Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blog Interaction with Joyce Valenza - Mon. Oct 29 to Wed. Oct 31, 2007

Dr. Joyce Valenza from Springfield Township High School is a School Library Media Specialist who is a strong advocate of the 'Library 2.0' movement. The evolution of her Virtual Library resources reflects her philosophy. More recently she's moved toward learning spaces that incorporate learner participation and active involvement such as blogs and wikis.

Learn more about Joyce by exploring the information and resources found at http://eduscapes.com/sms/overview/valenza.html

You might begin a conversation with her about specific details related to her vision for today's teacher librarians or her ideas and insights for school libraries and technology.


  1. Hello Joyce!
    Thank-you so much for blogging with us! I reviewed your virtual school media center web page and loved it! How did you come up with this idea? How did you build this page?

  2. Hello again Joyce!
    I am so very impressed with all of the technology based tools that you incorporate in your program. I understand that you are also an advocate of the Librarian 2.0. Recently, I did an assignment on the "Digital Divide."
    How do you address the digital divide that may affect numerous students in the educational system? Do you offer any workshops, promotions, on building computer skills, using technology, etc.? Additionally, do you offer any resources for teachers, parents, and the community that may be technology illiterate?

    Thank-you so much!


  3. Hello Joyce,

    Your NeverEndingSearch blog is so interesting! Where do you get your ideas? I admit I'm a bit intimidated with the blogging process. I'm nervous I'll write something dumb or become redundant. Can you share any tips on how to get started?


  4. Hi everyone in S671! I am honored to be invited into your learning circle. I am a little zonked from the AASL hoopla. You can see my pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/78154370@N00/sets/72157602745834960/
    and my recent post here: http://schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1340000334.html
    This is the most exciting time ever to be a school librarian and I am discovering tools each day that make the job more fun for me and more relevant and engaging for learners. I will write more later, but to answer the first question from Michele, I worked out the original plan with a student around 10 years ago and I continue to have kids help me tweak it. My daughter Emily did the original and the current image map. Each year I have focus groups give me feedback relating to relevance, usefulness and usability. I listen to criticism and suggestions. I am currently working on including many 2.0 elements behind that image map. More from home!

  5. Thank-you so much for youranswer about your web page. It is one of the best I have seen to date. It makes you feel like you are right in the library!

  6. Anonymous2:17 PM


    I too am thoroughly impressed by your web page...it really sets the bar high and shows us what can be done. I don't feel that I am near that technologically-savvy to do that sort of thing!

    I have a question about your thought on flexible scheduling. Ever since reading about it this semester, I have been going back and forth about it. I teach in an elementary school, and would like to become an elementary media specialist, so I know we will be dealing with a different range of students, but I was wondering if you operate on a flexible schedule at your school? If so, how do you like it? What do you see as the pros to having a flexible schedule? Are there any cons? Sorry if that is too many questions!!

    Jill Schriner

  7. Anonymous4:10 PM

    As an extension of Jill's questions about the school media center, what changes to you see in the future for schools/media centers that continue to receive budget cuts, yet are required to build its technology program? In the school where I teach, funding seems to go to computers and a vast amount of technology equipment (not for the library), but the media center has to rely on an annual book fair for funds. Any tips on how our media center can continue to grow without the funding? It just doesn't seem to be a priority in our small school system.

  8. Anonymous4:11 PM

    Thanks for any input,
    Tami Stevenson

  9. Anonymous4:19 PM

    Hello Joyce,

    As others have commented your use of technology is very challenging.
    I find it neat how the online lessons at the Virtual Library are intermingled with traditional type topics- how to develop a thesis-- and newer topics-- evaluating blogs.

    In maintaining this '2.0 Library', how do you determine what to add?

    How long to keep an item or when an entry needs to be revised?

    Do you create most of these resources or is this collaborative? Along this has a teacher or contributor ever asked for something to be posted that you really did not want to select or post? how did you handle this?

    Is this part of the 2.0 image that could be or is "behind the image map" of the media center's web page?

    I know this is a lot of questions, but thank you for addressing mine and the classes questions.

    Alice M.

  10. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Hello Joyce! Thank you for being with us. I recently attended a conference on Librarian 2.0 and am very impressed with your school's media center website. What a fun and interactive way to get children and young adults to dive into your library. What tool did you use to create your page? Also, did you have any arguement from administration when you began using blogging and wikis in the library? Our administration district wide is against using these due to the nature of things that could be discussed and posted. Any suggestions for changing their minds? Thanks!
    Jill Fausnaugh

  11. Anonymous5:42 PM

    Hi Joyce,

    Thanks for your time!

    I was also very impressed by your school library website.

    I have a few questions regarding the time management of the website as the small websites that I have designed nearly drove me out college with the constant flaws in looks once posted and the missing and dead links.

    How long did it take to create the initial site?

    What kind of help did you have in creating the site?

    What kind of time is involved in keeping the pages, links, and information current?

    Do you currently have help in maintaining the site?

    Thanks again for your time with us.

    Heath Allen Dearing

  12. Hi Mandy,
    I think it takes some time to develop a voice. I had two blogs before I found that professional voice. School librarians do blog on their own, but perhaps, more importantly, they can help classroom teachers set up blogs that improve the learner's experience and make sense in the curriculum. We've had several successes. For instance, our seniors blog using this template as a starting point http://researchlogtemplate.edublogs.org/home
    Here are some of our Hamlet blogs: http://hamlet06.wikispaces.com/
    We have also moved all of our lit circles to blogs and conduct global studies discussions in blogspace as well.

  13. Dear Anonymous,
    Everything I do is collaborative or I don't do it. As for how do I decide what to keep and what to trash, I am so far behind in terms of weeding the site, that I sometimes gag when I discover those outmoded pages. I try to keep up, but I am nowhere near as efficient as I'd like to be.

  14. Hi Heath,
    The time varies. I work on stuff as the need arises. Everytime an old assignment comes up, I revise. I get students to help. When new stuff comes up, these days I create wikis to post lessons and resources. The time is so well worth it. These days we tweak, no need to reinvent. Everything is scalable and sharable.

  15. Hi Jill,
    What is the worst consequence of your best idea? We need to begin to point to examples of best practice to show administrators the value of these experiences. At Springfield, we have a letter explaining 2.0 to parents. We have many discussions regarding behavior online. Generally, students follow our guidelines, like they do in their traditional classes. The important thing is to argue for equity. My students are having media-rich, collaborative experiences. All students should. Librarians must fight for access to new tools for information and communication.

  16. Dear anonymous,
    Once you have some hardware, all of the new tools are free. We need to get the hardware.

  17. I thought I'd share this rant that kind of covers my philosophy related to change: http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/You+know+you%27re+a+21st+century+librarian+if+.+.+.
    as well as this chart that records changes as I see them:
    Go this wiki http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/21st+Century+Librarians and scroll down for the doc.

  18. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Thanks for your thought Joyce. I would love to see our school move to using blogs and wikis as a tool for students to become more "media-rich". Do you also participate in classroom real world experiences using web cams, distance ed, or a tandberg machine? That is one aspect of technology that I have recently become very interested in integrating into my curriculum.
    Jill Fausnaugh

  19. About Virtual Libraries. There are so many approaches! Check out this little tour: http://schoollibrarywebsites.wikispaces.com/
    My favorites? Northfield Mount Hermon and Newton North. (Click on Examples of Effective Practice)

  20. Alice,
    As for traditional lessons vs. lessons with tech, I think what we aim for is integration of those traditional skills into new ICT opportunities. For instance, if you look at some of our students research blogs, you'll see them working through and reflecting on the research process. The lit circle blogs are all about analysis. All our writing wikis are essentially about synthesis and collaboration.

  21. Hi Joyce -

    I've enjoyed looking through your site and reading your manifesto. I'm curious about the interaction between your technological innovations and the teaching staff. I'm assuming that, particularly at the beginning of this process, the technology reached further than many instructors' experiences. Do you find you have to spend time training individuals about using newer tools in order for them to be used and useful to the staff and students? How do you handle this?

  22. Hi Katie,
    We handle staff training in several ways on several fronts. Working with my colleague Ken, our new tech integrator, we take a full day with all the new teachers. This year's induction wiki is here: http://inductionworkshop.wikispaces.com/
    Many times I will create the frame for the teacher myself and completely lower the curve and have the teacher focus on content instruction. Next Tuesday, we are having an inservice where the teachers now using 2.0 apps are presenting their successes and those things they'd do differently next time around. We want to leadership and enthusiasm to come from other voices too. We want the testimony to come from voices like their own as well as theirs. I work very

  23. Hi Jill,
    In terms of the real-world, we've been playing with Internet2 and Skype through which we've brought in outside experts and authors and professors and musicians. Don't know much about Tandberg machines. The possibilities for connections are now only limited by our imaginations. Think of your curriculum and consider the classes, museums, people who would expand the learning. Then Skype them--with or without cams.

