Published: Jan 18, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Jan 17, 2012 07:27 PM
Gone are the days of stuffy libraries, dusty books and massive encyclopedias. Abundant information and research sources require new skills from students and librarians. Mills Park Media Specialist Mindy Tomasevich, who writes a blog and has co-authored a book on graphic novels, encourages students to ask questions and think deeply about facts.Tomasevich worked as a media assistant at Davis Drive Middle while she got her masters degree, then served as media specialist there for 10 years. She helped open Mills Park last year and continues to tweak her services to teach critical thinking skills and give students the best access to research sources and author adviceQ:
In your blog, you mention the new expectations in the Common Core State Standards. What is the crux of these standards?A:
In my own words, the standards are pushing for a higher level thinking. Instead of just learning facts, students must develop their own questions.
The standards also focus on nonfiction reading and writing. It is one of the most important skills kids can develop. Nonfiction comprehension helps them on tests and in high school and college. In our careers, we read emails and reports, newspapers and blogs.
Author Marc Aronson (who has written many nonfiction books for middle-schoolers) came to visit, and he talked about what he calls "inquiry learning." He came up with his latest book idea by having a question and wanting to discover the answer.Q:
Your blog talks about Aronson's visit and follow-up activities, including the eighth-graders' research projects. How do you handle the author visits, and what do the students gain?A:
First of all, let me say thank you to Angie Morris (part-time at Davis Drive and Mills Park) and Susan Jackson, the media specialist at Davis Drive Middle. And the Mills Park PTSA sponsored the visit. I'm very thankful.
This summer, we got together as media specialists and started talking about past author visits. We traditionally do a lot of activities and build-up before the author arrives, then there is the event. The kids often seem most excited after the author leaves. We decided this year to do more follow-up activities to capitalize on that excitement.Q:
How do you and the other staff members guard against plagiarism?A:
The type of questions students are asking can't be answered directly; they are more opinion. That in itself helps guard against plagiarism. Here in the media center and in the classroom, students learn about analyzing resources for reliability, using technology as a tool and the ethical use of information.Q:
You also talk about your school's focus on literacy. What does that mean to you?A: It means two things to me: being able to read effectively and developing a love of reading. If students don't develop a love of reading by this age, they often never do. We make sure there are plenty of options for pleasure reading in the media center.Q:
Is manga still popular?A:
Yes. I just co-authored a book called "Connecting Comics to Curriculum." I think the quality of graphic novels has improved, and many of them have won literature awards. There are great stories and fabulous artwork. Students are so much more visual than they used to be, and they enjoy having the illustrations.Q:
What are some of the suggestions in your book?A:
A lot of people think graphic novels are simpler, but I think they require you to read in a different way. There are a lot of adaptations of classics; for instance, there are a lot of different versions of Shakespeare. Teachers can use the graphic novels as an introduction, read the novels alongside the original or use them as a follow-up.