Archive for August, 2009

Hooray for Cindy Dobrez – featured in the Grand Rapids Press!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Michigan school librarians are so lucky to have school librarian and book lover extraordinaire Cindy Dobrez among their midst.

Read this great profile of her in Sunday’s Grand Rapids News!

Study Break: Stop-Motion Animation with Post-It Notes!

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Our students love stop-motion animation, which we shoot with regular still cameras and edit in MovieMaker so we don’t need to buy specialized software.  (See my blog post with the instructions my student teacher Michelle and I created here.)

But stop-motion animation with Post-It notes? That was new to me.  Enjoy it here and here.

Alfie Kohn, Allison Zmuda, NEA, and Debbie Miller Ponder Learning Environments

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Writing castle, day before end of school, June 2009 

A few weeks ago, Cathy Jo Nelson posted a link to Alfie Kohn’s chart “What to Look For in a Classroom,” which was originally published in Educational Leadership in 1996 and revised in 1999. It’s something I’ve been thinking about as the clock ticks down to our day-after-Labor-Day first day of school.

Kohn identifies both “Signs” and “Possible Reasons to Worry” in the areas of:

  • Furniture
  • On the Walls
  • Students’ Faces
  • Sounds
  • Location of Teacher
  • Teacher’s Voice
  • Student’s Reaction to Visitor
  • Class Discussion
  • Stuff
  • Tasks
  • Around the School

It’s a timeless list.  It doesn’t articulate that specific technologies or tools be used, but it does encourage us to look for student-centered learning, engaged learners, and a social learning environment.

Kohn’s list also reminds me of Debbie Miller’s new book, Teaching With Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5.  She asks educators to look at their classrooms and think about whether someone walking into that space would be able to discern their values and beliefs. She points out that how educators arrange their rooms, what hangs on their walls, etc., broadcasts those beliefs and facilitates the kinds of student learning they strive for.

And both remind me of Allison Zmuda’s article, “What Does It Really Look LIke When Students Are Learning in the Library Media Center?” from School Library Media Activities Monthly, September 2008. Without referencing Kohn’s chart specifically, she points out that we must look beyond industriousness to the quality of learning. (You can access Zmuda’s and other former articles from SLMAM via ProQuest or EBSCOhost’s Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts.)

Even the National Education Association has gotten in on the act, posting photos of veteran teachers’ classrooms. What do these photos indicate about the learning that is happening? About the culture of the classroom?

What do you have in mind as you set up your school library for the year?

Photo taken just before the end of the year in our library’s writing castle.  Students have a few minutes of free exploration time during fixed schedule classes while I take care of book business.  Other children played with math manipulatives, used the computers, wrote on the white board easel, played with magnet manipulatives, read books, browsed magazines, or put on a puppet show.  Accidental literacy at work …