversight, education, social services, law enforcement, and sound policies by social network sites and service providers may assist in addressing specific problems that minors face online. All stakeholders must continue to work in a cooperative and collaborative manner, sharing information and ideas to achieve the common goal of making the Internet as safe as possible for minors." -Final Report, Executive Summary

Rather than "paranoia-inducing hypervigilance," our children need instruction, guided practice, supervision, and open lines of communication when engaging in online activities.

"After all, children are our future," and technology is part of their future.

"Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest of cowardice." -Holbrook Jackson

Related posts:

Al Upton & Jabiz Raisdana:
A Heavy Armor (March 14, 2008)
Listen (March 20, 2008)
A Confederacy of Dunces (March 27, 2008)
Spindles (April 5, 2008)

Filtering & censorship:
A Question of Censorship (October 3, 2007)
Only Those Places (January 18, 2008)
Unsuited to Age Group (February 17, 2008)
The Loftiest of Cowardice (September 27, 2009)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Old Friends

"The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend;
and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one." -Sir James Goldsmith

A few years ago, I proctored a New York State English exam that incorporated the text of Richard Wilbur's The Reader in one of the questions.

In this poem, Wilbur describes the experiences of a young woman who is "going back, these days, to the great stories That charmed her younger mind"

She sees their first and final selves at once,
As a god might to whom all time is now...
But the true wonder of it is that she,
For all that she may know of consequences,
Still turns enchanted to the next bright page
Like some Natasha in the ballroom door—
Caught in the flow of things wherever bound,
The blind delight of being, ready still
To enter life on life and see them through.

During this holiday season, enjoy your new books, but also take the time to revisit some old favorites. Read them with fresh eyes, share them with others. While searching for meaning, you are searching for self.

"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age,
as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight." -Robertson Davies

"I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves." -E. M. Forster

"What's a book? Everything or nothing. The eye that sees it all." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Reading Giovanni Battista Niccolini, National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)" by takomabibelot

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Holiday greetings from our family to you and your loved ones!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lessons Learned on a Winter Walk

There is a small park, not far from our home, where I love to wander with my camera.

In the summer, there are people strolling, eating lunch, reading, walking their dogs, fishing, and supervising children at play.

Today, I had the park to myself.

These are some of the thoughts I had, while enjoying a peaceful break from holiday preparations:

It's sometimes easier to strike out on a new path than to follow an old one.

Everything that passed this way has left a mark, although these signs can be difficult to interpret.

Still water freezes into static sheets; where there's a running stream, the ice dances on, and interacts with, the water.

With so much of the color gone from the landscape, it is easier to find beauty in unexpected places.

Each season carries within it the seed of the next.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." -John Muir

See other photos at Winter Walk at Hovey Pond Park

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Reading

Inspired by a Tweet from Leslie Edwards, Cathy Nelson blogged her holiday reading list.

As a (sort of) retired lady, I'm not under the time constraints faced by working teacher-librarians. I can, and do, read as the mood strikes me. Since I access and process so much information daily via the internet, my recreational reading tends to be fiction.

In addition to a little holiday book collection that I revisit each year,

I have in my stack:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Death narrates this tale of Liesel Meminger, a child who learns to steal books because she finds comfort in words during the horrors of World War II.

Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan

Despite her untimely death, Bibi Chen "joins" her friends on a trip to China and Burma.

The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith

In addition to the popular No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency stories, Smith is the author of this series featuring Scottish philosopher (and sometimes detective) Isabel Dalhousie.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Rumor has it that Santa is going to bring me this steampunk adventure set in an alternative world on the cusp of WWI.

Anyone else care to share their stack?

"To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful,
ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry." -Gaston Bachelard

"Christmas Books" by dmcordell

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cameras and Carrots

"Learning is not a spectator sport." - Anonymous

Today in my Google Reader, I found a number of thought-provoking posts. Among them were two written by Teacher Librarians who never fail to inspire and motive me, virtual colleagues and real-life friends.

In If you give a kid a camera..., Joyce Valenza uses author Laura Numeroff's popular series of picture books as the template for a discussion of how to nurture student creativity by providing access to storytelling tools.

Buffy Hamilton reflects On Carrot Dangling and Collaboration, as she advocates for a more integrated library/classroom program.

