The issues of the teacher librarians and para-professionals in California School Libraries. Please share your concerns, feedback and questions.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kids Got It Easy

Generation NOW kids & why schools have to change … (Part 1)
When I was a child, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... barefoot and in the snow… uphill... BOTH ways...

I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way I was going to tell my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it.

But now that I'm older and a school librarian, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. They've got it so easy.  I mean, compared to my childhood, they live in a Utopia. 

To begin with:
  • Our parents told us to stay outside and play (without providing supervision or advice on activities) ... all day long. Now children are never left unsupervised and have packed schedules with camps, lessons, sports, tutoring, enrichment … or if the family can’t afford these things the Internet and TV are the babysitters.
  • Everything is safer now. I remember roller skating (metal wheels) on the sidewalk without the benefit of pads and helmets. My knees were permanently scabbed. I rode my bike without a helmet, often with no hands. Seat belts and car seats were for rich people with new cars.  My mom let us ride wherever we wanted – even in the open bed of a truck and we hung on.  If we were lucky, we got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly. Not only that, but the recharging ports in cars … those were cigarette lighters, and there were also ashtrays that slid out and were full of butts. People actually drove around smoking while the kids were in the car -- with the windows rolled up (which was actually a chore because you cranked a handle to make windows roll up).   
  • We didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove. Making popcorn was a real ordeal. You either had to have a special popper or you got this foil package that you put on the stove and then all the kernels in the bottom were burnt.
And then there was technology:
·         The television had 13 channels. We had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on. There was no such thing as channel surfing because we had to get UP and walk over to the TV to change the channel, which we did by turning a dial ~ I remember being the remote control. Not only that, sometime the reception was fuzzy and if I wanted a clear picture I’d have to stand in front of the TV holding the rabbit ears just so.
·         There were no DVRs or TiVo or OnDemand or streaming TV from a website, so if we wanted to watch a program we had to watch it when it was being broadcast and there was no fast-forwarding through commercials. There was no Cartoon Network either so we had to wait all week long for cartoons that were only on Saturday mornings. Late night TV ended sometime after midnight, and then the station played the Star-Spangled Banner to “sign-off” and then there was nothing on except a test pattern until morning.
·         After school, there were reruns of wholesome shows like The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, and I Dream of Jeannie … oh and Bewitched. I think I may have seen every episode of these shows several times because nothing else was on. Every once in a while there was an Afternoon Special that was really corny and always had a moral lesson for you to learn. What do kids do now after school? They’re multi-tasking, switching between several activities incessantly; listening to music, texting friends, doing homework, sending IMs, watching YouTube, checking email and Facebook, sending tweets, eating, and playing a game … yes, they are trying to do all these things simultaneously.
·         Our only telephone was stuck on the wall with a long cord that got tangled up as we walked as far away as it would stretch. We were lucky that we weren’t on a party line where your neighbors could listen in. Even so, I remember my parents getting very irritated having to listen to my long, inane conversations. Now parents often don’t have a clued what their kids are talking about; half of it is in acronyms (LMAOROFL) and it is filled with bizarre emoticons ;-)
·         There weren't any fancy features like Call Waiting, either. If we were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it. There was no Caller ID so when the phone rang we had no idea who it was!  It could be our school, our parents, our boss, our grandma, the collection agent... we just didn't know! We had to pick it up and take our chances. There weren't any cell phones either, so if you left home you just missed the calls – see, we didn’t even have answering machines! If you wanted to make a call away from home, you’d have to find a phone booth – sometimes you can see them still.
·         TEXTING? Yeah, right – although for a while there were these beeper things that people carried around to know when they were desperately needed for an emergency.
·         Yes, there were computers (I’m not that old!), but they existed in huge rooms in big companies and even with that gigantic computer it was less powerful than an iPhone now.
·         No one had personal computers, and the Internet wasn’t open to the public.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves, using the drawers in the card catalog! Information is now instantaneous and customizable with RSS feeds, blogs, interactive websites, and … Google.
·         There was no email.  We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen!  Then we had to find or buy a stamp and put it in the mailbox, and it would take a week to get there.
·         There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes!  We had records in vinyl with beautiful jackets that were like artwork. There were no CD players, but we did have giant boom boxes that were really heavy to carry around.  We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and sometimes the tape deck would “eat” the tape when ejected. And if we wanted to steal music, we had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and mess it all up! 
·         I remember the first video games like Pong and Space Invaders and Asteroids.  Our screen guy was a little square (well, we used our imagination) and there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… forever! Oh, and you could never win; the game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died!  Just like LIFE! Now there are sophisticated game systems like PlayStation or Xbox with high resolution 3-D graphics, and these devices also serve as DVD players, Internet connectors, and you can control the games with your body. World of Warcraft, and other MMORPGs, are so absorbing that kids can concentrate on them for hours on end, seemingly loosing track of where their virtual life ends and their real life begins.

