I am up for a breath

It is difficult to keep up my adventures, because it is so fast and non stop awesome.  I just wish I had a little more energy.  year 2, week 5 might be time to find a little more work/life balance and get back to some exercise.

An Archaeology dig in the works, google classroom up and running, author talk, some great research on the solar system and New York State Geography going and 8 preps are keeping me busy.  Time for processing and cataloging books is scarce, but I’ve got some great parents and 6th graders helping me with the shelving:)  And finally I have figured out when I can get a hold of teachers and have had some great conversations and planning time with them.  My students are so clever and work hard:

Being a librarian is so intellectually stimulating and exciting, I don’t know how I will ever retire.  Save this blog post for a couple decades form now:)

Spring break

As is pours in Maine tonight, I watch my nephews submerged in Minecraft.  I need to understand this game.  It is a time consuming part of our young students lives.

I am thankful for a breather from school, but excited to get back.  I can’t believe how quickly my first year as a school librarian has gone and how much I love my job.  I am hoping all perspective does not get lost in the upcoming weeks of state testing.

A family literacy night- bullying

Currently my colleague at the public library, Kyra, and I are trying to create a family literacy night program that is ongoing throughout our community where there are 2 elementary schools and 2 high schools in a town that has a Native American community and a suburban/farming community.

I think as part of the seasonal program, in the fall would be a great time to focus on how to teach your children from an early age the importance of …

I’ll be back after I am done with niece and nephews….

Dance class break:)

The seeds of bullying start early.  I had a second grader making fun of a book someone picked out during library a couple of weeks ago.  Teachable moment and made me think that I had to teach this interaction.  This started a conversation about bullying.

Two years ago my friend’s daughter had a boy say to her ( it was first or second grade) that he was going to shoot her.  My friend got on the phone fast, but not after thinking hard about how to deal with the situation.  What does she tell her daughter? and  what does she say to the school?  She didn’t want to be a crazy parent and she imagined there must be an interesting homelife for a child that would say such a thing.

Fostering caring humans is the role of not just the parents, but the community.  I believe it does take a village.

Librarians throughout a community can make a concerted effort to give parents and community members the information and access to the expertise they need to nurture caring children and in doing so prepare them to be responsible citizens and users of the internet.

A community series of events where parents can talk to knowledgeable adults about the Internet is necessary.  While parents are filling in the gaps of what they don’t know about how the Internet works and ways to teach their children to use technology responsibly, children can be learning through reading and talking about books.  Here is a great list of books for young readers about bullying: https://www.k12.wa.us/safetycenter/BullyingHarassment/WorkGroup/RecommendedBooks.pdf from Washington State.

But don’t just look at books about bullying.  Really books about healthy relationships work as well and this will translate to cyber relationships when the children are older and on the internet.

My computer is broken, sooo… I have to stop typing before I beat my head against a wall..

CIPA and Internet filters

CIPA, which stands for Children’s Internet Protection Act, is a law with good intentions, that realizes that the freedom of speech allowed in writing and visual representations on the Internet is not always appropriate for children (and probably adults at times).  It basically is a law that says you have to have an Internet filter on computers that children would be using in a publicly funded place.  You must do this to get e-rate discounts on numerous technologies.

But what I’m interested in are Internet filters in public schools.  Because public schools have no feasible way to constantly monitor the changing websites on the Internet, schools purchase Internet filtering programs from companies in order to block websites that are inappropriate for children.  From what I understand there are not too many choices of filters or companies.  The filters are difficult to make effective because of the constantly changing Internet.  There also has to be someone creating the Internet filter to decide what is appropriate and what is not.  Easily this leads to known and unknown biases to play into what is being blocked.

As a 12th grade American law teacher, I found the internet filter to be a consistent nuisance to student research.  As high school students doing research my law students often were blocked from find information resources about what some people would consider controversial topics.  Same Sex marriage pages and articles were often blocked for the reason of “sexuality”.  This was also an issue in psychology and sociology class when learning about gender and suicide.  Certainly there are books and online databases that are clear through  the filter, but many current events are not in databases, so students had limited access to them.  Teachers could have websites unblocked by the filter, but this required going to a committee that only met 3 times a year and giving a specific website and reason for the site to be unblocked.  It was impossible to guess what sites would be needed because of the nature of current events and issues in the social sciences.  This was also extremely time consuming.

The other day I was working with 3rd graders to find images that were licensed under Creative commons.  I showed them how to use Google to do a search for images and limit it to these images. They searched for one of the Wonders of the World.  One student ended up with several images of nearly naked women in his search.  Another had some unsavory captions.  The filter does not always work.

We need filtering, but we need filtering that is leveled for the age of students and that allows teachers to use their professional opinion to unblock websites without going through a committee for every website.  and we need the public to realize that there is no filter that will stop everything and children will eventually need to be capable of using the whole Internet.  They should have guidance and education to do this, so should have this before they go out in to Higher Education and adult life.

Collaborative Content

I was at my district’s technology committee today getting frustrated about the fact I have no common time with teachers so it has been hard to collaborate.

Now after thinking and reading a little about wikispaces and google docs I am feeling a little better about the possibilities of working with teachers in separate spaces on the same documents, in the same conversation.

Students can benefit for these tools in many ways.  Effectively they can create documents and presentations together with continuous peer editing and efficiently research sharing immediately with each other to help reduce redundant work.  And it is fun.

iPads in an elementary school?

So I’ve seen iPads used with lower elementary to do fun engaging educational activities. My current school has a iPad cart and no iPads..long story.

I am such an apple follower that I’m afraid I might be blinded.  What are your thoughts about iPads vs. Android tablets for K-2 students?  Is it true there are most educational apps for the iPad?  If the wifi is not great in the school will the pulled in cart save the day??

Taking quizzes

This is my 12th year of teaching.  I have given loads of quizzes.  I have not taken a quiz in a very long time and I have only 2 other times taken a quiz on the computer where you have to answer and then can not go back to change your answer.  I hate them.

I think my initial stress and freak out at the beginning of a test quickly subsides, but only once I reach a question I am sure I know the answer to.  Until then, my brain is in freak out survival mode.  You should definitely be allowed to go back to questions.  I know the answer, I just can access it under stress.

This reaction is also why I can not play poker or be a politician.  I blame it on my Irish DNA.