Joyce's tech toys serve the same purpose as Buffy's carrots: they draw learners into the library. Not the library as "place," but the library as information hub, creative workshop, collaborative staging area. The library with or without walls, the librarian as facilitator and guide for students, teachers, administrators.

Cameras and carrots, creating and collaborating.

"SDC13063 copy" by hideyourarms/bigguybigcity/3367397250/

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Alice Project

"This experience truly was a growing process and the deeper I went, the harder it was, but the more I learned." -Sylvia Atsaves

Teacher Christian Long "challenged 57 students to analyze Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — via their copies of The Annotated Alice — by publishing their questions & reflections in real-time on a very global scale. All student progress was transparently shared with anyone who visited project blogs."

The Alice Project site spells out the specifics of this assignment - vision, expectations, rules and grading - and provids links to the student blogs. More than 35 educators, from around the world, volunteered to be the "jurors" who would evaluate contributions.

Although not officially involved in the Alice Project, I read and responded to some of the blogs and followed Christian's comments about the undertaking on Twitter.

Here are just a few of the bloggers' comments and insights:

Alex C.
"Oh whoa, this is what blogging feels like. This is so exciting."
"I have read a book that I have never read before. It surprised, intrigued, and confused me."

Hagen F.
"Society keeps us in check, but fear drives us to push away the new, odd ideas. Alice herself rejects the smoking caterpillar because she does not know about him. The caterpillar is odd and unknown, and in a different way, she is afraid of him."

Erin M.
"The whole point of Alice’s Adventure is to discover who she is. Often as human being we struggle with our own identity because of the pressure to live up to other peoples standards. Alice did not know who she was."

Miles W.
"The final instance of Alice growing was in jury room. This was another growth, but there was something different about this one… Alice grew this time, but it was because she grew as a person too. Alice saw how irrational everyone in the courtroom was being and challenged them. She rose up (literally) to defeat the irrationality. By beating the King and Queen’s stupid rules and beliefs she became a stronger person."

Jenna K.
"I want to say that the March Hare and Mad Hatter are crazy, because that is what Carroll wants us to believe. But at the same time I want to say that they are not crazy, they just have a different mind-set than the rest of us. I mean what is so crazy about having a watch that only gives the day, and not the hour? That’s just like a calendar if you think about it."

Scott M.
"And what has Alice taken from all this? We don’t know. All we see is her get up and run off to go get tea. Did she learn from it? Does she have more dreams like this one? Does she mature from her experiences?"

Still not convinced of the value of the Alice Project? I'm including Brendon O-L's most recent posting, in its entirety. After reading this, take a moment to reflect on what learning could and should be like for ALL of our students.

Today is the ‘official’ end to the Alice Project, but let’s face it this is not the end. This blog will continue on. All our thoughts and analysis about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are here for everyone to see. No one knows who will stumble upon this site in the future.

This was a very enjoyable experience that I will remember for years to come. We did more than anyone could imagine. We learned with little guidance from our teacher, Mr. Long. We posed our own questions and thought about them ourselves.

We fell down the rabbit hole and chased whatever rabbits we found. We were left to fend for ourselves over the course of this project. We learned how technology can be used to assist us in more ways than one. We learned to write alone and learned the value of feedback.

We found out what happens on the ‘twelfth day’ of school. We start teaching the teacher. We became independent minds with our own voice. Our minds were unleashed upon the wacky world called Wonderland. We were just as helpless as Alice when she first fell down the rabbit hole.

Eventually, we gained confidence and worked til we were at the point that we are at today. We met some wacky characters (aka our classmates) and even got into some intellectual arguments just as Alice did with Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, and the Queen.

This is more heartbreaking than you will ever know, but this is only the beginning.

Who knows what else we can do?

Original woodcuts by Sir John Tenniel. Public domain in the U.S.A.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I inserted myself into a very interesting conversation today on Twitter, drawn like a moth to the flame by this remark from @budtheteacher:

"Smackdowns" as tool showcases strike me as silly and odd. Am I the only person who feels that way?

Our conversation proceeded in this fashion:

@budtheteacher Is it the name or the concept that you don't like?

@dmcordell Both. The frenzy for tool oneupsmanship is troublesome, as is the idea of the smacking. Mostly the smacking, though.

@budtheteacher Well, it's really more like smacking cards down on the table. Offers a quick intro to sites, generates interest in tech.

@dmcordell Tool frenzy. Is that a good thing?

