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Straus Reflective Essay

The last six years of my student career have been spent at Dominican University pursuing my MLIS. I was accepted into the Graduate program of Library and Information Sciences in the Spring of 2008 and began my coursework that summer. This past fall I finished up my last class, Collection Management. Although it took a very long time for me to complete the program I am glad to have finished. When I first began my course work at Dominican, my goal was to receive an endorsement in school library on my teaching certificate. Realizing that I really enjoyed the challenges of the program, I decided to complete the required coursework for my MLIS Degree. I have been employed in Cicero School District 99 for the last 18 years. I am currently a media specialist at Columbus East School, which includes 21 classrooms in grades 4-6. Preceding my current position, I was a Gifted Resource Teacher. My responsibilities included co-planning and co-teaching lessons with gifted cluster teachers, and testing and evaluating students for acceptance into the gifted program. Prior to that, I was a 4 and 5th grade regular division teacher. Cicero has a student population of approximately 13,000 students; 94% of the students body is Hispanic. Therefore, my experiences working with ELL children is extensive. What I feel is unique about the artifacts in my e-portfolio is that several of them relate to my past and current positions in District 99. Before starting in the graduate program, I knew that I would eventually become a media specialist in District 99. We are a large district and many of the media specialists were in queue for retirement. While going forward with my course work I always had one question in the back of my mind; how could I use what I created for my course work in my current profession not only as a gifted resource teacher, but as a future media specialist? As I reflect on the artifacts included in this e-portfolio, one ought to
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Straus Reflective Essay

clearly see how my experiences at Dominican and my experiences as an educator in Cicero District 99 are correlated. Many of the artifacts included in my e-portfolio relate to ELL students and revolve around curriculum, lessons, events, and programs in District 99. The following reflective essay will provide an overview of the five learning goals and outcomes and how they directly relate to my past experiences at Dominican University and my current experiences as a school media specialist in District 99. As Goal 1 states, developing a professional identity including a commitment to core values is critical to being a good librarian. Keeping abreast of current issues and trends in books, literacy, collection development and management are key. Having a clear mission and vision for my library allows members of Columbus East to see that I take my job in the library profession to heart. Caring about my students and being aware of core values and ethics involved in serving my community shows my dedication to the profession. As incorporated in the learning outcomes and artifacts in Goal 1, one can conclude that I work hard to maintain the highest standards of a professional in this field. I pride myself on having a quality library program with the best possible services and resources available that reflect the school committees needs. Reading is encouraged and students are taught to become independent thinkers and learners. Students embrace technology and learn how to locate and access information responsibly. As with any profession, moving forward and keeping up with current trends is essential to the profession. One of the biggest changes that will affect me personally in the profession is the assessment of student skills in the media center. Unlike many school librarians I am expected to teach library skills to thirty classes a week and provide report card grades for each
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Straus Reflective Essay

student four times a year. It has been brought to the attention of our teachers' union that school media specialists in D99 will be asked to provide a written test assessing student learning on skills taught throughout the year. Therefore, the media specialists in my district would like input into what students are being tested on. Six media specialists, including myself, have decided to form a committee to develop an assessment tool to measure student growth in media. The written description of Outcome 1e, participate in professional activities and associations, describes more in depth what we are doing to work though this issue. Our longterm outcome on this committee is to develop an appropriate tool for assessing students in grades 3-6. We would then like to present this tool to the Board of Education and District Administrators in hopes that they approve this tool for district wide assessment in media. Lastly, we are hoping to use this assessment piece as a springboard to rewrite a media curriculum aligned with Common Core and ISAIL Learning Standards. When looking to develop a successful media program, understanding the informational needs of the students and teachers is crucial in determining what materials and resources to provide my students. In Goal 2, understanding the essential nature of information and its relevance to society, one must reflect on the dramatic changes that have taken place over the last fifteen years on how information is gathered and received. No longer are books and periodicals primary sources of information. We have become a digital society and our students have become digital natives. Books, artifacts, primary sources, and journals are now found online and easily accessible at the touch of a button. Information can be acquired locally and globally through digital sources such as databases, websites, and other online resources from home computers and mobile devices. Along with this technology comes new responsibilities on
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Straus Reflective Essay

how information is disseminated and who is responsible for providing the education on the use of this information. In the past, when much of the research material was found in print format much of the responsibility fell on libraries to manage and store information. If students needed to research information for projects and topics their parents would drop them off at the library for the day. With the help of the librarian, students would find the information and resources needed for successful completion of their task. Increased technology over the last 15-20 years has changed the way people now access information. Increased digital resources allows instant access to information. It is not uncommon for students to use web resources as the sole way to complete their research As information needs change, so does the role of the library and librarian. The artifacts associated with Goal 2, will look at different aspects of informational needs. Included in the artifacts for this goal is a presentationnon Digital Literacy, completed in my 773 class, directed toward middle school librarians. As students turn to the use of the internet for gathering information it is up to school librarians to provide them with the necessary skills and tools to effectively retrieve credible information. As a library teacher I spend a lot of time educating my students on the best way to locate and evaluate credible information from websites and online sources. Having a student body with a high percentage of ELL learners makes finding and purchasing resources for our student population difficult at times. The ELL power point, artifact 2c, includes resources and information on providing quality materials for ELL students in the library. Improved quality literature for the ELL population has become available over the last few years. I believe this trend will continue as our countrys population grows more diverse.
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The third artifact (2d), a Bibliography on Holocaust books, was developed to provide needed books for the junior high library that was lacking information on the Holocaust. I consider these three artifacts relevant to Goal 2 given that a variety of informational needs are met. The artifacts associated with Goal 3 were developed with the needs of my current 6th grade students in mind. The main focus of the social studies curriculum in 6th grade is Ancient Civilizations. I have found that when students are studying these areas with their teachers the demand for these books in our library increases. By evaluating my collection earlier in the school year, I realized that my collection was in need of a good make-over. The artifact for 3a includes a collection development plan for resources on Ancient Civilizations that Columbus East was deficient in. As this part of the collection becomes updated, I will needed to evaluate additional ways to use these books to provide students the skills to research additional information they may be seeking in other areas of the curriculum besides. Heavy emphasis on research for students in grades 4 and up is occurring as a result of the Common Core Standards. Our district is requiring that every student create a research project appropriate to their developmental needs. I have begun to closely analyze my nonfiction books as a result of this push to engage children in nonfiction texts across all areas of the curriculum. I am hoping to update and enhance my collection in both Spanish and High-Low books for the ELL student to better serve my school community. Gathering photographs and bibliographical information from safe copyright free resources such as Pics4Learning (artifact 3b), empowers students to access needed materials for class projects and reports. Making use of national databases and other selection tools, such

Straus Reflective Essay

as those illustrated in the artifact for Goal 3b provides students, teachers, and other media specialists necessary resources to find books. Many of the sites and resources that I discovered have come from projects I had to complete for classes at Dominican. The coursework required by Dominican University for completion of a special area certificate in School Library was valuable. Each class had certain projects that were expected to be completed on a variety of topics relevant to the school library profession. I thought that the design of each classes' framework gave graduate students ample experiences in preparing not only for teaching in a library setting, but for working in the library profession. Classes taught through Dominican provided students with an understanding of library fundamentals, background knowledge on the historic foundations of the library system in the United States, and the skills necessary to evolve in the digital era of the 21st Century. Goal 4, synthesizing theory and practice within a dynamic and evolving information environment, describes the education I have received at Dominican University in a nutshell. Knowledgeable professors and other adjunct faculty provided us with the tools to excel in each and every class. The core classes of 701, 703, 704, 725, and 773 were good foundations to the MLIS program and provided me with the tools to be successful in the remaining coursework. Although 703 was my least favorite part of the coursework required, the knowledge and skills I came away with from this class was advantageous to the future of my success in the library field. The exams (703 -artifact 4b) and papers (725-4a/4d)) were extremely relevant to my career in the media center as one shall conclude after the examination of the artifacts chosen for my e-portfolio. Projects and presentations done by peers have been helpful in locating
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resources to use with my students. I must confess, now that I am no longer actively taking classes, I am afraid that I am going to miss exposure to tools out there that can strengthen me in the library profession. I think one of the most important skills taught at Dominican University was to advocate for what you believe in. Being an advocate of the library and communicating with others toward common goals was instilled on me as a student since day 1. Each class required group and individual projects in a mixture of formats. The faculty were positive role models for library advocacy. The artifacts below reflect work done in my 725 class (El Dia Grant Proposal -5a) and my 773 class (Per Capita Grant Project -5c). Each experience, though in a very different way, prepared me for my current career as a school media specialist. As an educator, group collaboration and community involvement occurs every day. How well I can work with others impacts my life on a daily bases. Dominican University has enhanced these experiences and has given me the self-confidence to be a productive member of any group. I have also gained more confidence in advocating for what I believe in. One of the last artifacts in my e-portfolio supports Goal 5 outcome 5b, participate in an advocacy campaign. Currently I am on a committee to develop an assessment tool for our district that will be used to assess students skills in the library. The Pera" Committee was started earlier this year so that my colleagues and I would have a say in the assessment our students will be given. As I work through this process, I am able to see what is lacking in my day to day lessons so I can step up my teaching to improve my students skills and better prepare them for the future. As the "Pera" Committee continues to meet, I am anxious to see how this

Straus Reflective Essay

committee will evolve and the future impact it will have on the development of curriculum in D99. As I reflect back on my experiences at Dominican University I feel that I have been taught the fundamental skills necessary to work in a school library for the next 15 or so years. After retiring from education, my goal is to work part time at a public library in readers services. This will allow me to help others and share my love of books and reading. In the near future, I am hoping to become more involved as a Dominican Alumni. The monthly group that meets at the Butler Childrens Center sounds like a great opportunity to explore and keep current with Childrens Literature. Additionally, I would enjoy helping Dominican students out with students teaching opportunities and/or observation hours. Over the last two years two of my friends have enrolled in the MLIS program at Dominican and have observed me at Columbus East. I enjoyed having them see the media program in my school. I have a great working relationship with the faculty, and believe my library has some of the best books and resources available in the district . I can thank Dominican for the great experiences and training I received in the MLIS program.