Sunday, October 23, 2011

podcast

My first podcast (ever) is a book review for The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown.  You can listen to a short introduction to the book, it's recent success and a spoiler-alert-free summary.  I would hope to get the listener interested in the book title and perhaps select it for their book club.  You can listen below:

https://sites.google.com/a/mail.usf.edu/hellender-whitelis6303/home

Friday, September 30, 2011

Library Thing- HS style...


I was introduced to Library Thing a few years ago, and while I don’t visit often, I love the idea of using this community “board” to write and read book reviews by students and staff.  Ithaca High School, in Ithaca, NY has a link on their media page to their school’s Library Thing page.  Once you pull up their school’s page, you can view a number of titles with information about the book, reviews from others, titles by the same author, and more.  It is student-driven, which I love; so the books that are read and admired by students make the cut.  There are tags on each page with words or phrases to describe/search for the title, as well as “similar” titles for students to choose from.  At the bottom of the title’s page, you can even read the Amazon review for further information.  Students have the option to rate books, comment and review; it seems very interactive.  One question/dislike I found was that there were only 27 titles posted, however a solution to that is a quick drop down list they have available for students to find books in a category, such as horror or comedy.  Overall, a great possibility for a school library web tool; I plan on recommending it to our media specialist on Monday!

Web 2.0

As a future school media specialist, I wanted to focus my research on Web 2.0 to target its use or purpose in our schools.  How does it fit into our curriculum and what are students allowed to access on school computers?  I have the privilege of working with high school students on a daily basis as a Language Arts teacher, but I was shocked to learn how little their generation knows about Web 2.0 tools and current research methods.  According to Carolyn Foote, a librarian at Westlake High School in Texas,  “only 14% write blogs, only 25 % have downloaded podcasts; about 25% have uploaded videos; and about 50% have tagged content.” (Foote, 2010).  With the changing environment of the business world and the expectations facing students in college, it is imperative that they receive instruction on Web 2.0 tools.  

How should these tools be used in the school setting?  Our job as school media specialists should be to equip students with the skills to research in this new era of online catalogs and student collaborated wikis.  First and foremost these tools are essential for the “communication and sharing of information.”  (Mandal, 2011).  More and more companies are using social networking tools to provide training or professional development opportunities.  News information is not just being reported by professionals anymore, but by the civilians first on the scene.  Students must be able to evaluate and interpret the most relevant information as well as the facts from fiction.  We must help “students to ask authentic questions, find the best sources, [and] winnow out unnecessary information.”  (Foote, 2010).

So what is standing in the way?  Well in some cases, the school board policies are getting in the way of such progress.  Schools across the country are “blocking access to collaborative tools, such as wikis, blogs, Flickr, Google Docs, and Del.icio.us.” (Rosenfeld, 2008).  While it is understandable to block access to sites such as Facebook or Twitter, students are missing out on educational opportunities with certain YouTube access and blogs.  The one drawback in opening access to these tools would be figuring out how to control access to inappropriate sites.  There is sure to be a strong backlash by parents without a plan to block unsuitable pages.  As I continue to discover new Web 2.0 tools and see the benefits they hold for students, I hope to be able to earn access to some of the tools for my future generations of students.  Without teaching students the proper way to use these tools, we are doing them a disservice.  

References

Foote, C. Empowering students for life; Research skills in the age of testing.  Multimedia & Internet@Schools.  17(2), 28-31. 

Rosenfeld, E. Blocking web 2.0 tools in schools: creating a new digital divide. Teacher Librarian. 35(3), 6.

Mandal, P. Blog and its role in library and information services.  Journal of Library and Information Technology. 31(3), 155-158.