Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bridging Theory and Practice

Welcome to our School Library Media Specialist blog for L553 at Indiana University at Indianapolis. Over the next few months we'll be exploring a wide range of topics that will help preservice teacher librarians bridge the gap between theory and practice. Each posting will focus on different key issues and topics. A guest professional will be commenting on the topic and answering questions.

Even if you're not registered for this class, feel free to comment if you have ideas you feel might be relevant to the discussion.


  1. Hello to the volunteer bloggers that will be posting here this semester! My name is Emily Morris, and I'm looking forward to having discussions with you on library topics of interest to us all!

    Here's a few topics I've been thinking about recently...

    * Why some classroom teachers have very little respect for school librarians - "all they do is push buttons, right?"

    * How do school media specialists who are assigned to work in more than one building manage to have an effective program?

    * What is a recent program success that our volunteer bloggers can share for our encouragement?

    I will be looking forward to discussions with you all.

    Emily Morris

  2. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Larry Johnson

    Here is an example for posting a Blog comment anonymously. I first typed this message in the "Leave your comment window." Notice that I have added my name and email address to identify myself; you can put any information here that you want displayed publicly. When I have this message as I want it, I then clicked on the "Anonymous" button under "Choose and Identity." Next, I clicked on the light blue "Login and Publish" Bar.

    Or you can setup your own Blog account as Emily did; its free and you do not actually have to create your own Blog to do that.

  3. Good evening members of the L553 Blog. I am just checking in to make sure the plumbing is all working and I'll be ready to go on September 26.

    I don't want to steal Nancy's thunder, but I will say that respect is "earned" through action--one media specialist at a time.

    Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I received from a teacher on Friday. I hope this serves as an example of an encouraging success --

    "Coming to the Media Center today was an especially nice experience. When we left, I really felt that my students had books that they were interested in and were not intimidated by. We're getting there! I really appreciate your help in expanding that part of our library. I know you would do more if money were no object! On behalf of the kids, thank you."

    Warm fuzzies and a great reminder to focus on the important stuff.

    I look forward to our online interactions.

    John McDonald

  4. Hello...I am attempting a posting here as I am new to blogging, and am also saying hello and thank you to all of you who have volunteered your time to blog with us about various media specialist topics.

    Here are a few issues of interest to me:

    1. Do you work with fixed or flex scheduling in your schools? Flex scheduling is the preferred way, but can one run a successful library program under fixed scheduling if there is no alternative?

    2. Do any of you offer extended after school hours and/or summer hours? I have read articles that stress many advantages of such service offerings for students and their families, but I know this can involve security issues. Any experiences/thoughts?

    3. Do any of you have experience with wireless laptop labs in your schools? If so, how are they organized and how successful are they? I have read much in the literature lately about the benefits of teaching with laptops in the classroom vs. being tied to a specific "computer lab" when integrating technology into a lesson -but I know there can be security issues as well.

    Thank you again for sharing your expertise with us.

  5. Anonymous12:56 PM

    I am a media specialist that is on what I call a fixed/flex schedule. My fixed schedule is my students weekly book check out times. However, the teachers never leave their students with me. I then schedule special activities, lessons and projects as needed. These are the co-planned activities that teach the media skills and intergrate into curriculum. Students can also come to the media center to check out whenever they need a new book. No one has to wait until their set day. It can get hectic but it allows us to get books in students hands on a regular basis and then lets me teach in context.

    Elizabeth Winningham
    Avon Intermediate School West

  6. Anonymous9:21 AM

    Nancy McGriff

    To reply to Emily first of all...

    I concur with John, respect is earned and one way to earn respect is make sure other teachers know that you identify yourself as a teacher. I do "extra" things like grade parts of assignments, develop rubrics, etc. and I also grade student writing as part of our school improvement plan when we do full school writing prompts.

    At one time I worked in multiple buildings and I can tell you that "effective" is relative. You can be effective by working with the administrator and staff members to identify a vital role you can play when you are in a building part time. But I can also tell you that you will never have the type of program that is described in Information Power. You do what you can...

    A recent program success... I haven't yet accomplished this but I am working on having our jr. sr. high staff agree to require multiple sources and a bibliography for any "reports" that students are required to do. There are some people who don't bring students in to work on projects but require reports. I want to make sure that our students and staff see the value of using information, not just locating it, and attributing informaiton. I am in the process of training staff members to use NoodleTools and I am developing a generic rubric to aide in grading. I will grade bibliographies for anyone who asks.

    Nancy McGriff

  7. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Nancy McGriff

    1. I work in a K-12 media center and the schedule is somewhat hybrid. All elementary teachers bring their classes once a week for a scheduled checkout. Teachers stay with their classes. Occasionally I will do a down and dirty little instruction on OPAC etc. if requested or I see a need. Other than that my schedule is flex.

    Can you have a successful program on a fixed schedule, yes. Again, "successful" is relative. When the schedule is fixed and can't or won't be changed then you have to forge ahead. I would contact teachers and try to teach within their theme or reinforce skills that apply (there are many ELA, Science and Social Studies standards that involve information literacy).

    2. I currently offer extended hours in the AM, 6:30 and after school, 4:00 but no evening or weekend hours. We have talked about it but there is no funding. Another possiblity is flexing hours, I have 2 full time adult assistants, but we are hard pressed to get it all done now.

    3. I don't have a wireless lab, but I do have a wireless LCD projector and tablet laptop for instruction. We have 5 wireless OPAC stations set up in areas of the media center that don't have network drops. I love it! It is has been reliable and allowed flexibility.

  8. Nancy, Thank you for your comments back to me regarding flex/fixed scheudling, extended hours, and wireless opportunities in your environment.

    The middle school media center in which I work as an aide also offers a similar set up -- with regularly scheduled times for book selection either every week or every other week, and then more of a flex schedule when a class would like to come for research or instruction time. On either side of the libray is a computer lab and a classroom, both of which can be scheduled by teachers for their use or joint instruction with the school media specialist. All 5th and 6th graders are assigned a 9 week course called Research....this is where the SMS does her primary teaching....including Internet, databases, INSPIRE, online catalog, traditional sources, and citation. The 9 week course produces a research project, including a Works Cited page. Seventh and Eighth grade students receive similar "review" lessons as they work on research for speeches. The SMS gives assignments on the different topics taught, and grades them. The students do learn a lot about the research process, sources, and citation form...but I would like to see more collaboration as part of "regular" Language Arts, Social Studies. Science , etc. curriculum standards are met.

    The extended hours intrigues me, although I understand the funding issues....especially if there is a strong public library close by.

    I have been reading a lot of articles about wireless technology, and it seems to draw strong feelings..on both sides of the issue. Many speak very highly of wireless as providing flexibility and an opportunity for more seamless teaching between a lesson and technology....others see mainly nightmare issues involving security, maintenance, etc. It definitely seems to be an issue to receive attention in school media centers (and public libraries) for the future.

    Thank you again for your time and shared wisdom/experiences.


  9. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Susan Robinson
    Media Specialist
    Alexandria Middle School
    I have just started at a school which decided to cut the librarian position and then changed their mind at the last minute. We have a fixed schedule - middle school classes come once a week to check out books and 6th graders come twice a week. The prior librarian restricted acces. I opened it up so students can come for 1/2 hour before school - during lunch and individually whenever they want. However, now I find that students are in there ever minute of the day 8 hours a day even on the 2 days when I have no scheduled classes. I wanted to use those days to schedule meeting with teachers and work out collaborative projects. I do see circulation increasing over last years numbers, but I wonder what the best way is to have free access and still have time to meet and collaborate with teachers,develop the distance learning, and oh, and get lunch occasionally. I have no assistant.
    Any suggestions? Thanks.

  10. Anonymous4:53 AM

    Nancy McGriff

    Access is one of those hot button issues. I know that the ideal is always open and always full of students but without help that is not possible for you now. You could make 1 morning and 1 afternoon limited access, prearranged or with teacher only, and that would give you time to accomplish your other goals. It's hard to take something back once it is given, so think carefully.

    I think you also have to look at the activities that occur while students are in the LMC, are they doing homework, reading, hanging out, looking for books, etc. If you schedule a meeting with teachers and need to leave the room or can't supervise, you can ask students to leave and put a sign on the door stating a time you will be available.