Our Personal Experiences + Collaboration = Knowledge for Students

Our second grade teachers do a yearly unit on landmarks and since I attend their grade level meetings, I made a suggestion last year to read the story about Hachicko -the true story of a loyal dog- to all of their classes. I felt it was a great choice since both boys and girls like dog stories, especially real ones they can relate to. In our library collection, I found 3 choices: a poetry book entitled : I Remember Hachiko Speaks by Leslea Newman, Hachiko Waits (a novel) by Leslea Newman and Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog by Paela S. Turner. After reviewing my choices and considering the time element, I choose the shorter story by Pamela Turner. I took some photos from my internet searching with me and went to each of the four second classes to read the story and introduce them to landmarks. Their challenge was to create their own landmark and write a story as to why it should be built. They would be working in groups so collaboration and planning needed to be done together.
After I read the story, we discussed the pain of losing a pet and also the joy the statue at Shibuya Station in Tokyo brings to all those who see it and meet there.
“Imagine watching hundreds of people pass by every morning and every afternoon. Imagine waiting and waiting and waiting for ten years. That is what Hachiko did. He was a real dog who lived in Tokyo, a dog who faithfully waited for his owner at the Shibuya train station long after his owner could not come to meet him. He became famous for his loyalty and was adored by scores of people who passed through the station every day.”
Seeing Hachiko in real life became something on my personal “bucket list” and this past summer I was fortunate enough to check that off. Yes, I really went to the busiest train station and had my very own picture taken with this famous sculpture. It took at least 20 minutes for my husband to take this photo. It is such a busy place and people from all around use this as a meeting place, no atter what time of day or night. I informed the students this year that the original one was melted during World War II, when the Japanese military was desperately short of metals.
In 1947, a few years after that war ended, the son of the original sculptor made a new statue of Hachiko. That is the one I saw.

Other facts about his landmark:
-I informed the students this year that the original one was melted during World War II, when the Japanese military ws desperately short of metals.
-There is a special festival, held every April 8, one month after Hachiko’s death anniversary, when Tokyo’s cherry trees are in full bloom. The Shibuya mayor, police chef, and stationmaster are always there. A Shinto priest performs a ceremony, and Hachiko’s friends come to admire the beautiful wreaths of flowers that are displayed around his statue.
-There is an old photo of the real Hachiko next to the bronze one, which I also saw while visiting.
– In 2015, another statue of this famous Akita Inu and his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agricultural engineering for over 20 years, was erected at the University of Tokyo, where he taught.


The legend of Hachiko touched my heart and inspired me as it has inspired thousands all over the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

on annotating our works cited…

Happy spring, all! For me, spring means:

  • Two week break!!! – I mean, I love my kids and my job. Blah, blah, blah… Let’s get real, though, not having to work for two weeks is pretty sweet, right?!?!? I was in New York City for an awesome Nor’easter that dumped 8 inches of snow in Brooklyn. Yes, I have now seen snow fall out of the sky two times. Yay! Quite a thrilling thing if you reside in the tropics and the humidity has been hitting 94%.
  • Spring Conference – The AISL Spring Conference in Atlanta starts in a week! #SoExcited #Yay!
  • Student Projects – Spring means that those of us working in project-based learning oriented schools start to drown in projects.

We are in the midst of many, many projects so I’ve been thinking a lot about works cited lists and annotations. What do I think?




One thing I think is that I don’t really care if the citations are in perfect MLA 8 format. Hah!!! There, I said it… Yes, I do not care if citations are wrong exactly, precisely right.

[Insert gif of angry mob of librarians with torches and pitchforks here]

I teach my kids to take the preformatted citations from databases and put them into NoodleTools. I realize that sometimes the citations are wrong. In a perfect world, all of the citations would be perfect, but in the imperfect real world that I live in, if my kids know that they need to cite the source for the content they’ve used and they’ve provided enough information so that the source can be easily accessed, that’s enough for me for where they are as high school students. When they write for publication in a peer reviewed journal I’m confident that they’ll know to take the time to get their citations right, or that at the very least, they’ll know how to find a librarian or editor who can help them build publication-worthy citations.

In my mind, it comes down to “Why do we cite?” Very honestly, I am not a fan of the approach that many teachers take which, basically, equates failure to cite three sentences from an obscure essay on the use of horses in WWI to stealing a BMW from the neighbor’s garage and taking it for a spin out to the North Shore like they’re on an episode of Hawaii 5-0. “Failure to cite is STEALING!!!”

Now, please don’t get me wrong, plagiarism is REALLY BAD, but in most cases I see the actual harm as being more cognitive and moral/ethical, than criminal. If you’re taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own, you’re short circuiting your own learning. As a school librarian, that’s the harm I want kids to grasp first and foremost.

If citation isn’t about “preventing theft,” then, why do we want kids to cite? After all, while I may not care much about the specifics of MLA 8 formatting, I’m still a proponent of “citation.” As I see it, for the kind of work that my students are doing, citation mainly serves as a framework for the initial work of source evaluation.


  • Who is this author and why should his/her ideas matter?
  • What clues about bias and orientation can I glean from the title?
  • Do the container, publishing platform, or publisher provide clues about the orientation for the information?
  • If the content is date sensitive is it past its expiration date?

You can’t evaluate any of that if you can’t or don’t locate it so that seems like a good place to start.

All of that information is important, but it’s really just a first pass. Our main interest is the point after a source has been chosen from that long list of hits and getting the researcher to more deeply engage with the sources. Unfortunately, we’ve all probably seen student papers where 90% of the content comes from a single source and there are four or five other sources in the works cited list from which the student has cited something rather trivial from the first page of all of his/her other sources. I’m sure this isn’t true of the rest of you, but to be perfectly honest, that characterizes most of the papers I wrote in my high school years. #SadButTrue #IWasNotAnAcademicStar

Two years ago we began encouraging teachers to require annotated bibliographies as a way to “encourage” engagement with sources–the whole source, not just the first page. I wasn’t really sure that the idea would be an easy sell so we came up with an annotation format that was intended to be as easy as possible.

We got a surprising degree of buy-in from our teaching faculty so at this point a majority of our teachers are now requiring annotated works cited lists.

Interestingly, our Social Studies department has decided that they would like students to use a more substantial OPVL (Origin Purpose Value Limitation) format that is often used in International Baccalaureate courses. We are currently in the midst of our first effort to use it at scale across all four years of high school social studies classes. Honestly, it is really good, but it isn’t easy by any means!

This is all very much work in progress and I’m pretty much making this up as we go along so it isn’t exemplary by any stretch of the imagination. We’re giving this a go and we’ll see what happens… If you’re doing work with annotated works cited lists, I’d love to hear about what you are doing and how you are approaching the work!

Looking forward to seeing many of you in Atlanta, but if you can’t be there this time around I’ll look for you virtually via the comments below or via the listserv.

Happy spring!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Beautiful Balancing Act of Place and Program:


A contemplative post to celebrate libraries in their fullest glory and realistic struggles

Mirror Lake Library- A Carnegie Library

San Diego Public Library with a makerspace







It is National Library Week- I want to spend this post celebrating and contemplating our shared love of libraries and our roles as school librarians through the lens of both exuberant and tough love. We get to touch the lives of students and staff whether through a book recommendation or a new technological device. Our programs are academic, social-emotional, extra-curricular and everything in-between. Our spaces are communal, contemplative, and creative. As stewards of the library we are jacks-of-all-trades, wear many different hats; and sometimes, we are the leaders of a three-ringed circus. Dare I say, we are the unicorns of the educational world; practical and magical. But I would also like to dispel myths and misunderstandings frequently perpetuated from outside sources and share questions that I grapple with tenderly and doggedly daily.

Since we are keen purveyors of media and news I have noticed a repeated pattern of news coverage of libraries that shape people’s perceptions of our roles that many of you have probably also noticed. Headlines that shoutout “are libraries dying” or some iteration of that, but then the rest of the article extols the virtues and vital services we offer and the innovation transformations taking place. So, those that do not read beyond the titles are not picking up the positive press. So while the majority of article shows a fuller picture- the “If it Bleeds, It Leads”  title approach undercuts the support they offer. Some of our stakeholders, administrators, and patrons in their busy lives only remember the misleading lead. On the flip-side, have any of you noticed the new decorating trend for restaurants and co-working spaces to look like a traditional library- they are intuitively seeking the quieter side of libraries. Imitation is the sincerest form flattery. The world of commerce and interior decorating are turning to libraries for space inspiration and ambiance recognizing that many people love the structure and architecture of libraries with all the positive associations and purposes of them. Yet, the direction that actual library design is going moves towards a futuristic aesthetic. I feel both of these circumstances fall prey to the “either/or” fallacy in the classical argument; a faulty reasoning that states that there are only two extreme solutions that are possible.

