My goodness, as I come to the end of the LLED 462 chapter of my learning journey and reflect on my learning, I am both staggered and overwhelmed with the amount I have learned. I am also humbled because when I started this journey, I really didn’t know how much I didn’t know. In this final curation, I will take this opportunity to reflect on the journey and address my essential question:
“How can I best begin transitioning my school library from
a very traditional library to a vibrant learning commons?”
In my first learning curation, I said I would refine this question, but I never did. This is because through the process of reading the articles, watching the videos, joining the discussions and completing the learning curations, my understanding of what a teacher-librarian does and the possible impact they can make on a learning community expanded. For me, I feel this course has been a survey course in the critical and awe-inspiring role of the teacher-librarian and how a teacher-librarian can impact the lives of everyone they come in contact with, After all, according to Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favourite authors), teacher-librarians are savers of souls.
Created using Canva
Module 1: This module focused on preparing us for the course, introducing ourselves to our virtual classmates and thinking about our inquiry question. For me, this was a bit of a messed up module as I battled internet access, or more to the point, the lack of internet access while still in Cuba. If nothing else, this experience really made me realize how much we rely on our electronic devices and the internet. Can you imagine a world without the Internet? The Internet has been public for less than three decades, yet living without it seems impossible. I wonder what new thing we are going to be so dependent on in another three decades.
Module 2: School Libraries as a Place of Literature and Learning
We plunged right into finding out what a learning commons was and this is when I started to discover that I did not have a complete understanding of what a learning commons was. The readings and infographics (a new term for me) were terrific and gave me what I felt was an excellent foundation for my learning journey and started my expanding understanding of the learning commons. As my question addressed my wish to transition my library to a learning commons the resources were perfect.
These document made me realize I was not ready to transform student learning in regards technology, and I was not a future-ready librarian. Although I used to instruct students on how to do Google searches, it had been years since I have done this, so I need to brush up of my skills. The recognition of my weaknesses allowed me to create a guiding question that would support my essential question.
- How can I increase my knowledge and understanding about digital literacy?
Once I had created this guiding question, I set myself the personal goal of trying a new digital teaching tool each week and then to find a way to share this tool with either a teacher or a student. This is a step towards becoming a future-ready librarian as I will be facilitating professional learning.
The most exciting resource we started to read during module 2 was Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Learning Commons in Canada (2014). Almost immediately, I knew this document would be a guiding document as I researched, planned and implemented the changes I wished to do in my library. I was excited about the rubrics and appendices at the end of this document as I considered them to be invaluable tools in the process of change.
Module 3: Supporting Learners Through the Library: Cultivating Life-long Reading Habits
This module was quite personal for me. Being a mother of a hearing-impaired child who had difficulty learning to read and being dyslexic myself, reading and cultivating life-long reading have been a passion/obsession for me. In this module I addressed the elementary scenario with the little boy; this is a scenario I think we have all experienced. It is heartbreaking when you have an enthusiastic reader, and a peer or an unknowing adult bursts their reading bubble. There is a necessity to tread very lightly in this situation as the parent does mean well. They apparently see the merit in reading and know the positive impacts that being a good reader has, but they don’t understand that their request can disempower their child. This scenario highlights the need to offer education to all in the learning community — parents, teachers, and students.
One very interesting thing I discovered in this module was the Readers Bill of Rights. I have done some preliminary research and found my district or school do not have one. This is something that should be developed, and although I feel it is essential to do so, I had to decide that I could not do this during this course. This will be something I will pursue at a later date, and it will be something I will actively share with parents, students, and teachers as it identifies the core values of a learning/reading community.
Module 4: Learning from Multi-modal Texts: A Look at New Literacies
I had not heard the term multi-modal texts before, so this was an interesting module to investigate and consider through the lens of my essential question.
I embraced this module and decided to do this learning curation in an attempt to transform my current practice and encompass my growing understanding of different literacies. My school has taken on a new school-wide learning initiative; we are incorporating Susan Bannister’s Successful Learning Traits into daily practice. There are eight traits, and although we try and be mindful of all the traits all the time, we have one focus trait each month. Up to this point, I have been making a monthly list of resources that we have in the school library that connect to the focus trait. After reading this module’s readings and joining the discussion, I realize my resource lists are limited to print material; accordingly, they do not include the many new literacies.
In my attempt to change my monthly traits resource list, I decided to leap into the multi-modal world. Previously, each month I made a PDF list of trait print resources and attached it to an email that I sent out to staff. In my email, I always invited my colleagues to send me any recommendations that they would like included in the list. I now realize, however, that I limited the recommendations to print materials, so my list framed the conversation only around print resources. I decided to create a blog for my new multi-modal platform and by doing so expand my knowledge of both literacies and technology. The blog would make me meet my personal technology goal and be a step in the right direction of transforming my library into a learning commons.
I hope that the multimodal successful learning trait blog, influences teachers to embrace multimodal texts and try new instructional approaches. I have noticed that my attitude to multimodal texts has shifted. I have had a bias for print texts, but recently I have been experimenting with different modes. Following a viewing of Piper, the Oscar Winning short, I facilitated a discussion with students about communicating a strong message without words. We talked about how the animators conveyed the many messages with animation and music. I have continued the conversation about communicating through different modalities when making digital book trailers with the grade 5 class who have been using Animoto. These conversations and projects provide evidence for my personal growth in the area of digital tools and the use of multimodal texts. Grisham (2013) states that “Composing with different modes – image, sound, video and the written word – to respond to and analyze literary and informational text helps students develop as readers and digital communicators.” Therefore, I feel confident in saying I have started shifting my practice and have started developing readers in a variety of literacies.
Module 5: Supporting Learners through the Library: Critical Literacy
Critical Literacy is the ability to read texts in an active,
reflective manner in order to better understand power,
inequality, and injustice in human relationships. (Coffey)
Critical Literacy is central to deep thinking and learning, and this module caused me to think critically and deeply. Following last week’s module on multiple modal texts, the discussion about this module overlapped quite a bit. The sources, various perspectives and multimodal recommendations for planning for critical literacy are of the utmost importance for critical literacy and help to minimize and challenge the personal biases of the individual teacher. I feel that another way to reduce biases is to plan lessons/units collaboratively. There is nothing like getting two or three passionate, reflective and open-minded teachers in a room to co-plan a unit.
In Canadian Library Association central publication, Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada (2014), it states that:
The broad role of education in the JK-12 sector is to build the capacity of learners to make sense of the world around them, to graduate good citizens in a democratic society, and to prepare our youth for successful careers and healthy, satisfying personal lives. Empowering students to learn ‘how-to-learn’ and to engage them in continuous self-improvement is the challenge for educators.
Critical thinking is at the heart of the Canadian Library Association’s philosophy, the new BC curriculum, 21st-century learning and life-long learning. Students who are critical thinkers are able to take the curriculum and transform their learning into action. I think there has been no time in history where it has been more important to be able to think critically about all information we see read, hear and see.
I was so pleased to learn about the Google filter bubble during this module’s discussion. This filter challenges our attempts to evaluate issues critically; however, this has given me an opportunity to begin developing media literacy lessons about avoiding the bubble. I only wish I was aware of this earlier, and I have to admit that I feel quite gullible because I didn’t know about it. These lessons will help to foster literacies to empower life-long learners and will move me a step closer to having a vibrant learning commons.
Module 6: Supporting Learners through the Library: Digital and Media Literacy
This has been a very interesting and valuable module and curation. I have been on a journey with my understanding of media and digital literacy. I began thinking I had a clear understanding of what both of these terms mean, what they are not, and the interconnections; however, I have dipped in and out of clarity throughout this journey. Somewhere midway in my journey, I decided to print out the MediaSmart page, The Intersection of Digital and Media Literacy and this resource has been invaluable. I feel my confusion grew out of the ambiguity of usage of the terms on many of resources I was exploring. There does not seem to be a commonly held definition. The MediaSmart site states that “it is important to keep in mind that competencies for digital literacy and media literacy are not separate, but rather complementary and mutually supporting and are constantly evolving and intersecting in new and interesting ways.”
