Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oracle and FaceSpace Explore Human Dimensions of Young Adult Use of Technology

Teacher-librarians are in a privileged position when it comes to teaching students about technology.  They have books to back them up.  As useful as they can be, it is neither technical manuals nor Dummies Guides to …  to which I am referring. I am talking about fiction that can safely transport students into worlds where they can see their peers interacting with technology to find solutions to their problems.  They can also see the pitfalls of using technology and draw their own conclusions about technology and, equally importantly, the varied motivations of people behind the technology.

Amongst my favorite books for inspiring students to ask questions about the uses and dangers of technology are Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008) and For the Win (2010).  These are great works of social criticism as well as young adult adventure stories revealing how technology can serve both forces of oppression and liberation.  Even reluctant readers will often find these stories so engaging that they will be reluctant to put them down.

However, some students may be intimidated by the length of these books.  For those students whose first criteria is the (small) number of pages in the book, Orca has two short novels that will give middle school students the opportunity to reflect on why they need to ask questions about the motivations of others when they use social media.  Similarly, they will realize the importance of giving careful consideration to the consequences of the careless use of computers.  
The first of the titles is Oracle (2012) by former middle school teacher Alex Van Tol.  In this novel a student creates an anonymous advice blog to manipulate a popular girl into paying attention to him.  His dishonesty backfires, but not in a way that reads as a condemnation of the use of social media.  The novel explores social relationships that most students in middle school and junior high will recognize; it then reveals the benefits of responsible behaviour, both on and off-line, without seeming like a sermon.

The second novel is FaceSpace (2013) by Victoria Times Colonist arts and entertainment columnist Adrian Chamberlain. In this novel, the protagonist has to navigate his way through the complications that enter his life when he invents a cool friend to impress others and gain followers on social media.  Although the title suggests that this is a novel about technology, the story demonstrates that it is human nature that makes technology interesting.

What I like about these novels as teaching tools is the fact that they provide a human context and place the use of technology in familiar surroundings.  In our school library learning commons we can supplement the information that our students can derive from our newspapers and magazines, databases and technical manuals with works of fiction that set information in a more approachable human context.  And then we can invite our students to use their critical thinking skills to compare the world portrayed by the author with their own world.  Isn’t it wonderful to hear when they think!  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TMC4 Invitation to Participate

Growing Impact of Leading Learning:
Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada

Co-teaching for Deeper Learning
Innovation for Learning
Building a Learning Community

Contribute a paper: 
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Registration for full conference experience includes TMC! Or register for TMC at great rates!

TMC4 Program Highlights:

Friday January 29, 2016 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • OSLA Spotlight Speaker Wendy Newman - Bridging the Gap Between Us and “Them”
  • Many Super Conference sessions to choose from all day and EXPO too!
  • Closing Speaker Wab Kinew - Writer, Journalist, Associate Vice President for Indigenous Relations, The University of Winnipeg
  • Closing Reception for Super Conference
  • Opening TMC Dinner at Joe Badali’s with keynote speaker David Cameron - Research Director, People for Education; and challenge activity led by Dr. David V. LoertscherProfessor, San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science

Saturday January 30, 2016 8:00 am – 3:30 pm
  •  Continental breakfast and boxed lunch
  •  Interactive symposium led by Dr David V. Loertscher and Carol Koechlin
  •  Focus speakers, Table Talks and papers by such learning leaders as Dr. Dianne Oberg, Monica Berra, Anita Brooks Kirkland, Diana Maliszewski, Alanna King, Deborah McCallum, Peggy Lunn, Judith Sykes and many more.

Special Extended Program from 3:30 - 5:00
  • Focused discussion and action planning on the future of school libraries in Canada in light of the proposed formation of a Federation of Library Associations to replace CLA led by Liz Kerr and Anita Brooks Kirkland
  • Self funded dinner to follow for those who can stay and keep on working.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Treasure Mountain Research Retreat #22

Last week, along with many other loyal organizers, I assisted Dr. David Loerstcher to organize and facilitate the last U.S. TreasureMountain. It was held in Columbus Ohio and hosted by the famous INFOhio group. This symposium has provided voice and leadership opportunities to hundreds of school librarians over the last 26 years. It was during the 2007 event in Reno Nevada that Liz Kerr, Sandi Zwaan and I made a pact to create a similar opportunity for Canadian school library professionals. The success of our own TMC over the past 8 years has long surpassed our hopes and dreams and we look forward to TMC4 just a few months away.  

The theme this year in Ohio was, Start a Revolution in the Learning Commons and sparked great papers and passionate speakers and table talks. We started with engaging participants as leaders of innovation in their schools and districts and kept building the spirit of disruptive change and innovation throughout the two days we had together.

Some key messages:
“Learning Commons is an ideal disruptive environment to breed innovation” David Loertscher
“It’s the attitude of the maker we are building not the makerspace.” Bill Derry
“Use your camera, use your camera.” Joyce Valenza on Engaging Tools for Evidence Based Practice
“We want our learning commons to be a breeding ground for intellectual discourse.” Ross Todd

Commitment to leading the learning commons revolution was sealed with a BIG THINK activity that truly demonstrated the collaborative genius of the room! This last TM event also paid tribute to David Loertscher and his work over the years to support and enrich school libraries everywhere. You will find some awesome tributes here on this collaborative presentation

Thank you David. 
Created by Ross Todd