I am officially reclaiming our headlines so that libraries are an “and” not an “or.” This false dichotomy has been plaguing the understanding of our programs and space that you are either a quiet, traditional library or you are a buzzing, cutting edge learning space. Why can’t we have we have both. I want both. I try to accomplish both; and I know through this organization, many of you do too. Instead of swinging wildly on the pendulum of trends represented in  “either/or” thinking, I prefer that we move to the rhythm of a metronome where we set the pace- ticking back and forth in equal measure-contemplation and collaboration, introspection and expression, solitude and camaraderie, traditional and contemporary, print and digital, etc. How do we influence, convey, educate stakeholders outside of our library world- our administrators, teachers, and students that we as experts in this domain continue to contemplate the uses and purposes of our spaces that we can honor and improve the best of our heritage and embrace new ideas, mediums, and space usage as well. To listen equally to our veteran and venerable librarians and our riveting, rule-breaking rookie librarians and every librarian in-between?

I find solace and inspiration in our AISL and greater librarian community. When you share a new way you restructured a research project you are adding the “and” back in. When you share how you restocked recycled items to your makerspace you are adding the “and” back in. When you share about “big literary events” productions you are adding the “and” back in. When you share how you defined a quiet space and collaborative space you are adding the “and” back in. I also find immeasurable support and ideas about how to balance the spectrum of our roles through the annual AISL Convention. I had never been to a convention before with an equal balance of program sharing and exploring many physical libraries- a marriage of program and place.  I now conduct my own library-tourism based on the AISL convention when I travel. I am so excited to learn how we all balance program and place next week in Atlanta. These narratives are the primary sources so important to share the broad and all-encompassing value we add to our communities. I send my gratitude to your multitudes of library forms. Happy National Library Week!


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Origami with Lower School

In my last year of library school, I did my teaching internship hours with a librarian who traveled between schools for adjudicated youth. There were lots of limitations on these schools, some of which included no scissors, hardback books, a collection of books let alone a room dedicated to it (or a room without asbestos in it). I’d done library service in jails, but this was something different. One of the days I spent with shadowing the librarian, we did origami with a group of older middle schoolers. The young man I sat beside was decidedly not into paper art. After every fold, he refused to continue. I’d encourage as I stumbled my way through the activity, too. But, then he would the next step. Each argued fold turned into a crane. On the subway home, in the paper for the semester, in the years that have followed I have thought of that interaction and what it taught me, all of which can be summed up in a slogan a teacher I loved taught: “I love you, keep going.”

On the Friday leading into spring break, a half-day, all the 1st-4th graders spend in the library. They spread out on towels and read silently or listen to a storyteller. It is a well-loved tradition, no matter if the mechanics of the day sometimes shift in big (the annual big/little Easter Egg hunt bifurcating the day) or small ways (the mobile zoo instead of a storyteller). So, this year we read, watched an episode of Mister Rogers that included an interview with the inventor of our beloved mindfulness tool, the Hoberman Sphere, took a break for egg hunting on campus with the older kids, read some more, had a Horton Hears A Who inspired yoga story time with a guest instructor, and a surprise visit with the fluffiest rabbit and newborn baby bunnies care of a parent. In there too I snuck in a craft that I’d been brewing up with the aid of Pinterest. We watched a video on loop- how to make an “easy” origami heart. By the end of the day, I had dozens and dozens of hearts. When we came back from Spring Break I set out to do as I’d planned and that was to make a mobile. I’m not crafty. There are lots of things I am. Interested in patient, quiet crafts is not one of them. But I spent Monday threading the hearts. Tuesday we hung it from a lucky little hook already installed in the ceiling.

Today, one of the kids said to me, Are those the hearts we made? Why did you choose those hearts for the mobile? They aren’t that good. Some people couldn’t even fold right!” Because I’ve had similar conversations about perfection with myself and others, I had a response ready. “That’s the point! They aren’t perfect. But you all made them and so they are perfect. The point was the effort and love y’all put into it.” And I wasn’t just saying it to sound good, really. These hearts dance from the ceiling, the rest hang in a garland/banner elsewhere. When I look at them I think of all these imperfect hearts, some more than others, all together and how lovely it is. When I look at the ceiling I think, “I love you [no matter what, no matter who], keep going.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time for a Throwback

When I was younger most of my projects came in the forms of book reports, posters and the occasional diorama. Today, our students are creating movies, podcasts and slideshows to share what they know. The skills they develop from collaborating and problems solving together are invaluable. And of course they become more facile with the tools they will need for their future. But there is something so satisfying in creating with your own two hands. It was with this in mind that we decided to create dioramas in third grade. Students were challenged to pick a part of the book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin and recreate it in a shoebox. This is a book the entire third grade reads, so it gave us a common ground.

Before we started we discussed the importance of setting in a story. We read Dogteam by Gary Paulsen, a story of a dogsled ride through the woods on winter night. We found the words and phrases in the story that described the setting and helped to convey the feel of the ride. The students then shifted their attention to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Since this is a chapter book, we discussed how the images we see in our mind are similar but still different. In this way the book, like all stories, is a unique and personal experience. The students then chose a scene from the story they could clearly visualize in their head and then set to work recreating the scene in the shoebox.

Right away it was obvious the different skills this project demanded. Students had to problem solve differently. Instead of seeking and finding different parts of a program they had to create from scratch using paper, scissors, glue and clay. They could not choose from a vast array of colors, they had to find ways to develop the colors in the clay. What colors and how much do you add to get the exact shade you need? What happens when you have limited materials and you make a mistake? When working digitally there is much more room for error, for discarding something that didn’t work. When working with physical materials, we needed to discuss conserving, sharing and adapting when there is a mistake. Digitally we can bring in images that we don’t create, but rather use something someone else created. In this project every aspect was created by hand. For some, those who maybe struggled with fine motor skills this was more challenging. And yet, not one person complained, checked out or asked for someone else to do it for them.

Some aspects of the process were very similar to working with computers. Although each student was creating their own diorama, there was a sharing of ideas, of technique and much discussion on how to create a certain vision. In this way, the collaborating and group problem solving was the same as when the students work with technology. Although there was some roaming as students checked out each other’s work, mostly students were absorbed in their own process or stuck with the students near their own work space.

For me, this was a reminder that technology is awesome and students love to work on computers. And there is legitimate value to working off computers and working in the throwback project.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A pledge


I am fortunate to be heading to #aisl2018 in Atlanta in a few weeks and as I age become more experienced, I’ve learned to apply greater intention to my professional development. I find it easy to become overwhelmed with all that’s possible, and so aim to be more effective and efficient by setting some goals:

  • As in the past, I’ll focus on bringing 3 action items back for short-term implementation (any more and the whole list gets swamped by daily responsibilities; I’ll review longer term possibilities over the summer)
  • I’ll try a new format for my conference report (in the past, I’ve used Animoto and Canva – always good for me to learn something new)
  • I’ll work on balancing time with long-time colleagues (can’t wait to catch up with my roomie!) and connecting with new librarians

This last one is important. I’ve benefitted enormously from the wisdom and guidance of others, and it’s time to pay it forward. While sometimes in denial about the years flying by, I’ve been around for a while and there’s a new and exciting generation with whom I need to connect. As accountability it the key to whatever success I’ve found (clear to those of you who follow my @bookremarks Instagram account), I’m pledging here to sit on the bus with someone new throughout the conference. And I’ll report back on this at end of April.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Magic of Library Programming



A few years ago we started running “big bookish events” here at Mercersburg.  They offer us the opportunity to step out of our research shoes and into our fandom shoes. Our events have been a huge hit with our community and after holding our third annual event, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve gathered along the way.

  1. Know your why. We love hosting big events on campus because it is an excellent marketing vehicle. Students who aren’t motivated to sign up for book club are much more likely to attend “An Evening at Hogwarts.” These same students see their friendly librarians having fun and are now less afraid to come ask us questions.
  2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The first big bookish event was just a Harry Potter themed dinner with a few short student-run skits. The next year we upped the ante by adding a dance to the dinner and did a Gatsby themed “Flappers and Fitzgerald.” This year we built on our Harry Potter event, expanding it to include classes. Students came in, were sorted, ate dinner in the “Great Hall” and then attended Potions, History of Magic, and Divination. Had we tried to do classes the first year, without trying dinner and an all-in-one activity first, we wouldn’t have succeeded. Building on the event each time, rather than trying to do everything the first time, makes it much more manageable.
  3. Leverage your faculty. Putting on an event for 140+ students takes a lot of man-power. Find the faculty who love the book/fandom as much as you do and put them to work! We had the theater department hang the floating candles, members of the history and math departments teaching History of Magic (trivia) and Potions (slime making).
  4. Listen to your students. After every event, I survey the students about what worked, what didn’t, and what they’d like for next time. While it can be hard to hear that they didn’t enjoy the Photo Booth that took hours to set up or wanted even more interactive activities, it helps inform events going forward.

Have you hosted a big bookish event? If you haven’t, what theme would you choose?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Serving International Students

This year I’ve been looking at a couple of “big picture” issues at our library, squeezing in my investigations around the edges of everyday library life: user experience, especially of our online presence, and examining those new AASL standards with an eye toward linking them with other school priorities, including cross-walking with other sets of standards (a whole other post!). Among other things, these projects are leading me to another big question that I have begun to think about in a new way; how best to serve our international students and English Language Learners (ELLs). In my consideration of these students and their needs, I have tended to focus on the second part of this description – service to ELLs. In collection development, class visits, one-on-one instruction and summer reading selections, I have tried to accommodate and learn how to provide accessible, interesting, and useful materials and information. However, I have felt slightly at sea when trying to learn more about school library service to ELLs – much of what I find, rightfully and crucially so, addresses the multifaceted and diverse needs of young students from immigrant or refugee families or those growing up in the U.S. who speak a language other than English in the home. For the most part, these just aren’t my students – our ELLs are international boarding school students in middle and upper school enrolled here in order to learn and build on English skills, and usually to prepare for the TOEFL and study in an American college or university. These students and the way to approach serving them, I have recently realized, may have more in common with international student experiences in academic libraries. While I have found almost nothing specifically about serving international students in independent K-12 school libraries, plenty of academic librarians have researched, written about, and created resources to support international students coming to their institutions.

This now seems so obvious, but my focus on the age group we serve in K-12 schools has often kept me out of diving very deep into practices common to academic librarians. Well, no longer. While my students needs and backgrounds are also diverse and multifaceted, perhaps I should begin to balance my investigation of library services to younger ELLs with strategies tested by our colleagues in higher education to support international students as readers and researchers.

In chapters he wrote for two books: International Students and Academic Libraries: Initiatives for Success (ACRL, 2011) and Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning (ACRL, 2008), John Hickok relays the importance of understanding students’ prior experiences of libraries in their home countries and previous schools. He then recommends incorporating comparisons into library orientation sessions for international students, so that students may understand that notions they may have about libraries and librarians do not necessarily match what is offered in their school. This matches what I have gleaned from interactions with students over the years, but reading this in such plain terms was kind of revelatory. Based on Hickock’s strategies, I am eager to try a few new ideas to engage and support our students:

  1. Interview faculty members who are from or who have lived overseas, especially those countries from which our students are coming.
  2. Have casual conversations with international students to get a sense of what their perceptions are about the library and the role of the librarian.
  3. Connect with young alumni who have matriculated at institutions whose libraries have made specific efforts to reach out or offer special programs to international students.
  4. Collaborate with ESL faculty members to include more hands-on library time at the beginning of the year, introducing myself and the physical and virtual spaces, and ideally embedding library instruction into summer camp or new student orientation.

I’m not sure whether creating a resource guide specifically geared toward international students is the way to go, though many college and university libraries have done so. (A search for LibGuides for international students retrieved pages of results from universities; none from a school in the first four pages of Google results, anyway.) However, I am awakened to the need to learn from the powerful wisdom of my ESL teacher colleagues and academic librarians in not only collection development and appropriate information literacy scaffolding, but also user experience. A lot more articles just got added to my professional reading list!

If you have discovered useful resources, UX design ideas, or effective ways of providing library services including information literacy instruction to international and ESL students in middle and high school, please comment!


Hickock, J. (2008). Bringing them into the community: Innovative library instructional strategies for international and ESL students. In D. Cook & R. L. Sittler (Eds.), Practical pedagogy for library instructors: 17 innovative strategies to improve student learning (pp. 159-167).

