Author Archives: plemmonsa

Writing a Vision, Mission, and Beliefs for the Library: My Thoughts

For the past 3 years, I have told myself over and over that I need to rewrite the mission statement of the Barrow Media Center to be more representative of the kinds of learning that are taking place within and beyond our walls, but every time I sit down to work on it I get stuck.  One of the reasons I get stuck is that I keep re-reading the mission statement that is already in place and thinking that it sounds pretty good.  This year, I tried something different.  First, I gave myself permission to mess up.  Instead of sitting and worrying over getting the words just right the first time, I just gave it a go.  Second, I pushed the current mission statement aside so that it didn’t cloud my thinking.  Third, I set a goal to write a vision for the future, a mission of how to get there, and a set of beliefs that represented what our program is grounded in.  I also wanted to create a vision, mission, and beliefs that is grounded in the AASL standards for 21st century learning and the ISTE National Technology Standards…..and that is concise, exciting, and understandable. The last piece, understandable, was what proved to be a challenge.  I spent a lot of time reading the AASL standards and the ISTE NETS standards.  Then, I began to create a list of words and phrases that stood out.  Then, I grouped the phrases and words together by similarity.  It looked something like this:
Words to consider:
  • creativity; generate new ideas; create original works; innovation; publish; creative and artistic formats
  • interact, collaborate with peers, experts, or others; teamwork; personal or group expression
  • variety of media and formats
  • global awareness; consider diverse and global perspectives
  • solve problems; critical thinking; critical stance
  • inquire; display curiosity; plan and conduct research; locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information; multiple resources and formats; social networks and information tools to gather and share information
  • personal responsibility for lifelong learning; personal learning
  • leadership
  • digital citizenship; safe and ethical behaviors
  • demonstrate flexibility; adaptability; openness to new ideas; persisting in information searching despite challenges
  • reflect on learning
  • participate and collaborate in societal and intellectual networks
  • use information and technology ethically
  • demonstrate leadership and confidence
  • present formally and informally; multiple audiences; share new understandings
  • social responsibility
  • read, view, and listen for pleasure and growth; read widely and fluently
  • make connections to self, world, and other texts; respond to literature
  • participatory
  • transliteracy, transmedia

It wasn’t so much that I wanted to use every word and phrase that I wrote down as I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was grounded in the language of the standards.  Finally, I started writing.  This is what came out.

Vision:

The vision of the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is to be a learning commons flowing with innovation, collaboration, curiosity, adaptability, critical inquiry, and transliteracy.

Mission:

The mission of the David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is to offer cutting-edge instruction and programming that develops innovative leaders who create content that reaches a global audience.

Beliefs:

The David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center is grounded in the beliefs that:

  • Reading is a window to the world which can be experienced in a variety of formats for pleasure or growth.
  • Creating information and story is just as important as consuming information and story.
  • Access to information and story across multiple platforms is essential to learning.
  • Technology is a pathway to a global audience.
  • A collaborative of expertise is present in every environment.
  • Flexibility and adaptability are important both in physical space and learning opportunities.
  • Locating, organizing, analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, and ethically using information is a crucial piece of being a responsible, digital citizen.
  • Persisting through challenges strengthens understanding and confidence.
  • Reflection and self assessment promote excellence.

On January 12-14, 2012, I attended the School Reform Initiative Winter Meeting in Atlanta.  Educators from across the country attended and spent time together in professional learning communities using protocols to have important discussions and offer feedback around dilemmas, student work, and adult work in education.  I took my vision, mission, and beliefs (in progress) to that meeting.  My group consisted of educators from around Atlanta as well as an educator from Texas.  They were teachers, principals, instructional coaches, and data support specialists.  Using a Tuning Protocol, they looked at my draft and tried to tune the draft to my goal.  The biggest piece of feedback that I received was about the vision, mission, and beliefs being understandable.  It was suggested to change the language so that words such as “transliteracy” weren’t there.  I pushed back on this because I felt that even though some of the words are hard to define and might not be understood by every person reading the mission, they are crucial.  The question that prompted the most thought for me was, “Then, how are people going to understand this vision and mission?”  A suggestion was to have multiple ways of representing the vision, mission, and beliefs.  Maybe part would be text, part would be video, and part would be student work.  My wheels began to turn as I thought about how a vision, mission, and beliefs could really show transliteracy or transmedia in action.

