Sunday, June 29, 2008

YA coffee Klatch

Okay I am officially author struck!!! Some people may go speechless over movie stars, I do over authors. This morning I attended breakfast with a number of authors whose books have won either the Printz, or another YALSA award. The way the event works is that attendees sit at a table, and there is one open seat for the author. Said author sits down and talks with each group for 5 minutes, and then a whistle blows, they move on and another author sits down. It's somewhat like speed dating! I was lucky enough to be in the seat next to the author and got to sit next to David Levithan, Terry Trueman, Dana Reinhardt, Megan Sayres, Cecil Castellucci, Geraldine McCaughrean, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Gary Schmidt! They were all great people, and by the way,easy to talk to.

Maximizing Your Impact:Classroom Collaboration for Teaching Information Literacy and reading Comprehension Skills

I attended a program given by Judi Moreillon, author of Collaborative Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension: Maximizing Your Impact, and Debra LaPlante Teacher Librarian.

The basic premise of the program was two fold, integrating reading comprehension skill building into the library, and building collaborative relationships with teachers. The first part of the program focused on building students' comprehension skills. Activiating and building Background Knowledge, Visualizing,Questioning, Making Predictions and Inferences, Determining the Main Idea, Using fix up options, and sythesizing. As a group activity we matched the comprehension strategies with the new AASL standards. Most of the material can be found in Judi's book.

The second part of the program showed various types of teaching collaborations. One book Judi models her practice on is Marzanno's Class Instruction that Works. In one example of team teaching, the librarian and teacher brought a class in to the library and the teacher read a story to the students while the librarian modeled questioning aloud, something they wanted the students to learn to do.

This program was valuable,and having the resources available for the future will certainly help.

Ethics in the Age of Web 2.0

AASL, ALSC & YALSA joint program on Intellectual freedom

Candace Morgan, ALA Committee of Professional Ethics, chair
Dr. Rebecca Butler, Northern Illinois University
Terry Young, West Jefferson HS, New Orleans
Cassandra Barnett, Fayetteville HS, Arkansas
Christine Sherman, Thompson MS, St. Charles, IL
Frances Jacobson Harris, University Laboratory HS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Andrew Medlar, YA Specialist, Chicago Public Library
Helen Adams, Online Instructor, Mansfield University
Nancy Kranich, Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Debbie Abilock, KQ editor, co-founder of NoodleTools

Helen Adams introduced all the speakers on the panel. After the first speaker Candace Morgan gave an overview, each panelist highlighted a different aspect of the ALA Code of Ethics, giving an in depth exploration of the topic, uncovering ethical dilemmas that I hadn't really considered previously. Debbie Abilock summed up the panelists' key points at the close of their presentations and moderated the question and answer period at the end.

This was a well-organized and prepared session that was extremely informative. Below are summaries of some of the panelists' key points. If handouts are posted on the ALA website, I will add the link here.

ALA’s Code of Ethics – Candace Morgan
• Doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. You have to decide based on reflection about the principles outlined in the Code

Personal convictions vs. professional duties – Dr. Rebecca Butler
• Everyone has ethical dilemmas
• Our ethics may not be the same as others
• Laws and ethics can collide
• As professionals, we need to be able to distinguish between our personal convictions and out professional duties and act accordingly
• What is best for you may not be what is best for others

Relationships with vendors and the potential for conflicts of interests – Terry Young
• Keep confidential information confidential
• Kickbacks are never acceptable
• Be a professional at all times
• Follow established procedures at all times

Resisting censorship and providing access to information – Cassandra Barnett
• Collection representing multiple viewpoints
• Materials selection policy
• Educate community about selection policy and reconsideration process
• Retain professionalism – speak only about issues – show respect for complainant
• Support system: ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, ACLU, community members, faculty, students

Labeling and leveling of collections – Christine Sherman
• Social change – increasingly conservation administration, sophisticated childrens/YA literature
• Labeling not always policing – sometime about improving access
• Restrictive labeling – odious practice provides rationale for purchasing worthwhile but edgy titles, way to protect books for more mature readers
• It is possible to uphold the Code and still meet the needs of students, improve access, and provide a wide range of materials

Ethics and Web 2.0 – Frances Jacobson Harris
• Evaluate Web 2.0 tools as new access tools
• Ethical obligation to
Provide some level of access
Actively teach responsible use
Dialogue about use of the tools
Use networks and tools ethically and responsibly with respect integrity of school/library and interests of students
Respect privacy of students use of online communication tools while maintaining regard for well-being

You go, Girl!