  24. Anonymous11:32 AM


    Thank you for the information. What a great way to encourage participation with teachers sharing their successes and their ideas for changes.

    It seems you have a system of get to it and get it done... So, you are not only generating involvement but are keeping your own practices moving forward.

    Again thank you for sharing,

    Alice M.

  25. Anonymous1:14 PM


    Your website is amazing. In fact I started exploring it and some of the links you have posted in this blog and before I knew it much of my day was gone. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I would really like your suggestions and tips on where to begin with a library webpage. What software would you suggest? Are there templates that will make this process faster and easier?

    My second question has to do with pathfinders. Pathfinders are something I really want to include on my page. How often do you check the links to make sure they are still active? Do you allow teachers and students to add links to the pathfinder or is this only done by you? When you are creating one how many links do you feel are the minimum to have for it to be usable?

    Thank you,
    Mitch Lawson

  26. Hi Mitch,
    My dissertation was a content analysis of library websites. The results were meant to guide practitioners in determining features they might include. I did a few blog posts on the subject, perhaps they might help.

  27. Anonymous5:02 PM

    Hi, Joyce.
    I enjoyed listening to the podcast you made in June at NECC. (I atttended NECC in Atlanta around 2000.) You are certainly an enthuastic speaker!
    As an older, experienced classroom teacher, I have a personal question. How do you manage to have a personal life with all of these computer activities? I saw in one of your blog responses that you have a daughter.
    I guess I do not understand when the students actually do all of this blogging, and when you or the teachers respond. Is any of it done during school hours, or does it take place mostly at night? When can teachers monitor this, and still have a normal life outside of their job?
    I think it would be difficult to get teachers to buy into this if it takes even more time than the extra hours teachers spend grading and planning as it is.
    Thanks, Bev M.

  28. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Hello Joyce:
    I agree with everyone! Your website and its links are very addicting! It is hard to find a good place to stop...
    I feel kind of silly asking this very basic question after seeing and reading what you and the teachers accomplish at your school, but I promised I'd work on this -
    Very few of the teachers I work with have class webpages yet, but some want an easy way to link the websites they want students to have access to. Rather than placing them on the desktop, couldn't we create a basic page (uniform within the school) with their name, email address and links they want and have that page as their homepage when the students open internet explorer or netscape. Or would it be easier to have the library page as the homepage with links to the class pages. We need to start someplace. Do you have any suggestions? (again, we are all just beginning!). By the way, we are k - 6 schools.
    Thank you for sharing so much with us already.
    Cindy Carpenter

  29. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Hi, again.
    Alice M. had a good list of questions that I am interested in hearing your answers to, and others have asked about you interesting web page. Who drew the art for it?

    What can we do about outsourcing? A teacher friend with a new masters degree in computers recently applied at another school system for computer tech and supervision position. However, that system chose to outsource the position to a non-educational firm. Often, techies do not understand what a teacher really needs, or deals with from day-to-day. Any thoughts?

    Thank you for the web sources you have listed, too. I plan to check some of these out.
    Bev M.

  30. Joyce,
    Hi there! Thank you so much for blogging with us. I have learned so much already.

    You mentioned in an earlier post that you use BLOGS for lit. circles. I have been using lit. circles with my 5th graders for a while now and I think they would really enjoy a new format, especially on the computer. How do the students go about participating in lit. circles through Blogging?


  31. Anonymous6:56 PM


    In regards to blogging, what grade would you feel comfortable introducing blogging? As young as kindergarten, or would you wait until students have had a little experience with computers and the internet.

    Also, in the school I teach at, there is an Amish family that does not allow their children to get on the internet. How would you suggest to accomodate these students while still teaching the same skills as the rest of the class?

    Thanks again for your time!