@budtheteacher I think of it more as raising awareness or suggesting possibilities.

@dmcordell - @budtheteacher Can't we redefine and repurpose words?

@dmcordell Of course. But I don't think the term is being repurposed. These things are generally competitive and they have winners.

@budtheteacher My experience is limited to the Joyce Valenza/Geek Squad SmackDowns. Everyone is a winner there, especially the audience.

And that's where the discussion ended, at least for now. From Bud's comments, I realized that we were talking about two different types of events. The only SmackDowns I've witnessed were chaired by Joyce Valenza, most recently at the AASL Rev Up Learning conference:

2.0 Learning Tools Smackdown

This interactive, energetic, sharing session will highlight the best new tools in a variety of categories. Members of a panel will share their top picks and invite audience members to contribute by coming to a central microphone. All ideas generated will be added to a session wiki and shared with the community.

Joyce Valenza, Librarian, Springfield Township HS Library, Rydal, PA
Robin Williams, Sun Microsystems

By and large, Teacher Librarians tend to emphasize gathering, sharing, and nurturing. Bud may have had a very different smack down experience, but when Joyce and the Geek Squad are facilitating, the only thing that gets "smacked" is ignorance.

Maybe we should rechristen these sessions Un-Smack downs!

"Someone here is losing..." by happyskrappy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


“Wine is bottled poetry.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

A recent cover photograph on School Library Journal has attracted a number of comments because it portrays a group of librarians...seated at a bar...raising their glasses in a toast...presumably drinking (gasp!) alcohol.

While I agree that educators should be good role models, I fail to see why adults consuming a legal beverage in moderation deserve censure.

One of the most pleasant evenings I spent in Charlotte, N.C. for the AASL convention involved a visit to a wine bar. Our small, congenial group shared some exceptional food and drink while getting to know one another better. No one overindulged, nothing embarrassing or unprofessional happened. We talked and laughed and, yes, sipped wine. Lunch at a local fast food restaurant - pizza, salads, and Coca Cola - was also fun, but relaxing in an adult setting with adult beverages was a special treat.

Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are photographed at elegant events where alcohol is being served. When the President of the United States hosts a formal dinner, wine and champagne are in evidence.

Please read some of the comments shared on the School Library Journal site and then decide for yourself: Are teachers and librarians being held to a higher standard? Should they be?

“Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues.” -Joseph Hall

A glass of wine - Rauðvínstár" by Onzth
"State Dining Room" Wikimedia Commons

Monday, November 30, 2009

365 Project: November

"The thinnest yellow light of November is more warming and exhilarating than any wine they tell of.
The mite which November contributes becomes equal in value to the bounty of July."

- Henry David Thoreau

Rather than pick a favorite photo this month, I'm going to embed a SlideShow. For a supposedly austere time of year, November has proven unexpectedly rich and rewarding. I loved it all!

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."| -Lin Yutang

You can view all of my 2009 photos to date here.

The two groups to which I contribute are 365/2009 and 2009/365.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


"Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present." -George Washington, Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior

In my last posting, The Prevailing Common Sense of the Field, I addressed the topic of "tweckling," or heckling on a Twitter backchannel. I concluded with a question: "Are there 'rules' - should there be?"

Evidently the answer to my query is a definite "yes."

While I was visualizing bored captives of a Death by PowerPoint presentation trying to stay awake (and maybe extracting a measure of revenge by wandering far off topic via undercover conversations), a much different scenario was being played out in a very public venue.

Academic, researcher and blogger, danah boyd, was recently invited to speak at Web 2.o Expo in New York City. During Dr. boyd's discussion of social media, a pointless, inappropriate, even vicious stream of comments was projected on a screen positioned behind her back. When event personnel told her that the audience was initially upset because she was "talking too fast," boyd tried to adjust her presentation style, to no avail. The crowd responded with outbursts and laughter.

Dr. boyd later wrote in her blog, "when I walk off a stage not feeling invigorated, all I get is the raw drain, the gut-wrenching, nauseating feeling of pure misery. 20 minutes of being punched in the face, kicked in the stomach, and the shameful sensations one gets when one is forced to watch a Lars von Trier film. That's how I felt at Web2.0 Expo."

danah boyd gave one of the keynotes at AASL's Rev Up Learning conference in Charlotte, just a few weeks ago. She was a compelling and knowledgeable speaker. It's inconceivable to me that she would be unprofessional in any public speaking engagement. Unfortunately, the audience at Web 2.0 Expo was much less than professional in their response to Dr. boyd's perceived flaws.