Part of the Auditorium Speaker Series included a presentation by Sally Ride, first female astronaut, and Tam O'Shaughnessy; it was aptly named You Go, Girl! Girls (and Boys) Can Make a Difference for Our Planet.

In elementary school most boys and girls enjoy science and are curious about the world around them. Unfortunately, the interest in science drops off between fifth and eighth grades; both girls and boys are lost, but girls are lost in greater numbers. The good news is that kids don't need to be converted to science. Instead, this interest needs to be sustained and nurtured, and we already know how to do this: kids need to be shown that science is creative, collaborative, and fun; kids need to know that there are all kinds of human/normal people who are scientists; and finally, kids need to know that science is all around us and relevent.

Sally and Tam feel that there should be a focus on climate change and on the earth's resources. Supplementary books for the school market and professional development for educators are two ways that can highlight these two areas and lead to positive changes. Sally and Tam are authors of a book entitled Mission Planet Earth that addresses some of the concerns that people have about our earth.

At the end of the session, we were left with a number of questions: What are people on the planet going to do about the changing climate of the earth? How can we rally others to help solve the problems? What role will science and technology have in the development of our future? The vitality of our planet depends on our ability to motivate and educate our students and to help them to make contributions that matter.

Advocating for All Libraries: Saving the Library Ecosystem

I attended this session, which was developed by ALA President-Elect Jim Rettig. Jim's two presidential initiatives will be outreach and inreach. Outreach involves the difficult task of getting people's attention, while inreach entails communicating and sharing with all libraries, whether school, public, academic, or special. Ideally, the libraries should all be part of a shared library ecosystem that will have strong, integrated programs. When this happens, the benefits will be far-reaching for patrons, libraries, and librarians.

The breakout sessions dealt with four topics:

Commonalities in Library Advocacy: Getting the Message Out
(Who are our audiences and how do we reach them?)

Creating Best Practices of Successful Collaborations
(How do we obtain and share information about what's happening around the country?)

Finding Solutions
(Identifying the obstacles and ways to overcome them)

Creating Connections that Stick: Shaping the 2008-2009 Year
(What can we do to affect change in the upcoming year?)

Jim Rettig will be utilizing the collected information and ideas to help carry-out his outreach and inreach initiatives during his upcoming term as ALA President.

The ultimate goal is to sustain and develop advocacy efforts on behalf of ALL libraries; the recently created ALA Advocacy Office will be another tool that can be used to help integrate diverse advocacy efforts throughout all divisions of ALA.

Greg Mortenson: Three Cups of Tea

My book group back home in Lunenburg is reading Three Cups of Tea, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the author and hear him retell in person the captivating story of what led him to build schools for girls in remote villages like Korphe, Pakistan and later to found the Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace.

Greg told his story, showing slides of the people and schools he has built in their villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan and introduced Julia Bergman, the librarian who helped him build libraries in his schools.

Bergman's cousin is Jennifer Wilson, the wife of the late Jean Hoerni, the eccentric millionaire who funded Greg's first school and later, the Central Asia Institute. She described the series of serendipitous events that brought her and Greg together. This is the description of their meeting from Three Cups of Tea:

"In October 1996, Bergman had been traveling in Pakistan with a group of friends who chartered a huge Russian MI-17 helicopter out of Skardu in hopes of getting a glimpse of K2. On the way back the pilot asked if they wanted to visit a typical village. They happened to land just below Korphe, and when local boys learned Bergman was American they took her hand and led her to see a curious new tourist attraction - a sturdy yellow school built by another American, which stood where none had ever been before, in a small village called Korphe.

'I looked at a sign in front of the school and saw that it had been donated by Jean Hoerni, my cousin Jennifer's husband,' Bergman says. 'Jennifer told me Jean had been trying to build a school somewhere in the Himalaya, but to land in the exact spot in a range that stretches thousands of miles felt like more than a coincidence. I'm not a religious person,' Bergman says, 'but I felt I'd been brought there for a reason and I couldn't stop crying.'

A few months later, at Hoerni's memorial service, Bergman introduced herself to Mortenson. 'I was there!' she said, wrapping the startled man she'd just met in a bruising hug. 'I saw the school!'

'You're the blonde in the helicopter,' Mortenson said, shaking his head in amazement. 'I heard a foreign woman had been in the village but I didn't believe it!'

'There's a message here. This is meant to be,' Julia Bergman said. 'I want to help. Is there anything I can do?'

'Well, I want to collect books and create a library for the Korphe School,' Mortenson said.

Bergman felt the same sense of predestination she'd encountered that day in Korphe. 'I'm a librarian,' she said."

The most moving part of Mortenson's talk came when he told us about the hate mail he received after 9/11 that almost caused him to abandon his efforts. Thankfully his wife reminded him that education overcomes hate and fear. "If you educate a boy, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate a community."

The Auditorium Speakers Series is always a huge draw at ALA conferences. Next I'm looking forward to hearing astronaut Sally Ride and her co-author Tam O'Shaughnessy speak about their book, Mission Planet Earth.

Saturday 6/28

I attended the AASL President's program, which you can read about in another post. I left a little early to allow time to get to the YALSA Margaret A. Edwards luncheon where an author, and his/her specific work, is honored for its popularity over a period of time. This year's recipient was Orson Scott Card for his books "Ender's Game" and "Ender's Shadow." I had never read his books, but since I'm a YALSA member and like meeting and learning about authors, I had bought a ticket to attend.

A free copy of "Ender's Game" was part of some of the freebies given out to all attendees, and I noticed it had been written in 1977. When Orson spoke, he declared that he couldn't believe he'd won for a Young Adult book because he'd never written a Young Adult book. He said his intended audience for the books was adults, and he had the main character be young so that the adults could reminisce back to their childhoods. His speech discussed his ensuing analysis of his writing and the reasons why it has been popular to Young Adult readers. He shared letters he'd gotten over the years from both adults, young readers and Young Adult readers telling him how the book had made them become a reader and how they read it over and over and over and over.

Afterwards, he signed some books before his scheduled book signing in the exhibit. When he signed my copy, I admitted that I had not read it but that he had inspired me to read it. He laughed and told me not to tell him if I didn't like it.

I spent some time in the exhibits, which is also described in another post. Besides mailing myself 2 boxes of ARC's and free hardcover and paperback books, I had a chance to chat with Laurie Halse Anderson when she signed a copy of "Twisted" for me. My friend and fellow REFORMA member and CAYASC chair Lucia Gonzalez , along with illustrator Lulu Delacre, signed her recently released children's book for me "The Storyteller's Candle." It is a bilingual book, and is the first children's book to be written about Pura Belpre, NYC's first Puerto Rican librarian. The Pura Belpre award is annually awarded by ALSC to an outstanding Latino/Latina writer. Lulu has recently released her first YA book, and slipped me a copy of it to review for YALSA, which I'll do when I return back home.

I also met Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody books, and had her sign a couple of her books for me. Everytime I meet an author, I photograph them and/or me with them. In my future library, these photos will be set up alongside the author's books to show the human aspect of a book.

I attended the Opening Session with Ron Reagan, political analysist and son of Ronald Reagan, speaking on the topic "What is going on in Washington?!" He discussed the upcoming election, as well as the pros and cons of each of the candidates, including jokes and tongue in cheek remarks throughout his presentation. His comments were in turn humorous, insightful, depressing and thought provoking.

Last on the agenda was a night at Disneyland. I logged over 22,000 steps on my pedometer and am exhausted. I am reminded of a speaker at the Institute who said that during the conference "sleep is overrated." She wasn't kidding!

Fabulous Films for Young Adults

YALSA has issued its 2008 winners! For those who are searching for just the right film to enrich content area subjects, we recommend the following independent films for you. These are middle school and high school level films and should definitely be previewed for language, violence, and sexual content, but the messages they impart are important in the lives of teens (without all the hype). Here is a synopsis of the films that were voted the best of DVDs and videos that came out in 2006-2007. The YALSA committee mentioned that some of these films were pricey and some were reasonably priced, but the high price often includes public performance rights. For more information about pricing/rental/booking fees, check the YALSA website at .

The Grace Lee Project
What's in a name? Korean filmmaker Grace Lee thought she knew. Growing up in the midwest, she knew that a) she was the only Grace Lee she knew, and b) she wasn't like anyone else in the community. It made her feel unique, original. When she went to college, she discovered that there were many other women who shared her name. Not only that, but people who knew any Grace Lee described the same qualities. It was almost as if all these women were smart, nice, and quiet. So who IS unique? Grace performed an exhaustive search for her "twins" through various methods, including a website that invited all other Grace Lees to respond. A fun film for information literacy and other social studies areas for both middle and high school.

Nightmare at School
This is a nine minute animation from the National Film Board of Canada all about the anxieties teens have about their first day of high school. It is a humorous thought-provoking piece about transitioning. It contains an homage to the Polar Express in that a train serves as the metaphor of the jouney about to begin. Dark corridors, mazes, mysterious people who disappear into mid-air all pervade the film and create the actor's nightmare feeling. The film is wordless, but filled with sounds and music that enhance the tension. School counselors at the middle school level would find this an invaluable tool for those entering high school in the fall.

This is one of the films that needs a cautionary note, but the character education component makes this a film that high schoolers should see. Produced as an animation production workshop at Los Angeles Juvenile Hall, it takes a look at kids behind bars. Their crimes are violent (all the episodes of Law and Order come to mind) but the significant point is that these children have been convicted as adults and are serving life sentences. Over 200,000 kids are serving time today for adult offenses and it is at the largest juvenile prison in the US. that we see these kids up close and very personal. It is harsh and stark and important information, especially for those children who feel that actions may not have consequences. The film does ask the standard questions: does the media plays a role in the proliferation of violent crime? Are we condemning a generation unnecessarily? It cites statistics that youth crime is down, but that the sentences are longer. Will the penal system create super predators? As an educator, I feel that the interviews that are painful to watch, and yet at the same time, I wished some of my students could see this so that I could discuss it with them. The statistics are staggering. This is an important film for both public and high school libraries. (Narrated by Mark Wahlberg.)

The Guarantee
A promiment nose on the face of a dancer has unusual problems. In this creative, personal narrative, reminiscent of Woody Allen, a ballet dancer tell his story about trying to be physically perfect at the request of his ballet teacher. You see, it's his nose. After a lifetime of name-calling, and verbal harrassment, he opts for plastic surgery in exchange for the guarantee to be admitted into a dance conservatory. How ironic that this school actually refers him to the “company plastic surgeon!” The narrator vivdly explains the whole procedure and the outcome with whimsy and irony. What teenager cannot relate to the price of outer beauty and the agonies of "not being perfect?" What is perfection ? Should we all strive for it? How does peer pressure push kids into action?

Eminent Domain
Use or misuse? This documentary examines the constitutional issue that makes business and homeowners shiver. An excellent demonstration of governmental power, the bias here is thwt eminent domain is an abuse – a man's home is his castle is the message. (The government takes your property even if you don't want to sell it.) The Fifth Amendment is scrutinized with examples that include the interstate highway system and Washington DC's urban renewal. How does this apply globally? What are the abuses that involve private industry? Some sources say it's a good tool, others say it is is abuse of power. What rights do citizens have in relation to their American Dream? How far can the interpretation of this Amendment go? How does it affect those who are poor? All these questions will stimulate classroom discussions.

It's Not About Sex
Oh, yes it is. This film is produced by teens for teens and cuts right to the chase. Attorneys don't mince words about the legalities of sexual crimes. They provide definitions about sexual predators and sexual violence. What are the causes of sexual violence? Prepare students ahead of time about the realistic vocabulary. Powerful statistics and personal interviews bring out the emotions involved with incest and child abuse. This documentary is highly recommended for high school sex education classes. No words are minced and the facts are astonishing. Is it psychological? Is it cultural? What makes people sexually violent? Again, we are asked to consider how media contributes to sexual violence? Where do we get the message of what it takes “to be a man/woman?' Advertisements? Song lyrics? There are examples of music that glorifies sexual assault. Public libraries might consider using this film as part of community service collaboration projects.

In Debt We Trust: Before the Bubble Bursts
This is a hard-hitting documentary about young adults being “strangled” by debt. “While some music and narrative is tongue-in-cheek ("hard to serve the master and mastercard”), there is no denying that young people are the next target for financial institutions. A minister whose church actually aids those who have had credit problems by asking for donations to pay their bills, states quite frankly, "A credit card is a loan – period." Can we live without credit cards? In a society that shops till it drops, are educators doing enough financial literacy? We are living in an economy that relies on consumerism to fuel itself, and very few students have a grasp of the concept of debt. This film attempts to explain that cutting back on spending is as important as cutting back on waste.

Fish Bowl
This is an interesting 28 minute film set in Hawaii 1975 in which a 12 year old girl explores her identity and the meaning of friendship. While it is rife with mild profanity, it is common to adolescents of the time. There are quite a few messages bout cliques, those who are "undesireable" in social circles. We've seen a lot of these messages before.

Again, thanks to the Alex Committee for all their hard work! The theme for 2009 is "Coming of Age Around the World." Please check the website to nominate your favorite film for next year's Alex Awards.