    Jill Schriner

  32. Hello Joyce,
    I actually saw your school website last spring--it was nominated for an 'award' in my information architecture class. I have even recommended it to others on a library blog.
    My question concerns wiki's/blogging and filtering. I know from other classes that many parts of the web are blocked by these filters. This often includes wiki's and blogs because they are 'social networking sites'. Do you have filters at your school? If so, how do you deal with accessing these site? Do you allow students to see all blogs? What do you filter?

  33. Hi Melissa,
    These are the new tools for information access and communication. It is our responsibility to ensure equitable access and to let learners know that there are powerful ways to use these tools to build knowledge. So we cannot accept "no" as an answer, especially when the folks who say "no" are not educators. We must begin to point to effective practice in the use of blogs and wikis and podcasts. Admins need to see how these tools can and might be used. We have a letter explaining 2.0 activities to parents.

    Change does not happen overnight, but librarians cannot sit still while the information landscape evolves.

  34. Hi Brooke,
    There are a number of lit circle blog models. (Here are some examples from last year: http://mrsmccaslin06.wikispaces.com/Literature_Circles) For fifth graders spend a good deal of time working on setting up categories. We use LearnerBlogs.org for student blogs.
    We've had a few questions about time. Our teachers like the trade-offs. Having the assessment made easier by having everything in one place and by being able to easily gather stuff by category, also by involving others (me included) in the assessment. The time is not really different. We've merely shifted the space. With me and the tech integrator, Ken, helping, our teachers are not attempting the new stuff alone.

  35. Hi Jill,
    I don't think I'd have young children blog, but a class blog might reinforce writing, analysis, and storytelling skills. The beauty of all of this is AUDIENCE. Take a look at Duck Diaries http://duckdiaries.edublogs.org/
    and the Trout Blog http://www.mcdsblogs.org/trout
    As for wikis, imagine a vocabulary wiktionary for a second grade class, using images and definitions developed by the class.

  36. Anonymous12:53 PM

    Thank you Joyce for the links and helpful information. As a new media specialist, it is hard to know where to start with creating websites and pathfinders that will benefit the teachers and students. One of my struggles is always to know how much control/responsibility to give to the students and how much I need to maintain myself.

    I have really enjoyed visiting your website. It is definitely something to aspire to. I have already shared the link with a few of my teachers and I hope that before long I will have a website that offers at least a few of the things that yours does.

    Thanks again for your advice!

    Mitch Lawson

  37. Sounds like a neat inservice. I took a look at the induction workshop. What a great set of resources. I imagine the teachers enjoy the opportunity to go back and solidify understanding. Do you ever have parents that do not want their child to participate in the online applications?

  38. Katie,
    It is strange that in the last two years not a single parent has objected to our 2.0 activities. We do have that letter explaining the value of these activities in learning. Perhaps "the shoe will drop" sometime soon, but we'll create alternative projects for those learners if that happens.

  39. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Thank you Joyce for all of your help!

    Jill Schriner

  40. Anonymous8:08 PM

    You've relayed such impressive information already- it's hard to know what to discuss!

    I have been facing a particular challeneg I'd like your insight on. Until about 1 week ago, my middle school library had no computers. As a new, enthusiastic MS with a supportive principal, I managed to get him to agree to purchase 4 computers.

    They are along a wallin the corner and the shelves we removed to make space held 1. videos that are rarely used, but we relocated, and 2. yearbooks which we relocated and consolidated.
    A teacher came to me soon after and complained that she hoped I wasn't "moving away from the library concept."
    Many teachers seem to think that the prescence of computers in the library is ridiculous because we have 1 computer lab. (nevermind that it is always full and booked!)

    My question is : How would you go about convincing these teachers that computers are an essential component of a modern school library? How do you convince the naysayers?

    Do you feel your efforts are well supported by staff and administration? I saw someone asked about the adminstration supporting blogging, but in general do you feel your initiatives are well received and, if yes, how did you introduce new or innovative ideas?

  41. Hi Lora,
    You are an information professional. The information landscape is largely (hugely) digitized. How could you possibly do a relevant job without technology? Do your teachers not want to prepare learners for a new information and communication landscape? Show them sample library websites and information fluency lessons. You may be an animal they've never seen before!

  42. S671--Thank you for welcoming me into your class. I enjoyed the conversation and I can feel your enthusiasm. You have chosen a wonderfully dynamic field of practice. Go out there and inspire your faculties and your learners with your talents!