It seems today that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and coding are constantly in the news, especially in relation to youth and learning. But, despite near incessant news coverage, there is a continuing uneven access for youth to STEM and coding classes in school, as well as after school. Gaining prominent attention at the national level is President Obama’s recently released Computer Science for All initiative, focusing on offering more computer science classes. But, it does not emphasize the opportunities for interest-driven learning outside of the school structure. One group — libraries — working
How might mediums for writing in school libraries be opportunities to grow academic literacies for students across different grades and academic tracks? How might these opportunities to engage in both individual and collaborative writing experiences as pathways to academic literacies close participation gaps and make literacy as a social practice more visible to students and teachers (Kiili, Mäkinen, and Coiro 224)? I recently partnered with teachers Sean O’Connor, Dan Bynre, and James Glenn to incorporate writing literacies as part of larger inquiry activities for two very different classes: 9th-grade Language Arts and IB Theory of Knowledge. Formulating
Earlier this year, I wrote about the possibilities for libraries that embrace writing as the literacy of the masses and how libraries might function as more powerful sponsors of literacy if they were to be more inclusive of writing literacies. During the last year, my colleague Jennifer Lund and I have been collaborating with our faculty at Norcross High to explore the use of written conversation strategies with students as a starting point for inquiry and participatory learning. Inspired by a December 2013 Harvey Daniels workshop sponsored by our school district on written conversation strategies, Jennifer
“They hear a program about sea creatures, another about the North Pole. Werner’s favourite is one about light: eclipses and sundials, auroras and wavelengths. When they find it, Werner feels as if he has been launched into a different existence, a secret place where great discoveries are possible, where an orphan from a coal town can solve some vital mystery hidden in the physical world.”— Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See” (2014) Perhaps imagining vivid worlds unlocked by new knowledge is a romantic notion or perhaps not. Movies and novels depict hallowed halls at Oxford,
As libraries across the country reimagine themselves, patrons, particularly young ones, are finding them more relevant in today’s technological age. Examples of innovative projects, tapping into the power of the Internet, include the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free Maker Lab, with access to 3-D printers and milling machines; and two branches of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), where underserved kids are learning to code and tell stories through photography this summer. Many other libraries and librarians across the country are embodying the principles of connected learning as they evolve in this digital age.
I hung out with popular children’s and young adult authors like Mo Willems and Lemony Snicket and Markus Zusak last week. Okay, maybe “hung out” is too strong a description. I mainly walked in the same general vicinity as these noteworthy authors, occasionally snapping selfies. I admit that I was too, too lazy to wait in the long, long lines to meet these awesome authors (and many more). (Are you there, Judy [Blume]? It’s me, Antero, too impatient to wait to meet you but, still think you’re awesome!) See, my better half is a librarian and
The look of any library — school, academic, or public — is always dependent on local needs in a community, but the feature that has traditionally characterized all types of libraries is reading literacy and the tools and practices that support readers. Walk into any library and the feature that tends to dominate and define library for most people is the print collection housed in stacks and stacks of books. Even as libraries continue to transition to digital formats of eReading like databases and eBooks, most people associate print books and reading literacies with libraries. In the December
In my last two posts, I have reflected on a rationale for looking at the work of libraries through Deborah Brandt’s concept of sponsors of literacy as well as the philosophical and practical imperatives for libraries to examine the forces and ideologies that shape their work. As libraries begin to examine the ways they function as sponsors of multiple forms of literacy and to consider the kinds of literate practices that are privileged and marginalized, a checklist or inventory of questions for consideration is needed as a starting point for peeling back the layers of influences.
In my last post “Literacies and Fallacies,” I introduced Deborah Brandt’s conceptual approach of sponsors of literacy that connects individual literacy development to the economic development of literacy. I also shared a rationale for why libraries should use this critical interpretive lens and offered an initial list of questions as focal points of inquiry to consider. As I recently finished Natasha Trethewey’s brilliant and deeply moving Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I saw parallels between the narratives in Trethewey’s work and Brandt’s ethnographic research examining sponsors of literacy. In this collection of
The rhetoric around libraries today is largely filled with enthusiasm in the digital media and learning world. And it probably should be: YOUmedia, makerspaces, and expanding digital opportunities for young people to learn and to grow are happening every day. However, right now, I have a problem with libraries. More specifically, I have a problem with libraries in urban schools. A Bit of Background To say the library at the school I worked at in South Central Los Angeles faced challenges would be too gracious. One year, for example, the staff was greeted with the welcomed