Ind. Study - Manifesto (Week #1)

Week #1 - Valenza's Manifesto/SLW Articles

Are you a new Teacher-Librarian?  Are you a well-seasoned, experienced 21st century Teacher-Librarian?  Joyce Valenza's "Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians" can and should be a document for ALL T-L's, regardless of age, experience, and library training to read and refer to again and again and again . . . you get my point.  I read this manifesto over a year ago and since that time have a couple of courses under my belt and a new T-L position starting in the fall.  Now that I read it again, a few times, I realize it is something I need to print out, post, share and use as a teaching and learning aid for myself, my students and staff.  I was reminded just today of the general perception about the role of the T-L from a great majority of the population in my community.  A friend of mine just learned that I obtained the T-L position and her initial reaction was that of a guffaw-smirk-that's ridiculous reaction.  "Now you're gonna wear your hair in a bun and tell kids to be quiet?  That'll be a cushy job."  Documents, such as Valenza's Manifesto or Asselin and Doiron's section on New Learners, would be great to have in one's back pocket to whip out and shove in people's faces.  As I am much more professional than that I simply told her that kids learn differently today because of all this new technology and that's what I would be helping kids with next year.  Asselin and Doiron compiled a list of these new learners and what they can be referred to as:  Digital Natives, Net Generation, Information Generation, Millennials and New Millennials.  They write, "They [students] are growing up connected to the world and each other," and the implications of that notion greatly affect my new role as a 21st century T-L.

As I re-read through Valenza's Manifesto and Naslund's article in SLW Journal, "Towards School Library 2.0," I highlighted many ideas and teaching and learning strategies that caught my attention and/or would be relevant for me and my circumstances.

M:  Media Literacy - How will I prepare for and expose students to a variety of media formats and ensure adequate, but safe access to those resources?  Valenza's discusses the rights of students and that, "Access to the new tools is an intellectual freedom issue."  While Naslund, upon reflecting on this digital, Web 2.0 age, that "all educators can use social software tools or social media to promote online participation, digital literacy and lifelong learning for their K-12 students."

A:  Advocacy - Do I advocate for my new T-L role through Professional Development with staff and admin, developing a leadership role, developing an instructional role, and/or collaborating with other teachers?  All of these, one or two of them?

N:  Nings - I will continue to be a member of the two T-L Nings I belong to and look at joining others such as VoiceThread and Future of Education Nings.

I:  Information Ethics - Is this the initial topic that should be presented to students (and staff) prior to exploration of the World Wide Web and instruction in creating and sharing with Web 2.0 tools?  Intellectual property, copyright-friendly media, creative commons, digital footprint, respectful and appropriate behaviour, transformativeness, and best practices are all terms that Valenza mentions that I know I have to gain more expertise in. Naslund also suggests that educators must become familiar with and use the tools themselves to ensure they are appropriate and successful.

F:  Facilities - The physical space of the library is undergoing substantial change presently, as we amalgamate a K-2 school with a Gr. 3 - 7 school.  The Primary collection and shelving will need space in the existing library, with no room for expansion.  Managing the additional students, resources and furniture within the existing space will be a challenge.

E:  Engagement - Using social media and teaching information literacy skills will increase engagement of students in their school lives.  Naslund discusses a report done by Prensky that middle and high school students said that activities at school are "boring" 50 - 70% of the time.  Prensky suggested, "Using social media to meet curricular objectives while getting K-12 students to play in the interactive digital playground that is Web 2.0."

S:  School Library 2.0 - Something I hope to achieve in the next few years as T-L at Haldane Elementary.  The fusion of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, "School Library 2.0 is about creating a participatory, social, user-centered environment rich with technology that is focused on interactivity and collaboration," and has an ultimate goal of "student success" writes Naslund.

T:  Technology Tools - What tools do I begin using with students?  Do I offer some Pro-D to staff first regarding these tools before I present them to students?  I would be confident creating blogs and wikis, using social bookmarking sites, social networking sites, and social media-sharing sites with students as outlined by Naslund.  And, I know which teachers are willing to collaborate with me already, but which tools should I start with?

O:  Overwhelming - Definitely, but exciting.

As amazing as this Manifesto is, that mind-numbing, overwhelming feeling does force one back to reality and the realization that all of these things cannot be accomplished in my first year as T-L in 0.4 FTE position.  I do take comfort in the fact that I am at least familiar with MOST of the terminology and technology tools that are mentioned in Valenza's manifesto and Naslund's article, and only am because I had that desire to further my professional development in an area I feel is crucial for student success in the future.  A concern I do have as I begin thinking about September and my new role is where do I start?  What do I make my initial priority as a T-L in a library that hasn't had a trained librarian in six years?  Advocacy and marketing, collections and circulation, technology, collaboration, finding/filtering/evaluating information, ethics and privacy, creation of school library policy . . .

For the last few years the library has been a place to check out books and complete limited research using print material and inaccessible web content.  Valenza wrote that, "The library is not just a place to get stuff, it is a place to make and share stuff."  The school did purchase a Smartboard at the end of the school year and it will be housed mainly in the library, as well I have requested a Polycom Video Conferencing unit to be "stored" at the school as well.  With the addition of these tools and other events and marketing strategies I have brewing, I hope to change the perception of the library space and what it is used for.  My goal is for it to be "thought of as the 'brain' and the 'nerve centre' of the school where learners gather . . . " as declared by Asselin and Doiron.