Hickock, J. (2011). Knowing their background first: Understanding prior library experiences of international students. In P. A. Jackson & P. Sullivan (Eds.), International students and academic libraries: Initiatives for success (pp. 1-17). Chicago, Ill.: Association of College and Research Libraries.





Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Strategic Searching

Each year I partner with our phenomenal 7th grade history teacher to do a lesson on Strategic Searching and ProQuest.

The students are tasked with finding information about an issue in Latin America; however, if they put Issue in Latin America in a search in ProQuest they will get tens of thousands of results. So, before we look at ProQuest, the students practice some keyword searching to identify good keywords to use and help narrow their search results.

For the first activity students play a keyword game. For differentiation, I have three game options ranging in degree of difficulty from easiest to hardest.

Google a Day is definitely a challenge but so, so fun! We all do Google a Day at the end and then use the archived Google a Days for more practice! I read the question and then the students race to be the first one to find the answer. The better your keywords the more quickly you find the answer! The students get better as they attempt more Google a Days and they learn about history at the same time! Additionally, we make each student share which keywords he or she used when he or she is the first to answer the Google a Day. The best part is that the students actually have FUN with the librarian and the lesson! 🙂

Next, we go to ProQuest and talk about using good keywords to narrow our search. The students are then tasked with selecting keywords to find an appropriate article to use for their assignment.

I am always looking for interactive ways to make students better digital resource users. If you have any sites or ideas that have been helpful please do share! Thank you!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Inquiry through Interview: What is the news supposed to do?


Guest post by Chris Young. A version of this post originally appeared in January on my blog, The Cardigan Papers.

Photo by Branden Harvey on Unsplash.

I often wonder if middle and high school students are as concerned about the integrity of the news media as we adults are. Do young people know why the grown-ups (or school librarians, at least) have recently become so bent out of shape about fake news, media bias, filter bubbles, and viral rumors? Do our students spend much time thinking about the fourth estate’s role in our democracy? Some certainly do, but I know I didn’t at their age. If students don’t appreciate what the real news is supposed to do, do they see any reason to worry about fake news?

I thought it would be interesting if the seventh grade students in my semester-long library class had a conversation about the news with their parents. Maybe a conversation with a trusted role model at home would help put future news literacy lessons into context for students. I also like any kind of assignment that gets kids interacting with family members. So I asked my students to record an interview with a parent or older family member asking their opinions about the news media.

This was an optional homework assignment for my students, our first involving audio, so I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I took about three minutes of class time to show students how to record an interview using the voice memo app on their phones. WNYC’s Radio Rookies has an excellent video tutorial along with tips for conducting a good interview. I asked my students to use the following prompts:

  1. What is the news supposed to do? What should an audience expect from a news source?
  2. At its best, the news media can . . .
  3. At its worst, the news media can . . .

I emailed parents to explain the purpose of the assignment and let them know that participation was voluntary. After the interview was recorded, parents were asked to email the audio file to my work address, noting whether or not I had permission to share their recording with the class.

The individual interviews were fantastic. Students did a great job with mic placement and recording and it was wonderful to hear parents give such thoughtful, measured responses about a contentious topic. I was so pleased with the interviews that I decided to take the project a step further and weave the responses together into a short podcast à la This American Life or StoryCorps.


Ocenaudio makes audio editing easy for beginners.

This next step was only going to work if I could find a free audio editing app that was easy to use. After researching options, I downloaded Ocenaudio and studied John Keisker’s five minute YouTube tutorial to learn the basics. I found free, quirky background music at the YouTube Audio Library. After some basic editing and mixing, the following montage was born. I share it here with permission from everyone involved in the recording:

How cute is that?

I like the idea that students and parents dedicated a few minutes to having this conversation about the news media’s role in our democracy. I also like that students are taking steps toward being journalists themselves. How much more fun would it be to get students to write their own interview questions and edit their own audio? The tools are simple and readily available and my students will figure out how to use them faster than I can. They will, however, still need guidance in setting standards for ethical journalism and responsible media production. I love imagining what producing authentic, quality news pieces could teach students about consuming news.

More than anything, this assignment was super fun. The class got a kick out of hearing the montage whether or not they submitted audio. I loved playing around with tools and a form that were new to me. And the positive PR generated for the library program by sharing the final podcast was, as we say in New Orleans, lagniappe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment