Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sir Ken Robinson: More on Creativity

We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children. And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are, and seeing our children for the hope they are. Our task is to educate our whole being so they can face this future.
Sir Ken Robinson
October 2006, Edutopia magazine
A new video, from April 2008, posted at Edutopia. (16 min)

Are you meeting the creative needs of the students in your school? Are most of our schools?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Playing with Animoto!

I spent my lunchtime playing with Animoto yesterday, and this is what I came up with. Not final--I just threw a few pics from our Multicultural Club event last week in. This is a FANTASTIC tool! Very easy to use and results that WOW!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Library Cat Travels the World!

Meet our library mascot (or would that be mascat?). Ben was a Beanish-Type Baby in a former life, but now he lives in our library by the circ desk and all our students visit him once a week. This summer, several of our teachers will be taking Ben (or one of his litter-mates, purchased on Ebay in the last few days) with them on vacation. Ben will be visiting South Dakota, Central Texas, Upstate New York, Alaska, Victoria, British Columbia, Paris, Dublin, Kazakhstan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Hawaii and many more exciting places around the world! Traveling companions will be taking pictures of Ben in many culturally interesting places, near recognizable sights as well as in more hard-to-guess settings. Next year, students at our school will have a chance to guess where Ben traveled during his summer vacation! Hopefully this will spark some student (and teacher) interest in using our online databases for research. Google Earth, a newly discovered and well-loved tool in my building, will fit nicely into the activity too!

This project ties in with the project described in my previous post, in that for the second year, our library theme will be Travel the World...Read Good Books! This theme is shared by our wonderful counselor, and we plan all sorts of fun and hopefully meaningful activities for our K-5th graders next year to encourage an appreciation for diverse cultures around the world. Would that the district might let us collaborate in a meaningful way with actual people in other countries through wikis, collaborative projects, streaming video, etc. Change is steps...must keep reminding myself.
We may be able to get some epals set up or something of the sort, if we are lucky! That would be a step in the right direction! Exciting days for Ben!

Year End Craziness and One Big Success!

Over the years, my poor family has learned that in May, they should just leave me alone as much as possible and let me get through it all so we can go on to have summer! Last week, some colleagues and I were talking about end-of-year inventory time in the library, and it seems that I am the anomaly. Everyone else loves getting the library in order and the books all on the shelf and accounted for. Me? It makes me nervous as a cat and quite, quite irritable! Adding to the stress this year, our lovely daughter is graduating from high school, so the house has to get clean for family visits too! Yikes!

In the midst of graduating our only, getting ready for a trip to Europe and vile inventory, not to mention our book character parade on the last day of school (an old thorn in my side, long story), I also got tapped to help head up a school-wide multicultural appreciation club kickoff! I helped our wonderful counselor, who is ever diligent about keeping up lots of activities that promote tolerance and appreciation for diversity.

We had our premier event last week, and it was a great success. We had 3 sessions about various cultures--France, Mexico and Vietnam. Students rotated from one session to the next and learned a tiny bit about each culture. In one session they did a craft, in another they learned a dance, and in another they heard a folktale. Then we all had a snack from each of the cultures.

We set a limit on students to attend because we're just getting our feet under us--next year it will go wide. To our surprise, the limit was hit by 9am the morning after the permission slips went home! We had lovely participation from our Moms, many of whom speak little to no English. I think that is potentially the most powerful part of the program! We will be able to tap the knowledge & talents that these Moms have, and honor their cultures! We can get them into the school to have positive experiences, and then it might not be such an uncomfortable place for some of the families. Having lived in Germany myself, I know what it feels like to be the only person in a room that isn't understanding the language. I can really sympathize with our families that don't have much English--what a brave and wonderful thing it was for our Moms to be willing to be a part of the club. They did a lot of work preparing too! One pair of Moms made tamales of different types, one prepared a Powerpoint and made spring rolls, one made madeleines for the children to taste. I was just really so impressed and pleased with the afternoon. Tired and stressed...but pleased.

Next blog post: traveling the world with our library mascot!

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Wow! My second post today!
I'm just catching up with reading from my RSS aggregator, and I found another short article by Scott McLeod (for American Association of School Administrators ) that seems to fit into my current mindset regarding 21st century skills, NCLB and enabling creative kids in our schools!

In Blocking the Future, McLeod compellingly urges superintendents and other school policymakers to find a way to enable teachers and students to use 21st century technologies to create authentic learning environments in schools. He writes: district leaders have a critical choice to make: Will their schools pro-actively model and teach the safe and appropriate use of these digital tools or will they reactively block them out and leave students and families to fend for themselves? Unfortunately, many schools are choosing to do the latter. As a technology advocate, I can think of no better way to highlight organizational unimportance than to block out the tools that are transforming the rest of society. Schools whose default stance is to prohibit rather than enable might as well plant a sign in front of their buildings that says, “Irrelevant to children’s futures.” Note: I inserted boldface.
Strong words, but so true and so important. Thanks for eloquently saying what so many of us think, Dr. McLeod!

A Look at NCLB

At the suggestion of Dr. Teri Lesesne and Dr. Mary Ann Bell, two of my favorite professors from grad school, I read two articles--yet two more articles, I should say--that question the efficacy of mandates made by No Child Left Behind. Great food for thought as we ponder changes in our schools.

From Jordan Sonnenblick's
Killing Me Softly: No Child Left Behind

Our arts programs are gutted, our shop courses are gone, foreign languages are a distant memory. What’s left are double math classes; mandatory after-school drill sessions; the joyless, sweaty drudgery of summer school. Our kids come to us needing more of everything that is joyous about the life of the mind. They need nature walks, field trips, poetry, recess...What they’re getting is workbooks.
Study: Reading Program Doesn't Boost Comprehension
In this recent AP article, reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod visits the Department of Education's own study of NCLB's Reading First program--a study finding "no difference in comprehension scores between students who participated in Reading First and those who did not." Food for thought. These are two articles that are definitely worthy reading for school librarians and, in fact anyone with an interest in American public schools.

If we are truly making "data driven decisions" in schools today, what of these findings? It seems that we have encountered more problems than solutions with NCLB. What now?

Who among the legislators is listening and asking the real, tough, expensive questions? Can we afford to change course after the billions of dollars that have gone into NCLB changes in schools? I think of Daniel Pink's insistence that, to thrive in the 21st century global economy, the United States must find a way to encourage ingenuity, design, creativity in our workforce. These are exactly the qualities that we discourage in our students today with NCLB, in my opinion. Can we really afford not to change course? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think...