Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Civil Discourse

"couple yelling at each other" by hang_in_there

There have been numerous mentions in my network recently of an online petition to Save School Libraries, which recommends that:
"Any school receiving Federal funds should be required to have a credentialed School Librarian on staff full time with a library that contains a minimum of 18 books per student. Failure to have a school library open to all students and/or failure to have a credentialed School Librarian to run that library should be punishable by a immediate withdrawal of all Federal monies."

While many people supported this proposal, Buffy Hamilton chose to blog about Why I Am Not Signing the "Save Libraries" Petition. Doug Johnson voiced his agreement with Buffy in You can't mandate quality, but you can mandate mediocrity. Each of these postings was thoughtful, reasoned, dispassionate. Unfortunately, many of the comments added by readers were not.

During my classroom days, I sometimes shared with my students the Rules of Civility that were written by a teenage George Washington. Although we laughed at some of the caveats ("Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it."), and shook our heads at others ("In Speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.") we found some recommendations that still hold true after more than 250 years.

In regards to conversation, Washington admonishes:
  • Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
  • Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.
  • When you deliver a matter do it without passion & with discretion, however mean the person be you do it too.
Two hot topics in education today are cyberbullying and good digital citizenship. We cannot just pontificate on these issues. We need to model positive behavior for our students. Disagreeing with a professional colleague in a respectful manner is appropriate; personal attacks and name-calling are not.

When engaging in a public discussion, please remember to keep a civil tongue in your head.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Turning the Page

Turning the Page: AASL 2011

It has been about ten days since I returned home from AASL 2011, in Minneapolis, MN. I get so involved and distracted at large conferences that I never blog on site, and only tweet during some of the presentations. My intent was to write at least one, perhaps two, postings on my experience there.

Life has intervened.

So I'll just highlight a few items, share what I did (and photographed, of course!), and recommend that those interested in more information pay a visit to the AASL11 Ning, which is still being updated and contains a wealth of content.

This was my debut as a presenter in the Exploratorium, and I loved it. It reminded me of a school science fair, where people circulate and ask questions about projects. The space was nicely set up, with room to move around among the tables, which were arranged by topic. My partners - Shannon M. Miller and John Schumacher - and I talked about our collaborations: all of us in Club Click, and Shannon and John through the Two Libraries, One Voice series of activities. The information exchange worked both ways, and I feel that I learned as much from our visitors as they, hopefully, learned from us.

Exploratorium - Shannon Miller, Diane Cordell, John Schu(macher)


There was an amazing, almost over-whelming, selection of general and concurrent sessions from which to choose. Full registration at AALS 2011 included the Virtual Conference, which offered both livestreaming of events and access to archived slidecasts, recordings, and speaker handouts. Conference videos and discussion forums can also be found at the aforementioned Ning (which is still encouraging presenters to share materials and engage in conversation on the site).

Definitions of Transliteracy - Buffy Hamilton

The Learning Commons

AASL 2011 National Conference Conference Committee Social Media Chair, Buffy Hamilton, did an outstanding job of organizing and publicizing all the many ways to share in this event, whether attending physically or virtually. By far, my favorite choice was the Learning Commons, a space for teaching, learning, connecting. There were short presentations, informal discussions, and casual conversations. The LC was, and should be, about networking and sharing knowledge. It succeeded on both fronts.

Diane Cordell, Tami Tagtow in the Learning Commons


The city was a delight, with enclosed walkways, easy transport, good restaurants, plentiful shopping opportunities and, above all, friendly people. The closing celebration for the conference featured Minnesota delicacies, like pan-fried Walleye and a wild rice paella. Even the weather cooperated, sparing us the snow that my home state experienced while I was away. Given the chance, I will definitely visit Minneapolis again in the future.

Love from Minnesota
Looking Ahead
AASL 2011 was a valuable experience for those lucky enough to attend. Although the next national conference won't be held until 2013, in Hartford Connecticut, there will be a Fall Forum from October 12-13, 2012, in Greenville, SC. The theme will be Transliteracy and the School Library, with speakers to be announced soon. If you'd like to learn more about this increasingly important topic, please consider joining your fellow school librarians in beautiful South Carolina.

SlideShare from the Learning Commons, A Way of Knowing
A Livestream recording of my commentary on the slides
Wiki created for our discussion of library design
All photos are from my AASL11 - Minneapolis, MN set