Running Amok in the Stacks

Teaching and Learning….The Neverending Story

In reviewing Empowering Learners, chapters two and three, it is extremely evident that the role of the media specialist is much more complex than that of a general classroom teacher.  Not only does the media specialist have to address differing learning styles and multiple literacies, but must do so for not only students, but the entire population of students, teachers, and administration.  As an effective media specialist, one should not only be informed about new technologic advances, but also be able to teach students and staff how to utilize those advances in the most beneficial and effective ways.  So, as times change and technology changes with it, the media specialist has to continue to learn and grow, often before the rest of the school population to be an effective communicator of ideas, information, tools, and resources.

Not only does an effective media specialist need to be aware of technological changes, but they must also be effective collaborators.  To be able to learn and teach others in a collaborative setting using new approaches and an openness to creativity.

In looking at the section on The Learning Space in Empowering Learners, from a personal standpoint, I find some of the actions more daunting than others.  Actions such as creating an environment that is conducive to active learning, is much less challenging than changing the already in place block system of scheduling with a more flexible schedule.  While I will strive to provide more open time for students to use the library, the current model that my school uses may be difficult to change to a flex-schedule. 

In reading Woolls, again, I find some ideas more challenging that others.  While one of the most important points in this reading is that of defending the right to access information, I find this a somewhat daunting challenge.  My former head librarian, would immediately pull any book from the shelves that she either personally found offensive or if a parent lodged a complaint or concern about the book.  My initial reaction was that of outrage, because she was not defending the right of each student (and parents) to have access to certain books or materials.  On the flip side of this, I have thought long and hard about how I will handle a complaint by a parent in regard to a particular work and how to best protect the right of every patron to access information by standing firm in regard to my building’s selection policy.  Again another challenge is informing and teaching students and staff about copyright law and how it has become even more relevant to protect copyrighted works as it is now much easier to access information online. One must stay up today to copyright changes and how to utilize information that is available under Creative Commons regulations.

Chapter 10 in Woolls, was one of the most exciting chapters, I have read to date.  Again, my former library media specialist did not partner with classroom teachers and limited her teaching to worksheets from outdated library skills workbooks instead of addressing core curriculum areas and integrating those areas that the students were studying into her library curriculum.  In reviewing some of my library lessons from the past few years, one that was most popular was when fourth and fifth grade students were studying geography and maps in the regular classroom.  While we did work with the atlas in the library, we also made our own magnetic compasses.  I had brought in my son’s compass from boy scouts, pulled up my compass application on my phone and then gave each table a small bowl of water, a refrigerator magnet, a straight pin and a small post-it note.  Most of the students didn’t believe that we could use these few simple items to make a magnetic compass that would point to magnetic north.  It was such an amazing sight to see the looks on their faces when they placed their magnetized pin on the post-it note floating in the water and see it spin around just like the compass on my phone or my son’s boy scout compass.  It made sense to them in a more meaningful way than just saying, “this way is north” and connected to their geography and map lessons from the classroom.  I am truly excited to partner in a more meaningful way with the classroom teachers as well as the special class teachers to create a learning environment that is not separate and isolated, but one in which the students can transfer learning skills and ideas from one area to another.

I agree wholeheartedly with Catone’s point, that there will always be a need for good teachers, whether it is in an online format or in a traditional classroom.  Just giving online tools and resources to a bad teacher is not going to automatically make them better.  It boils down to teachers whether online or offline being able to best utilize the tools and resources they have available to address the needs of their students.  I use a similar analogy when I’m teaching a lampwork student.  For some of my work, I use different shaped presses and tools, but the end result is only as good as the footprint of glass originally laid down.  If I start out with a poorly shaped, or off center base bead, there is not amount of pressing with a brass mold that is going to make it turn out good.  You can have thousands of dollars of tools, but if you can’t make a simple round bead using only gravity, not one of those tools will fix it!  The same goes for online learning, one can have a wealth of tools and if the basis of instruction is flawed, then the extent of learning is limited.


Johns brings up the point I mentioned earlier in that with the implementation of Common Core Standards, it is imperative that the library media specialist is involved in the process.  It is more important than ever to teach students how to use the media center and the information in it to become active learners and to integrate the Common Core standards into the teaching of those skills.

The YouTube video, truly highlighted the importance of having a teacher-librarian and learning commons that promotes collaboration and provides not only resources for research, but things such as Best of the Best lists for each grade level.  Also, collaboration between the teacher-librarian and classroom teachers to use different ways to showcase student learning using things like Prezi instead of the more old-fashioned use of a powerpoint.

I think the principal summed it up that “learning is about having experiences that you will never forget” and that learning is fun which is promoted though a learning commons environment.

Joyce Valenza, aptly points out that while defenders of the library, do so in large part on principle, on memories, on our role historically, but most people don’t understand what we teach and why it is important.  I find this personally to be so true!  I was speaking with a friend the other day and she was explaining her new work in social media as it relates to health care in the Native American population and she began telling me how she was using blogs, Twitter, and smartphone apps to reach her target population.  I just had to begin laughing when she started quoting statistics from the Pew Research Center about the use of mobile devices and the internet and I started quoting the same statistics back to her regarding Pew’s research in the educational field.  She didn’t realize that what she was trying to do with the Native American population is the same thing we are doing in the educational field.  It is vital that we continue to push for and be proponents of information literacy early on as the carry over into adulthood is far reaching.



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