These literacies are foundational literacies for success in the 21st century and, thankfully, I have found offering lessons in these literacies have been the easiest way to collaborate and support teachers. Teachers have been enthusiastic when I have taught lessons in digital and media literacy that have been tailored to the needs of their classes. It felt great to get my foot in the classroom door! I am committed to fostering these literacies in the school library and, I’m very excited about the excellent resources that are available on Media Smart that make teaching these literacies easier.
This video is just a reminder of why it is so important to teach critical, media and digital literacies: Scary!
Module 7: The Teacher Librarian as Educational Leader: Supporting Networks and Partnerships in the Library
For this module, I made notes using a new ( to me) digital tool called Padlet. I have included tool and how to videos in my Tech Tools for Teachers Padlet, which you will find at the bottom of the page.
I feel everything in this course had been building up to this module and this is when I reached my tipping point in my understanding of the multifaceted role that teacher librarians play in supporting students through the school library. I have undergone a mind-shift in my understanding of the role of the librarian and this truly excites me. My own narrow view of the impact I could have on student learning has been exploded into a 1000 new possibilities. I was never a “SHHHHH librarian” and most definitely have never worn sensible shoes, but I must admit that I have struggled to find where I truly fit into the larger learning conversation. Mark Ray’s Tedtalk, Changing the Conversation is inspiring, and I am ready to take on the new title of “Slayer of Information Ignorance.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but recently I got a fantastic compliment from my principal. She popped into the library to ask me a question when I was doing a coding lesson using Spheros. The students were animated and almost giddy when they successfully coded their Sphero to do a task that they had been set. There was even a class-wide cheer when a struggling group successfully got their Sphero to complete the course we had set up around the tables, chairs, and bookcases. My principal commented, ” It is a really good thing there are no other classes on this floor because this is loud…it’s not like a normal library.” Thank you, thank you, thank you! The uninviting library that I walked into a few months ago was beginning to come alive and was becoming a place that students didn’t just associate with being quiet and reading books.
In this module, we were asked to explore the characteristics of teacher librarians and the librarian’s important role as a collaborator and educational leader. There is a lot to explore and think about, and I summarized my thoughts in this Padlet.
Module 8: Supporting Literacy with Learning Technologies: Web Tools-2
I went a little crazy with this module as I strived to improve my knowledge with learning technologies so I could support literacy.
In the introduction to module 8, it states:
Learning technology tools or web tools are vast, change frequently and are readily available on the web. Properly chosen technology tools have the power to transform learning and to invite creativity and innovation. Those same tools chosen and used by the teacher-librarian, have the power to transform school library programs as well as literacy skills across all areas.
Through the process of reflection, it has become apparent to me that my choice of technology tools and the way I have used them as an extended hand for collaboration has been the primary way I have transformed my school library and broadened and embraced multiple literacies.
One of my first digital tool loves was Symbaloo.
Since being introduced to Symbaloo and reading Miller’s (2013) article, Organize online resources with Symbaloo. Learning & leading with technology I have become addicted. I have even set a Symbaloo as my homepage on my computer as it keeps my online resources organized and is easy to access from anywhere and with any device. Below you will see some of the Symbaloos I have created over the last few months. All are in different states of completion with some being established to the point I have shared them with teachers and others being in the infancy of development. I also created two Symbaloos for Module 6: which you would have seen above. I have shared both of these resources with teachers, and I have already used them in the library.
Of note is the Symbaloo for the Animoto book trailer project I did with our grade 4-5 class. Before starting the project, I shared this Symbaloo with the teacher, and he was delighted to be able to access everything we will be using while doing this project. This is our first collaboration together, and I hope doing this project and sharing the curation of technology tools will help build a good working relationship. In Valenza (2017) discusses the importance of “building my brand” and the goals of contributing to the community and building a “fully participatory culture.” It is my hope that this collaboration was a first step towards meeting these goals.
I am surprised how many Symbaloos I have made and how I find them to be a fantastic tool to curate learning experiences and share resources. However, for module 8s learning curation I chose to use another tool and created a Padlet: I find them very useful too. The advantage of Padlet is you can add a link and notes on the link; whereas with Symbaloo you can only add a tile without notes. Also, it is effortless to embed Padlets without paying a subscription.
