Friday, November 20, 2009

Achieving National Board Certification

The last two days have been the longest of my life. These are the interval between the time I was notified that National Board Certification results would be available and the hour/minute they actually posted. Funny, considering that I was not stressed out about the entire process but the two days awaiting results put me over the edge.

So at 9:05 a.m. today, November 20, 2009 -after several hours of intimacy with the F5 key, I received congratulations on achieving National Board certification. Considering that only 40% of candidates in my certification area achieve on the first try, I was not expecting to hear this news. But boy, am I grateful.

I don't know if I truly understand what the implications of National Board certification may be. I know I am employable in almost any state now. More importantly, I have validation that I can TEACH. I am so thankful I engaged in this process.

Will be voice be more respected as an NBCT? Maybe. Hopefully. Will I have more opportunities? I hope so. I filled out an application to be an assessor, and I would really like to teach library media specialists in training.

What will be my next challenge? I have no clue, but I'll keep looking!

Suzie Martin, NBCT

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ideas from the Exploratorium

Those who know me know that I am somewhat agoraphobic, even if I balk at the description. I contend I do not fear the marketplace; instead I loathe the marketplace. Despite this, I could not wait to get to the Exploratorium this afternoon.

The exploratorium is like a science fair meets a flea market: librarians and some vendors from all areas of the country and Canada display their best practices in a large hall for participants to browse. Here are some of the best ideas I have taken away from this year's exploratorium.

Paula Griffith analyzed reading interests of middle school students in accordance to the top 25 most popular titles and Havighurst's Adolescent Task model. One of the most interesting aspects of this presentation was clarifying how children proceed from series books (Goosebumps and The Series of Unfortunate Events) to sequels (Alice McKinley and Harry Potter) to stand alone novels. I had not realized the extent of plot development and character changes that separate series from sequels, even though one of the elements I admired the most about the Harry Potter books was how J.K. Rowling made the characters developmentally symbolic of their ages. For example, in The Order of the Phoenix Harry is sullen. This is a very appropriate emotion for a 15 year-old. Griffith's work is summarized at

Daniella Smith presented 10 Tips for Improving Media Specialist Involvement in Schools. Each of these tips is packed with subpoints library media specialists can use to increase their visibility and importance at the school level. For example, under the heading Use Technology, she suggests circulating a library newsletter online and starting an online book discussion with students. Her two-page PDF handout is well worth reading, and the suggested reading list in wonderful.

Barbara Ray presented a display on action research to improve library media practice. Her very simple four-slide PowerPoint presented everything the viewer needs to consider to begin her own action research project. The first slide tells the viewer to consider the "whats" (resources, policies, procedures, and services) and the "whos" (the stakeholders and their effects on the school library.) The second step is to determine what you want to improve, what the experts say about your particular problem, and to decide what questions to ask of whom. What data will be collected?. The third step is to develop a review the findings and form an action plan to improve services.

Craig Coleman's Sticky Note Wiki presentation was wonderful. It is a teaching activity that helps children understand how wikis are made and how they are subject to error. Using this activity, students research a topic and take notes on sticky notes. The notes are posted on butcher paper or some other display area. Students are asked to look for inaccurate information in the posted sticky notes. By doing this, students understand that the construction of wikis are similar in nature and should be subjected to the same scrutiny as the sticky note activity they just completed. This is an excellent resource to help students value verification of information.

Researching the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner

My first session was a preconference led by Donna Shannon of the University of South Carolina and Gail Dickinson. The purpose of the preconference was to write researchable questions that would be worthy of grant-funded initiatives.

While this session was not what I expected (I wanted to hear what the research said), I found it very interesting. The presenters provided participants with a bibliography of resources dicussing ways 21st century students learn. The participants were invited to add additional resources to the bibliography, thereby expanding the knowledge base. Next the participants were divided into four groups to look at each of the aspects of the new standards. We were ask for formulate our questions intensely looking at the standards.

My group dealt with Standard 4: Pursue personal and aesthetic growth. I am very interested in this standard, because to me, it truly showcases students lifelong learning and information using practices. Much of the skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessment strategies discussed here must become second nature to users or all media. But because of the nature of the media, this internalization of dispositions is very hard to gauge. Age of the users and the training the users received must impact these dispositions. How can dispositions be measured?

In our quest to help young people become wise and ethical users of technology and ideas we face many obstacles. One is how to teach children to guard their privacy on social networking sites when many of these sites are blocked. Sure, in blocking these sites we prevent some problems, but we also lose the opportunities to guide and teach.

If I were to conduct any research right now, I think I would like to see what, if any, generational differences in regard to privacy occur among my friends on Facebook. My friends' ages range from 6 to 83.

Information on this session can be found at .