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Friday, March 27, 2015

Reviewing Apps

Photo credit:  Quite Adept
At the New Media Training I attended last week, I was excited to explore some apps that really invite joint attention between a parent and child, are engaging and interactive, and allow kids to explore early literacy and math concepts in a fun way.  There are so many apps in the App Store--just sifting through the thousands of "educational" apps proves to be a pretty time-consuming process, and sometimes dishearteningly fruitless.

Carissa Christner and Anne Hicks, our trainers from Little eLit, had a few suggestions for places to look for reviews.  Here are some of my favorites:

Common Sense Media ranks apps on a variety of criteria, including ease of play, consumerism (including in-app purchases), privacy and safety, violence and scary stuff, etc.  The reviews discuss educational value, give details on the rankings, and give suggestions for parents for further discussion with their kids based on the app's content.  You can limit the results to make searching easier.

Carissa reviews apps for the Madison Public Library, so watch that website for updates.  Carissa has a lot of experience looking for good apps, and her reviews are relevant and come from a smart librarian's perspective.  You can also limit results to make searching easier.

Little eLit is a stand-by, reviews are mixed in with articles, written by librarians who can tell you how they have used the apps and what works (and what doesn't work).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Inspired for Outreach with Impact

I just listened to the archived recording of a UW-Madison SLIS Continuing Education webinar by Yee Lee Vue of the Appleton Public Library.  She was talking about library outreach to the Hmong community.  She spoke specifically about their project to bring Every Child Ready to Read information to Hmong families.  I recommend listening to the webinar--it is truly impressive to learn about the number of people they have reached, and the meaningful outcomes they have achieved.  However, many of her suggestions are useful for any outreach effort.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Next time you have an opening, strongly consider recruiting someone from the community you are trying to reach.  This helps address language barriers, and makes many facets of outreach easier and more effective.
  • Even without someone on staff who speaks the language, there are crucial things you can do to enhance your outreach efforts:
    • Develop relationships with trusted agencies and people that already are serving the community you want to reach (churches, mutual assistance associations, etc.)
    • Take time to develop relationships in general.  Let word of mouth work for you.
What are you finding helpful for outreach?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark Your Calendars

I just got back from a very stimulating and invigorating training with Carissa Christner and Anne Hicks, both contributors and trainers for Little eLit.  So much to sort through and think about and delve into further!  Look for more blog posts in the coming days about some of the great things I learned from this training.  In the meantime, mark your calendars for 2 terrific training opportunities coming up next fall, funded by a Library Services and Technology Act grant,  that will help us all feel better equipped to act as media mentors in our own communities.

September 18 at WITC in Rice Lake, Carissa Christner (of Little eLit and Library Makers blog fame) will demonstrate the hows and whys of incorporating digital media into storytimes and other programs, talk about evaluating apps, and discuss favorite ways to discover new apps.  This training will be geared toward librarians (though others are welcome to join us).   Carissa is a really smart, interesting, creative and engaging presenter, I think you'll love her!  (Watch for more details, but mileage subsidies and lunch will be covered by the grant)

October 6 at the Florian Gardens in Eau Claire, Chip Donohue (Erikson Institute and nationally sought-after consultant and trainer about early childhood and media) and Erin Walsh (Mind Positive Parenting, based in Minneapolis), will talk about media in the context of brain development, and help us get a better handle on how we can provide information, training, and resources to families and caregivers about media.  I'm hoping that we'll draw a broad audience of early childhood professionals to this training!  (Watch for more details, but mileage subsidies and lunch will be provided by the grant).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Young Children and Technology at Home, Part 3

As  this publishes, I'll be at a training with the folks from Little eLit, learning even more about this topic!

One of the things Devorah Heitner mentioned in her webinar last week was to help parents be aware about the digital footprint they are creating for their young children.  Be aware of what you are posting about your children online.  What photos?  What stories?  As soon as they are old enough, ask children for permission to post photos and stories and accomplishments.  Be thoughtful about the footprint you are creating for them, and help model for them that thoughtfulness for when they are old enough to create their own.

Related to this, Devorah recommended that parents consider having a documentation-free week.  Try going to the playground without taking photos sometime and see what that's like!  She's not suggesting giving up documenting those moments altogether, just taking a break from it to see how it changes things.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Build Your Own Unleashes Creativity and Fun

Alisha from the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library recently needed to come up with a quick program for a no-school day, and here's what she came up with:

"I needed to plan a program quick, so I asked library staff to bring me any random things they had sitting around and didn’t want anymore.  The kids could dig through the “junk” and build whatever they wanted.  I didn’t know if this was a program the kids would get into, but those that came loved it and didn’t want to leave at the end of it.  I loved seeing their imaginations at work and what treasures they made out of other people’s garbage.  Very creative."  

At the program, kids could also build smaller creations to see how well they'd fly in the wind tunnel she made a while back (for a different program).  Here's where she found the instructions for making hers.  And she generously offered to lend her wind tunnel to other librarians who are able to drive to Eau Claire to pick it up and drop it off.

Monday, March 16, 2015

52 Weeks of Teen Programming

The Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has yet another terrific resource for all of you busy librarians out there!  52 Weeks of YA Programming was created by a team of YSS members who have had successful teen programs and were willing to share about them.  I'm pleased as punch that 8 of the contributing members are from IFLS (Ashely Bieber, Cole Zrostlik, Becky Arenivar, Katherine Elchert, Colleen Zertler, Kerri Ashlin, Krissa Coleman and Georgia Jones). Way to go YSS, and YSS members!  For a weekly reminder of the program, check out the YSS Blog.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Young Children and Technology from Devorah Heitner, part 2

More follow-up from Devorah Heitner's webinar Strategies for Using Digital Technologies at Home from the Erikson Institute.  I'm taking a few of her points and making individual blog posts out of them, but I highly recommend checking out the  recording.

Family Culture around technology:

  • She recommends that families pay attention to how they use media and technology on a weekend day and a weekday. 
    • Do children get up earlier than parents?  If so, are how are they interacting with media independently?
    • What about mealtimes?  Every family is different--be careful not to shame families who do not have dinner together regularly.  
  • How do families monitor content for different age/sensitivity levels of children (sometimes it is not always the youngest child who is most sensitive to violence, for instance).  How do siblings take care of each other in this regard?
  • What about caregivers in the home?  Do parents talk with babysitters, nannies, or family members coming into their home about the media use that they would like for their children?
  • Being aware of what adults are modeling is important.  In her work with middle school students, she said that kids say that it can be hard to get through the cloud of technology to get their parents' attention.  You don't have to completely give up using technology, but be conscious about it, make a plan with your child for when and how.