As mentioned many times, there are an overwhelming plethora of digital tools that are available and I had to narrow things down so I could select some outstanding tools. I initially looked at technology tools based on the suggestions of known and respected technology and library educators such as Dembo, Valenza, McClintock-Miller, and Schrock, to name but a few. This strategy was a necessary first stage filter. I was also mindful of Dembo’s (2013) recommendations regarding technology tools for education. Things that were considered were:
- What is shared publicly? We always considered the moderation on the site to ensure student safety and to avoid exposure to inappropriate content
- The registration process of the site. Preference was to ones that students did not have to register and/or ones in which teachers could register for students, thus eliminating the sharing of personal and identifying information
- The privacy and publishing options. Preference was given to sites with options for publication and ones that permitted students to save things privately. In addition, sharing of student work was only available to those with a specific link
- The cost of using the site. The site had to have a certain level of access that was free.
This Padlet was created for module 8s learning curation; however, I couldn’t count it as my new technology tool for the week as I had used it before. Remember that self-imposed learning goal I had for learning and sharing one digital tool a week- -well this is an example of it rearing its ugly head. I decided to embed the Padlet and a exploration and reflection of my technology learning in a Flipsnack book. Please take a look and see evidence of all my learning since starting this course in January; there is a lot more than mentioned here.
To sum up module 8 through the lens of my inquiry question, How can I best begin transitioning my school library from a very traditional library to a vibrant learning commons? and my guiding question, how can I increase my knowledge and understanding about digital literacy? it surprises me that in spite of my many, many, many challenges with technology, the predominant way in which I have been transitioning my library to a learning commons is with technology.
Module 10: Supporting Diverse Learners and Creating Opportunities in the library Having a background as an International Baccalaureate (IB) educator and librarian, I feel that honouring cultural diversity is an area of strength. International-mindedness is a central part of the IB curriculum and IB it is committed to celebrating cultural diversity. One of my favourite resources for getting ideas for culturally diverse books is The World Through Picture Books: Librarian’s Favourite Picture Books from their Countries. I also rely on such organizations as #WeNeedDiverseBooks, which highlights the lack of diverse books—books that reflect a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, including class, race, culture, sexuality, ability, etc. or that are written by people from these backgrounds. My strength is cultural books however, I am now turning my focus to LGBT books as there is little to no representations of LGBT people and issues in my current school library. I just need to work out how to secure a budget to buy them.
This module also introduced me to the work of educators such as Barbara Klipper, who is a pioneer in disability-friendly library programming and Renee Grassi, the head of children’s services at the Glencoe Public Library. Their work to support children with disabilities is inspiring. This exposure to different types of diversity makes me mindful to create a learning commons that focuses on the needs of ALL its users.
Module 11: Beyond Library Walls – Working for Social Justice in the School Library
This module focused on Social Justice, and it reminded me of the important role I play in supporting action and facilitation of learning about social justice issues. Danielle McLaughlin (2014) states:
I believe that we teach justice by actively and purposely engaging those whose views differ from our own. We must do this consciously and creatively. We must invite disagreement, but also acknowledge that all points of view are not equally valid or justifiable. But if we find everyone to be in agreement, if we quickly find a consensus, we should acknowledge that someone must be missing. Whose voice is not being heard? We need to actively seek out views that contradict our own, or we may never truly understand our own views.
My biggest learning in this module was to not fall into the common trap of looking afar when learning from injustices in our world. We must not be scared to address local issues, grapple with our own homegrown social injustices and to always seek multiple voices when addressing an issue.
For module 11s learning curation we were asked to share a social justice digital resource and explain how we would use it. In my attempt to be a future-ready librarian I curated these digital resources for our cohort to share.
Module 12: Advocacy
What a great way to end this course! We all have challenges with funding, scheduling, technology and a basic lack of understanding of what a learning commons is and the role of the teacher-librarian, but having the opportunity to share ways to advocate for what we do was empowering. I love quotes and as I came into the discussion late, I decided to make a Padlet with all the quotes we shared.
By creating this Padlet I am fostering the standard to of Facilitating Collaborative Engagement to Cultivate and Empower a Community (our LLED 465 community) as well as demonstrating that I am becoming a future-ready librarian as I am curating digital resources as if I have been doing this forever. I do so love the many digital tools I have been introduced to!