I hate to say it, but the kids today don't see how good they've got it … they wouldn't last five minutes back in 1970. But by the same token, I can see that their experience growing up is not “easier”, just different.
And this is why school can’t look the same as it did in 1970. We’re talking about the NOW connected generation, with their own obstacles to overcome. Students today are not engaged by spending 6-hours daily listening to a teacher talking at the front of the classroom, often moving too fast for some, too slow for others, and not using any of the tools they use to learn on their own.
[To be continued] Look for Part 2 in February, which attempts to answer the question of how schools need to change to meet the needs of Generation NOW students.
by Janice Gilmore-See, Southern Section Past-President

Monday, January 23, 2012

Think Globally...Attend Locally

Hello CSLA members and friends,
My name is Katie Williams, and I am the President-Elect of the Northern Region. I have been a member of CSLA for over 20 years, and have found it to be an excellent professional organization. A few years ago I took my principal to an annual conference, as my guest, and she was so impressed with the quality and quantity of professional sessions that were being offered that year.

Luckily, we don't have to wait until an annual conference to take advantage of the expertise of our members! I have been to many regional workshops that have made a difference in the way I do my job, as a middle school teacher librarian. We have great region reps who put together professional development opportunities throughout the year, and this year is no exception.

Coming up very soon is a workshop in Sacramento on Saturday, February 11 at 9:00 a.m., organized by our Section 2 members, Andrea Catania-Stephenson and Annette Weiskircher. Save the date.... it promises to be an interesting session on Google Apps and QR Codes! You can check our CSLA website for more details as they become available.

I hope I will meet more of our Northern Region members this year, as we continue to support and educate each other.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Important School Library Petition

Here's an important item from the AASL Advocacy tip blog:

"On Jan. 4, 2011, AASL President Carl Harvey posted a petition on the White House website requesting support and recognition by including school library programs in the  reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) expected this year.  The petition has until Feb. 4, 2011, to get 25,000 signatures in order for it to reach the Obama administration.

"Spread the word outside the school library community – teachers, parents, students, community members, and family friends are all encouraged to sign the petition.  Anyone over the age of 13 is qualified to sign.  This is a perfect opportunity to spread the word about school libraries by asking them to sign the petition: http://wh.gov/Wgd

"After you have signed, share the link with others.  Post it online, on blogs, on Twitter, and Facebook.  Use all your communication methods to help get the word out."

Here is the text of the petition:

"Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world."

Signing is important; spreading the word is incredibly important. We school library people need to network beyond our own ranks to get the needed signatures. Please share this with everyone you can. Please also be aware that some folks have had challenges signing in once they set up an account on the whitehouse.gov website. If you have challenges, try a different browser, or sign out and back in until you succeed in signing. Please don't give up!

Many thanks! Jane Lofton, CSLA President Elect

Monday, January 2, 2012

To all of the Lifelong Learners in school library land - from your Membership VP

Hello All People Interested in School Libraries!

I'm Liz Dodds, and I am the Membership VP for CSLA. I am already learning a lot about how to do this job - keeping track of our members and making sure everyone understands what a valuable organization the California School Library Association is!

Our annual conference in November is a wonderful learning and networking experience.
We also host several events per year in the northern and southern halves of the state, where more learning and networking take place.

Please take a look at our calendar at http://csla.net and click on the Events Tab to see what has been planned with you in mind. Attend and invite a friend.

I'd like to especially reach out to the paraprofessionals in the school library world and make sure that you feel you're a vital part of this organization. Another group that we'd love to welcome is the private or independent school librarians - let's work together!

Leadership for Diversity is a committee under the auspices of MembershipIf you're interested in making sure the wonderful diversity of California is represented by those who are entering the school library field, and that once they enter they are informed and active in their schools, districts, and CSLA, then you may want to serve on this committee. Please let me know (liz.dodds@gmail.com) if you're interested. Sandy Schuckett will be the chairperson of the committee.

I am a teacher librarian at Bullard High School in Fresno. I have been a TL for 16 years - 3 in elementary, 6 in middle school, and 7 in high school. Before becoming a TL, I taught PE, German, and math. I love working in the library because of the technology, the collaboration, the research,and the constant change. I think there has never been a more exciting time to be a teacher librarian.  Ebooks and etextbooks make their appearance- how will we handle that? Students still need to be encouraged to read for pleasure, and everyone needs help with research! There's never a dull moment!

Here's some food for thought for you lifelong learner mover and shaker types:

School Libraries Link Learners - A New Year Posting from Jane Lofton

Happy New Year!

My name is Jane Lofton, your new State President Elect. I am very honored, excited, and, yes, more than a little nervous, to be taking on this position. I accepted this challenge because I believe passionately in the importance of school libraries for our students, and in CSLA’s vital role in advocacy and professional development for those of us who work at and teach in California school libraries. I got active in CSLA very soon after I entered the school library field in 2002. I did so because I was so impressed with the professional development I received from the organization. I wanted to become involved and give something back to this association that gave me so much. What I have found since then, though, is that the more active I become, the more I actually receive myself.

As your President Elect, my major role this year will be assisting our awesome President, Pam Oehlman: preparing for the presidency next year; and planning our next annual conference in November 2012 in San Jose. I am happy to announce that our 2012 Conference theme will be “School Libraries Link Learners.” We help our students to become lifelong learners because of our own passion for lifelong learning; both our we and our students are always learners, discovering new ideas, learning new skills, and expanding our imaginations each and every day. Please stand by for information coming very soon about our conference dates, location, and participation opportunities. In the meantime, please get in touch with me (jane@lofton.com) if you are interested in participating in the planning team.

In case you would like to know a little more about me, I’m sharing a Prezi presentation I created in Fall of 2010 when I began my current position as Teacher Librarian at Mira Costa High School and have just updated a bit: