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Images in a developing online collection.

Introducing the Online Learning Lab

An exciting new technology is coming to your classroom! Last week, the Smithsonian Institution launched their new Online Learning Lab. The Lab gives anyone access to the Smithsonian’s digital collections, including millions of digitized images, videos, artifacts, and documents. Following the Lab’s “discover, create, share” model, items in the collections can be organized, annotated, and remixed according to your imagination. Have a topic you’re interested in? Create a collection for yourself or to share with friends, like the one I created about my home-sweet-home: Nevada.

Images in a developing online collection.

Creating my collection in the Smithsonian’s Online Learning Lab.

While it’s a fun tool for exploring personal interests, the Online Learning Lab was created for teachers with the help of teachers and is intended to be used in K-12 as well as higher education classrooms. You can use the Lab to give students access to customized collections, including your original annotations, quizzes, and assignments. Students can also create their own collections, making this the perfect tool for a digital exhibit assignment. And even as you add your own annotations and titles, you won’t lose or overwrite the Smithsonian’s excellent metadata so you don’t have to worry about endangering the knowledge of one of our nation’s most venerable institutions.

The Smithsonian is presenting the Online Learning Lab this week at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Even if you weren’t able to make it to Denver for the conference, you can still get started with this incredibly fun and easy tool. So, what are you waiting for? Your class could be on the cutting edge.


Graphic Novels Are Books, Too!

A few weeks ago, I told a few teenagers, who had expressed disinterest in reading, that graphic novels are books, too.   I mean, you have to read them to understand the story, though not in the same way that you would traditionally think about reading.  Part of the experience of reading isn’t just reading the words.  Sure, words are important.  Bad writing can lead to disinterest and frustration; and beautiful writing can elevate the reading experience.  However, there is a something else going on as you process the words on the page – you’re discovering the narrative, analyzing character motivations, and becoming emotionally involved.

Image of a young woman reading a book on a chair. Text: Book hangover: Inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's worldGraphic novels have fewer words, but the words they do have  – often in the form of thought and speech bubbles – are important in developing the story and giving insight into the characters.   The artwork, including decisions on how to organize and frame the panels, informs mood and emotions that must be interpreted through a different sort of process – a visual one that “reads” the images.

In the past 10 years, I’ve seen an explosion in the popularity, variety, and availability of graphic novels in the US.  Rather than a genre, it has become more of a format and a more widely acceptable one at that.  Graphic novels used to take up about half a shelf in bookstores and in public libraries; now there are multiple bookcases worth in these places.  Graphic novels have helped reluctant readers to more positively engage with reading and develop literacy skills.  They have also become a teaching tool in the classroom.

Shelves of graphic novels

Photo by Morebyless (CC BY 2.0)

Here are some graphic novels available at Wheelock:

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang ; color by Lark Pien. Three stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans.

A + E 4ever : A Graphic Novel by I. Merey. Coming of age story about two lonely gender non-conforming teens who meet and form a friendship.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers.  A story of a teenage boy on trial for his supposed role as lookout in a murder.

Rapunzel’s revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale ; illustrated by Nathan Hale.  In this Old West retelling, Rapunzel saves herself and gets of out sticky situations using her hair as a lasso.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.  Story of a young girl who signs up for roller derby camp and is struggling with spending the summer apart from her best friend.

Images of 5 book covers. From L to R: 1. a boy and girl sleeping facing each other 2. a lone young black teenager 3. a chinese boy with a robot 4. A boy and a girl with very long hair 5. A girl with blue hair on skates

Looking for more?  A fan of English-translated Japanese graphic novels like I am?  The Wheelock community has access to the Boston Public Library and its many branches and to the Brookline Public Library.  Just bring in your Wheelock ID and they will hook you up.  I recommend Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama for those interested in bleak yet compelling post-apocalyptic stories and Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya for lighter fare.
Cover of the first volume of Fruits Basket. Cover features a high school girl with long brown hair surrounding by orbs containing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac

For those interested in how graphic novels work in the classroom, check out our blog post from 4 years ago and the below books:

An cover image inspired by Superman; a man peeling open his white shirt to reveal the words, "The Graphic Novel Classroom".

The Graphic Novel Classroom POWerful Teaching and Learning with Images. Available online at Wheelock.

Image of a teacher standing in front of a blackboard pointing a stick to the dialogue box: Class, Please Open your Comics

Class, Please Open Your Comics : Essays on Teaching with Graphic Narratives / Edited by Matthew L. Miller. Available online at Wheelock


Open eBooks: Books for Low-Income Children

On February 24th  2016 Open eBooks, an initiative to make thousands of books freely available to children in need, was launched nationwide.

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of new and popular reading titles that can be accessed digitally by low-income children who may not have access to materials at home, in school, or in their communities. This app will empower children to expand their knowledge, improve their reading skills, and develop digital literacy.

open ebooks

Open eBooks in the App Store

President Obama first announced the Open eBook initiative in April of 2015. Since then, literary
organizations from around the country have worked tirelessly to make the project a reality. The app was developed and curated by the Digital Public Library of America, The New York Public Library, First Book, and digital book distributor Baker & Taylor. It received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, as well as contributions from many major publishers, including Bloomsbury, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, National Geographic, and Candlewick.

At the Wheelock College Library, we are excited about this new advancement in digital access to children’s books, not only because it goes a long way towards improving the lives of children and families, but because it supports one of the core values of all libraries. After all, aren’t libraries the original open eBooks? Providing public access to information is hugely important to our society, as is summed up by this quote from the America Library Associations’ website:  “Libraries help ensure that Americans can access the information they need – regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers”. Projects like Open eBooks create additional opportunities to reach communities that are geographically isolated from a public library system.

Are you involved with an organization that serves low-income children and are interested in getting access to the Open eBooks app? Learn more about eligibility requirements HERE.


Heeding the Call to Service and Higher Education

The Library’s very own Eric Clark was recently featured in a video on the Wheelock College website. Eric has been one of our student workers since the fall of 2015. In the video, Eric talks about his passion for helping others and how it led him to return to school and pursue a degree in Social Work. He brings to work with him every day the same enthusiasm and commitment he applies to his studies.

Check out the video below, or find it here on the college’s website.

We love that the video features so many scenes of Eric working and studying in the library! He is an absolute pleasure to work with and always jumps at an opportunity to help both students and coworkers. We want to congratulate Eric on being recognized by the college as a student who is truly inspiring a world of good, and we can’t wait to see where the rest of his journey takes him.

 


First-Generation College Students

“Students who are first in their family to attend college are a diverse group who juggle numerous life roles and identities. Being a college student is one of these many identities, and it is viewed as an avenue for upward mobility for not only the student but also their family and community… These first-generation students reflect the changing demographics in the United States and are among the fastest growing segments of our population.”  (Stories as Knowledge: Bringing the Lived Experience of First-Generation College Students Into the Academy, by Rashné Jehangir.)

At the most recent All-College meeting Adrian Haugabrook, Linda Banks-Santilli, and Mary McCormack gave a presentation about first-generation college students.  Following the links below will take you to some of the background research described in their presentation.  And if you’d like help in following up on anything you read please let us know and we’d be glad to assist.

Aschaffenburg, K., & Maas, I. (1997). Cultural and educational careers: The dynamics of social reproduction. American Sociological Review, 62, 573-582.

Barry, L., Hudley, C., Kelly, M., & Cho, S. (2009). Differences in self-reported disclosure of college experiences by first-generation college student statusAdolescence, 44 (173), 55-68.

Bui, K. T. (2002). First-generation college students at a four-year university: Background characteristics, reasons for pursuing higher education, and first-year experiences. College Student Journal, 36 (1), 3-11.

Collier, P., & Morgan, D. (2008). “Is that paper really due today?”: Differences in first-generation and traditional college students’ understandings of faculty expectations. Higher Education, 55 (4), 425-446.

London, H.B. (1992). Transformations: Cultural challenges faced by first-generation students. New Directions for Community Colleges, 20 (4), 5-11.

Maton, K. I., Teti, D. M., Corns, K. M., Vieira-Baker, C C, Lavine, J. R., Gouze, K. R., & Keating, D. P. (1996).   Cultural specificity of support sources, correlates and contexts: Three studies of African American and Caucasian youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 24 (4), 551-587.

McMurray, A., & Sorrells, D. (2009). Bridging the gap: Reaching first-generation students in the classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 36 (3), 210-214.

Olive, T. (2008). Desire for higher education in first-generation Hispanic college students enrolled in an Academic support program: A phenomenological analysis. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 39 (1), 81-110.

Orbe, M. (2008). Theorizing multidimensional identity negotiation: Reflections on the lived experiences of first-generation college students. New Directions for Child & Adolescent Development, 2008 (120), 81-95.

Phinney, J.S., & Haas, K. (2003). The process of coping among ethnic minority first-generation college freshmen: A narrative approach. The Journal of Social Psychology, 143 (6), 707-726.

Roberts, J.S., & Rosenwald, G.C. (2001). Ever upward and not turning back: Social mobility and identity formation among first-generation college students. In D.P. McAdams, R. Josselson & A. Lieblich (Eds.), Turns in the road: Narrative Studies of lives in transition. (pp. 91-119). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  (Wheelock College Library 155.24 T866)

Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.