To conclude this final learning curation in regards my inquiry question:
How can I best begin transitioning my school library from
a very traditional library to a vibrant learning commons?
and guiding question:
How can I increase my knowledge and understanding about digital literacy?
My evolution as a teacher-librarian while doing this course has been immense, but I definitely did not change in the way I had imagined. My growth in knowledge about digital tools has primarily driven the transition of my library several steps closer to the goal of the becoming a vibrant learning commons. I had originally thought that the library transition would be more of about the physical space, but due to no funding and other constraints, the physical changes have been minimal. Some things I have changed are I have created two soft seating spaces in the library (all donated), added student art to the walls, added plants and have now got some lego (mini-step in the direction of a maker space). The library is already much more inviting and is becoming more like a learning hub. I hope to make bigger changes to the library space after I have presented to the school’s Parent Advisory Council in two weeks. I want to introduce them to the possibilities of creating a learning commons and invite them to join my team in making the changes become a reality.
For more information about the Digital Tools Demonstrated in this post plus a few others: Amazing Tech Tools for Teachers. These are tools I have tried using during this course.
Bannister, Susan. Successful Learning Traits. Retrieved from https://www.successfullearners.ca/
BC Ministry of Education. (2012, October 17). Developing digital literacy standards. Retrieved from http://engage.bcedplan.ca/2012/10/developing-digital-literacy-standards/
Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: ON
Coffey, H. (n.d.) Critical literacy. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4437
Dembo, S., & Bellow, A. (2013). Untangling the web: 20 tools to power up your teaching. Thousand Oaks: CA. Retrieved from https://go.library.ubc.ca/nj78Kh
Everall, Annie OBE and Viviana Quiñones (2013). The World Through Picture Books: Librarian’s Favourite Picture Books from their Countries. Retrieved from https://www.ifla.org/node/6718
Ferguson, Rebecca. Dorothy Faulkner, Denise Whitelock & Kieron Sheehy (2014) Pre-teens’ informal learning with ICT and Web 2.0, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24:2, 247-265, Retrieved from https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/abs/10.1080/1475939X.2013.870596
Follett. Future Ready Librarians. Retrieved from: https://futureready.org/librarians
Grisham, D. (2013). Love that book: Multimodal response to literature. The Reading Teacher. 67(3), 220-225.
Hayes, D. (2014, August 9). Let’s stop trying to teach students critical thinking.
Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/lets-stop-trying-to-teach-students-critical-thinking-30321
Krashen, S. (2014, February 16). Dr. Stephen Krashen defends libraries at LAUSD board meeting. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAui0OGfHQY
Krashen, S. (2012, April 5). The power of reading, The COE lecture series, University of Georgia. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSW7gmvDLag
Loertscher, D. V. (2014). Makers, self-directed learners, and the library learning commons. Teacher Librarian, 41(5), 35-35,38,71. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1548229909
MediaSmarts. (n.d.) Digital & media literacy. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy
McLaughlin, D. (2014). The King of Denmark and the naked mole rat: teaching critical thinking for social justice.Education Canada. 54(3). Retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/king-denmark-and-naked-mole-rat-teaching-critical-thinking-social-justice
Ray, Mark. (2016, June 7). Changing the conversation about librarians. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/IniFUB7worY
Miller, S. (2013). Organize online resources with Symbaloo. Learning & leading with technology, 40(6), 34-35. Retrieved from http://www.learningandleading-digital.com/learning_leading/20130304#pg36
Serafini, F., & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading workshop 2.0: Children’ literature in the digital age. The Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404.
Schrock, Kathy. http://www.kathyschrock.net
Sharma Sue Ann & Deschaine Mark E. (2016). Digital Curation: A Framework to Enhance Adolescent and Adult Literacy Initiatives. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 60(1), 71–78. doi: 10.1002/jaal.523
Valenza, Joyce. (July 5, 2017). Curation situations: let us count the ways. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2017/07/05/curation-situations-let-us-count-the-ways/ (Links to an external site.)
Whitehead, Tiffany. http://www.mightylittlelibrarian.com