Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter Holidays!

We here at the Mothership wish you all
a well-deserved long weekend,
as well as
bouquets and a here-to-stay Spring!

(free photo in the public domain from morguefile)

It's spring -- when the world is puddle-wonderful!
-- e. e. cummings

GiggleIT Project

In need of a little fun for your students between now and June? Have a look at the GiggleIT Project, and join educators from around the world working with children ages 10 to 14 who are searching for fun. Have your students meet Gigglecritter who loves to laugh and searches the world for tall and funny stories, gags and jokes, limericks and tales of the weird and wonderful.

Let's help make Vancouver the first funny young Canadians! To register your funny class, click here. And some of you may remember Australian TL Pat Carmichael, hard at work behind the scenes here, for her session about Sproosejoos and "just doing" collaboration during the 9-day conference in February!

World Digital Library

Also on the world scene is the anticipated launch of the World Digital Library on April 21, 2009. The project, co-sponsored by UNESCO and several national libraries, "will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research."

Writes California TL Tom Kaun (whose wonderful Bessie Chin Library at Redwood High in Larkspur, CA, I toured last summer), it looks as though there will be some cool tools -- translation, audio transcription, etc. -- of the documents in the database. We can all be looking forward to exploring what looks like a really rich resource for the international community.

Interesting Bookmarks, Libraries, and Bookstores

Thanks, Donna, from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, for this lovely link that, besides surely being the most comprehensize site ever on bookmarks, provides links to stunning photographs of the world's most interesting bookstores and libraries. Now that I have viewed these and found none in Italy, I will simply have to scout out Italy's most beautiful bookstores and libraries. Mercifully, one library in the photo gallery doesn't require a lot of travelling for us here in BC. And thankfully, these ventures to magnificent libraries are always part of the IASL Conference agenda. Anyone coming along to Padua (near Venice) this summer with me and Chris?

Bulk Buy = Digital Storytelling by Jason Ohler

Maryann is compiling a bulk buy for the Digital Storytelling book Dr Ohler introduced us to at Technology Day in February (see also blog entry, March 8). Did you get a copy of the order form sent out to Pro D chairs and administrators? I can fix that. Are there staff members in your school who attended and who wished they had picked up a copy of this book? Perhaps you need to see your Pro D chair about purchasing one for your school library's Professional collection? All orders, with COA numbers or cheques, are due to MK in MLST by April 29.

Meet Phil Bradley

From Jo Anne at Tech comes this recommendation: Feb 1 09 issue of Booklist identifies Phil Bradley's weblog "where librarians and the internet meet: internet searching, Web 2.0 resources, search engines and their development." The first sentence of the review reads:
"There are plenty of people blogging about technology, but Bradley, librarian and Internet consultant, reports on developments as they relate specifically to libraries." Notes Jo Anne, it looks fairly extensive and very useful.

On looking this week (April 7), I found that Bradley features a cool looking tool which, if you like words, you'll love playing around with. It's called Visuwords, ... a graphical dictionary. Type in your word and you're more likely than not to end up with a graphical creation. You can hover your mouse over each definition and click to re-search the dictionary. The coloured links indicate useful information about the word and its relationship to other words. It uses Princeton University’s WordNet, an opensource database built by University students and language researchers.

There simply cannot be enough ways to engage our students and selves with text, right? Thanks, Jo Anne. So now we can all follow Phil now as I am adding him to the Related Blogs (left hand sidebar here).

Social Networking Sites
How Much Access? Who Decides?

Schools and Online Social Networking by Dr. Nancy Willard, Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, as posted to Education World, provides some really helpful advice about approaching student use of social networking sites with educationally sound principles. You can also check out Nancy's Centre site.

Article Abstract: Most educators working with middle and high school students are aware of the explosive involvement of youth on social networking sites. Few are prepared to deal with it. Internet safety expert Nancy Willard discusses the risks and benefits of such sites and offers schools a comprehensive approach to addressing student Internet access. Included are advice for parents and teachers as well as online guidelines for students.

Wikipedia generation is lazy

Toronto Star Education Reporter Kristin Rushowy created quite a frenzy of comments in response to her article "Profs blast lazy first-year students" this week: TheStar, April 6, 2009. It's one thing for our high school students to avoid databases in favour of finding the "good enough" answers of Google (a technique called satisficing) as the only search tool of value and Wikipedia as a citable academic source. It's quite another to imagine our students heading off to do academic research not knowing how to find a book or even how to ask for help. Oh dear. Things, the article would suggest, are going downhill rapidly as students' skills are poorer now than three years ago.

What might be the causes of this decline? Do today's students' have a sense of entitlement, also called attitude issues? Are we seeing the effects of underresourcing in the public secondary school system? Is society inculcating leisure values and concurrently a poor work ethic? Have recent structural changes in Ontario's education system -- students are now coming a year earlier than before -- created this "blip," which would suggest the same is not true for other Canadian loci such as BC? Are we graduating students who lack critical thinking skills and the ability to work independently?

Interestingly, at a SLRCCC last Fall, we had asked our UBC and SFU academic librarians to survey those who work with our "undergraduates" in the university libraries. What, we asked, are the ten things our graduates need to know if they are to succeed with the demands of academe? The first drafts came in this week quite coincidentally as Toronto assessed its own dilemma. We are saving the answers for the Secondary TL May 28 pm Update at the UBC Ike Barber Learning Centre, formerly the Main Library and still that in part. Have you registered online for this event yet?

Assessment Webcasts are Now Archived

Should your teacher colleagues or administrators want to follow up (catch up?) with the Ministry of Education's Assessment for Learning Webcast series of three presented this year, they are now fully archived with print materials including handouts and powerpoint presentations for taking notes. While over two hours long, I think they are really worthwhile. Also archived in the same format are the six Informed Assessment Practices webcasts from the previous two years.

Virtual Bookmark

Looking for some professional reading this weekend? Have you checked out the Virtual Bookmark lately? Al Smith, TL extraordinaire from Kelowna, keeps us all up to date with news and features relevant to thinking educators who work in BC's school libraries today. Could be good for a quiet few moments over the holiday weekend.

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