Building on the momentum from last year’s inaugural 3Ts conference, we invite you to spend a day with colleagues from across disciplines, moving beyond exploration and into active use of the technologies enhancing proven pedagogy.

Mark your calendars to participate in

3Ts 2012: Engaging Students with Teaching, Technology, and Transliteracy

March 16, 2012

Hosted by: University Libraries, University at Albany

Albany, NY

What is the 3Ts conference?  Visit: http://threetees.weebly.com/

Co-Sponsored by
CPD, FACT2, SUNY Librarians Association Working Group for Information Literacy (SUNYLA WGIL)


I think I have lost my creative, narrative mojo at this time of the day and the week, so here are “just the facts.”

RYSAG summer camp 2010

The storyline: Over 50 middle to high school students from the Rochester City School District (RCSD) arrived at SUNY Geneseo on the morning of July 19.  They were greeted with the news that SUNY Geneseo had received a national grant that allowed for two weeks of security training to prepare for the imminent migration of a new population.  For the first week of this two-week overnight academic camp, students would engage in a series of courses that would offer the necessary skills and knowledge to gain more information on the incoming population once security clearance was achieved. On the Monday of the second week, students were told that the Etans would be arriving from their planet Eta located some 20 light years away from Earth.  Not only would big Etan masses be settling in the Rochester area, as well as other areas of the world, some had already been living among us, scouting the location to determine the best cities to suit their needs.

The challenge: As selected peace agent candidates, our students were asked to compile the necessary information and develop the necessary skills to craft a final peaceful integration plan that would merge the incoming Etan community into the existing Rochester population with as little conflict as possible.  The proposal would be presented to a panel of highly esteemed “officials” – one from NASA, another from Homeland Security and a third from the National Grant Office.  Presentations required the following pieces of data:  an introduction to the history of immigration in Rochester, a profile of the Etan people, potential conflicts that could arise with the merging of two communities and each teams’ ideas for strategies to mitigate conflict and promote a peaceful coexistence.

Security training: Students rotated through four core classes – homeland security science lab, natural resources lab, global studies and communication.  In homeland security lab, students learned how to detect gunpowder residue and how to isolate DNA and create personalized DNA necklaces.  They also engaged in chromatography and forensic toxicology.  In natural resources lab, students were instructed in the scarcity of resources like fresh water and how a competition over such resources can lead to conflict and war.  A simulation was created in the classroom that encouraged students to fight over desired resources and then reflect on the reasons behind the behavior.  Peace agent candidates studied issues of immigration, both legal and illegal, in global studies as well as viewing other cultures with a subjective lens.  In this context, an activity surrounding the anthropological study, Nacirema, helped students to see American culture from an outsider’s perspective.  Finally, in communication class, students worked inside and outside of the classroom.  In class, they learned of different key concepts in intercultural communication – chronemics, chromatics, proxemics, appearance, artifacts and nonverbal communication . . . to name a few.  Outside of class, students split up into subgroups and interviewed a number of campus staff and faculty to gather more information about a wide array of experience in cultural transition, conflict and resolution and peacekeeping.  Some of the interviewees posed as Etans and donned the traditional markings from their culture.  Within the first week, the Etans’ stories needed to be believable within a modern day context (an argument with a family member over cultural beliefs, inner conflict over the inability to bear children, a living adjustment from one place to another), but needed to also represent the Etan story of struggle and migration once their identity was confirmed in the second week of camp.

The fun: Using the face of a faculty member who has been tangentially involved in past camp storylines, librarians, professors and RYSAG planning members created an Etan persona of this “first male leader” by tinting his photo blue, inserting his messages into each team’s blog, displaying his photo prominently (or in some cases, subtley) during scheduled interviews and producing a final day message from the “mothership” that addressed the good work completed by each team.  Additional hijinx included a “peace offering” that was left at each team’s headquarter location – a wine glass decorated with the Etan female symbol for water and maturity (envision the aquarius symbol) and filled with blue liquid (blue Kool-aid), a blue candleholder with one flameless candle lit and scattered multicolored beads – and a screen shot of a fake wikipedia entry describing the Etan culture fed into each team’s blog.  And did I forget to mention the Etan Intergalactic Library Blog?

Anyway . . . the general gist of the camp.  Perhaps the following video can bring greater life to the engaging, enriching and unforgettable camp experience.

Here we go again!  Another summer, another exciting RYSAG camp!  We are just a week and two days away from counselor orientation and then on Monday, July 19, about 60 middle and high school students from the Rochester City School District (RCSD) will descend upon SUNY Geneseo‘s campus.  This is the time of the summer when my organizational efforts really hit mach speed.

Thanks to the diligence and consciensciousness of one of our outstanding counselors, currently home for the summer and away from the hustle and bustle of confirming plans for the camp organization and storyline, I’ve been (positively) pushed to focus on finalizing schedules and google docs so that everyone involved will have the necessary information before arriving on campus.  Last night, I spent time refining the camp storyline in a google doc, adding notes from a previous meeting with the Camp Director as well as new ideas developed in a recent meeting with the camp’s faculty planning group.

Potential volunteer interviewees (faculty and staff from all different academic disciplines) have been contacted and most have responded with their availability to meet with our students to discuss personal experiences with conflict, difference and/or adaptation.  One more reminder should hopefully push the lagging interviewees along.  The hope is to have a nearly finalized interview schedule before our Monday (7/12) meeting with all camp volunteers.  At this meeting, everyone will be informed of the general camp plan, goals and expectations, putting us all on the same page.  We arranged for a similar meeting two years ago and that really helped for a smooth transition into the camp’s “theater.”

This year’s camp, whose theme focuses on peacekeeping and conflict negotiation, should be interesting with two teams consisting of brand new (to RYSAG) RCSD students entering seventh and eighth grades in the fall.  For the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of repeat students, many of whom have participated in every camp experience since the 2007 inception.  Our numbers for four-peaters are dwindling but we have still retained nine of the original RYSAG CSI candidates.  Understandable considering these students are likely to be entering the tenth grade this fall, where scholastic expectations and requirements are heightened and students are now at an age where they can begin working full-time summer jobs.

Our four-peaters, and even a handful of three-peaters, form one of our four camp teams and serve as CITs – counselors-in-training – where leadership skills and roles are stressed, placing the students in good stead for future counselor positions.  How amazing will it be if/when these students return in their pre-senior and even post-senior/college summers to assist with the running of the camp!!!!  Our first introduction to these students was when they were entering seventh grade!  How quickly time passes.

But I digress . . . the reasoning behind the title of this post refers to a recent SUNYLA conference presentation I offered.  I had two main reasons for developing the presentation.  First, to highlight the amazing RYSAG camp experience, which I’ve been wanting to boast about for a few years now.  The second reason was to encourage librarians, especially those new to the field, to identify their strengths and interests – both personal and professional – and promote them by joining campus projects and committees where librarian talents are seriously needed.

The strengths and interests I identified within myself at the presentation include:

  • organizational skills, especially where logic and scheduling are involved
  • technological knowledge and ability to make practical use of technological tools to bring people together
  • creativity
  • risk taking
  • pedagogical knowledge
  • team player, wanting to bring people together in meaningful and fun ways
  • mediator, using my contacts and knowledge among various academic departments

All of these attributes have come in handy when putting together the RYSAG camp infrastructure.  From creating rotating schedules for campers, instructors, counselors and interviewees to using a variety of social networking tools for the good of document and idea sharing (i.e., google docs, wikis, blogs), camper communication and training (i.e., gmail accounts, blogs, Truveo multimedia searching, interactive web scavenger hunt), and tracking volunteers’ availability (i.e., Doodle) to suggesting key players to the camp storyline based on a wide range of contacts in different departments due to library instruction efforts and other campus-wide committee participation.

As mentioned in the SUNYLA presentation, while I am well aware of the amazing skills and special talents librarians bring to the table, especially in campus-wide forums, I become downright giddy when I hear of stories where librarians lead the faculty/staff pack and offer a sense of unity, focus, organization, creativity and expertise.  It is these stories that remind me what a valuable service we provide to the campus community.

And again, I encourage all librarians to realize the unique attributes they have to offer, to get involved in campus projects and to promote the good that our librarian superpowers can foster.

I love it when professors work on their semester syllabi so far in advance!  I just met with a friend/colleague and she already has dates, times, and specific focus for a number of library sessions I’ll be providing to two of her classes.  The first course, including a series of 3 research sessions, will allow me/us to tweak the course flow from last semester.  I know I overdid it on some of the sessions, adding way more information than what was needed, in the spring semester so this will give me the chance to redeem myself.  🙂  For the second course, the professor has some really great learning activities set up and I am excited to be a part of the discovery process for her students.  What’s even better is that there is a student TA for each class that has been added to the mix, so the three of us – librarian, professor, and student – will meet and collaborate.  The powerful triangular model that Ellen Kintz and I have subscribed to is popping up in other courses now!  I love it!

It looks like I missed the boat on applying for the Liberal Studies Graduate program at Empire State College.  The deadline is June 1 and there is no way that I can get my material together in time.  Oh well.  This will be my push to work on the application, essays, and gather recommendation letters in time for the spring semester deadline.  The delay will also allow me to look into tuition waivers and figure out what specific topic I would work on in the field of Cultural Anthropology.  I could even incorporate something with an educational focus and kill two birds with one stone.  Hmmm, the world is my oyster.  I can choose any topic I want!  And the spring semester is typically slower than fall so this will help me to ease into taking on an extra class or two.  I still have no idea how ESC cobbles classes together with the vast amount of subject areas one could study.  I once wrote an e-mail inquiring and got no response back.  😦  Doesn’t bode well for ESC.

Ellen Kintz and her sister were in the library today.  Linda left for home today and Ellen is off to Mexico next week.  I showed her the French publication and she suggests we write it up in our campus e-publication geared toward faculty.  I shall do that.  It won’t be but a few lines and it will bring to light the work that Ellen, I and various ANTH students have been doing.  Geesh, if I’m going to write this up, I could also write up the presentations we’ve done with Tom recently and I could write about the LOEX presentation with Susan.  And I could even write up something about this blog.  If LOEX highlighted anything in my mind, it’s that we at Milne Library rarely publish all the great things going on in this library, especially as it relates to the greater campus community.  We definitely tend to present at conferences, but no publications.  Our Director could write an entire book on what he’s been able to accomplish within his 12 or so years at SUNY Geneseo.  But no time for writing.  We must carve out time to write and publish.  Otherwise, we’ll remain the best kept secret in upstate NY.  🙂

I just performed a Google search to see if the LOEX presentation that Ellen Kintz, Katie Lamie, and I provided in 2005 was online.  Instead of seeing the ppt slideshow and handouts I had hoped to find, I found this French publication.  Look at the bottom of page 3 (Quelques exemples) and you’ll see the fifth footnote with details of that reference on page 4.  In general, the author writes that at LOEX 2005, a group of three presented a lively session 1) regarding the link between disciplines and information literacy and 2) surrounding our collaboration, not only between faculty and librarian, but one that equally includes students.  The article goes on, in detail, to describe our session.  How cool to read about our work in French!  Not to mention that our session was one to be highlighted.  Very exciting!

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