Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blog Interaction with Catherine Trinkle – Thurs. Oct. 13 to Sat. Oct. 15, 2005

Catherine Trinkle is the media specialist at Hickory Elementary in Avon, IN.

Learn more about Catherine Trinkle at

You might start your e-conversation by asking Catherine about fixed versus flexible scheduling (she has worked in both environments), technology integration, or the basis of her opinion of AASL’s Information Literacy Standards. But feel free to bring up any issues that relate to the work of an elementary teacher librarian.


  1. Anonymous6:35 AM

    Hi Catherine!

    I am a teacher taking time off to attend grad school full time. The school where I taught 5th gd. was on a fixed schedule with the media center classes translating into a planning time for teachers. The media specialist averaged about 16 classes per week (with open book check out at separate times) and the rest of the schedule was free. This goes against the AASL's position on flexible vs. fixed scheduling... in your experience how can you make the most of a fixed schedule? I know that teachers will never be in favor of a program which eliminates their only planning period of the day. What steps would you take in a situation like this to move towards a flexible schedule?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!
    Elizabeth S.

  2. I believe that the best situation for a media specialist is one that is made up of both fixed and flexible scheduling situations. For example, every other Monday, 6th graders come to check out books or learn to research (whatever is determined by teacher and MS) as part of a fixed schedule but the media specialist has free time built into everyday that allows for completing inquiry projects with a teacher and a group of students. What do you think? And why are you so apposed to the AASL’s information literacy standards?

    Thanks for your time,

  3. Anonymous8:23 AM

    I read in your bio that you developed a jeopardy game dealing with the young hoosier awards can you supply us with any insight of the experience???

  4. Anonymous7:06 PM

    I would also be very interested in your opinion of fixed vs. flexible scheduling and why you aren't all that interested in teaching the IL standards. I'm surprised they didn't kick you out of the ALA!:-)

    Nell GLover

  5. Catherine,

    We recently had an opportunity to express our own views about flex/fixed scheduling. Part of our preparation to do that was to read your response to Doug Johnson's article about that issue a couple years ago. I am wondering if you still hold your supportive position about fixed scheduling today? Much of what you and Doug said regarding fixed sch. made sense to me, and it distrubs me that there is so little tolerance (flexibility?) from our own field on possible ways to successfully run a school media program. I would love to know your current thoughts on this issue.

    I also would love to know what you feel should be the emphasis of a school media program if you are not an advocate of teaching IL standards.

    Thank you --


  6. Hello Catherine,

    Many of the questions already offered up are interested in your views on fixed vs. flexible schedules, so I will veer into another relm.

    I'm interested in your learning about creating webquests and interegrated curriculum units. Do you look through the curriculum and decide what you think should be used, or do you open it up to the teachers in your building. I could see both ways working, but I wanted to know how you approach it.

    Elizabeth Kenyon

  7. Anonymous10:05 AM

    Hi Catherine.
    I am a librarian in a small town middle school, but I spent the past 4 years as the librarian of a k-12 school. Both places have fixed scheduling and I always felt like I shouldn't metion that I thought it was a good set up. I admit that being scheduled all day back to back leaves little time for collaboration. However, I feel that students need to come to library on a schedule or they won't read as much. Also seeing every teacher every week provides many opportunities to talk informally about collaboration opportunities. I personally think the ideal situation is what I had at my prior school - and at my current school. That is to have everyone scheduled into the library every week but also have enough time to do projects. I currently have scheduled classes 3 days a week and 2 days I have no classes scheduled. This allows me to work with teachers - and since I have 2 whole unscheduled days I can work with a class no matter what hour of the day it meets. I think what we need is a good enough librarian to student ratio that there is enough time to do collaboration. If you have a huge school and don't have scheduled library time so that you have time for collaboration you are just short changing some students so that others get more quality time. What they need is another librarian.I think we should consider some type of student to media specialist ratio rather than strictly advocating flexible scheduling. I also think this ratio should vary by grade level, more being needed in the elementary.
    Sue Robinson

  8. Anonymous3:17 PM


    I am a middle school media specialist and am interested in working more with the public library in my area. Do you currently work with a public library in your area? If so, what kinds of programs are you doing with them?

