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Posts by Sarah Ludwig

Common Sense Media's New App: Kids Media

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on May 21, 2013 - 10:37am

Kids Media is Common Sense Media’s new app. Free and available for Android, iPhone, and iPad, it's a convenient way to access the content from the website offering parents and educators reviews of games, movies, books, TV shows, and more.

I have a love-hate relationship with Common Sense Media, Unlike typical reviews, Common Sense Media helps parents find age-appropriate media for their children. Each review identifies the most appropriate age group to consume the media, as well as specific content that might concern parents: sex, violence, drug use, materialism. For example, the review of the new "The Great Gatsby" movie identifies the target age as 14 and alerts readers to the following acts of violence, among other things: “A man is held by two others while someone else hits him, in a very brief scene. Another character runs over a woman with a car; her body is shown many times hitting the windshield and thudding to the ground. A man is also shown shooting someone from a distance and then putting the same gun in his mouth. A man strikes a woman hard.” Read More »


Books-to-Shorts Learning

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on May 14, 2013 - 10:23am

One of the best parts of my job is sharing books with students. Sometimes, as a school librarian, I get so overwhelmed with research and technology instruction that I forget about books (it’s true!). But we have a robust YA collection that enjoys high circulation, and partly because three times a year, our middle school students are required to read a free-choice book over a long break in fall, winter, and spring. While requiring reading goes a bit against the grain of pleasure reading, the students can select any book they like and they do not have to finish it, which takes some of the pressure off. Before the break, every one of our middle school English classes comes into the library to hear about new books from me and to browse our collection for something to take home. The best part of this cycle, however, is the reflection. Read More »


Skills We Can’t Teach: Facilitating Authentic Experiences with Digital Citizenship

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on March 19, 2013 - 10:46am

Can students learn online skills from a teacher? More and more, I’m thinking the answer is no. Countless times, I  see high school students watch a YouTube video to better understand a concept that was already covered in class. It’s how kids learn. When they work independently, they apply and therefore retain the skills.

Yet we can’t turn students loose on social media without some discussion of responsibility. Character education is as important as Internet research. We have a charge to cover copyright, fair use, effective communication, and privacy. But how? Without real-world consequences, how will students understand that they really can’t use someone else’s image without asking? Do we teach our students these topics for the sake of plausibility? We teach them as is our duty, in other words, but they can choose whether or not to listen? Read More »


Click-Happy with Bookmarklets and Extensions

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on January 3, 2013 - 12:00pm

“Stop being so click-happy!” a teacher at my school sometimes tells her students. She is referring to their habit of clicking the mouse, rapid-fire, while waiting for a page to load or a program to open. It’s a good habit to break, that’s for sure. But I’m “click happy” in a different way: with bookmarklets and extensions.

For me, it all started with Diigo, which I’ll admit I was reluctant to try as a devoted Delicious user. But the bookmarklet sold me. Clicking a button on the toolbar is so much easier than copying and pasting a link somewhere. (Delicious has since developed a bookmarklet.) Lately, I’ve been adding these buttons like a mad woman. Each one serves a separate but equally great purpose.

Note: I use Google Chrome exclusively on a MacBook. Your mileage may vary slightly depending on the browser and operating system you use. Read More »


Letting Go of Boolean Operators: Rethinking How Research Is Taught in Schools

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on July 2, 2012 - 5:35pm

I am constantly struggling with the sense that I’m doing a lot of talking for nothing. I painstakingly teach kids how to use a database and they go straight back to Wikipedia as soon as I turn them loose. I show them how to use keywords and operators and they always fall back on their “ask Google a question” method.

I get frustrated. I’ve considered asking their teachers to require the use of databases. But lately I’ve been admitting to myself the deep, dark truth: I’ve got it backwards. I’m forcing students to use tools and search methods that are more cumbersome, more frustrating, and less successful simply because I, the librarian, think it’s the best thing to do. If students are going to spend the rest of their lives searching for information in the easiest, most natural way, I must embrace that. Read More »


Ad Hoc Librarianship

Submitted by Sarah Ludwig on May 22, 2012 - 12:07pm

I'm so excited to share some of my experiences as a librarian and technology educator. I work at a preschool through grade 12 independent school in Connecticut. I've had two other library jobs, but I've always focused on services to kids and teens. And now I have this awesome hybrid job where I work both as a librarian, to our middle and upper school students, and as the academic technology coordinator, a position that serves faculty and students all the way from preschool up to twelfth grade.

For the first few months of my job, I was known almost exclusively as the "computer teacher." Though my predecessor also had the title Academic Technology Coordinator, she'd started as a "specialist," as we say in schools. You guessed it; she was the computer teacher. Through the tenacity of my manager, who persistently referred to me as the Academic Technology Coordinator, it became recognized as my title. The distinction relates to curriculum. Read More »