Thursday, December 18, 2014

   New book trailer for Terry Trueman's realistic fiction novel Stuck in Neutral.  I love the perspective that this novel gives of what life is like for a teen who has cerebral palsy.

   A great, suspenseful novel for our reluctant readers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hangouts as Mirrors

  At the core, I view my role as a library teacher as that of a connector.  Sometimes this means connecting a teacher with a set of resources from the web or our physical library.  Other times it means connecting them with a teaching strategy or technology and the confidence to go back and use it well with their students in the classroom.

   It could mean connecting a student who might not view themself as a reader with that book which will open up the possibilities and the power of literature in their lives.  Or it could mean showing them how to use a research source-be it print or electronic that they were not aware existed.

  One of my favorite connecting roles is when I can get one of my classes of junior highers in Northwest Arkansas to interact with students or experts around the globe through Skype, or Google Hangouts. At times I will joke with students that I may not be able to fly them to Java, Trinidad, or Transylvania, but I can serve as a conduit to help them interact on the global stage and see their connections to other peoples and parts of this world.

  I believe such interactions are truly valuable in shaping who and how our children will interact with the rest of the world in the future.  Sometimes, they produce humorous results such as when one of my students interacted for the first time with a peer who wore a headscarf in Java.  She asked if she wore the piece of clothing when she slept.

  Other times, such as during our Skype with a class in Trinidad last week,  the results are much more thought provoking.  During this visit, the concept of the American melting pot came up.  We were discussing the multicultural elements of Trindidad's soceity including celebrating holidays across a much wider spectrum of faiths than in the United States. In Trinidad, Diwali, Ramadan, as well as Christmas and Easter are celebrated on a national scale.

   During our conversation, one member of the class in Trinidad suggested that while the United States is culturally diverse, although it may not necessarily be a true melting pot.  This notion caused a palpable pause in the room for my students that they truly stopped to consider.

   The discussion continued, and my students looked around the room at their peers.  After a few minutes, they started to verbalize their feelings about the assertion.  Some of them suggested students in America may sit in the classroom and learn next to students from other backgrounds, but when they are self selecting their seating, they tend to choose to sit with peers who have a similar heritage.


   This interaction illustrates one of the key benefits of connecting learners with their peers around the world. Sometimes they provide a different perspective on America that is both refreshing and thought provoking. It can literally produce a new level of understanding.  Almost like stopping to look in a mirror and noticing something about yourself that you had not realized before.

Follow Golden Eagle Library on Twitter: @goldeneaglelmc

Follow Brian on Twitter: @brian_librarian

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Hangout A Hit

   Last year, one of my favorite outside of school collaborations was with the "other" Lakeside in Hot Springs. Stony Evans, is a friend of mine from graduate school at the University of Central Arkansas, and is the secondary school media specialist there.  We have been talking literally for a couple of years about how cool it would be to do collaborative online projects between the two Lakeside schools.

  Last year in the spring, we started to make this a reality. We coined the term "Lakeside Squared" for the Google Hangouts we have held.  Our first one was focused on Veronica Roth's novel Divergent.  We held a hangout to discuss the book between Lakeside Hot Springs book club and a group of students at Springdale Lakeside who had read that title.  Both groups of students enjoyed participating in the Hangout. They liked the opportunity to share the results of the faction quizzes and other activities they had done related to the book.  The event was such a success that we have continued the Lakeside Squared Google Hangout tradition this year.

  Our first Lakeside Squared Hangout this year was a virtual readout during Banned Book week.  Students and teachers from both campuses read excerpts from banned titles such as The Hunger Games, 1984 and The Giver. 

  A recent performance by our choir in the library inspired the latest edition of the Lakeside Squared Hangout.  Almost immediatley after hearing our choir sing in the library, I contacted Stony with the idea of a Holiday Hangout.  I wondered, could we not magnify the reach of both schools' music programs and infuse some extra holiday spirit into some students lives by conducting a Hangout between the two schools?

  The Holiday Hangout ended up including 2 songs performed by one of Springdale Lakeside's choirs.  Stony, the media specialist in Hot Springs is also a very accomplished musician, so when his campus' choir was unable to perform, he stepped right in to perform the Christmas theme music from Charlie Brown on the saxophone.  I concluded the Hangout by reading a holiday story I learned from my dad, O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi.

   One of concerns about the Hangout going in was whether the sound quality would try capture the beauty of the performances.  The sound ended up being one of the pleasant surprises of the Hangout as people at both locations remarked about how clear the performances were.

   Hangouts are such a powerful connecting tool for our students and teachers.  I can't wait to work with my colleague at Lakeside Hot Springs to develop our next Lakeside Squared Hangout opportunity!

Lakeside Junior High Library Springdale Twitter @GoldenEagleLMC

Brian Johnson Twitter @brian_librarian

Stony Evans Twitter @stony12270

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The G.E.M.M.

The Golden Eagle Monthly Media Report (G.E.M.M.) for October-November 2014 is now available!  Check out some of the great things that have been going on in the Lakeside Media Center lately!

The G.E.M.M.