This week in class, we are thinking about advocating for your library. I thought the article, “Everyday Advocacy” by Carolyn Foote addressed a lot of important aspects that I hadn’t encountered previously. On page 29, she says to, “Make sure your message is clear, consistent, and focused on your students.” I think it’s important to maintain a clear message–especially one that focuses on the library’s importance when it comes to students.

Otherwise, I think the message could come off as tangential, and one that could be self serving. Especially with online advocacy, people can comment, and conversations can spew out of control. Realizing, that although it may be great to put in your two cents about libraries overall, and to try to convey your passions toward your job, that may not be the best way to serve your students. Instead, the conversation could be directed more towards what’s important to you, rather than why the library is important to the students.

I think it’s also important to document what you do. Take pictures (without showing students’ faces, of course) about what’s happening in your library. Have students write down at the end of the year what they love about the library (so you can build a collection of student voices). Foote’s article is important in advocating the library everyday and why it’s important to constantly advocate, rather than just when times are tough.

Not only can you advocate the importance of libraries by encouraging students to share their opinions, showing what’s happening in the library, as well as creating an online presence, but when you are advocating with students in mind, you are also reaching students who may not utilize the library. By advocating for the library’s importance, you are also showing non-users why the library is important, how it can help them, or raise awareness that the library is more than just a place for books. Also, by sharing the importance of the library everyday, you are not only advocating for the students, but celebrating the library in a positive light.

Here is a video I created to use as an introduction activity to a group of students to inspire them to share what they love about the library. The introduction will serve as a way to help them create a video themselves to advocate for their library.


Cyberbulling: Raising Awareness in the Library

In the article, “Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric” by Danah Boyd,  it raised some interesting points about language used to discuss bullying. Boyd stated that many students may not identify themselves as being bullied, or being a bully, because of the language used by educators and parents may not resonate with students.

If language used to talk about bullies and their victims are not registering with students, then maybe it’s time to try a different approach. Many students may not be aware that one negative comment on the internet, is an act of bullying. One of my classmates (Thanks, Milly!) brought up the issue that there are so many “gray areas” of bullying.

One of those gray areas is to stand by and watch bullying happen without speaking up to stop it. By watching your friend harass someone online, you are part of the act as well. Many students may not be attacked by cyber bullies, or may not be a bully either. By creating this bully vs. victim language, students who fall somewhere in between may not feel the need to listen or take responsibility within their school culture.

One way to create effective change, would be to have an event in the library. Showing positive ways to interact online, through social media, and to extend that to the physical school, can be empowering rather than a negative “don’t do this” message.

For my event, I would first have a week long cyber bullying awareness program at the library. My event would be held at a middle school.  During that week, I would have “ambassador” volunteers, who will have the option to use their social media accounts to send positive messages to classmates. I would also have post it notes that act as “twitter” messages to emphasize the act of sending kind messages. In those messages, students would use the hash tag and then in 140 characters or less, write something positive about a classmate, friend, or student activity group (soccer team, debate club, etc.) and stick those notes on people’s lockers or in the bathroom, and places  around the school, etc. Throughout the week, there would be books that discuss bullying, and helpful information displayed in the library.

At the end of the week, there would be a final event. At that event, there would be a talent show. Before the talent show, I would show a video or have a speaker come in and talk about cybe rbullying and what to do if you are bullied. The talent show would be a way to emphasize  how each student has something special to share, and as a school we should be building people’s talents up, and making them feel good about themselves, instead of cutting them down. At the end of the event, people will go around the room and either write down or verbally share a positive comment about someone’s performance.

Here’s a video I saw on the Today Show that shows a student in Iowa City using social media to empower his classmates. This helped inspire my idea for my event. Enjoy!

Internet Filters in Schools

This week in class, we read articles about Internet Filters and protecting children on the internet in schools. One article that caught my attention was, “Do You Want Kids to be Safe Online? Loosen Those Filters!” by Mary Ann Bell. She raises some really good issues surrounding internet filters and says that internet filters are making kids less safe. She says that internet filters are “restrictive overkill”.

And I would have to agree.

One of the issues that she addressed, that concerned me greatly, was that school educators and administrators are not allowed to access the questionable sites at school, and override the filters. If a student approaches a teacher and says that they are being bullied on the internet, they are concerned about a fellow student, or there is something that is offensive,  and the teacher cannot access that material, how can they help? This is overkill that adults cannot access the content to fix the problem, or talk with the student about it. We should be creating an environment where students can ask questions or show something on a site that is bothering them or that they are concerned about. By not being able to access the site, and go over it with the student, realistic conversations about issues students  face on the internet are eliminated. The adult goes home to look at it, the student goes home to deal with the problem, but the moment for an educational opportunity and a conversation could be lost.

I wouldn’t call myself “anti-filter” but at the same time, I do think they have a place. Adults can’t monitor students all of the time. If there is one teacher in a class of 25 students, it is unrealistic that the teacher would be able to monitor everyone’s behavior. Some students will access a site and it could greatly jeopardize their safety.

However, even with the filters, there is all this secrecy surrounding these sites. All students hear is that it’s bad, inappropriate or doesn’t have good information. We should be teaching students why it’s bad. If it’s inappropriate, how would you handle that situation? Report it to a teacher, parent or adult you trust. Walk them through the best, and safest way to deal with a problem. If it’s not good information, what makes it bad? What is good information?

It’s overkill to just expect filters to do the job of educators. The bottom line is that students are people. They can question information, they can use judgement and common sense. But they can’t do any of these things without the proper education and knowledge surrounding these topics.