Teacher Librarian 2.0

Learning About Web 2.0 for School Libraries

I believe in teacher librarians.

April 10, 2013 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

To listen to my recording of this post, click on the link below.

I believe in teacher librarians

I believe in teacher librarians. I am at the end of my career, having completed my degree in school librarianship post-retirement, so I have known plenty of tls. I am lucky to have had great role models in my time, but as a grandmother with two young boys soon to enter the school system, I find myself looking forward. What will Lucca and Cole find in their school libraries? Will there be someone there to feed their obsession for reading? Will someone help them navigate the new literacies so they learn, grow, and create online? Most important, will someone in their school libraries welcome, accept, and support them as they grow? Thinking about the tls I’ve met in this program, if their schools have professional teacher librarians, the answer to all these questions is yes. How do I know this? Because I know what teacher librarians do.

Teacher librarians provide high quality print and online curricular resources. I believe in Rhonda, who provides her high school students not only with the latest and greatest digital resources, but also with a vibrant print collection including hard-to-find novels by Canadian First Nations writers.

Teacher librarians build a collection and a space that encourages students to read and to learn. I believe in Lissa, who in one-half day of library time per week has transformed the dismal, discouraging library she inherited. Now she leads literacy in a warm and vibrant hub where her students and teachers love to read and work.

Teacher librarians develop events and programs that promote reading. I believe in Joanie, who decided her students needed graphic novels as part of their reading experiences. She planned with her principal, sought expert advice, bought judiciously, solicited input from students, promoted creatively, and invited a knowledgeable guest speaker to her school. She also thoughtfully introduced her teachers to graphic novels. The results? More excitement about reading, and a wider variety of choices for student learning.

Teacher librarians collaborate with teachers to integrate information literacy, inquiry, literature and technology into the curriculum. I believe in Amanda, who eagerly shares her knowledge of teaching reading and writing with her colleagues, and is continually improving her teaching.

I believe in Renae, who as the information literacy leader in her school collaborates with her teachers to implement inquiry-based, information processing projects with all students. Her grade 7 class researched the impact of a proposed mine on a local salmon spawning stream, and used Web 2.0 tools to create an interactive presentation so they could share their concerns at a public forum.

Teacher librarians serve on leadership teams to implement initiatives that improve student learning. I believe in Kelly, part of the literacy committee at her school, who gave copies of The Book Whisperer to all her language arts teachers, Now they are planning to implement free voluntary reading and book challenges in her school. I believe in Terri, who serves other teacher librarians as webmaster for the Alberta School Library Council.

Teacher librarians use instructional technology to teach, to support reading, to facilitate learning and content creation, and to build a virtual library. I believe in Shelly, who reads fan fiction with her students and encourages them in writing their own. She helps them see themselves as both writers and readers. She envisions doing action research on using new technologies with students, both as a way to build their learning, and as a way to advocate for technology funding.

I believe in Brenda, who welcomes a group of grade five boys to the library every day after school so they can chat with her about the books they are reading for her 40-book challenge or tell her a joke or debate which fast food fries are the best. With her colleague, Leslie, Brenda has 400 students recording what they read on their free voluntary reading web sites and discussing online what they read and recommend to others. One result is more student book requests in one year than in the previous eight combined.

Teacher librarians promote reading for pleasure and free voluntary reading in school. I believe in Heather, who fought to eliminate scheduled book exchanges in favor of flexibility. Circulation dramatically increased, formerly reluctant teachers see the value of student choice, and students can get books when they need them.

I believe in Jess, who builds relationships with her students by helping each of them find just the right book. She sees her reader’s advisory as time to get to know her students as they share their questions, their concerns, and their thoughts about the world in which they live.

I believe in Anne, who loves the power of story and the insight her students’ stories give her into their lives. Her goal is to ensure that her students trust themselves as readers capable of making their own reading choices.

Teacher librarians model lifelong learning and reading for pleasure. I believe in Deborah, the enabling adult and model expert reader. She shares with her students her love of literature and the idea that reading is fun. One of her great ideas is the book swap project that reinforces her effort to develop a school culture that celebrates reading and honours choice.

I believe in Melissa, who takes such joy in getting to know every student in her school and passing on her passion for reading. For her reading is a social activity, nurtured by a community of readers.

Teacher librarians involve parents in their children’s learning. I believe in Natasha, who sees parent education, involvement and collaboration in information literacy as a way to teach a whole community, not just its children.

I believe that professional teacher librarians are indispensable to our 21st century learners. I fervently hope that as my two grandsons grow, they are lucky enough to have a teacher librarian in their school. To all the wonderful teacher librarians I have met in the TL-DL program, I want you to know that I believe in you.

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Building a High School Library Program That Meets the Needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Students – Part 3

February 23, 2011 by · Comments Off · Uncategorized

PLEASE NOTE: For a much expanded and updated version of this information, please go to Becoming and Being: Reflections on Teacher-Librarianship, pages 192-205.

On September 22, 2010, eighteen-year-old Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.  His private encounter with a man in his dorm room had been secretly recorded and broadcast over the Internet by Clementi’s roommate, who boasted about this on his Facebook page.

Tyler’s death inspired an outpouring of shock and grief around the world, and led to the adoption of anti-bullying and safe environment legislation in two American states (Associated Press, 2010).  For many people saddened by this tragedy the spotlight shone on the homophobic bullying and harassment that cause so many youths to live in fear. Most high school teachers know that homophobia is rampant among teenagers.  We teacher-librarians pride ourselves on the fact that our libraries are safe havens that meet the needs of all our students, but would our GLBTQ students agree? If you aren’t sure, the professional and research literature provides many resources to help teacher-librarians make changes. We can better understand the challenges GLBTQ youth face every day at school, and learn about ways to improve our collections, our services, and our support for GLBTQ youth.  These resources can help us answer this question: How can a high school teacher-librarian ensure that the library is a student-centred safe haven that meets the needs of GLBTQ students? Understand the Challenges GLBTQ Youth Face at School and in the Library First we need to see the reality of GLBTQ teen life. Fear is a constant for many GLBTQ high school students.  A recent Canadian study (Taylor et al., 2010) commissioned by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust surveyed 1700 high school students and reported that 75% of GLBTQ students (87% of transgender students) felt unsafe in various areas at school (p. 3), even, for some, the school library (p. 24).  Over 25% of GLBTQ students had skipped school because they felt unsafe (p. 5).  Over 75% heard derogatory (homophobic) comments every day, and 60% (90% of transgender students) said they had been verbally harassed about their sexual orientation (p. 3). Many students (40 % of transgender; 25% of GLBTQ) had been physically harassed (p. 4). Where were the adults while all this was happening?  Sadly, 50% of transgender students (34.1% of GLBQ) reported that staff never intervened when homophobic comments were made (p. 4), and 40% did not feel that they could talk to a teacher (Taylor et al., 2010, p. 5). One participant said, “The teachers know it’s going on, but they rarely pipe up and protect me or others. i guess they figure it’s a lost cause. it takes a lot of energy to defend yourself all the time” (Taylor et al., 2010, p. 34). Other research suggests that these numbers may be conservative. A British Columbia survey of 18 high schools found that GLBTQ students were harassed 80% more than their heterosexual peers (Darwich, 2008, as cited in Haskell and Burtch, 2010). The 2009 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network survey of 7200 students across the United States reported higher percentages of GLBTQ students suffering various types of harassment: 85% were verbally harassed, 40% were physically harassed, and 52% were victims of cyber-bullying. It is shocking to note that 62% of students who were harassed did not report it to authorities, assuming that nothing would be done, or that the harassment would worsen, and 33% of students who did report harassment said that no action had been taken by their school (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, &  Bartkiewicz, 2010, p. 3). To what does all this fear lead? According to a study by the organization Advocates for Youth, one-third of gay/lesbian youth say they have attempted suicide at least once, about 30% have dropped out of school, and as many as 40% of homeless youth are gay (Advocates for Youth, 2002, as cited in Curry, 2005, p. 68). Surely school libraries, at least, are safe and welcoming? In addition to looking at overall school experiences, the professional and research literature abounds with accounts of GLBTQ youths’ experiences in the library. A fifteen year-old blogger recalls,

When I set out to find more LGBT titles, I turned to my school’s library. Honestly? It was pathetic. There was not one single LGBT novel. But oh, of course the librarian went out of her way to buy books about gangs, drugs, and teen pregnancy. When I asked her about that, she replied, “This is a school library. If you’re looking to read inappropriate titles, go to a bookstore.” Uhm, how in the hell is LGBT YA lit “inappropriate”? (Limited Shelf Life, 2010)

Students struggling to find GLBTQ resources in libraries report a number of common issues. These include not being able to find resources, not feeling safe to approach library staff for help, and feeling negatively judged by others (including staff) in libraries (Bridge, 2010; Curry, 2005; Hoheb, 1999; Linville, 2004). In addition, school Internet filters often block GLBTQ sites appropriate for teen use, including them with pornography and obscenity as banned sites (Greenblatt, 2003; Hobeb, 1999; Martin & Murdock, 2007; Schrader & Wells, 2007; Whelan, 2006). Given these findings, it is perhaps not surprising that when asked what school staff members they would approach for help with GLBTQ issues, students ranked only the principal and vice-principal less approachable than the school librarian (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, &  Bartkiewicz, 2010, p. 60).  Learn What Information LGBTQ Teens Need     A second strategy to help teacher-librarians improve programming is to examine what GLBTQ students need to know. Rauch (2010) states, “An important part of adolescence is the self-searching and identity-forming transition, when teens need to figure out who they are among their friends, family, and society as a whole” (p. 216). Unfortunately GLBTQ youth are often at a disadvantage during this crucial time as they generally do not have GLBTQ role models in their circle of family and friends, and may even be rejected by them (Behara & Maquet, 2006, p. 13). Alexander and Miselis (2007) point out that “Most GLBTQ teens have limited access to information, few positive role models, and tenuous social support systems, making identity formation extremely difficult” (p. 45). So what information is most useful to GLBTQ youth at this critical time in their lives? Behra and Maquet (2006) interviewed 21 GLBTQ individuals in depth to determine their information needs during the coming out process.  Using the participants’ experiences, as well as the findings of related research literature, Behra and Maquet first defined the coming out process as a series of phases. They identified the concerns experienced in each phase, the information youth needed, and then developed useful, practical interventions that librarians can use to support GLBTQ youth at each phase.

These teens needed information about issues such as how to behave around other GLBTQ people, information about where to find GLBTQ individuals and social groups, examples of positive GLBTQ role models, and reliable information sources about GLBTQ issues to share with family and friends (Behara & Maquet, 2006, p. 9).

Linville (2004), a young adult librarian, also surveyed GLBTQ teens to find out what they wanted from the library. The most popular choice was stories about real people, but teens also wanted coming out stories, information on community resources, equal rights for GLBTQ youth, and safe sex; novels, and books about what it means to be gay (p. 184). Linville says, “They [also] want to know that we know that gay people live in every neighborhood, not just in that gay neighborhood over there. And they want to know that we welcome queer people to the library” (p.186). Build a GLBTQ Collection Once teacher-librarians are familiar with students’ information needs, they can use this knowledge to develop their collections. Building a GLBTQ collection is of course very similar to building any collection.  Schrader and Wells offer this advice.  “Above all, build slowly, seek resources, find kindred spirits, form networks, strategize thoughtfully and know that you are not alone” ( 2007, p. 25).  Of course, there are issues specific to the collection. Locating resources Alexander & Miselis (2007) point out that the number of GLBTQ young adult resources available far exceeds actual library holdings (p. 43).  Unfortunately resources can be difficult to find as GLBTQ books represent only 1% of the market (Clyde and Lobban, 2001 as cited in Cook, 2004, p. 43).  Many books are not available from the usual wholesalers or jobbers as they are printed by small presses (Bridge, 2010; Cook, 2004; Gardner, 2006). Happily the professional and research literature (see Gardner, 2006; Martin & Murdock, 2007; Rauch, 2010; Rockefeller, 2009; Schrader & Wells, 2007; and Whelan, 2006) provides many suggestions for finding new titles.  Teacher-librarians can use the Young Adult Library Services Association and American Library Association web sites, the Lambda Awards and Stonewall Awards (GLBTQ themes), online bookstores, and online databases such as NoveList to find titles.  In addition, teacher-librarians can survey students, talk to their peers, and consult staff of local specialty book stores. They can also network with Gay Straight Alliance facilitators, as well as with PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and other GLBTQ groups Working with local and community groups has added benefits.  As Rauch points out, “If librarians invite GLBTQ groups into the library and encourage the involvement of the entire community, fear and hatred that exists for non-heterosexuals can be overcome” (2010, p. 218). In addition to resources already suggested, professional readers’ advisory and selection guides for GLBTQ literature are available to assist teacher-librarians in selecting resources appropriate to their libraries.  The Schrader and Wells (2007) guide already mentioned includes an extensive annotated bibliography, as does Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, And Questioning Teens: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians (Martin and Murdock, 2007).  In addition, The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 (Cart and Jenkins, 2006) provides a historical overview of the literature as well as extensive annotated lists.  Bosman and Bradford’s Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered literature: A genre guide (2008) provides a broader look at the literature by investigating its various genres, providing annotations (and readers’ advisories) for 1100 titles.  Understanding issues with reviews. Traditionally most teacher-librarians have relied on reviews in professional journals to guide their selection choices, but locating reviews of GLBTQ resources can be problematic.  Boon and Howard (2004) reported that titles with GLBTQ content received 41% fewer reviews than a control group of non-GLBTQ young adult fiction titles (p. 135).  Rockefeller (2009) points out that the major reviewing journals may not review books from small, independent presses (p. 289). Rothbauer and McKechnie (2000) discovered what might be considered biased reviews of GLBTQ literature.  In the reviews they read, “If a book was judged to provide some good life lessons it was always evaluated favourably despite any other perceived failings” (p. 13). Clarifying Cataloguing. Another issue in building a GLBTQ collection is cataloguing.  Because subject headings do not keep up with current culture, teacher-librarians are advised to catalogue and cross-reference these resources in user-friendly terms so as to be easily found by students.  While GLBTQ terms are constantly evolving, teens are more likely to use “gay” or “queer” than they are “homosexual” when searching the catalogue, so cataloguers should use current terminology (Bosman & Bradford, 2008; Cook, 2004; Johnson, 2010; McClary & Howard, 2007; Moss, 2008; Rothbauer, 2004; Rockefeller, 2009). Dealing with challenges. While dealing with challenges to collections is never pleasant, the best way to face one is to be prepared for it. Schrader and Wells (2007) and Martin and Murdock (2007) suggest that teacher-librarians start by developing clear guidelines for selecting library materials, including input from teachers, parents, students, administrators, and other staff.  Martin and Murdock  provide ideas for a red light, green light, yellow light, school zone strategy that allows librarians to ease their libraries gently and appropriately into using and promoting GLBTQ literature (2007, p. 125-135). A number of researchers suggest that teacher-librarians should prepare a collection development policy that defines their practice, as well as a challenge procedure that details each step in the process, and ensure all staff (including senior administration) are familiar with these (Rockefeller, 2009; Martin & Murdock, 2007; Schrader & Wells, 2007; Whelan, 2006). In their survey of librarians in 29 states, Alexander and Miselis found that “challenges to GLBTQ materials are unsuccessful when the library is prepared with a strong policy, good reviews to support the materials, and the support of knowledgeable administrators” (2007, p. 47). There is no question that developing a GLBTQ collection requires a great deal from a teacher-librarian. Brian Kenny, School Library Journal Editor-in-Chief, says, “It takes guts to create libraries that support the needs of all our students. It takes even more guts to support collections that may attract fierce opposition. But that just happens to be our job” (2006, p.11). Provide Library Services Appropriate for LGBTQ Teens Just what kind of library services do GLBTQ teens need? David Levithan, author of young adult gay fiction, editor, and a gay man himself, writes an impassioned article about the importance of supporting GLBTQ literature in libraries. In this excerpt he describes how librarians make a daily difference in teens’ lives.

I have met so many amazing librarians in the past few years, staunch and strong defenders of expression and representation. I can say without a single doubt that many young readers’ lives have been helped and saved by their librarians’ open-mindedness and courage. (I have the e-mails to prove it.) Many people consider librarians to be gatekeepers, usually in terms of keeping things out. I also think of librarians as gatekeepers in terms of the people they help through the gates. . . the amazing number of librarians who support and encourage their openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students as they strive to live their lives the way they want to live them (2004, p. 45).

What services and support are most helpful? Two resources that provide exceptionally detailed descriptions of programs and services are Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians (Martin & Murdock, 2007), and the Canadian resource, Challenging Silence, Challenging Censorship: Inclusive Resources, Strategies and Policy Directives for Addressing Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Trans-Identified and Two-Spirited Realities in School and Public Libraries (Schrader & Wells, 2007). Strategies suggested here and by other professional and research articles (see Gardes, 2008; Mehra & Braquet, 2006; and Whelan, 2006) include

  • Celebrating Gay Pride Week, Gay History Month, and GLSEN’s Day of Silence, an annual vow of silence to bring attention to harassment in schools;
  • Providing high-quality fiction materials that let GLBTQ students see themselves positively;
  • Putting bibliographies of GLBTQ literature on the library web site, and adding some of these titles to summer reading lists;
  • Helping create and support Gay-Straight Alliances and other student clubs that address GLBTQ issues; host them in the library;
  • Making GLBTQ materials accessible and visible; including them in booktalks, displays, and pathfinders;
  • Encouraging access to appropriate GLBTQ web sites and where possible eliminating Internet filters;
  • Posting Safe Place or similar notices to let everyone know the school library is a GLBTQ-friendly place and that all students will be treated respectfully;
  • Actively discouraging homophobic talk and providing services in a non-judgmental manner to youth seeking “queer” information;
  • Protecting the privacy and dignity of GLBTQ patrons;
  • Treating GLBTQ students as you would any other student;
  • Including GLBTQ materials in regular programming, remembering that straight students can enjoy this quality literature too;
  • Asking GLBTQ students what they like to read.

Committing to the Safe Haven Alvin Schrader (2007, p. 5) asks librarians, “ Do we as a public service profession – and as a society – believe that all young people should be safe and deserve dignity and respect at the library and at school?” Of course all educators will answer yes. But do we all ensure this respect for our GLBTQ students? Bridge observes,

The literature has proved that some librarians are very aware of the inequality of service provided to this user group and have been writing about the issue for more than thirty years. That the same issues are still being raised despite radical changes to equality laws in society confirms that LGBT teenagers remain an invisible minority (2010, p. 20).

For many people the death of Tyler Clementi made homophobia visible. When we understand the needs and experiences of our students, when we build diverse, rich, inclusive and accessible collections, when we provide services that reflect and support our students’ dignity and value, when we reclaim the safety of our spaces, then we truly do offer our GLBTQ students the safe havens they students need. We show them they are no longer invisible.

References

Alexander, L. B., & Miselis, S. D. (2007). Barriers to GLBTQ collection development and strategies for overcoming them. Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 43-49. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/yalsapubs/yals/youngadultlibrary.cfm Associated Press. (2010, December 6). Bergen Youth Orchestra to honor former member Tyler Clementi. NJ.com. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/‌news/‌index.ssf/‌2010/‌12/‌bergen_youth_orchestra_to_hono.html Boon, M, H., & Howard V. (2004). Recent lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender fiction for teens: Are Canadian public libraries providing adequate collections? Collection Building (23)3: 133-8. . Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=cb Bosman, E., Bradford, J. P. (2008). Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered literature: A genre guide (R. B. Ridinger, Ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/‌2160/‌5714 Cook, J. C. (2004). GLBTQ teen literature: Is it out there in Indiana? Indiana Libraries, 23(2), 25-28. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/handle/1805/112 Cart, M., & Jenkins, C. (2006). The heart has its reasons: Young adult literature with gay/lesbian/queer content, 1969-2004. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45(1), 65-75. Retrieved from http://www.rusq.org/ Gardes, T. (2008). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teens in your library media center. CSLA Journal, 32(1), 23-24. Retrieved from http://www.csla.net/pub/journal.htm Gardner, C. A. (2006). Welcoming our GLBT patrons. Virginia Libraries, 52(2), 45-50. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/VALib/ Greenblatt, E. (2003). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender library users: Overcoming the myths. Colorado Libraries, 29, 21-25. Haskell, R., & Burtch, B. E. (2010). Get that freak: Homophobia and transphobia in high schools. Winnipeg, Canada: Fernwood. Hoheb, M. L. (1999). Missing mirrors: Literacy experiences of adolescent lesbians. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (AAT 9952918) Johnson, M. (2010). Transgender subject access: History and current practice. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 48(8), 661-683. doi:10.1080/01639370903534398 Kenney, B. (2006). Do the right thing. School Library Journal, 52(1), 11. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Diaz, E. M., & Bartkiewicz, M. J. (2010). The 2009 national school climate survey. Retrieved from Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network website: http://www.glsen.org/‌binary-data/‌GLSEN_ATTACHMENTS/‌file/‌000/‌001/‌1675-5.PDF Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com Limited shelf life. (2010). School Library Journal, 56(7), 15-15. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com Linville, D. (2004). Beyond picket fences: What gay/queer/LGBTQ teens want from the library. Voice of Youth Advocates, 27(3), 183-186. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com/ Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman. McClary, C., & Howard, V. (2007). From “homosexuality” to “transvestites”: An analysis of subject headings assigned to works of GLBT fiction in Canadian public libraries. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 31(2), 149-162. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.com/cjils/cjils.html Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2006). A “queer” manifesto of interventions for libraries to “come out” of the closet! A study of “queer” youth experiences during the coming out process. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 16(1), 1-29. Retrieved from http://libres.curtin.edu.au/ Moss, E. (2008). An inductive evaluation of a public library GLBT collection. Collection Building, 27(4), 149-156. doi:10.1108/01604950810913715 Rauch, E. W. (2010). GLBTQ collections are for every library serving teens! Voice of Youth Advocates, 33(3), 216-218. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com Rockefeller, E. I. (2009). Selection, inclusion, evaluation and defense of transgender-inclusive fiction for young adults: A resource guide. Journal of LGBT Youth, 6(2), 288-309. doi:10.1080/19361650902962641 Rothbauer, P. (2004). The internet in the reading accounts of lesbian and queer young women: Failed searches and unsanctioned reading. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 28(4), 89-110. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.com/cjils/cjils.html    Rothbauer, P. M., & Lynne E.F. McKechnie. (2000). The treatment of gay and lesbian fiction for young adults in selected prominent reviewing media. Collection Building, 19(1), 5-16. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=cb   Schrader, A. M. (2007). “I thought I’d find myself at the library”: LGBTQ services & collections in public and school libraries. PNLA Quarterly, 72(1), 4-9. Retrieved from http://www.pnla.org/ Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2007). Challenging silence, challenging censorship: Inclusive resources, strategies and policy directives for addressing bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans-identified and two-spirited realities in s_wpnonce=bf8f1a15de

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Building a High School Library Program That Meets the Needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Students: Part 2 – Reseach Literature

February 10, 2011 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

PLEASE NOTE: For a much expanded and updated version of this information, please go to Becoming and Being: Reflections on Teacher-Librarianship, pages 192-205.

This is Part Two in a series of three posts on this topic. Part One looks at the professional literature; Part Three is a full literature review.

Research Question

How can a high school teacher-librarian ensure that the library is a student-centred safe haven that meets the needs of GLBTQ students?

Introduction

I am a 60 year old retired teacher-librarian, married, a mother of one and grandmother of one with another on the way. Everywhere I go I see myself reflected back. There are retired teachers’ association lunches, senior shopping discounts, loving (and stylish) grandmothers in television shows and movies. I can walk into any library and immediately find detective books about librarians who solve crimes, picture books for toddlers, and information about osteoporosis. I have spent my whole life going to the library, confident that supportive, knowledgeable, compassionate staff would help me find what I needed when I needed it.

Think for a moment about the GLBTQ youth in your school. What do they see when they look into society’s mirror? What do they see when they walk into your school library? Can they be confident they will get the support they need, and the resources that reflect them in a positive light?

If you aren’t sure about the answers to these questions, there are resources in the research literature available to help you make changes. Much research has been done not only on homophobic bullying, and harassment, but on the challenges GLBTQ youth face in finding resources and supportive, knowledgeable adults in libraries. In addition, you can learn more about the specific information needs of these students, as well as the services that best support meeting those needs. As well, there is help available in terms of acquiring appropriate resources, and to help you evaluate your GLBTQ collection and programming. If, like most teacher-librarians, you need help in meeting the challenges of advocating for your GLBTQ students, you will find many useful suggestions and strategies in the research literature. By building on the research, we can ensure all our students see themselves as safe, supported, and very visible in our school libraries.

Themes

Understand the Challenges GLBTQ Youth Face at School and in the Library

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45(1), 65-75.

Hoheb, M. L. (1999). Missing mirrors: Literacy experiences of adolescent lesbians. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (AAT 9952918)

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Diaz, E. M., &. Bartkiewicz, M. J. (2009). The 2009 national school climate survey.

Taylor, C., Peter, T., Schachter, K., Paquin, S., Beldom, S., Gross, Z., & McMinn, T. (2009, March). Youth speak up about homophobia and transphobia: The first national climate survey on homophobia in Canadian schools phase one report.

Learn What Information GLBTQ Teens Need

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Hoheb, M. L. (1999). Missing mirrors: Literacy experiences of adolescent lesbians. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (AAT 9952918)

Linville, D. (2004). Beyond picket fences: What gay/queer/LGBTQ teens want from the library. Voice of Youth Advocates, 27(3), 183-186.

Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2006). A “queer” manifesto of interventions for libraries to “come out” of the closet! A study of “queer” youth experiences during the coming out process. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 16(1), 7-7.

Rothbauer, P. (2004). “People aren’t afraid anymore, but it’s hard to find books”: Reading practices that inform the personal and social identities of self-identified lesbian and queer young women. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 28(3), 53-74.

Rothbauer, P. (2004). The internet in the reading accounts of lesbian and queer young women: Failed searches and unsanctioned reading. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 28(4), 89-110. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.com/cjils/cjils.html 

Provide Library Services Appropriate for GLBTQ Teens

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45(1), 65-75.

Johnson, M. (2010). Transgender subject access: History and current practice. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 48(8), 661-683. doi:10.1080/01639370903534398

Linville, D. (2004). Beyond picket fences: What gay/queer/LGBTQ teens want from the library. Voice of Youth Advocates, 27(3), 183-186.

Mathson, S., & Hancks, J. (2006). Privacy please? A comparison between self-checkout and book checkout desk circulation rates for LGBT and other books. Journal of Access Services, 4(3), 27-37. doi:10.1300/J204v04n03_02

McClary, C., & Howard, V. (2007). From “homosexuality” to “transvestites”: An analysis of subject headings assigned to works of GLBT fiction in Canadian public libraries. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 31(2), 149-162. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.com/cjils/cjils.html

Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2006). A “queer” manifesto of interventions for libraries to “come out” of the closet! A study of “queer” youth experiences during the coming out process. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 16(1), 7-7.

Rothbauer, P. (2004). “People aren’t afraid anymore, but it’s hard to find books”: Reading practices that inform the personal and social identities of self-identified lesbian and queer young women. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 28(3), 53-74.

Rothbauer, P. (2004). The internet in the reading accounts of lesbian and queer young women: Failed searches and unsanctioned reading. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 28(4), 89-110. Retrieved from http://www.utpjournals.com/cjils/cjils.html 

Overcome Collection Development Challenges

Alexander, L. B., & Miselis, S. D. (2007). Barriers to GLBTQ collection development and strategies for overcoming them. Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 43-49.

Boon, M, H., & Howard V. (2004). Recent lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender fiction for teens: Are Canadian public libraries providing adequate collections? Collection Building (23)3: 133-8.

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Cook, J. C. (2004). GLBTQ teen literature: Is it out there in Indiana? Indiana Libraries, 23(2), 25-28.

Rothbauer, P. M., & Lynne E.F. McKechnie. (2000). The treatment of gay and lesbian fiction for young adults in selected prominent reviewing media. Collection Building, 19(1), 5-16.


 

Evaluate Your GLBTQ Collection

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/‌2160/‌5714

Cook, J. C. (2004). GLBTQ teen literature: Is it out there in Indiana? Indiana Libraries, 23(2), 25-28.

Boon, M. H. & Howard, V. (2004). Recent lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender fiction for teens: Are Canadian public libraries providing adequate collections? Collection Building, 23(3), 133-138.

Moss, E. (2008). An inductive evaluation of a public library GLBT collection. Collection Building, 27(4), 149-156. doi:10.1108/01604950810913715

Advocate for GLBTQ Youth

Alexander, L. B., & Miselis, S. D. (2007). Barriers to GLBTQ collection development and strategies for overcoming them. Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 43-49.

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45(1), 65-75.

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Diaz, E. M., &. Bartkiewicz, M. J. (2009). The 2009 national school climate survey.

Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2006). A “queer” manifesto of interventions for libraries to “come out” of the closet! A study of “queer” youth experiences during the coming out process. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 16(1), 7-7.

Taylor, C., Peter, T., Schachter, K., Paquin, S., Beldom, S., Gross, Z., & McMinn, T. (2009, March). Youth speak up about homophobia and transphobia: The first national climate survey on homophobia in Canadian schools phase one report.

Recommended Articles

Alexander, L. B., & Miselis, S. D. (2007). Barriers to GLBTQ collection development and strategies for overcoming them. Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 43-49.

Linda Alexander, a University of South Florida School of Librarian and Information Science professor, and Sarah Miselis, a recent MLS graduate of the school, present a succinct summary of their research on why the information needs of GLBTQ teens are not being met.  They surveyed school and public librarians across the USA about their GLBTQ collections and programs, and about challenges to GLBTQ resources for young adults.  The authors found that GLBTQ resources are underrepresented in library collections, that societal and personal prejudice against homosexuality influence library policies and collections, and that internet filtering software often prevents students from accessing GLBTQ information.  The authors provide specific suggestions as to how librarians can improve their collections and build strong programs to provide equal opportunities for GLBTQ teens.

Bridge, S. (2010). No place on the shelves? Are Northern Ireland’s school libraries addressing the information needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students? (Master’s thesis, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, United Kingdom).

Bridge’s thesis includes an extensive, thorough literature review looking at the specific information needs of LGBT students, and the barriers preventing them from getting this information.  She interviewed two groups: LGBT individuals aged 16-25, and school librarians, and her findings supported those she found in the literature.  In Irish schools homophobic abuse is widespread, teachers receive no training in LGBT issues, religious beliefs discourage both LGBT programming and the purchase of resources, and internet filtering and lack of privacy on school computers prevent access to information.  Bridges concludes that while librarians can institute simple changes to make their libraries friendlier, the urgent need is government support for changes in school policies on LGBT issues.

Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45(1), 65-75.

Curry’s survey of reference service to a young woman asking for GLBT resources, although dealing with public libraries, allows teacher librarians to examine what their behaviour would be in similar circumstances.  Curry reviews the literature that supports the historical importance of the library in helping GLBT youth deal with the issues of their sexual orientation, including coming out, the desire to read fiction with positive role models, and isolation and fear of homophobic abuse.  She emphasizes that searching for GLBT information means taking a risk, and caring and competent librarians help the information seeker feel safe.  Curry’s analysis of the 20 reference desk sessions provides specific suggestions on how to, and how not to, conduct such reference interviews.

Hoheb, M. L. (1999). Missing mirrors: Literacy experiences of adolescent lesbians. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text. (AAT 9952918)

Although this document is more than ten years old, it provides invaluable information about the importance of reading to help lesbian (and, by extension, GBTQ youth) make meaning of their lives, as well as accounts of the study participants’ struggles to find the texts they needed, none of which they could get from their school libraries.  A section describing the failure of their high schools to keep them safe from homophobic abuse and neglect is particularly heart-rending.  Hoheb includes detailed descriptions of the type of resources, both fiction and non-fiction, that the women would have liked to have had available to them in high school.

Mehra, B., & Braquet, D. (2006). A “queer” manifesto of interventions for libraries to “come out” of the closet! A study of “queer” youth experiences during the coming out process. LIBRES: Library & Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 16(1), 7-7.

Mehra and Braquet, assistant professors from the University of Tennessee, envision libraries as agents of change that can help make society more inclusive and accepting of diverse sexual orientations. To achieve this they suggest libraries be supportive of “queer” youth during the coming out process, a difficult time when youth require information, empathy, and support.  The researchers interviewed in depth 21 “queer” individuals about the challenges that faced them during their coming our phase, and what they felt librarians could do to better support youth during this phase of their lives. This information alone provides many ideas to how school libraries can improve collections and services for GLBTQ youth, and the authors conclude with their own list of specific strategies.

Taylor, C., Peter, T., Schachter, K., Paquin, S., Beldom, S., Gross, Z., & McMinn, T. (2009, March). Youth speak up about homophobia and transphobia: The first national climate survey on homophobia in Canadian schools phase one report.

This report details the results of a survey of 1700 high school students across Canada, and contains information that should be shared with all high school teachers.  Homophobic harassment, including verbal and some physical abuse, is prevalent in Canadian high schools: 75% of GLBTQ students felt unsafe in some areas of their school (including the school library for some), and heard homophobic comments every day.  Many students felt that their teachers were ineffective in stopping the harassment.  In those schools with anti-homophobic programs, GLBTQ students felt safer and experienced less abuse than those attending schools without these programs, but more direct action needs to be taken at the district and provincial level.

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Resources for Building A High School Library Program That Meets the Needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Students: Part 1

December 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

PLEASE NOTE: For a much expanded and updated version of this information, please go to Becoming and Being:Reflections on Teacher-Librarianship, pages 192-205.

This is Part One in a series of three posts on this topic. Part Two looks at research literature; Part Three is a full literature review.

Part One: Professional Literature 

How can a high school teacher-librarian ensure that the library is a student-centred safe haven that meets the needs of GLBTQ students?

Introduction

Imagine searching your school library for books about teachers, and finding that there were none.  When you ask the librarian for a book on this topic, she gives you a dirty look, telling you that she doesn’t purchase “those books.” Students who overhear you talking to the librarian laugh at you, saying, “Wow, you want stuff about teachers.  You must be one!”  Soon the word spreads around the library, and everyone is looking at you, laughing, and making rude remarks.  Then you use a library computer to search for information about teachers, but all of the sites are blocked, and you get in trouble for repeatedly trying to access banned sites.   You leave the library with no information, no school network access, and the certainty that you are marked for more harassment.  Welcome to the world of many GLBTQ teens.

If this picture hits too close to home for you, there is help at hand.   First, you can hear the real-life experiences, both good and bad, of GLBTQ teens in their high school libraries.  Then you can review why and how the library should be the center of social change in schools.  Recently there have been many examples in the media of bullying, harassment, and suicide of GLBTQ teens, and the professional literature provides a variety of suggestions on how to reach out to those you serve in your school, and how to make your library safer for them.  In addition, there are many resources available to help you select appropriate print and non-print resources, and to determine what library services GLBTQ teens require to enable them to use these materials effectively.  By implementing suggestions from the professional literature, every teacher-librarian can ensure that GLBTQ students have access to the information they need in their own school libraries.

Themes

Voices of GLBTQ Teens

Anderson, S. B. (2005). What it means to be extreme: Understanding non-traditional teens: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens. In Extreme teens: Library services to nontraditional young adults (pp. 45-48). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Kenney, B. (2006). Do the right thing. School Library Journal, 52(1), 11.

Flecker, M., & Gutteridge, L. (2008). Gay positive literature in libraries could save lives: The leadership role for teacher-librarians in social justice issues. Teaching Librarian, 15(2), 38-39.

Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45.

Limited shelf life. (2010). School Library Journal, 56(7), 15-15.

Whelan, D. L. (2006). Out and ignored: Why are so many school libraries reluctant to embrace gay teens? School Library Journal, 52(1), 46.

Social Justice and GLBTQ Teens

Alexander, L. B, & Miselis, S.  D. (2009). Hear the silent pleas of our gay youth. In G. Bush (Ed.), Best of KQ Series: School library media programs in action: Civic engagement, social justice, and equity (pp. 31-33). Chicago, IL: American Association of School Librarians.

Bush, G. (2006). Social action learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 22(7), 38-41.

Flecker, M., & Gutteridge, L. (2008). Gay positive literature in libraries could save lives: The leadership role for teacher-librarians in social justice issues. Teaching Librarian, 15(2), 38-39.

Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45.

Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Rauch, E. W. (2010). GLBTQ collections are for every library serving teens! Voice of Youth Advocates, 33(3), 216-218.

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2007). Challenging silence, challenging censorship: Inclusive resources, strategies and policy directives for addressing bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans-identified and two-spirited realities in school and public libraries. Ottawa: Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2005). Queer perspectives on social responsibility in Canadian schools and libraries: Analysis and resources. School Libraries in Canada (17108535), 24(4), 12-45.  

Reaching out to GLBTQ Teens

Gardes, T. (2008). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teens in your library media center. CSLA Journal, 32(1), 23-24. Retrieved from http://www.csla.net/pub/journal.htm

Jones, J. (2004). Beyond the straight and narrow: Librarians can give gay teens the support they need. School Library Journal, 50(5), 45.

Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Whelan, D. L. (2006). Out and ignored: Why are so many school libraries reluctant to embrace gay teens? School Library Journal, 52(1), 46.

Building GLBTQ Collections

Alexander, L. B., & Miselis, S. D. (2007). Barriers to GLBTQ collection development and strategies for overcoming them. Young Adult Library Services, 5(3), 43-49.

Alexander, L. B, & Miselis, S.  D. (2009). Hear the silent pleas of our gay youth. In G. Bush (Ed.), Best of KQ Series: School library media programs in action: Civic engagement, social justice, and equity (pp. 31-33). Chicago, IL: American Association of School Librarians.

Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Rauch, E. W. (2010). GLBTQ collections are for every library serving teens! Voice of Youth Advocates, 33(3), 216-218.

Rockefeller, E. I. (2009). Selection, inclusion, evaluation and defense of transgender-inclusive fiction for young adults: A resource guide. Journal of LGBT Youth, 6(2), 288-309. doi:10.1080/19361650902962641

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2007). Challenging silence, challenging censorship: Inclusive resources, strategies and policy directives for addressing bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans-identified and two-spirited realities in school and public libraries. Ottawa: Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2005). Queer perspectives on social responsibility in Canadian schools and libraries: Analysis and resources. School Libraries in Canada (17108535), 24(4), 12-45.  

Library Services for GLBTQ Teens

Alexander, L., & Miselis, S. (2009). Hear the silent pleas of our gay youth. In G. Bush (Ed.), Best of KQ Series: School library media programs in action: Civic engagement, social justice, and equity (pp. 31-33). Chicago, IL: American Association of School Librarians.

Anderson, S. B. (2005). Outside the mainstream: Service to extreme teens – out and proud: Serving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens. In Extreme teens: Library services to nontraditional young adults (pp. 89-90). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Gardes, T. (2008). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teens in your library media center. CSLA Journal, 32(1), 23-24.

Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2005). Queer perspectives on social responsibility in Canadian schools and libraries: Analysis and resources. School Libraries in Canada (17108535), 24(4), 12-45. Retrieved from http://www.clatoolbox.ca/casl/slic

Whelan, D. L. (2006). Out and ignored: Why are so many school libraries reluctant to embrace gay teens? School Library Journal, 52(1), 46.  

Recommended Articles

Levithan, D. (2004). Supporting gay teen literature. School Library Journal, 50(10), 44-45.

David Levithan draws on his experiences as a gay man, editor, and author of young adult gay fiction to urge teacher-librarians to include LGBTQ literature in collections.  He applauds teacher-librarians who brave controversy and stand up for intellectual freedom so that students can safely sign out the resources they need, and includes specific examples of  how to take a stand.  The article includes examples of the power that the right book at the right time can have for those who too often feel isolated and vulnerable.

Gardes, T. (2008). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning teens in your library media center. CSLA Journal, 32(1), 23-24.

Tim Gardes, a California district librarian, provides some disturbing research statistics that show why LGBTQ teens are less likely to graduate from high school.  Gardes then points out that schools are legally required to improve conditions for these students.  Since school libraries have traditionally served other minority groups well, they are certainly able to better the treatment of LGBTQ students.   Gardes provides specific procedures to implement change, and stresses the positive effect on school climate that establishing a Gay Straight Alliance club had at one of his schools.

Martin, H. J., & Murdock, J. R. (2007). Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman.

This manual is an extensive guide that offers a wealth of material on issues, programming, services, and collections for LGBTQ teens. The authors include statistics from various studies that detail the shocking physical, emotional, and intellectual risks faced by these teens, and ways to help make libraries safe spaces for them.  In addition to offering strategies for library staff to deal with possible challenges to LGBTQ content or programming, the manual details ways for librarians to connect with and actively involve LGBTQ teens in the library in visible, positive ways.  In addition, the authors differentiate between strategies best suited to school libraries as opposed to public libraries.

Schrader, A. M., & Wells, K. (2007). Challenging silence, challenging censorship: Inclusive resources, strategies and policy directives for addressing bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans-identified and two-spirited realities in school and public libraries. Ottawa: Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Alvin Schrader, Director of Research, University of Alberta Libraries, and Kristopher Wells, Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Sub-Committee of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Diversity, Equity, and Human Rights Committee, present a two-part manual with a Canadian perspective.   Part I discusses the current situation regarding the lack of resources and services for GLBTQ youth, and provides “A Guide for Action in Library Policy and Practice” to help librarians improve collections and services.  Part II of the book provides lists of annotated resources, including elementary, young adult, and professional books, as well as videos.  Canadian titles are identified, and the authors intend to provide updated lists on the Canadian Teacher Federation web site.

Whelan, D. L. (2006). Out and ignored: Why are so many school libraries reluctant to embrace gay teens? School Library Journal, 52(1), 46.

Debra Whelan, School Library Journal’s senior editor for news and features, shares statistics about the challenges, including a lack of resources in their school libraries, faced by GLBTQ teens.  Whelan puts a human face on the statistics by interviewing students and librarians whose stories illustrate the issues.  Whelan points out that although many librarians censor materials because they fear controversy, or personally believe these materials inappropriate, they risk breaking the law in doing so.  She offers suggestions on how to build a GLBTQ collection, how to make these resources accessible to students, and how to network to enlist support.

Connect

Connect with our students

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Vision of the Future

April 24, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I am very proud to share the collaborative project  which my EDES 545 classmates and I created as our final assignment. Please visit our wiki, Vision of the Future – Using Web 2.0 in Schools, and enjoy our VoiceThread below:


 
For me this quote from Marcel Proust sums up what I have experienced in this collaborative project and in this course.

“The only true exploration, the only true fountain of youth would not be to visit foreign lands, but to possess other eyes, to look at the universe through the eyes of others.”

I have had an opportunity few teachers are lucky enough to experience. After a lifetime spent teaching, I have become a student in the digital age. While like Kathy Shrock, I am in fact a digital pioneer, through this project I’ve been given a chance to look at the possibilities of the digital native world through other eyes; through the collective intelligence of my classmates as we built our learning space in the participatory culture on the read/write/reflect web.

In January when this class began I thought I knew a lot about web 2.0. I had taken the introductory class, used the tools for two years, and as a consultant shared them with others. I realize now that I had only scratched the surface. What did I learn?

This class has profoundly changed me, and I want to acknowledge each of my classmates for their part in this change.

Ruth taught me the transformative power of web 2.0 for the global good as she used Twitter to help those devastated by the earthquake in Haiti.

Mark reminded me that education should be playful and fun. By sharing his experiences teaching up north, he reminded me that when you truly value your students, you make a huge difference in your community.

Dawn taught me the beauty and utility of multi-tasking as we Skyped, edited, created, and laughed together, and reminded me that making learning transparent for our students makes us better teachers.

Shirley modelled grace and class and perseverance. Her knowledge of and empathy for her students shines.

Natasha is the perfect 21st century teacher librarian, mentoring teachers and students with grace, respect and expertise.

Jackie quietly stepped in as needed, encouraging here, adding deft touches there, unstinting of her time and expertise. I want to be just like Jackie when I grow up.

One of the highs of the final project was being able to step in and do some of the administriva that has to be done – setting up the VoiceThread account, doing the initial wiki build, sending the emails to keep us on the same page. Sometimes it felt like herding cats, but I find I like that feeling! I love being retired but I do miss helping people.

There were some lows. There’s nothing like being linked to a group of brilliant teachers to remind of you of your own shortcomings – but of course, that’s good for me. And we did hit the depths as we came to grips with the breadth of what we had decided to do, but fortunately the strength of the group came though as we called in the cavalry – and they arrived in time. I don’t think we could have so internalized all the 21st century skills in any more effective way.

For that I thank Joanne, who honoured her students by allowing them the freedom to take a huge risk by doing our final project collaboratively. Through the content, process, trust, and guidance Joanne shared with us over this course, she gave us wings and set us free.

My classmates and I created our “digital tapestry”, where our individual talents, expertise, and creativity are woven together, and each individual strand is worthy in and of itself, but made stronger, more beautiful, and more useful as part of the splendid whole. Joanne, you made that possible.

Professional Development: With a Little Help From My Friends

April 5, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Stages of PLN adoption - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jutecht/2384289406/

Stages of PLN adoption - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jutecht/2384289406/

I laughed out loud when I saw this illustration by Jeff Utecht about professional learning networks. I am one of those people who gets carried away with the excitement of new learning. I can lose hours on the computer, following those “rabbit trails,” as my classmate, Shirley, calls them, as I move from one blog post or RSS feed or tweet to the next. I laughed even more when I read that Jeff, like me, has a spouse who reminds him that “PLNs are very powerful, but they are not all there is to life.”

As we discussed professional development in class this week, our discussion leader, Dawn, asked a challenging and important question: “How do we begin to support teachers’ pedagogical change?” We talked a lot about personal learning networks. I like David Kapuler’s description

A Personal Learning Network or PLN is a dedicated learning environment unique to each individual.  . . . this is a place where people create their own environment which helps them to grow/learn. This can be done in many different ways through collaborating, blogging, social networking, etc.  [The] goal is to learn and share knowledge and to find a passion and follow it to the best of your ability.

I began to think about my own change and growth over a 38 year career. How did I follow my passion? To paraphrase Fulghum, All I really need to know I didn’t learn in school. I learned it from colleagues, mentors, and friends. I had a personal learning network long before I ever heard the term, but of course I’ve been involved in many types of professional development.

Judi Harris wrote a  four-article series (all available online here) published in ISTE‘s Learning & Leading with Technology f(February – June/July, 2008.) She writes

Educational technology-related professional development (ETPD) can take many forms. It varies by:

  • general purposes and goals;
  • the specific learning objectives that ETPD sessions and programs address;
  • the curriculum content areas to which they are related;
  • the student grade levels for which the strategies and tools presented are appropriate;
  • the instructional approaches recommended;
  • the professional development models used to structure the ETPD sessions;
  • and the ways in which the professional development is evaluated and/or teacher learning is assessed.

I first encountered Judi Harris through the Telus Learning Connection, or 2Learn.ca . Her research and guidance helped shape this Alberta endavour, which is ‘organized in a “cascading” or “train-the-trainer” model, in which teacher-leaders participate, then provide ETPD for their peers’ (Harris, 2008). I remember being elated when I was chosen as a teacher-leader, thinking I would be given training in technology implementation. Turns out I was expected to deliver the training. Fortunately the collegial nature of the participants allowed me to learn on the job as I partnered with various mentors.

Another valuable professional development experience was collaborative learning, which Harris describes as “The most desired—but unfortunately, also one of the least frequently practiced—collaborative learning model is one in which teachers engage in classroom visits.” Our district instituted instructional walkthroughs  like these (thanks, Ruth) as a way of looking at teachers’ best practices in the classroom. Instead of bringing in outside experts who preached about the latest and greatest, we utilized the expertise in our own schools.

Teachers volunteered to be observed and a group of teachers, administrators, and central office staff spent a day at a school. They would visit 6-8 classrooms, observe for 10 minutes in each, and then discuss their observations. Next we began using professional development time to do this in our own school. We set up days where teachers and administrators would visit 6-8 classrooms where teachers would share a best practice.

These were incredibly popular pd days. Later teachers were given release time to do more observations. Lots of teachers volunteered  — the message was that every teacher is an expert in something. This practice built our school of 100 teachers into a pln. It also opened our principal’s eyes about some heretofore unacknowledged great teachers, and encouraged teachers to ask administrators into their classrooms.

Another major pd tool for me was the listservHere Peter Milbury describes how the incredible resource LM_NET (short for Library and Media Network), began in 1992, growing from 60 to over 10,000 members worldwide. Through this resource I was introduced to top library/information professionals, including Joyce Valenza, Doug Johnson, Mike Eisenberg, Alice Yucht, Kathy Shrock, and many more. I felt like this tl commenting on VoiceThread, “Instead of feeling like the “only one” in my building, my PLN . . . reminds me that I’m part of a community.”

I learned more about being a tl from LM_NET than from any other single resource. I still subscribe today, and consider the members an essential part of my pln. A bonus is that, as Cathy Nelson describes, now I can follow their blogs via RSS feeds and keep up with the latest news of them on Twitter.

As teacher librarians we are asked to deliver pd to our staff. Harris reminds us that One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Guhlin advises us to Light the Flame, ”to move from professional development as a special event  . . to a continuous flow of learning.” Ketterer (June/July 2008) offers “A Professional Development Menu,” with choices ranging from “whetting the appetite” - ”Trainings: Focus on how to use a specific . . . application” to “the fuel to keep going,” a “common scheduled lunch focused around a tech teaching tip.”

 In ”Coach, Nurture, or Nudge How Do You Learn Technology Best?” Ketterer (May, 2007) reminds us that teachers learners have a preferred style. You’ll recognize these people in your staff room.

  • Coaching Style learner - willing to take risks at integrating technology into their curriculum with support from a colleague they can trust—a “coach.”
  • Nurturing Style Learners want to be nurtured as they learn new technology skills.
  • Nudging Style Learners - often traditional teachers with big success in the “way things are;” skeptical about “where technology is going today.” They need to be gently pushed, prodded, and cajoled into learning how to integrate technology.

As you develop your own personal learning network (see Sue Waters’ wiki for even more tips), and help build and support the one in your school, I recommend to you this video from  Will Richardson, web 2.0 in schools guru. And I do hope you will make me part of your pln – I am @cjpeterso on Twitter. See you online!

References (Non-hyperlinked)

Ketterer, K. (June/July 2008). A Professional Development Menu. Learning & Leading with Technology, p.11.

Ketterer, K. (May 2007). Coach, nurture, or nudge: How do you learn technology best? Learning and Leading with Technology, p. 21.

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Privacy – Please Adjust Your Settings

March 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

“Privacy is the right or opportunity to decide who has access to your personal information and how that information should be used.” - Teen Privacy Online

We now live in an age where this is becoming the expectation for public exposure, and people seem to be quite willing to accept it:

 

Privacy, health fears over airport X-ray

 
Despite the fact that Airport body scans reveal all, apparently 99% of passengers have chosen these over the traditional body-search-via-wand-and sometimes-pat-down technique most commonly used. Is this a real choice in terms of maintaining personal dignity and privacy? I think not.

As technology advances it seems that privacy becomes more and more difficult to maintain. Some say that our attitudes towards privacy are changing as online social networking becomes more popular. The problem is that, as with airport screening, we allow our choices to be determined by the technology, and unwanted public exposure is the result.

While we may not have control over security measures at airports, we most certainly do have control over online exposure. As educators we must understand how and why to exert control over our personas and privacy online, and we must share that knowledge with our students.

Making Private Matters Public

This video from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada frames social networking from the site owner’s point of view.

 

There are plenty of examples of the perils of online ignorance and stupidity on social networking sites. Some are due to careless or negligent of users; some are due to the shortcomings or negligence of technology providers, and some are due to criminal intent.

 Social networking comes with a price  says, “According to the most recent data from comScore Inc., nearly 17 million Canadians have a Facebook profile, 4.5 million are on MySpace, 14.5 million visit YouTube every month, 3.6 million upload photos to the sharing site Flickr.com.”  Many of these people risk identity theft, permanent damage to their reputations, and may even court personal harm by leaving profiles open to all.  Reporters collected detailed and specific information (phone number, address, maps to workplaces and homes) and photographs, some sexually explicit, about 12 Canadians, including several under 18, by looking at their public profiles.

When Social Media Bites cites several “online acts of idiocy,” such as the burglar who checked his Facebook profile in mid-crime and the woman who applied for a job, used the company name in a tweet to friends about how she’d hate the work, then was surprised that a company employee read her tweet.

Some sites make it almost impossible for users to maintain privacy. Privacy complaint filed against Edmonton-based social-networking site details issues with Nexopia, where “users can upload a variety of information from age and interests, to e-mail addresses and photos, all of which then becomes searchable. Privacy settings can later be set to hide personal information, however, four details — username, sex, location and age — can never be changed or deleted.”

In addition, unscrupulous scammers capitalize on our privacy fears.  Who’s watching you really? shares that just two phishing sites collected Facebook log-in information from 350,000+ people so eager to find out ‘who was “spying” on their profile (there’s been a lot of media about insurance companies accessing social media sites as a way to deny claims), that they fell for the bait – hook, line and sinker.’

Please do adjust your set

Please do adjust your set

 

In Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity, danah boyd points out that with many social networking sites , “the conversation is public by default, private through effort.” For many users it isn’t always easy to figure out how and when it’s appropriate to set the mode to private.

Watch Social Media Risks below for a much more detailed look at the issues.

 

 

What can we as educators do?

While our government is moving to protect online privacy for us and for our children, we need to be pro-active with our students. There are many resources available to help us teach our students (and their parents) about privacy and social networking.  

danah boyd provides excellent advice on how to begin. She says,

“Rather than approaching teens and telling them how things should be, why they shouldn’t be putting material online, please consider the value of opening up a dialogue. You have a lot to learn from what teens are trying to do; you once had to make sense of public life too. The difference is that they are doing it in the new environment. Take what you know and then actively listen to teens. Through their struggles, you can see what is new and different.

The key to guiding teens – and for that matter, yourselves – is to start by asking questions. What are you trying to achieve? Who do you think you’re talking to? How would you feel if someone else was looking? What if what you said could be misinterpreted? Start these conversations when your children are young and help them learn how to evolve. There’s no formula for them either.”

What works for me…: Owning Your Digital Identity – Start by investigating/cleaning up your own online presence. Establish your online identity, reputation, and persona, and protect it with these invaluable guide. Then teach these techniques to your students.

Educate yourself, your colleagues, and your students with these Google videos:

Data Privacy Day provides a variety of resources for teens, young adults, parents, and teachers.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada – My Privacy, My Choice, My Life – site for young people about protecting one’s privacy, including videos created by teens such as this one.

 

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is a huge site with a wealth of resources about privacy

In Your I !, a Canadian site, provides a unit on privacy education for teens, with videos, scenarios, discussion guides and much more.

The Media Awareness Network provides Privacy and Internet Life (gr. 7-8) and The Privacy Dilemma (gr. 9-12) .

 Check out bNetS@vvy with articles such as Not Your Parents’ Internet: Understanding “Web 2.0″ Safety by lawyer and educator Nancy Willard.

 Common Sense Media provides extensive resources for parents, educators, and children. Check out the Facebook Privacy Settings: What Parents Need to Know .

And let’s not become so desensitized to our privacy that this also becomes the norm:

http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2007/06/google_home.html

http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2007/06/google_home.html

 

 

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Paralympians: The Heroes We Need

March 13, 2010 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Sit-ski

Sit-ski

We have just been in the midst of Olympic frenzy: hours of television, acres of newsprint, gigabytes of bandwdth covering the biggest winter sporting event in the world. The second biggest, the Paralympics, runs March 12-21 and will receive less than one-tenth the media coverage. It’s time that changed.

“The Paralympics? Oh, you mean the Special Olympics,” people say when I mention the Paralympics. Or sometimes, more rarely, “Those are the disabled games, right?”

Wrong both times. The Paralympic Games are most definitely able. The Special Olympics are games for people with mental disabilities where the focus is on participation; the Paralympics are only for elite athletes with physical disabilities. Events are the same as Olympic events, with some modifications of equipment or rules to accommodate athletes’ disabilities. Results are often incredibly close to able-bodied results; in Atlanta, Tony Volpentest, with two prosthetic legs, ran the 100 metres less than one and a half seconds slower than Donovan Bailey. In Whistler, athletes will ski on one leg, or on sit-skis, or with guides, the same slopes as their able-bodied counterparts.

ski3

Amputee skiing

The Paralympic Games are relatively new. They began in England just after World War II when a British neurosurgeon, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, decided to use sport competition as a way to help rehabilitate the formerly active patients in his spinal cord injury ward. From there the movement has grown to include approximately 120 nations. Their elite athletes with a variety of disabilities including cerebral palsy, dwarfism, amputations, visual impairment, mental disabilities, and spinal cord injuries, among others, train and qualify just as Olympic athletes do. Amazingly, despite the wide range of material available in video and text on the Olympic Games, there is almost nothing available on the Paralympics.

So why should we as teachers care about the Paralympics? As one of the slogans developed by Joey Reiman (Brighthouse Ad Agency) for the Atlanta Games says, “The Olympic Games are where heroes are made. The Paralympic Games are where heroes come.”

Sledge hockey

Sledge hockey

Just like the Olympics, the Paralympics are all about sport: achievement, camaraderie, sportsman ship, guts, pain, euphoria: the highly disciplined, superbly trained athlete striving for a personal best. But the Paralympics are about more than that. They are about hope. They are about possibilities. They are about showing the world that those with disabilities can be role models, contributors to society as a whole. In a culture that seems to value physical perfection above all else, the Paralympics send a strong message. Perfection of form is not important. We are more than just our bodies, or our intellects.

Paralympians include people such as Rick Hansen, gold medallist in wheel chair racing, who went on to raise over 20 million dollars for research into spinal cord injury. Cato Zahl Pedersen is a gold medallist in both winter and summer events. Despite two prosthetic arms, he pulled a sledge carrying his equipment as he walked across Antarctica to reach the South Pole. Matthias Berg is a world-renowned French horn player who also medalled in both summer and winter events. He has no arms.

Single-ski

Single-ski

I am very fortunate. For two years I spent a good deal of my time with these people, and many, many others. I am part of a team that published the first ever book on the Paralympics: Paralympics: Where Heroes Come. My co-author is Dr. Bob Steadward, president of the International Paralympic Committee. The project co-ordinator is Bob Peterson, who has been photographing athletes with disabilities for over thirty years. We self-published the book because we wanted all profits to support spinal cord injury research and treatment.

Dr. Steadward agreed to have us do the book because he wants exposure for the Paralympics. My husband did the book because he wants the world to see and know the power of the people in the movement. I actually wrote the book for a boy from Dallas, Texas, whom I likely will never meet. His name is Adam, and I first heard about him on an hour-long bus ride in Atlanta in 1996. We were on our way to the fencing venue, and another passenger, Michael Massik, head of the U. S. Fencing Association, told us about his cousin, whom he’d brought along to see the Paralympics. Adam was thirteen, and although he functioned extremely well with his prosthetic leg, he never really felt he “belonged.”

Going to Atlanta literally changed Adam’s life. For the first time, Adam felt part of the mainstream. Everywhere he looked, there were people in wheel chairs, people on respirators, people with artificial limbs. And all these people were going about their normal, everyday lives and then competing with incredible results in world class events. For the first time, Adam felt his dreams too could be possible.

Probably Adam affected me so deeply because I spent a good deal of my life with thirteen-year-olds. How much, like all teachers, I want them to see their dreams as possibilities. I want them to have as heroes people who do not accept that disability should stop them from reaching the pinnacle of achievement. In an era when so much of sport is obsessed with money, with physical imperfection making one somehow less of a person, Paralympians truly are the heroes we need today.

For shame, host broadcasters CTV and NBC for providing such little television coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games. Fortunately we can watch extensive video at Paralympic Sport TV and on their YouTube channel. I am hopeful that teachers will share some of the coverage with their students – filters and bandwidth permitting.

Paralympic skier

Paralympic skier

 

Postscript: Our book has reached a new audience. With the help of the Franklin Foundation and Soldier On, Paralympics: Where Heroes Come is being given to wounded Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

All photos here from my photostream – free for you to use.

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Copyright or Copywrong?

March 6, 2010 by · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

 “If you’re not feeling disrupted or challenged about your teaching practice right now, you’re not paying attention.” Will Richardson (as quoted by Rodd Lucier)

GALERIEopWEG http://www.flickr.com/photos/galerieopweg/398007721/

GALERIEopWEG http://www.flickr.com/photos/galerieopweg/398007721/

somerights20cc_icon_noncomm

 

This week I’ve been paying attention to copyright, intellectual freedom, intellectual property, fair dealing, and digital citizenship, and how they apply to our remixed, mashed-up world. Up to this point I thought I knew all about copyright. Turns out I didn’t.

I am the only teacher librarian I know with an intellectual property lawyer on retainer. My husband is a professional photographer who photographed Wayne Gretzky’s early years with the Oilers, as well as Princess Diana, Pierre Trudeau, and many others. He’s had extensive experience with copyright infringement, and counts on the law, and our able lawyer, to protect his livelihood.

I had no hesitation whatever about advising teachers about copyright law. When I started at my last school, one of the first teachers I met asked me to dub some videotapes for him. I asked if they were copyrighted (they were), and he looked at me as if I had two heads. Turns out dubbing was standard practice at this school, and the tl had always done it.

I asked the principal about this, and her response was unequivocal: no more illegal copying. I became known as the copyright cop, and I was proud it. I researched what was/ wasn’t legal, shared the information with teachers, took the initiative to apply for permissions for using various resources, and tried to make sure our teachers were protected but still got the resources they needed. I helped students get permission as required to use material found on the Internet, steered them to freely available content, and taught them to cite and paraphrase properly.

Today all of this is totally inadequate – as antique as this ad.

copyright pirates

Ioan Sameli http://www.flickr.com/photos/biwook/145765624/

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
somerights20 
cc_icon_attributioncc_icon_sharealike
 

From Cop to Counselor on Copyright

Doug Johnson’s title above (and his related articles (Beating the No U Turn Syndrome, Creative Commons), gave me the clue to the remix in the library. Johnson tells us that we must ‘re-brand ourselves, “copyright counselors” and do what good counselors have always done – help othersreach good decisions about their actions rather than serve in a judgmental role.’

It is not our job to enforce policies, or report copyright infringements.  It is our job to model appropriate behaviour, refuse to do anything we deem illegal and explain why, and enable others by encouraging the use of creative commons-licensed, public domain, and royalty-free sources.

It is also our job to encourage students to look at copyright from the creator’s viewpoint by encouraging them to apply creative commons licenses to their own creations. Johnson says, “While today’s students want to use others’ digital works, often without regard to the legal protections they may carry, many of these students’ own creative efforts will be the source of their incomes and they will need a means of protecting their own work and want others to respect intellectual property laws.”

In order to do these jobs there are essential concepts about being consumers and producers of content that we must share with colleagues and students.

Digital Citizenship

Part of this new mind set is teaching the responsible use of technology. Mike Ribble describes nine elements of digital citizenship, which “set the stage for how we work with each other in a global, digital society.” Two of these elements deal with intellectual property. We must ask, “Are users aware of laws (rules, policies) that govern the use of digital technologies? (digital law).  “Are users ready to protect the rights of others to defend their own digital rights?” (digital rights and responsibilities).

Too often students are very unclear about content found on the World Wide Web. Chou (et al., 2007) found that high school and college students had three misconceptions about cyber copyright laws:  Internet content is entirely open for the public to use; the Internet is always free; and all educational use is fair use. Specific instruction about cyber copyright and cyber ethics is needed to change these attitudes.

Does instruction make a difference? Janesko and Morris (2008) found that when appropriate behaviour is modelled, and copyright instruction is built into the curriculum, that students do indeed “get it.”

Copyright Basics – What Some Teachers Don’t Know

It’s not just students that have misconceptions. The term “fair use” is often used to describe how content may be used in a classroom. Teachers must understand that “fair use,” part of American law, does not apply in Canada. Instead we must follow “fair dealing,” which is much more restrictive.  Copyright Law – What is “fair dealing”/”fair use”? explains the difference. Fair dealing allows use of copyrighted material only in certain very limited areas, including private study, research, criticism, review and news reporting. Michael Geist, law professor and expert on Internet and intellectual property law issues, states that there are many common activities that are not strictly permitted under Canadian copyright law, which gives no protection for parody or satire, teaching; recording television shows, backing up a DVD, format shifting from a DVD to video player, or transferring music from a CD to an iPod.

Creative Commons

A new copyright permissions system opens up vast free resources that we can use legally. But creative commons does more. Rod Lucier shares 14 tools to Teach About Creative Commons. “Besides providing access to hundreds of thousands of media works that can be used to augment the creative process, the Creative Commons offers a legitimate way for students to license their own creative works, be they audio, video, text or hybrid products.” Watch this video to learn more. Then scroll down to see Lucier’s take on what every educator should know about creative commons.

 

 

 
 
View more presentations from Rodd Lucier.

References (non-hyperlinked)

Chou, C., Pei-Shan Chan, & Huan-Chueh Wu. (2007). Using a two-tier test to assess students’ understanding and alternative conceptions of cyber copyright laws. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(6), 1072-1084.

Janesko, J. and Morris, T. (May 2008). Learning and Leading with Technology. “Do Students Respect Intellectual Property?”

 

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Mind the Gap: My Parents, #hitsunami, and the Digital Divide

February 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Last Saturday I experienced my own personal digital divide. At 8:49 am I turned on the computer to work on a blog post and saw this CBC headline on  iGoogle: Chile hit by 8.8 earthquake.

Remembering Haiti, where CNN got its updates from social media, I looked at TweetDeck. Many tweets had #chile as hashtags; I set up a feed for that, and then saw several mentioning a tsunami warning for Hawaii (#hitsunami).

My parents, who are in their eighties, are holidaying in Honolulu. My immediate thought: Indonesia, 2004. While my folks are healthy, I’d just as soon they didn’t have to survive a catastrophe while I was cut off from them –not that my being there would have been much help!  I knew I couldn’t reach them immediately (the phone lines were busy and they were using an Internet cafe to email).

While I waited, I worked on my digital divide post, and tried to apply some of what I had read to what I was doing online.

I began using Twitter in January (up to that point I thought it silly). Now here I was setting up searches for appropriate hashtags, modifying Tweetdeck, sifting genuine tweets from spam, and using Twitter as my source of real-time information. How did I make this leap? All of the requirements I’d read about in this article (thanks, Natasha) were in place:

  • Access (hardware, software, Internet connection, bandwidth) – new laptop, wireless high speed Internet.
  • Skill – I was taught well, had been practicing with Twitter, and learning from those I follow. At one point I read this post – “RT @hawaii: Good information on Twitter. Bad information (35 foot waves not likely) and scammers, too. Retweet wisely… #hitsunami“ While most people were being helpful, some of the dregs were setting up scam sites to take advantage.
  • Policy – No filters restrict my access; I was free to work, to learn, to make my own mistakes.
  • Motivation – I really wanted to find out what was happening, especially when I saw this image of the energy that might be hitting Hawaii.
Energy dispersal visualization

Energy dispersal visualization from Chilean earthquake (http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/chile/chileem.jpg)

 I wasn’t alone; Wes Fryer posted:  “watching #hitsunami TV on ustream along with 75K+ others.” Most worrying, I read: “Next stop #hitsunami . . . 11:35 a.m. Oahu, . . . 9-12 ft. surge estimates.”

As we all know, there was no tsunami. At 5:11 pm Mom emailed to say they were fine — had stayed in their 12th floor room watching the bulletins on TV. While there’s still physical distance between us, the digital gap was bridged.

Time for Educators to “Mind the Gap”

by OwenBlacker CC 2.O http://www.flickr.com/photos/owenblacker/52494131/

by OwenBlacker CC 2.O http://www.flickr.com/photos/owenblacker/52494131/

Too often those on the wrong side of the divide watch as others take off into the future. As educators we need to clearly understand what the digital divide is, and its implications for our classrooms and our world.

Wikipedia defines the digital divide as “the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen.”

A number of recent studies have looked at the extent of this divide. Fairlie found that US children with home computers — more whites than Latinos or blacks – are more likely to go to college, and the divide is wider with children than adults.

Digital Divide in Canadian Schools found students from ”families with low levels of parental education and those from rural areas are less likely to have a computer in their home. Those from lower SES homes tend to spend less time on the computer and . . . report lower levels of computer competency.”

The report mentions the troubling trend in Alberta to get rid of tls, counsellors, and speech pathologists to free up dollars for technology. As more funding goes to computers, “unequal outcomes may stem from differences between affluent and disadvantaged students in what they do with the technology, once they have access.” 

Peña-López points out something that most tls know: access to computers alone doesn’t tranform students into 21st century learners. Competencies are the real concern: ”the digital divide in education . . . is not a matter of physical access but a matter of digital skills and how competent students (and teachers) are at computer and Internet usage.”

While Digital Divide in Canada says that while in some ways the divide in Canada is closing, it is still wide between low/high income groups. Obviously factors other than race, funding, and economics come into play. Inequities in filtering (Nelson), attitudes and assumptions about what constitutes effective use of technology (if everyone I know does this, then it must be universal) (boyd), and disabilities also are part of the digital divide.

Vicente and López (2010) present troubling findings about those with disabilities:

  • 18% of world population has disability
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities neglected by ICT industry
  • Rate of internet access for disabled in US half that of regular population
  • Many barriers: assistive tech doesn’t work with many web sites
  • Assistive tech much more expensive to build and buy
  • 80% of people with disabilities worldwide can’t afford proper food, shelter, rehabilitation.

 The global digital divide is explored in UNESCO’s Annual World Report 2009. ”The digital divide amplifies the already existing social inequalities cumulatively” for economic and social reasons (cost, education), cultural (people have no use for it, no role models), and content reasons (not available in their language, lacking local content). The report highlights the role that culture and regional differences play in how governments choose to develop and implement technology, pointing out that what is appropriate in one area won’t necessarily work elewhere, another lesson that educators must heed.

Bridging the Digital Divide in Our Schools

Access

  • Encourage funding to be devoted to people, not just machines.
  • Switch to free or open source applications, such as Google docs.
  • Use the technology students already posses.
  • Thus you free up dollars to provide technology for those students without it at home, or with disabilities.
  • Encourage wi-fi sharing so that all have 24/7 access. Provide useful resources on library web site 24/7.

Skills

  • Advocate for release/training time for teachers to learn the new technologies/applications themselves, and learn to teach students how to use them. 
  • Teach students 21st century skills.
  • Establish student and teacher mentors.

Policy 

  • Investigate what works in other schools/districts/provinces but determine information policy based on what your school needs.
  • Develop effective acceptable use policies that encourage students to take ownership of their learning;
  • Filter effectively.

Motivation

  • Develop authentic learning experiences based on what students want and need.
  • Do the same for teachers as part of their professional development.

And My Gap?

 My parents will be home in a few days (yes!), and I want to teach my dad to use Twitter.

  

References (Non-hyperlinked)

 Vicente, M., & López, A. (2010). A Multidimensional Analysis of the Disability Digital Divide: Some Evidence for Internet Use. Information Society, 26(1), 48-64.

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