That’s where I’m at right now.  I have this draft, which I’m still working on and getting feedback on from as many people as possible, and I’m thinking about how I can show our library and program’s vision, mission, and beliefs in action.

I’m going to continue to give myself permission to not worry about it being perfect, but instead to constantly morph and adapt to the kind of learning that is taking place and the kind of learning that we want to take place in our program.  I think having a vision, mission, and beliefs that truly represents the learning that takes place in libraries is important.  My hope is that it will also guide the design process as my school undergoes a major renovation next year.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to also think about your own vision, mission, and beliefs.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

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Capstone Press Fall 2011 Conference Sponsorship

Capstone announced the 5 winners of their Fall 2011 Conference Sponsorship promotion. Libraries with direct purchases of 1K+ were automatically entered into the promotion. Winners received paid registration for the 2012 GA Children’s Lit Conference in Athens GA. as well as one night stay and a group dinner at The Last Resort in downtown Athens.

 

Contact Jim Boon(jimboon@windstream.net) for details of the Spring 2012 promotions!

Celebrating Literacy in the Library and Inviting Participation

How do you invite a participatory culture in your library?  For me, this is a term that is an embedded part of my philosophy.  I strive to find ways for students to have multiple opportunities to connect, participate, collaborate, and create in the media center throughout the year.  All students don’t participate every time, which is fine, but my goal is to offer enough variety of experiences through collaborative lessons, resource promotions, and incentives/contests that every student has a chance to find a place to participate during the year.

After several impromptu conversations with parents and teachers recently, I’ve come to value the power of library sponsored literacy contests and reading promotions.  Teachers have mentioned that they love the “choice” that is a part of these contests and promotions because they see such a variety of students who participate.  Parents have commented to me that their child had no interest in writing poetry or essays until a contest came along.  Multiple parents have mentioned the motivating power of these contests.  My parapro and I have seen how the simple interactive component of stamping a box on a piece of paper can give direction in choosing new books outside of comfort zones and motivation to try something new.

What have I done this year?

  • In September/October, students had sheets where they were asked to read books from different categories of the library such as biographies, informational, graphic novel, fiction, etc.  Each time they read one of these books, they earned a stamp, and they stamped their papers themselves.  When they completed their sheets, they had their name displayed in the media center on our book fair decorations and had their name entered into a drawing for a book fair gift certificate.  Requirements for the sheets were different for each grade level.
  • In October, we partnered with a few other schools in the district and Avid Bookshop, a local independent bookstore, and held a Mysteries of Harris Burdick writing contest.  Students in every grade wrote stories based on the images of the book by Chris Van Allsburg.  We judged the final pieces at the school level to choose the best pieces and sent those on to Avid Bookshop for a local competition.  Avid recruited authors and other community members to select several finalists who were honored at a celebration at the bookshop.  One winner was chosen to enter a national competition.  All students who entered the contest received a certificate of participation.
  • In November, we celebrated National Picture Book Month.  Picture books were promoted all month long on our morning broadcast, and students kept a record of all of the picture books they read for the month, no matter where they came from or whether they were read to them or by themselves.  Depending on how many books students read they earned a bookmark, picture book month certificate, and their name in a drawing for free picture books.  We had about 180 students turn in sheets out of 500 students and over 3,500 picture books were logged during November.

What else is coming this year?

  • In January and February, we will sponsor a persuasive writing contest.  At the moment, we think this will be a spin-off of picture book month.  The picture book month site has several essays by authors about the importance of picture books that could serve as mentor texts for students.  I have already promoted this in collaborative meetings with teachers as a possible project I might work on with whole classes or groups of students.  Students will write pieces about the importance of picture books.
  • In March, we will hold another reading promotion leading up to our spring book fair where students earn stamps.
  • In April, our 2nd annual poetry contest will be held.  This was a huge success last year with over 150 entries from students.  Poems can be written in any form (rhyming, list poetry, free verse, acrostic, etc) and any platform (a napkin, hand written on paper, typed and printed, Animoto, Photo Story, etc).  This year we may partner with Avid Bookshop to extend the contest beyond our school.  The contest will culminate in our annual Poem in Your Pocket Day open mic cafe where all students share poetry into a microphone in the media center.  This event will be broadcast live on the web through Adobe Connect.

These contests and promotions are just one layer of the participatory culture of the Barrow Media Center, but they have come to be a piece that students, teachers, and families appreciate and expect.  These promotions and contests run simultaneously with the multiple collaborative lessons and projects that take place in the library and by no means replace other purposes of the library.  I will continue to evaluate their relevance to our program and always look to give even more students opportunities to connect and create in our library.  How are you celebrating literacy and inviting participation in your library?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

If you missed AASL 2011…there’s still time to learn and take action!

I just had the great fortune of traveling to Minneapolis to the attend the American Association of School Librarians National Conference.  I’ve made it a professional goal for myself to attend this conference that occurs every two years because it’s an opportunity to network with librarians from around the world.  The aspect of the conference that I love the most is that there are so many ways to get involved with the conference as a whole whether you are attending in person or learning from afar.

Georgia Librarians @AASL Minneapolis/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

As the conference comes to a close, it’s not too late for you to connect with the conversations that were started in Minneapolis.  In fact, I think it’s necessary that you find at least one avenue to not only connect with the conversations from Minneapolis, but also use them to take action within your own practice, your school culture, and the education community as a whole.  It’s not an excuse to say, “My school doesn’t have funding to travel to Minneapolis”.  From the comfort of your own home, you can learn, reflect, and contribute well after the close of the conference.

The main message that I took away from AASL is that we are in a time of opportunity and transition.  Now more than ever, we must all take on a leadership role not only within our schools, but also within the education community and beyond.  We must be innovative, creative, and daring listeners, teachers, and collaborators.  We must harness the resources that are available in the world and work with our students and teachers to use these evolving resources to both consume information and create new content.  We must be transparent about the work that we do and digitally document our practice to not only support one another as librarians, but also to send a message to the world about the importance of our role as teachers in our profession.

What might you do to connect to the conversations at AASL:

1.  Download the new ebook School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, and What’s Yet to Come? which was crowdsourced by more than 50 authors.  I started reading the book on my flight to Minneapolis, and every essay spoke to issues that I am currently wrestling with in my own practice and in my district.  I love how each essay is short and concise and that I don’t learn who the author is until after I finish reading the text.  This book can be a springboard for current and future conversations about libraries.  However, it should be more than a springboard for conversation; it should be an invitation to take action and move forward with the transforming nature of our work.  Here are just a few of the quotes that spoke to me.

School Libraries: What's now? What's next? What's yet to Come?

“New technologies do not create or fill some new need; they allow us all to express needs that have existed for generations.” ~Sara Kelley-Mudie

“The only constant is change.  More than anything else, perhaps, that change is exemplified in the future librarian herself: a highly skilled teacher who is an instructional chameleon.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“As what it means to educate the 21st-century learner evolves, school librarians have the opportunity to claim our place as instructional leaders in this new educational landscape.  Today’s students cannot afford to wait for the ‘future librarian’.” ~Jennifer LaGarde

“I am a storyteller, information curator, database expert, extended essay supervisor, book group coordinator, wiki specialist, transliteracy coach, interdisciplinary-information literacy collaborator, approaches-to-learning leader, guided inquiry mentor, curriculum team member, open-access advocate, one-to-one and mobile device promoter, reading champion, and accreditation team member.” ~Beth Guorley

“We cannot simply support the curriculum anymore.  We cannot wait for people to see our worth.  Yes, part of our job is to support the staff and students, but we can also teach them and improve student learning directly.” ~Heather Hersey

“There is a good chance that the school librarian or library media specialist, as one of the school’s technology leaders, has the most organic understanding of how content and technology are most effectively co-mingled to the benefit of the student and to best help the teacher.” ~Evan St. Lifer

“What we cannot afford is to let students forget to love to read.  What we cannot afford is a generation of people who forgot how to think, to imagine, to care.” ~Jesse Karp

“Libraries should not shrink as physical collections shrink; they should grow as opportunities for collaboration and cooperative learning grow.” ~Len Bryan

“As we look to the future of school libraries, I see us as a run-on sentence of sorts.  People outside librarianship are often so anxious to box us in, to define us.  They want to apply their grammar to the library – a place that is, at its heart, artful, authentic, and inquiring.” ~Elizabeth Friese

2.  Join the twitter conversation by search for the hashtag #aasl11 and reading through the extensive documentation and reflection of hundreds of people attending in person and from afar.  Contribute to the conversation by adding your own tweets and responding to tweets.  Be sure to tag your new tweets with #aasl11 as well.

3.  View the wealth of slidecasts, wikis, and videos from the Learning Commons.  Sessions on topics such as the bookstore model, play in the library, inviting participation in the library, the image of the school librarian, iPad apps, advocacy, reimagining libraries, and more can be found on the pages of this wiki.

Andy Plemmons presenting on participation in the library/photo source: theunquietlibrarian

4.  Register for the virtual conference.  For as low as $99 for AASL members, you can get access to the recordings of the opening and closing sessions as well as 8 concurrent sessions.  You’ll also have access to the handouts and slidecasts uploaded by presenters of other sessions.  Some of the archived sessions include Buffy Hamilton’s Libraries as Sponsors of Transliteracy, Doug Johson’s Cloud Computing, a panel on what kinds of books we need in K-12 libraries, and Dr. Violet Harada’s Assessment in the library.

5.  Join the conference Ning.  Get connected with people who attended the conference, continue conversations from before/during/after the conference, and view feeds of tweets and photos from the conference.

In one of the sessions I attended, a leader within ALA stated that she would like to see all librarians being transformative, transparent leaders within the next 3 years.  How will you get connected and take action?

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Storytelling App

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Disclaimer:  If you read this post earlier and couldn’t find the sock puppet app in the iTunes store, it is now back, so go to the iTunes store and get it while you can 🙂

Today as part of our storybook celebration, students who came to the media center had a chance to try out an app on our 10 iPads called Sock Puppets.  The sock puppet app allows students to choose up to 4 sock puppet characters, multiple props (some moveable, some not), and multiple interchangeable backgrounds.  Students use the selections to create a 30-second puppet show.  They simply press record and then begin moving the various objects and puppets around on the screen.  Each time a puppet is touched, the iPad places an arrow above that puppet’s head so that the students know which voice to record.  After 30 seconds or when the students press stop, the app scrubs up students’ voices to make them more sock puppet-like.

Today, students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades tried out this app.  Instead of taking them step by step through the process of making a puppet show, I simply said: “Go to the sock puppet app and use it to create a 30 second story.”  In a matter of minutes, students were figuring out how the app worked.  Of course there was lots of silliness, but in this time of exploration, students had permission to play and have fun without worries of being right or wrong.  Even though students were doing impromptu puppet shows, they created some very creative and humorous pieces.  I only wish that I had student access to Youtube so I could share some of them with you.  At the close of each session, we talked about how we might use this app in the future, and students were excited about the possibility of writing 30-second scripts that would make their puppet shows more cohesive.  I wonder if that same excitement would have existed if I had made the students start with writing scripts or watching me make a complete sock puppet show on the smart board before they had time to explore?

I think this free app has a lot of creative potential, and I’m glad that I was able to offer a space for students have time to play.

There are many examples of sock puppet videos on Youtube.  Here’s an example.

Andy Plemmons

School Librarian

David C. Barrow Elementary

Athens, GA

http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons