Reflection on Mobile Devices & Connections

This past week’s module had excellent timing. Lately my students have been driving me insane with their absolute inability to put away their phones during class. At my school, the Great Cell Phone Policy Debate has been left in the hands of the teachers (as I personally think it should be). As a math teacher, I know that my students will be using their cell phones as calculators at home when they work on their homework – I use my cell phone as a calculator all the time! – so what’s wrong with having them use it in class? I also love using internet-based quizzes (like Kahoot and Quizizz), and while I am fortunate enough to have enough Chromebooks for my students to use, if they have a phone, why not use it as the tool it is?

This Debate, as I’m sure most people are aware, is a hot topic in education. Many people do not agree with me, citing reasons such as those in the video below. (Note how they provide no cited references for their claims or statistics, however.)

So when this module discussed how mobile devices can be used as tools, I loved the ideas. People are already using their phones. Why not use their phones to connect to them?? I kept thinking, “How can a school library effectively and efficiently enhance a student’s learning experience through their mobile device?” I came away with a few ideas and a lot of think about.

One idea that is solidified in my mind after this week is that the school library website needs to be mobile friendly. Although I know very little about website design, I’ll have to find someone who does or get to learning, because I completely understand the vitality of this concept. Students use their phones even more than I do, and I hate it when websites are not mobile friendly; it discourages me from using those sites at all. That is definitely not how I want my students to feel about the school library website!

One of the articles this week discussed beacons, and I loved that idea! I appreciated Alice’s post and her more thorough research into beacons, but I’ll have to do some more of my own to see if this is viable to use on a public school campus. If so, what a wonderful idea! My students need constant reminders about homework assignments and test dates and I still get complains that they were not aware of something I said three times, posted on the school gradebook website, and wrote on the whiteboard. Maybe if the message went to their phone, they would actually see it!

The last concept that I came away with is not to be discouraged. Sure, my students are driving me nuts with their texting and scrolling through instagram in class lately, but mobile devices are an excellent tool, and I should not ignore that just because they are annoying me. Yes, there is a balance to be had, but as a school librarian, I should continue to look for and encourage that balance instead of supporting any sort of banning.

Emerging Technology Planning Assignment

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my reflection post about a concept that really struck me: teaching life skills at the library. The article we read for class was about one library that offered such classes, under the name “Adulting 101,” but in my research, I discovered that many other public and academic libraries have been hosting similar programs. I think that introducing this sort of program in a high school library is a logical way to meet these often unaddressed needs of students, staff, and other members of the community while increasing engagement and involvement in the school library. As I am currently still a high school teacher in the classroom and not yet in the library, this program design is based somewhat on my current high school, but in a general, flexible way in order to be applicable to my future school library site.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

  1. To teach real world skills in through interactive discussions and hands-on experiences
  2. To engage students, staff, and parents (or other members of the community) in library-based school activities
  3. To increase use of the school library resources and space
  4. To provide an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions about life skills
  5. To address the missing gap skills that the student population feels that they need to learn to succeed academically, professionally, economically, and socially
  6. To encourage life-long learning

Description of Community you wish to engage:

 The main target community for this program is the high school students from our campus. Staff and other members of the community, including parents and other family members of our students, are secondary considerations. Staff and other members of the community would be primary sources to engage in helping teach these skills to the students and whoever else may show up.

Action Brief Statement:

For students:

Convince students that by coming to the library to learn various basic life skills they will be better prepared for life after high school which will enable them to succeed academically, professionally, economically, and socially because they will have some practice with these foundational skills.

 For staff, administration, & other members of the community:

Convince staff, administration, and outside members of the community that by providing students with the opportunity to learn a variety of life skills not addressed in the school curriculum they will better fill the gaps in the students’ education which will better prepare them for life after high school because the school’s goal is for the students to be successful members of community in every aspect of their lives.

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)

Bernhard, B. (June 3, 2019). ‘Adulting’ classes around St. Louis offer life skills not taught in school. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved from https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/adulting-classes-around-st-louis-offer-life-skills-not-taught/article_2e09cab6-a35b-5d64-807f-9ede69dfba2a.html

Dar, M. (July 19, 2017). Libraries provide teens with important life skills. School Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=libraries-provide-teens-with-important-life-skills-ala-annual-2017

De Leon, L. (December 17, 2018). ‘Adulting 101’ classes are teaching people life skills in Central Texas. KVUE. Retreved from https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/adulting-101-classes-are-teaching-people-life-skills-in-central-texas/269-623906315

DiTullio, N. (March 5, 2019). Adulting 101: Life Skills Classes for Tweens, Teens and Adults [Webinar recording]. Retrieved from https://onlinetraining.tsl.texas.gov/course/view.php?id=390

Ford, A. (2018). Adulting 101. american libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/

Life skills academy. San Jose Public Library. Retrieved from https://www.sjpl.org/lifeskills

Sapulpa Pubic Library. (April 15, 2019). Adulting 101. Retrieved from https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adulting-101-life-skills-class-at-sapulpa-public-library-8-class-series-2019-tickets-45976852002

Woodland Daily Democrat. (August 20, 2019). ‘Adulting 101: Life skills for teens’ course sponsored by city. Daily Democrat. Retrieved from https://www.dailydemocrat.com/2019/08/20/adulting-101-life-skills-for-teens-course-sponsored-by-city/

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service:

 As is usual with school libraries, the school administration would probably be involved in either developing policies or at least approving policies written by the school librarian. One possibility would be developing a school club on campus involving students and other staff members to help develop the specific guidelines and collaboratively write a mission statement to help encourage ownership.

A suggested mission statement would be something as follows: “The mission of the Life Skills at the Library Program is to teach students how to prepare for life outside of high school through interactive and hands-on experiences.” Linking this mission to the mission of the school library, the school, and/or the district is also a good idea.

The following are suggested to be included in the guidelines:

  • How often these programs would run?
  • Who would be present to run/manage the individual classes?
  • When would be the best time to offer these classes? (During lunch, after school, later in the evening?)
  • How should the topics be chosen in order to reflect student needs?
  • How can local authorities on the topics be found and asked to teach a class?
  • What topics should involve hands-on experiences?
  • What can those attending the classes be reasonably asked to bring?

The following are suggested to be included or considered when creating the policies:

  • Permission for members of the community outside of the district to be on campus, if necessary.
  • Considerations of when the classes can and should be held.
  • Considerations of what funds can be used.
  • Considerations of what staff members must be present during classes.

Librarians and those helping create the guidelines and policies should keep in might any school or district regulations that might affect the program.

 Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

              If it is possible for this program to be run as part of the school club, fundraising following school policies for club fundraising could be a major source of funding for any resources or equipment that might be used. As often as possible, librarians and those running the program should seek for parents or other members of the community who can volunteer their time and skills to teach students according to their specialty (e.g., a parent who works as a mechanic helping teach basic car maintenance). If involving staff members outside of the usual school hours in a teaching capacity (not as an attendee), a discussion with administration should be held to see if either payment via a timesheet or counting this time under any contract-required hours of adjunct duty is possible.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

              This program would undeniably change each school year, not only as those running the program would learn from each previous class, but also as the students attending change and the needs of the students vary. After permission is granted from the school administration, a discussion of the policies around the program and funding for staff involvement should happen as soon as possible, but at least before meeting with the group of students and staff who will be running the program. Advertisement for such a council will also take a couple of weeks. Participation in any sort of Club Rush event would be ideal.

Each school year, the new collection of students and staff who will be running the program should gather together at the beginning of the school year, ideally the first month. Student officers should be selected in the first meeting. Also during the first meeting, a plan should be developed to figure out what the current student population is interested in learning through the programs classes. This could take place over the following couple of months or consistently throughout the program. Discussion of social media pages and other types of promotion should also be addressed in the first couple of meetings. Meanwhile, for the first couple of program classes, those students involved in running the program can brainstorm ideas. A timeline should be established in the first couple of meetings for when the classes should take place, and how often (suggestion: about once a month). Plans for fundraising should take place at least once a semester.

The librarian should be involved as much as necessary for the program’s success, but as little as possible to ensure the program is directed by the needs of the students themselves. Individual or groups of students should be put in charge of the different aspects of the program, including finding and reaching out to outside “experts” to ask if they are willing to volunteer to teach, reaching out to any other staff members (teachers, counselors, or administration) who the students would like to ask to teach, managing the finances (including fundraising events and expenses for resources for classes), running social media sites, and other promotional events or items.

 Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

              The staffing for this program would involve more than just the librarian; other staff members, teachers, counselors, or administration, might need to be involved, depending on the timing of the classes. Approval might be necessary for these hours to be counted as adjunct duty or compensated via a timesheet. Student volunteers, whether involved through a school club or getting community service hours, could also help as “staff” in charge of aspects of the program.

 Training for this Technology or Service:  

              While the librarian should not be expected to know or learn all of the skills covered through the courses, as outside experts would ideally be involved as much as possible, the librarian and those involved in managing the classes (whether volunteer students or staff) should be trained in how to best help facilitate the instructor. The librarian would ideally design the training based on the chosen topic. It should be scheduled a few days prior to the event, perhaps during lunch or after school in a brief meeting.

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

              This program can be promoted on any and all of the school’s social media pages, as well as through the school library’s social media pages. A social media page specifically for the program could be created and ran by a student from the club running the program. Awareness of classes should be included on school bulletins or school news videos whenever possible. Physical posters in the library and in classrooms or other areas on campus can also promote the program and individual classes. Any classes offered outside of school hours and open to other members of the community can also be advertised at local places such as the local public library.

Evaluation:

              Evaluation of this program could be based attendance, attendee satisfaction, and feedback from those running/teaching the classes. During the classes, the librarian or another person help run the program could take a count of those who show up, differentiating between students and other adults. Surveys could occasionally be given to all or select attendees, either on physical paper or digitally through some means such as Google Forms. Students and staff helping run or manage the classes can be asked for feedback either with opened questions or a general request for feedback; this information can be received in person, on paper, or via email. Similar feedback received in similar manners should be sought from any members of the community who volunteered to teach a class in the program.

              Hopefully, students who attend the program’s classes will share their positive experiences with their classmates, teachers, and parents. Interest and engagement will increase with time, and more students will participate in identifying what topics should be covered in future classes. The program might be expanded by involving more members of the community, whether individuals or other group organizations. Possible increases in funding could increase the possible times and days that program classes could be held to increase attendance or the resources available to be used in the classes.

Reflection on Hyperlinked Environments

Most of the time that I learn new information or come across innovative ideas in this or other classes, my mind starts thinking of ways that these generalized concepts can apply to my (currently) fictional future high school library (AKA, my ideal future workplace). The ideas discussed over the past few weeks in this class about participatory services in hyperlinked environments really resonate with me.

In my INFO 233 class (the other course I am taking this semester), we are currently discussing policy statements, and some of it is dry and traditional, but there are so many innovative and progressive ideas that can better meet the needs of students and staff using the school library, and even other members of the community! Reading Christie’s post Reflection: The Hyperlinked School Library, I found myself nodding over and over. Yes! This idea of “reinventing” the school library is exactly what I want to implement in my future workplace. And involving the community is one exciting possible way to do so.

I loved the concept of idea boxes. Oh, and the article Adulting 101? So often in my career as a math teacher I have heard students (and parents!) complain that they will never use the concepts that I teach in class (which I have to admit is often true, if I consider the specific mathematical skills themselves and not the overarching skills of problem solving, use of precision, deductive reasoning, et cetera). And I have to admit that there are many life skills that are no longer taught in any classes at most high schools! Why not have the school library host sessions where students (and staff and even parents!) can learn how to sew, do their taxes, or change the oil in their car? Libraries, after all, are about learning. Not just books.

References

Ford, A. (2018). Adulting 101. american libraries. Retrieved from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/