Author Archives: LiterateOWL

About LiterateOWL

An avid outdoorsman and passionate photographer and painter. Seeking joy through knowledge, creativity, adventure and Grace.

Struggles Realities of Student-Driven Learning and BYOD


As our technological world rapidly evolves and our social and work place environment changes, it’s unacceptable that we don’t address the low income demographic for anything not just schooling. The civility of our society cannot afford to only protect the 1%. Letting poor schools fend for themselves and not funding them to be progressive is akin to permitting slavery by justifying the economic benefits of free labour! 


National surveys consistently show that students in low-income schools are getting short-changed when it comes to using technology in school. A 2013 Pew study revealed that only 35 percent of teachers at the lowest income schools allow their students to look up information on their mobile devices, as compared to 52 percent of teachers at wealthier schools. (Schwartz)

-I personally think Giulucci below is over enthusiastic. Even with polite and engaged students, my experience is that the urgency if not obsession to txt is stronger than any force. Even college classes are now banning phones. People still txt and drive when they know it is severely hazardous. I think lesson design and engagement can only go so far. Although I implement every technology I can, I also have an explicit class management regime that includes a course of action for use and abuse of mobile devices. -Al Smith

Many advocates of using mobile technologies say the often cited issues of student distraction are just excuses not to try something new. Mark Giuliucci, a freshmen social studies teacher at Sanborn High School in New Hampshire, said it’s not the end of the world if a kid sends a text in class. “The way you discourage it is engage them in the activity so they don’t even think of sending a text,” Giuliucci said. “You’ve got to jump in and play their game or you’re going to lose them.”(Schwartz )



Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Professional Development, Teacher Professional, technology

The Story Behind the Anahim Lake School Viral Video

Originally posted on Big Rocks First:

Trent Leon, a student from Anahim Lake Secondary, takes a shot on his hero, Carey Price, on a recent visit to Montreal. Trent Leon, a student from Anahim Lake Secondary, takes a shot on his hero, Carey Price, on a recent visit to Montreal.

Mikel Brogan is the Principal of Anahim Lake School.  Last Friday afternoon, Mikel and I sat down in my office to watch a video telling the story of a young student from his school who had the chance to spend time with his hometown hero, Carey Price, a couple of months ago in Montreal.  Of course, the video was not a surprise for either of us as the preparation time, a week of filming in the school and the Anahim Lake community, and a crazy few days in Montreal had been pretty intense.  It had been six weeks of anticipation leading up to the release of the video on youtube.  After watching the video, it was pretty easy to predict that the video had an excellent chance of going viral.  At the time…

View original 1,443 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Events

Top 10 Psych myths debunked -TED Why education gets tricked ..

Cautionary tale. Learning styles are not science. They are myth. How many other themes to we impose on students that are based on narrow self interest, ‘systems’ sales or institutional mythology? 

Not long ago I recall our entire school undergoing a Learning Style Inventory. We bought products, booked rare ProD days and tried to find ways to transform our practice. No one really objected. Most had some fun but why did we believe this learning style program ( or any inventory) had efficacy? 

Our entire organization bought it- literally! Abstainers were written off as party poopers or unprogressive! Teased even! Results were fun like astrology charts but not education science. So why do we get ‘sold’ on these myths? How does a study become the next education reform? Why are experienced teachers, who usually filter out the bull from the curious, so often marginalized when they resist or raise doubts? 

I think it’s because educators so frequently have their heart in the vocation and desperately want to help, that they adopt practices out of desire not objective research. They are so loving they trust every ‘speaker’ who introduces a new idea . They comply with admin or leaders who tell them the pill to swallow is good for them. Our profession’s embedded good nature and care sets us up for following myths not sound pedagogy. 

Except, of course, as you’ve probably guessed, that it doesn’t, because the whole thing is a complete myth. Learning styles are made up and are not supported by scientific evidence. So we know this because in tightly controlled experimental studies, when learners are given material to learn either in their preferred style or an opposite style,( TED )


___________
“10 Myths about Psychology, Debunked.” Ben Ambridge:. TEDX Manchester, Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_ambridge_10_myths_about_psychology_debunked&gt;.

Leave a comment

Filed under COTA, criticism, Education, Media Literacy, PD, Personal Learning Network, Presenters, Professional Development, Teacher Professional

A flawed assumption that the Internet simply replaces strong teaching practices of school librarians

It is such a deep sterotype that even in 2015, any librarian is just a keeper of books, that intelligent people think the Internet solves all just by its mere existence. That logic is akin to to ‘guns don’t kill, people do’ or that simply writing seat belt legislation stops automobile injury. Clearly, the education lobby that ignores the value added services of a teacher-librarian, in favour of only an adoption of more technology, is very misguided or doesn’t understand how students grow. People only know what they know- and unless one has experienced the exemplary school library program in action, they easily adopt flawed assumptions. Like the vintage photo below, the endearing imagery has become a barrier to reality. Not nurturing school libraries will indeed close libraries because these invaluable services are not frills but integral enterprises to any progressive schools. If the Internet and all its gargantuan bytes of noise were the answer then why have schools at all? Why should we desire coaches, piano teachers, doctors? Why not just ‘google everything? What have priests or mechanics? Why not just let us all be moulded by the machine? Technocractic oppression is still tyranny. Our children need more than a screen to look at, they need a mind that critiques and assesses right from wrong and truth from myth. Isn’t that what we want? 



In the broad constellation of professionals who make up public schools, it is important to pause and acknowledge the forgotten education professionals who aide and support teachers. These include the librarians, nurses, social workers, learning specialists, and guidance counselors. They contribute to the growth and development of our young people but often find themselves left out of broader discussions about the preservation of public education. They provide a range of critical support and intervention frequently invisible to us. Most certainly, their value has escaped the notice of so-called education reformers and politicians. All too often, these champions of a “new order” have taken aim at the forgotten teachers in their ever-expanding quest to cut public school funding.

“…With the advent of the internet and digital resources in particular,
the flawed assumption surfaced that these positions are no longer necessary. “

….To be clear, budget and personnel cuts have hurt the profession across the board. However, professionals in these areas bear greater risk, given widespread misperceptions about the essential services they provide that remain vital to public schools. …
Another equally hard hit position is that of the school librarian. Fifty years ago, it was inconceivable to imagine schools without appropriate library resources and the personnel to staff them. The disparity in library facilities, for instance, helped civil rights attorneys demonstrate the inherent inequality in segregated schools. With the advent of the internet and digital resources in particular, the flawed assumption surfaced that these positions are no longer necessary. Librarians remain important conduits for student support in ways that many might be surprised to learn. Contrary to popular perception, librarians do more than curate collections of dusty books; they teach critical research skills and often serve as the first destination for young people on the road to quality research.(Williams, Huffingtonpost) 

Article…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohuru-williams/sense-and-sensibility-why_b_6409076.html



_____________________

Story Time. Image. Vintage Librarians. Christchurch City Libraries. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/christchurchcitylibraries/sets/&nbsp;72157633383010966/>.

Williams, Yohuru. “Sense and Sensibility: Why Librarians Remain Essential to Our Schools.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2 Jan. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohuru-williams/sense-and-sensibility-why_b_6409076.html&gt;.

Leave a comment

Filed under criticism, Editorial, School Library, Teacher Professional

Texts that talk to each other, and get us talking

LiterateOWL:

Some powerful strategies with many cross-curricular applications THX

Originally posted on Messy Professional:

 Notes for presentation at the October 2014, BCTELA conference, Cultivating Passionate Learners

Why I organize my teaching around essential questions:

McTighe and Wiggins (Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. Alexandria: ASCD, 2013, p. 17) outline several reasons why essential questions are so powerful. They:

  • Signal that inquiry is a key goal of education.
  • Make it more likely that the unit will be intellectually engaging
  • Help to clarify and prioritize standards for teachers.
  • Provide transparency for students.
  • Encourage and model metacognition for students.
  • Provide opportunities for intra and interdisciplinary connections.
  • Support meaningful differentiation.


Below, I have outlined some of the questions and texts I have used in my classes.

Some principles in these units:

  • I like threes. I think it is important to have more than two texts to consider.
  • In each of the following examples, these are anchor texts. That is to say, we take them in…

View original 644 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Events

Tackling the Cognitive Capacity Cap in College…

Tackling the Cognitive Capacity Cap in College Readiness – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1597-tackling-the-cognitive-capacity-cap-in-college-readiness?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Most students are ill equipped for college and most pre-college education in its current state is unlikely to change that. This may seem harsh, but I’ll go even further. Students can demonstrate the knowledge and skills embodied in state standards (common core reading, writing and arithmetic), and still be grossly underprepared for college. (The fact that so many students aren’t even meeting those academic standards is, of course, even more concerning.)
What is missing? Any recent report on college readiness will tell you (Conley, 2007). Skills like inference, analysis of data, interpretation of findings, developing hypotheses, defining alternative explanations, comparing and contrasting, developing cross-disciplinary insights, and providing relevant evidence for an argument are essential for post-secondary success. These skills are all about how complexly and deeply students can process, associate and evaluate information. It is about their skill in attaching meaning and weaving new knowledge into existing networks of understanding. As many have, we might reasonably call these thinking skills.(Stark)

IMG_9685

_________________

Stark, Roger. “Tackling Cognitive Capacity.” Tackling the Cognitive Capacity Cap in College Readiness – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. P21.org, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. .

1 Comment

Filed under Editorial, Personal Learning Network, Reading, Teacher Professional

Freedom to Read is our mantra

http://www.freedomtoread.ca
We are celebrating our freedom- how about you? KSS OWLS – “we got spirit, how about you? ” #owlproud Who’s house? Owls house!
In contrast to our cart of banned books, not only to we lend a broad collection of books to teens, we give books away- free! Share the joy Canada. Visit your library now to celebrate choice and access.

Celebrate Freedom to Read Week
February 22-28, 2015
Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Freedomtoread.ca)

IMG_3377

__________
“Champions of Free Expression.” Freedom to Read. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. .

2 Comments

Filed under Censorship, Library Events, Library Update, Reading

The Learning Commons Mindset

Originally posted on :

Students at West Bay Elementary School Students at West Bay Elementary School

I walk into almost all of our schools in West Vancouver and very often the first thing people want to show me or talk to me about is the changes happening around the library.  Or more specifically, schools are taking great pride in their learning commons spaces that are developing.  While the physical spaces are exciting, the changes to our mindsets are far more powerful.  We are not destined for new schools in West Vancouver anytime soon but the rethink of the library has been both a symbolic and concrete shift in how we think about space and how we think about learning.  The school library – a centre piece in schools – is now the modern hub for learning.

I like the library metaphor from Joan Frye Williams (shared in this blog from Joyce Valenza):

Our libraries should transition to places to do stuff, not simply…

View original 561 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Events

The BIG Secret Is Revealed! by Lynn Mangold Newmyer

Originally posted on Nerdy Book Club:

Reaching milestones causes a person to stop and reflect. This year is an important milestone year in my career as a reading interventionist and instructional coach. I have held that positon for twenty years and I am entering my (drum roll, please) fortieth year in education. Yes, that is a grand total of forty years including many years as a class room teacher and a special education teacher consultant.

Upon hearing this, people start asking questions. The first one is usually how have you had the persistence to stick with such a challenging job for so long? And the next one is always how have you managed to be successful with so many students who are really struggling?

What is the secret? You should ALWAYS start with a great story! The story can be a fictional work or informational text, but it IS always about the story that will capture…

View original 686 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Library Events

Serving up a Learning Commons recipe …

A blog post by Chris Kennedy of West Vancouver, recently inspired me to add my own spices to what is cooking in the learning commons kitchen. I couldn’t agree more when he writes, “While the physical spaces are exciting, the changes to our mindsets are far more powerful. “( Kennedy)

As an experienced teacher-librarian and kitchen hacker, I believe that an exemplary school library is a dynamic learning process not just a nice space. A learning commons model is more than a new space that people congregate in but a cultural, social hub of learning. My librarian mentors knew this for years-some time before David Loetscher or Watters started promoting it. (Loetscher ) The collective wisdom of teacher-librarians has been cooking up innovation in schools for years. (Kuhn) It’s refreshing nevertheless to see revitalization of school library programs and perhaps this will ebb the tide of reductions or library closures. Libraries aren’t simply replaced by the mechanics of web2.0 but rather the new capacity can teach us how librarianship supports learning.

Wikipedia entry defines a LC …

Learning commons, also known as scholars’ commons, information commons or digital commons, are educational spaces, similar to libraries and classrooms that share space for information technology, remote or online education, tutoring, collaboration, content creation, meetings and reading or study. or study.( Wikipedia)

Like a great classroom, it should be an experience as much as a room.  Like cooking a five star meal, it takes more than a set of instructions. A school learning commons needs a team of chefs, great ingredients, effective execution and a creative spirit. Like a great restaurant, a learning commons needs a welcoming environment, great service and a comprehensive menu that prides itself on the experience of building a culture of scholarship.

The school’s hub of learning also needs to cater to diverse demographics.  It needs to be well prepared for the multiple needs that demand support. A school library cannot transition into a learning commons(LC) model overnight.  A LC can be a very exciting and powerful ‘learning’ asset because a progressive program addresses diverse student opportunities that nurture school goals and promote achievement.

Student achievement is a complex matter. If it was easy, we all could do it. A simple recipe for education innovation is seldom effective or enduring.  The new ‘learning commons’ if not built organically will also be doomed and a 2015 footnote. A successful school library is a cultural reality not simply a physical space regardless of how modern it may appear.  It takes experience, expertise and vision by many educators to develop a program that serves the needs of each unique school.

As a teacher-librarian in a large senior high school, our library program has demands and patrons quite different than a small middle school. It tales a team of people to assess, design and implement a sustainable service. An effective library program needs to evolve not revolutionize. Innovation can take time.

When I reflect on our successes and failures, it was planning and people that was the driver. It is my opinion that a library program that effectively serves its clientele is a dynamic social experience not just a physical asset. .  When learners/patrons are engaged with quality resources and services there are substantial costs. The physical space needs attributes that allow the community to thrive. Resources need to be acquired, updated and managed by trained personnel.  The teacher-librarian may be the chef but the entity needs many others to truly create delicacies.

A learning commons is the natural evolution of an exemplary school library program. A school cannot create a LC by simply borrowing a recipe. To build something meaningful from scratch is a major hurdle. A school with a tradition that recognized the diverse contributions of its library has the roots to grow.

The development a great ‘learning commons’ takes more than a nice presentation or directive. It takes a difficult execution of a plan that finds inspiration from the gifts of each school. An effective learning commons demands a school culture that always places learning and scholarship as a priority over appearances or expediency. It takes a culture of trust and collaboration. Teachers need to respect and value the library staff and students need to believe it benefits them collectively. It is not just a holding area. Not unlike a superior restaurant, a library needs a restauranteur, chefs, servers, etc all working effectively toward inspiration.

A beautiful restaurant that serves uninspiring food is a waste. Delivering great services and opportunities without a great space is almost impossible. Unlike the old ‘book truck’ , a modern library now needs to be more than just a great ‘eat street’ sandwich truck. Schools need a library that can provide a large nutritious and creative menu 24/7.

Much like a chef starts with quality ingredients , an inspiring menu and trained staff, a LC needs a great space, appropriate resources and a qualified teacher-librarian. Like superb waiters, that deliver the best dining experience, an LC also needs library clerical expertise. ( my mother would say – tables don’t get cleared and dishes don’t get washed by themselves. ) The learning commons model demands even more social interaction, resource management and instructional design than the ‘library’ before it. Like good food, one cannot rush the preparation or cooking. It needs to be an institutional designed process not simply an experiment. Without these conditions the LC will not be sustainable. I believe this because I know teaching and learning is a complex social endeavour not just an exercise in handing out books.

With many misconceptions around the library’s transformation into a ‘learning commons’ the Kelowna Secondary School LC is derived from an excellent traditional of fine dining. The teacher-librarians, has worked with admin, teachers, and students to develop a culture of inquiry not just trendy fast food. We collectively desire a library that’s provides quality
main courses that match the school’s positive cuisine.

IMG_3147
We don’t remove books ( we buy more) and replace them with comfy chairs( we’ve had those for a decade) We remind ourselves that a common area that includes measurable student learning must also require some careful planning and slow cooking. One cannot just buy ingredients and throw them in small space and hope it tastes delicious!

Starter Recipe for Learning Commons:
1. Add a quest for knowing and finding meaning
2. Mix with spaces that provide a variety of activities
3. Frequent stirring by a teacher-librarian
3. Add scholarship to taste and
4. Cook well with heaps of love.
Yield: happy people that grow

Also Read: http://cultureofyes.ca/2015/02/12/the-learning-commons-mindset/ “I like the library metaphor from Joan Frye Williams (shared in this blog from Joyce Valenza):

“Our libraries should transition to places to do stuff, not simply places to get stuff. The library will become a laboratory in which community members tinker, build, learn, and communicate. We need to stop being the grocery store or candy store and become the kitchen. We should emphasize hospitality, comfort, convenience and create work environments that invite exploration and creativity both virtually and physically.” ( Valenza)

-Al Smith

@kssreads

IMG_3061

IMG_3134

IMG_2576

IMG_2640

IMG_2644

IMG_3002

IMG_2751

IMG_3010

______________

Kennedy, Chris. “The Learning Commons Mindset.” The Culture of Yes. 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Kuhn, Nicola. ‘ Evidence Based Inquiry of the Role of teacher-librarians’, The Bookmark. BCTLA. Web. 2011.

Loertscher, D (2014). “Makers, Self-Directed Learners, and the Library Learning Commons”. Teacher Librarian 41 (5): 35–38.

Watters, Audrey (23 November 2011). “Libraries and Museums Become Hands-On Learning Labs”. KQED MindShift. Retrieved 1 August 2013.

2 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Library Events, Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, Reflective Learning, School Library, Teacher Professional