    Kelly Bordner

  9. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Hi, everyone! It is wonderful to read the comments about fixed scheduling. The ALA didn't kick me out; I quit my membership, though that is actually the opposite approach I usually believe in. I usually think that you have to join 'em and work on change from within; not criticize from the outside. But AASL isn't open to varying viewpoints at all, it seems to me. And my money is better spent on resources to help me to my job.

    Since I wrote to Doug Johnston, I have received many emails from media specialists out there who almost felt a little bit of the guilt lifted from their weary shoulders. They felt guilty for thinking that they weren't doing the best job they could because they weren't flexed. That is the guilt instilled by many in our profession on hard-working, talented professionals. One lady in California said she had stayed awake all night worrying because her new job was a flexed and she worried about how she was going to work with all the kids, get to know them, present great literature to them, and do the great job those in a fixed schedule do.

    What gets me is a recent article I read whereby the author described an excellent media program. One of the reasons was that teachers stayed with their classes. Me? I can't wait until the teacher leaves! I don't need them. I am a teacher, too. Don't we keep arguing that? Then why does the classroom teacher, in an elementary school when my lesson is a dynamic read aloud, need to stay? I don't want the teacher to sit there or do paperwork while I am doing my thing. And this is why I think AASL is misguided. One size does not fit all! In the lower elementary grades, where research isn't the name of the game and literature is, we need a fixed schedule. Students need to be exposed again and again to dynamic storytelling and read alouds and get to love, through repeated visits, the library and the librarian. Later on, when the curriculum includes research, then a fixed/flexed schedule is more appropriate. And, of course, at the secondary level, a flexed schedule is required. It is to ignore the demands of the curriculum to call out for an across-the-board flexed schedule.

    This leads me to why I don't teach the IL Standards. No body but us cares about them. I use the Indiana State Standards to plan my lessons. I kept the language arts standards open on my desk when I planned under a fixed schedule and now I keep a huge binder with the language arts, social studies, science, etc. standards open as I plan with teachers. IF YOU COVER THE INDIANA ACADEMIC STANDARDS, YOU WILL ALSO COVER THE AASL INFORMATION LITERACY STANDARDS. We don't need to emphasize them to already overburdened classroom teachers. Our job is to help them teach their curriculum! The AASL IL Standards don't do anything to promote us as equal parteners with teachers. They are so broad as to be ineffective. I was on the team to align the Indiana State Standards with the IL Standards. You could make almost any of the 9 IL Standards apply to almost any of the standards. Many times, 3-4 IL Standards applied to a State Standard and at the upper grades in language arts, science, and social studies, often times all 9 did. So what then? How does that help anyone? If you go to, you see the curricular areas listed with and without IL standards. No librarian/media specialist would go there to choose an IL Standard to teach and then match it somehow to the school curriculum. Instead, we help teachers teach the curriculum and the IL Standards are just covered. So they aren't useful. Knowing the Indiana State Standards is probably the #1 thing a new media specialist should commit him/herself to. Print them out and keep them by your desk. Highlight the ones you know you can do easily, whether fixed or flexed, in one color and in another color, highlight the ones you need to do by collaborating with the teaching staff.

    The best way to collaborate with teachers is to go to bridal showers and Friday socials at the local bar. You have to just be there eavesdropping all the time and talking about what you can do with and for the teacher. Eat lunch in the teacher's lounge. Read constantly and share, share, share. Make copies of articles and lesson plans. And have chocolate available in your office. I have a drawer by my desk and some teachers will just come in and open it and get their chocolate fix. And how convenient for me because I've got something to show them or talk about while they are getting in that drawer!

    I have made several webquests and games which you can find on my website. Go to: Click on Media Center, Teacher Page.

    I am presenting my games at AIME and have a website full of my games. It sounds more impressive than it is, but I was asked to present my Young Hoosier Jeopardy at AIME because I make one every year at post on the AIME listserv. I worried that I'd stand there in front of people at AIME and have just one little game so I made a website of my games and links to other helpful sites I have found and asked a SmartBoard sales rep to set up the board so I can use it and show how fun interactive games are. You can find the website on my PVL, which is my absolute favorite web thing these days. It is a Personal Virtual Library and basically I just made a website that is useful to just me, hence the Personal part of PVL. I use it all day. I put on those websites which I would be lost without. You can find it at: If you have time, please check out the games site and MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS. I want it to be useful for anyone who gives their time to attend my games session. I made .zip files so that the user can save and change the various powerpoint presentations. It works on my school and home computer, but I'd like to know if it works across the board or if software is needed to unzip the files.

    About public and school library collaboration. I go to my local public library a lot. The ILL librarian has been behind my participation in the YHBA selection committee 100% by getting every single book I need for ILL. She is great and she does it to support the school to library collaboration. I promote the library to our kids but have but have never really done anything collaboratively with the public library. I am worried about a recent email I got as an AIME board member about a recent proposal to merge the AIME convention with the ILF convention. I have NO IDEA if that is a good idea but I feel concerned because school librarians have a job which is very, very different than the job of public librarians. We are teachers first and our first duty is to the school.

    I apologize for sharing at the last possible second and would be happy to answer any questions tomorrow or throughout next week. My husband has been putting up a show at Civic Theater and as a result, I have been a kooky-"single" Mom this past week, but things are settling down now.

    I just reread this long email. One thing I would like to open up discussion on goes way back to paragraph one: what I spend my money on instead of AASL dues. I recently joined the International Reading Association and bought 4 books which I have carried with me, read, underlined, used, cited, and copied since June and have helped me tremendously this year. I always wondered why the real collaboration isn't with the reading specialists. Why don't more librarians belong to the IRA or their state reading associations?

    Take care, everyone! ~Catherine

  10. Catherine,

    I am currently working on adding 18 hours to my MLS to gain a certification as a Media Specialist, but I have already spent 13 years in children's work in a public library--which I loved very much. Deep in my heart is a great love of programming and instilling that early love of books, libraries and reading, which I want to somehow carry over into the school environment, which I love as well. Your comments give me hope that it is ok to feel that way, and not become overly bogged down in every standard into every curriculum with every teacher for every grade...I have been somewhat overwhelmed imagining how I would achieve that and administer a library and infuse technology and find time for literature and reading programs. Thank you for your honesty and fresh view. We all will have to find our way and work within the schedules and cultures of the school that hire us, but it is encouraging to know that success (and collaboration)can take a lot of forms.


  11. Anonymous6:20 AM

    Hi, Carrie ~ I did my internship with Dana Burton at the Bloomington library. I never even student taught or did any internship in a school library when I got my first job as a media specialist! I didn't know anything about automation, cateloguing, budgeting, etc., etc. but I knew children's literature and library programming. You will enjoy being in a school library; you are working now for something that you will love very soon. (But learn those Indiana Academic Standards! You will find that you can connect to them and thus collaborate and help those classroom teachers if you know those standards and combine them with your knowledge of kids and literature.)

  12. Catherine,

    I am curious as to your thoughts on teaching elementary students keyboarding skills. The school corporation I am working in has NO keyboarding program in place whatsoever until the 9th grade. Freshmen are required to take a computer applications class, but keyboarding is not a major part of the class. When are we to teach students keyboarding skills? It is VERY difficult for middle schoolers to type those dreaded reserach papers and even to create a powerpoint when they do not have the keyboarding skills. Any opinions?


  13. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Our school has computer as one of the special area classes. It is run by a wonderful computer instructor who is not a certified teacher. I guess the sooner kids are skilled computer users, the sooner they are able to take advantage of all that computers have to offer: PowerPoint, Kidspiration, research, games, chat, etc., etc. And it is not true, at all, that "the kids know more than adults do when it comes to computers," which I hear teachers and parents say all the time. Kids are terrible searchers, terrible computer researchers, and need instruction for using the OPAC successfully; we all know that is true! So to teach more later on, it is great if your school can teach keyboarding and basic computer skills at a younger age.

    Having said all that, I keep my own children away from my computer except to read Tumblebooks, which is listed on my PVL. As a parent, I agree with Jane Heeley, author of "Why Our Kids Don't Think and What We Can Do About It." In order to foster imaginative play and lots of interaction with others, we refused to get a computer until my web making demanded that I get one for home this past July. And they don't use it for anything except for stories when I need to make dinner. What a contradiction I am! But I feel as a parent that computers 'aint rocket science and they'll learn to use them pretty quickly and easily because they are just part of the world they will grow up in.

  14. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great but the comments bring more brainstorm ideas, thanks.

    - Johnson