We teach our students to be good digital citizens, we preach the evils of bullying, whether in real life or online. If professionals cannot model civility, then how do we expect children and teenagers to display it in their own lives?

There are many positive aspects to backchannel conversations, but there should be some ground rules. Chief among these is civility.

"In a time of social fragmentation, vulgarity becomes a way of life. To be shocking becomes more important—and often more profitable—than to be civil or creative or truly original." -Al Gore, politician and former U.S. vice president

"Civility" by divinenephron

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Prevailing Common Sense of the Field

Tweckle - to heckle on a Twitter backchannel
- a hashtag that has been given over to tweckling -broadstuff

This tweet caught my eye today:
librarybeth Conference Humiliation: They're Tweeting Behind Your Backs (Chronicle)
and led me to Marc Parry's posting about "twecklers."

At the recent AASL Conference, Rev Up Learning, participants tweeted non-stop during the keynotes and sessions. Most of us were too busy recording salient points to engage in idle chit chat. I know that I used these streams of tagged comments as a virtual notebook, a way to capture key concepts for later evaluation.

But what if...the presentation were more of a Death by PowerPoint...say, in a mandated professional development workshop or a faculty meeting? Is engaging in backchannel exchanges rude, inappropriate, counterproductive?

One of the commenters on Parry's posting defends Tweeters, suggesting that
"The speaker did not respect the experience/knowledge of his audience (or, arguably, the prevailing common sense of the field itself), and thus the audience did not respect the speaker's time or message."

Another, sees tweckling as a positive force:
"The pressure is on conference organizers and keynote speakers - choose the speakers wisely and the speakers had better be prepared (and engaging as well). This is part of a quality improvement movement, and I'm all for it."

There were those who disagreed:
"I read the transcript of the back-channel talk. Sure the presentation may have been dated and generally awful, but I can't see that all the twittering added anything constructive. It was childish. Another thing that twitterers might want to consider is that when you defame someone via twitter you are doing so publicly, and could be opening yourself up to a lawsuit."

A study done by the University of Leicester, Twittering the student experience, highlights some of the positive educational uses of Twitter. No mention is made, however, of tweeting in the lecture hall.

In our connected world, we're frequently making things up as we go, trying to reconcile new tools and old protocol. What are the rights and responsibilities of attendees at workshops, conferences, lectures, and meetings who choose to engage in backchannel discussions?

Are there "rules" - should there be?

"Megafon" by Matti Kolu

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Extraordinary: Reflections on Rev Up Learning

"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action." -James Levin

On Sunday, I returned home from Charlotte, NC, where I attended the AASL's national conference, Rev Up Learning.

I was a first time attendee and a member of Joyce Valenza's Geek Squad. Here are my impressions of the whole experience.

The Good

The Bad
  • Internet connectivity was erratic and unreliable. Presenters were frequently unable to demonstrate key sites with a resultant lack of interactivity for the audience.
  • the Bloggers' Cafe was tucked away out of sight (though we got the word out, and attendance was large and enthusiastic).
  • the Celebrate Conference for new attendees was poorly handled. There were separate lines for getting validated and entering the room, and it was obvious that hundreds of eager newcomers would be turned away, disappointed.
  • the Learning Times site did not function as promised. Those of us with blogging privileges were occasionally unable to post; visitors to the home page could not always view promised resources.
  • some content was not available to non-attendees and non-members.

The Extraordinar
  • the Geek Squad modeled those frequently touted "21st century skills": lifelong learning, effective information management, collaboration, creation of content. We talked the talk, then walked the walk. Through impromptu presentations and one-to-one mini tutorials, we reached out to colleagues and extended our own learning.
  • when the official site had problems, an unofficial alternative space was created and shared
  • many presenters added their handouts and slideshows to the Unconference wiki, in the true spirit of advancing knowledge

Overall, I consider my first AASL conference experience to have been a valuable one. In the future, I hope our organization will recognize and actively seek the input of its members, in both the planning and implementation of these gatherings. Some day, perhaps, the Conference will morph into something more akin to the Unconference.

For now, we have the opportunity to reflect on an experience that was mainly positive, and help move it in the direction of greatness.

"What is the good of experience if you do not reflect." -Frederick The Great

"Change is the end result of all true learning." -Leo Buscaglia

Monday, November 2, 2009

Only One Page

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

I've always loved to travel - it's in my genes.

One of my favorite childhood books recounted the escapades of Richard Halliburton, a globetrotting adventurer, who did everything from retracing Ulysses' voyage throughout the classical Greek world, to swimming the Panama Canal, to flinging himself into the Mayan Well of Death (twice!). I still treasure a battered copy of Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels that my father purchased before I was born.

A few weeks ago, I visited Milwaukee and Green Bay with my son. Tomorrow, I'm setting off for Charlotte to attend the AASL's Rev Up Learning conference.

While online interaction can be a satisfying way to expand your horizons, there is still a certain glamour and excitement in physical journeys. Some things need to be experienced in real life.

So I'm off to meet new friends, greet old ones, talk and eat and tour and take pictures. I love my home, but I need these Journeys to satisfy the wanderlust in my soul.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Mark Twain

"Lady's Airship" by Coffeelatte

Saturday, October 31, 2009

365 Project: October

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!" -Humbert Wolfe

October is a bittersweet month, as the northeast celebrates Autumn while moving inexorably towards the challenges of Winter.

The most popular photos this month were Adirondack Autumn, a glowing landscape

and Born Digital, a still life with glasses and book

My personal favorites were Ann Lee Pond (a painting created for our new kitchen by my talented husband)

and Soccer Dreams, since it represents a reconnection with my former students

You can see a slideshow of the 31 October photos here or view all of my 2009 photos to date here.

The two groups to which I contribute are 365/2009 and 2009/365.

"October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again." -Hal Borland

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Library 101

Library 101 is a multimedia collaboration project started by Michael Porter & David Lee King.

The video features over 500 library professionals from around the world and can be found on YouTube as well as the project's home site.

Guests on the Library 101 essay page - everyone from President Brack Obama to Library and Information Science professor Meredith Gorran Farkas - were asked to articulate "what they see changing in libraries and what we need to be doing to ensure we remain relevant as technology and society evolve."

Enjoy the vision.

The Essence of Civilization

Sharing is the essence of teaching. It is, I have come to believe, the essence of civilization." -Bill Moyers

Next week, members of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and their guests will gather in Charlotte, NC for Rev Up Learning.

In addition to a full program of keynotes, concurrent sessions, and workshops, there will also be the Unconference, an informal gathering where volunteers and attendees can trade tips, discuss problems and solutions, and connect on a very satisfying human level.

The One Book, One Conference selection is Born Digital, by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. One of the authors' key points is that "there's an unnecessary technology gap between young people and many of their parents and teachers." Palfrey and Gasser recommend that "Parents and teachers...start by putting in the time it takes to understand how the digital environment works so that they can be credible guides to young people."

The Unconference offers a perfect opportunity to stretch and grow professionally, particularly in the areas of technology integration and information fluency.

"Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes." -Peter Senge

"straws akimbo" by Darwin Bell

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Geeks Get It Done

"In a 2007 interview on The Colbert Report, Richard Clarke said the difference between nerds and geeks is 'geeks get it done.'"

There's been a lot of discussion lately about librarians and technology. Many LMS (Library Media Specialists) would like to become more familiar with electronic resources but lack the time or expertise to do it on their own.

If you plan on being in Charlotte for Rev Up Learning, look for volunteers wearing the geek@aasl ribbon. We (yes, much to my amazement I qualified for the Geek Squad!) will answer questions, offer assistance and help you connect with people. Although the Unconference area will be our home base, we'll be in sessions and at events, mixing and mingling, sharing and learning, just like everyone else.

This second ribbon, #aasl2009, displays the tag that will be used as attendees add their comments and photos to Twitter, Flickr, TeacherTube, and other sites.

Puzzled by those names? Drop in at the Unconference for a quick tutorial...or ask a geek!

"In its more general usage, a 'geek' is anyone that knows a lot about a certain area that you don't. For this reason, geeks are associated with knowledge..." -wiseGEEK

A Very Merry Unconference!

In addition to the amazing keynote speakers and a multitude of scheduled sessions, AASL's Rev Up Learning will host an Unconference - an informal, loosely-structured opportunity to meet, greet, share, and learn.

Be sure to stop in at the Bloggers' Cafe. You can ask questions, exchange tips and resources, and connect with colleagues from around the world.

To put you in the right mood, here are two very creative clips created by fellow AASL members,

"The Unconference at the Bloggers' Cafe" by gwyneth

and "Bloggers' Cafe @AASL 2009" by Brenda Anderson

A very Merry Unconference to you!

"Mad Hatter" by EricByers

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It's only a few weeks now until the AASL Conference, Rev Up Learning, in Charlotte. Be sure to visit Learning Times for information on speakers and activities.

And watch this Animoto by Joyce Valenza - it is guaranteed to Rev you Up!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adventures in Copyright

A cartoon in yesterday's daily paper caught my eye. It addressed the issue of student boredom, giving me an idea for a blog posting.

My text would be more derivative than transformative, so I decided to do the correct thing and file a request for reprint rights.

The following is the nitty gritty of the response I received from King Features:

Since my husband is an artist, I could have asked him to draw a variation of the cartoon in question, but that would still involve appropriating someone else's original concept. I understand the company's concerns regarding commercial use of their product, but had hoped they would allow my use of this cartoon in an educational context, properly attributed, of course.

Attempting to secure permission to reprint was an interesting process, and I appreciate the prompt response I received. I love the comic strip, but not enough to pay for (limited) reproduction rights.

You can view the October 13, 2009 Zits comic here.

"Pay" by walknboston

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the Fast Track

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In just a few weeks, I'll be heading to Charlotte, NC to attend the American Association of School Librarians' National Conference.

A former colleague asked me, "Why now - you're retired?" Well, there are a number of reasons.

Since I'm no longer tied to a school calendar, I have more freedom to travel. And because I'm also increasingly active in social networking, there are people with whom I'd love to connect in real life, to continue and extend our online conversations.

Which brings me to a seeming contradiction: I'm no longer employed as a teacher/librarian, yet I spend more time on "professional development" than ever before.

This apparent logical incongruity makes perfect sense to me. I continue to care about this country's education system, libraries (both school and public) and the future of our children.

We're at a critical juncture, when priorities need to be re-examined in light of what we know about the nature of learning and the economic realities of the 21st century.

Whatever I can contribute to this dialogue of change will be shared gladly.

If you plan on attending Rev Up Learning, please say hello. If you can't be there in person, a number of us will be blogging and posting to Flickr, YouTube, TeacherTube and Twitter, using the hashmark #aasl2009.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." -Alvin Toffler

"Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission." -Toni Morrison

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going Green

"Our choices and behaviors have a ripple effect that crosses borders and generations." -National Conference Goes Green, AASL

In early November I will be joining professional colleagues in Charlotte, NC for Rev Up Learning, the AASL's 14th national conference.

Many of us will be blogging, Tweeting, and contributing to Flickr, YouTube, and TeacherTube using the hashtag #aasl2009.

Today, attendees were informed that the conference will be, as much as possible, a Green one.

It's obvious that a lot of planning has gone into this decision. Everything from promotional items to energy consumption to catering initiatives is being handled in an environmentally sensitive manner.

I'll be sharing my experiences in and around Charlotte. The greening of the conference is certainly helping to "Rev Up" my excitement and expectations!

"jungle abstract" by Darwin Bell

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Evolve, Adapt, and Thrive

"Our best librarians will evolve, adapt, and thrive in effective schools." -Joyce Kasman Valenza and Doug Johnson, School Library Journal, 10/1/2009

Things That Keep Us Up at Night enumerates the issues that are a concern (or should be a concern) to school teacher/librarians:
  • economic shifts
  • intellectual property shifts
  • the challenge of keeping ahead
  • failing to embrace networked media
  • advocacy by nonlibrarians
  • national expectations that ignore critical learning skills
  • missing the potential of reading 2.0
  • realizing that Internet access is an intellectual freedom issue
  • recognize that modern practice is directly connected to equity
  • we are bigger than databases
  • define the brand
  • plan for one-to-one computing or ubiquitous computing
  • become an online presence
  • see obstacles rather than opportunities
  • the lack of urgency in our profession
Rather than attempt to paraphrase this article, I urge you to read it in its entirety.

Joyce and Doug have issued a warning and a challenge: embrace the change in our profession or face irrelevancy and obsolescence. We're at a critical juncture; we can become a part of the new information landscape or fade into obscurity.

What will you choose?

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

"Alice looking for Wonderland" by micheleart