School Library or Learning Commons: What’s in a Name?

-by Donna Alden, Teacher-Librarian What’s the difference between a school library and a school learning commons, and does the name make a difference? The Alberta School Library Association, which is informed by a larger Canadian and American field of school library studies, offers this: Traditional school libraries are seen as quiet places full of printed books, people reading and librarians ‘shushing’. A Learning Commons takes school libraries into the 21st century. Yes, we still have printed text, and there are still people reading, and there is still a librarian, however the Learning Commons has so much more! There is a … Continue reading School Library or Learning Commons: What’s in a Name?

E-Books or "Real" Books?

-by Donna Alden, Teacher Librarian It seems to me there is no one answer. For nonfiction, research activities, if given the choice, hands down I’ll choose an online search for information, as opposed to searching through books. Is that an exclusive choice? Do I always recommend that to students? No, and no. But as a preference, an online search for information just makes sense, for a number of reasons. However, when it comes to fiction, students are “voting with their feet”. Our students have had a number of projects this year in which fiction has been offered in digital format, … Continue reading E-Books or "Real" Books?

The Internet is NOT a Library

The Internet is truly not a library, and shouldn’t be confused as one. Ask most students what a library is, and they inevitably offer a reply with the words books, information, borrow, etc. included. If you truly understand a library, which in its essence must have at the very minimum, these words- information, evaluated, selected, categorized and organized for access– then the clarification becomes obvious. In Siva Vaidhyanathan’s 2010 publication The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry), he offers a very clear explanation of the mighty search engine (and everything else) we call “Google”. The Internet and the … Continue reading The Internet is NOT a Library

Books are so …."static".

By Donna Alden, Teacher Librarian “Books are so …static” noted one of my colleagues, with a general tone of dismissal. Indeed, books are “static”. Books have no hyperlinks to take you further into a topic, interactive options, cross references, or for that matter, advertisements, or any other attractions and distractions. Other than the attractions and distractions, online sources of information are often the best choice because they present various layerings of information-, i.e. true pictures of knowledge and information- complex and fluid, and often, revised for currency, not finite, not static. But is static always a problem? I think for … Continue reading Books are so …."static".

Identity Comes Alive With Issuu

By Ivy Waite When my teaching partner Jaime Groeller suggested that we culminate our study ofidentity with a poetry anthology I may have been a little skeptical. I had asked grade 9 students to create and analyze poetry in the past with mixed results, but loved the idea of trying to engage them in some creative writing. We forged ahead with the idea, inspired by Jaime’s own poetry anthologies from high school. We figured, if Jaime could create such amazing work with limited technology, what could our students do armed with their background knowledge and a healthy serving of creativity? … Continue reading Identity Comes Alive With Issuu

Libraries Can Be Open to All

This post is written by our Teacher/Librarian Donna Alden, in response to an article titled “The Unhappy Place: What libraries can do to welcome kids who struggle with print” written by Ira Socol and published at School Library Journal. Well Ira, I am glad to hear you persevered, despite the unfriendly and foreboding presence the libraries of your childhood presented! To provide some context: I am a qualified teacher-librarian working in a dynamic middle school in Alberta, Canada, and I’d like to respond to your article in School Library Journal called “The Unhappy Place…Libraries …Welcoming Kids Who Struggle with Print”. … Continue reading Libraries Can Be Open to All

CSS Library: "Little Blurts of Info"

Ian Brown just won the coveted Charles Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction, and before that, for this same book, the National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. During his acceptance speech, Mr. Brown was quoted in The Globe and Mail Feb. 09/10, A(2) referring to online reading as “little blurts of information”. Do we approach online research differently than print research? Technology does offer fast food information. Do we go deeper when needed? More importantly, do we structure our teaching and inquiry projects to lead students to search deeply, question sources and relevancy of information offered, or do these little blurts of … Continue reading CSS Library: "Little Blurts of Info"

CSS Library: Digital Immigrants teaching Natives

Donna Alden, Teacher-Librarian What assumptions do we as educators (digital immigrants) make, while planning for inquiry-based projects for students who are digital natives? As an educator, library professional and digital immigrant, what do I need to consider in a school with a one-to-one laptop project underway, with students who are indisputably digital natives? As a constructivist, I approach teaching as a “facilitator/scaffolder”. With Wiggins and McTigue’s ‘“understanding by design” format engrained in my thinking, I consider what students need to learn, and develop activities for students, working from what they know and understand, to what has been identified as needing … Continue reading CSS Library: Digital Immigrants teaching Natives

CSS Library: Changes So Far…

Donna Alden, Teacher-Librarian What changes in the school library program and collection have I already made in response to the 24/7-technology access our students have at this school? For sure, over the past two years, when planning learning activities with teachers, I’m putting much less emphasis into instructional strategies for accessing information in print resources, and more on introducing and providing opportunities for students develop knowledge and skills associated with online information sources, including online databases and Internet sites. What stays the same is that these learning activities remain embedded in project activities, and are not separate or isolated “library … Continue reading CSS Library: Changes So Far…

CSS Library – 1:1 Changes

Donna Alden, Teacher-Librarian What changes in the school library program and collection have I already made in response to the 24/7-technology access our students have at this school? Over the past two years, less emphasis is put on strategies for accessing information in print resources, and more has been placed on instruction and guidance in accessing online information sources, including online databases and Internet sites. The school library collection reflects changes in the way it is being developed. Many topics students include in research and inquiry projects are truly better researched online. Topics as diverse as Canadian politics and legislation, … Continue reading CSS Library – 1:1 Changes