Posts filed under ‘Teaching and Instruction’

Money Smart Week® @Your Library (April 2-9, 2011) and ID Theft Resources

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

American Library Association logo

American Library Association logo

The American Library Association (ALA), the Federal Reserve, and I hope that many librarians and their libraries are participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011! Money Smart Week (a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) events are taking place now at member libraries across the country covering topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit to ID theft protection, with many resources uploaded to the Money Smart Week® @Your Library official site, linked above. Visit this site for information on this initiative and for news and important links you can use this week, right now!Money Smart Week @ Your Library: April 2-9, 2011

Additionally, Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics (CBF) has hosted several free interactive panel presentations for the general public (students, staff, community members, etc.) and law enforcement personnel focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft—including financial literacy—and providing insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft.

Rider University's Center for Business Forensics

Rider University's Center for Business Forensics

Dr. Drew Procaccino, a professor of computer information systems at Rider, has organized and led these Identity Theft: What You Need to Know sessions with panels of experts from law enforcement, banking, legal, library, IT, CIS, and health care organizations. As a panelist several times and as a new member of the American Library Association’s Academic MSW@Your Library Committee, I want to again provide everyone with some frequently repeated “best practices” from the panel experts for detection and protection, especially since this week (until April 9, 2011), we are officially celebrating the 10th year anniversary of Money Smart Week. Here are the 10 best practices/advice from our panel of experts at Rider’s CBF sessions:

1. Shred with a crosscut or micro shredder pieces of mail that contain any personal information before throwing them in the trash at home or at work.
2. Place outgoing mail and retrieve incoming mail via a locking mailbox or official Postal Service box.
3. Use a virtual credit card number (available through most banks) for online purchases, rather than your “real” credit card—connected to your card, the virtual number can be set up to only be used once, for that one online purchase (or for longer, but only if you wish).
4. Keep an eye on your credit card when you are paying for something—don’t allow it to disappear out of your sight (skimming of your card could occur).
5. Inventory/photocopy what is in your wallet/purse and place that photocopy (back and front of cards) in a locked cabinet—if your wallet/purse is stolen, you have all the info.
6. Never respond to an unsolicited email from your bank, medical organization, etc., and don’t unsubscribe—don’t even click on the link, just delete it.
7. Cover the ATM keypad from prying eyes and cameras with one hand while you enter your PIN.
8. Review your credit reports (you can get a free one each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and if you stagger requests, you can get one every four months).
9. Clear private data from your browser (i.e., Firefox, IE, or Safari): delete temporary files, browsing history, cookies, cache, saved form information, and saved passwords, especially when using a public computer or kiosk at a library, hotel, airport, coffee shop, etc., and then shut down your browser.
10. Use different passwords for different sites—and try changing/updating your passwords to passphrases.

Last but least, my annually-updated free website, Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint, contains some of my favorite ID theft protection, privacy information, and financial assistance sites, among other things, found on experts’ sites on the free Web, including our Identity Theft: What You Need to Know seminar project’s 29-page handout from Rider University, available to all.

Remember, according to Terri Cullen, author of The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Pervasive Crime in America, ( “…Identity theft covers several different specific crimes, and collectively,…is one of the easiest crimes to commit, one of the hardest to prosecute, and one that is drawing increasing attention from the media.” So, feel free to share this information with all of your patrons and students, especially because proactively protecting your digital footprint and your finances is much easier than dealing with them after the fact as a victim—being a victim can be a very emotional, time-consuming, and financially-unrewarding process. Again, prevent it from ever happening to you, and help others do the same.

Money Smart Week @ Your Library small icon/logo

Money Smart Week @ Your Library

Anyway, I hope this all helps you during Money Smart Week® @Your Library this week, April 2-9, 2011. Enjoy partnering with and/or sharing pertinent information from your community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts this week to help all of our consumers learn to better manage and protect their personal finances!

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

April 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm 3 comments

All Types of Libraries Invited to Join “Money Smart Week @ Your Library” National Initiative

Posted by Robert J. Lackie

American Library Association logo

American Library Association logo

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced in October 2010 a partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to make “Money Smart Week @ Your Library” a national initiative from April 2-9, 2011, and things are beginning to heat up now in late December—at least for this national initiative!

Money Smart Week logo

Money Smart Week logo

Celebrating its 10th year in 2011, Money Smart Week’s mission is to promote personal financial literacy (Note: Money Smart Week is a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago). Throughout the 10-year history of Money Smart Week, libraries have been instrumental in facilitating and hosting quality Money Smart Week events. For instance, libraries of all types in Illinois (and Chicago), Indiana, Iowa (and Quad cities), Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin participated in Money Smart Week in 2010, partnering with community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations, and other financial experts to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances.

ALA and the Federal Reserve hope that even more librarians and their libraries will be participating in the first ever national Money Smart Week this spring, from April 2-9, 2011. Events will take place at member libraries across the country and will and cover topics from learning how to apply for a mortgage to teaching young people about credit. We all, librarians included, can benefit from that! Watch this site ( http://www.chicagofed.org/webpages/education/msw/index.cfm ) for information on joining the initiative, for news, and for important links you can use right now.

I will be posting again later this week requesting info from all Library Garden readers on programming ideas, as I am now, as of this month, on the Academic Money Smart Week @ Your Library Committee for ALA.

-Robert

Robert J. Lackie

Robert J. Lackie

December 20, 2010 at 11:00 am 1 comment

The [sad] State of NJ School Libraries

by April Bunn

Is this some kind of nightmare? No, it’s really happening.

Our state is broke and they’re coming down hard on everyone, especially education to help make up much of the 2 billion dollar deficit. Our relationship with the state government is so bad that even our acting Commissioner of Education Rochelle Hendricks decided not to address teachers at last week’s NJEA convention, as has been tradition for years.

In my post a few months ago, I talked about the recent change of our title  back to School Librarian.  To quote myself, and where I was at the time, “I love my job, no matter what the name or the place is called. I pledge to continue to work as hard as I can to keep my board and community aware of what I am doing as Media Specialist, Librarian, or Teacher-Librarian in our Media Center, School Library, or Information Center.”

The war against NJ Govt.

Now it’s early November and the budget cuts were beyond devastating

to schools and school libraries. Entire districts, like Woodbridge, lost their librarians.

It’s estimated that hundreds of positions were lost. My little one school district lost its librarian too. Yes, as a result of the mid-March enormous state aid cuts, my Board was put in the position of cutting almost $500,000  and my position and program were included in those cuts (along with teachers, a secretary, all the lunch aides and part of our basic skills program). Note: I still have a job because in addition to my School Librarian certification, I also have an Elementary Teacher certificate. So, I’ve transitioned to the 2nd grade classroom of one of my colleagues who was let go.

Our library program was strong and popular. Some of the current Board members had been active volunteers through the years.

Just some of the programs that will be lost with this decision:

A Weekly Book Club, held at lunchtime

Poetry Cafe
Recess Library Assistants in 4th-6th grade
Bookmark Contest
Reading Contest
Six Flags Reading Club
Collaborative projects with tech, art, and language arts on subjects such as: endangered animals and alternative energy

Recess quiet reading/study area

Student book reviews
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race tracking
Award-winning books gallery

Reader’s advisory for emerging and reluctant readers up to voracious YA readers

Visits to the public library to promote membership and familiarity

What will happen to these libraries? In my school, classroom teachers are responsible for taking their classes to the library and allowing students to pick books. Parents in my community are volunteering to come and help with book re-shelving.  While I’m always grateful for parent volunteers, they cannot replace a certified librarian. It’s a disgrace. The students will lose out in so many ways.

Pat Massey, past- President of NJASL, testified to Chairman Louis D. Greenwald and Members of the Assembly Budget Committee on March 25th, arguing that students need resource-rich school libraries that are staffed by state certified school librarians. The transcript can be found here.

I am sad and mostly angry at what happened here. To put salt in the wound, I am now Vice President of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) and am not even be doing the job while serving my term! I’ll work to advocate for the recall of these positions, but according my administration, we’re in this situation for a minimum of 4 years.

The outlook is bleak

I just saw a posting from a library school student on the YALSA listserv looking for a place to do her practicum in northern New Jersey and she is struggling to find a program that is still afloat. What does this mean for our award-winning MLIS/MLS programs that are producing excellent school librarians?

These budget cuts are far-reaching into the future of education. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is fighting the cuts in education, and local teacher associations are rallying to get the public’s support. Barbara Keshishian, president of the NJEA, the state’s 200,000-member teachers’ union, said in a statement that the proposed budget “is a disaster for public school children and for older students who want to further their education beyond high school … Gov. Christie is slashing education in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.”

Working hard and advocating for our jobs is the most important thing we can do right now.

Keep advocating. Don’t give up. Tell your towns that cutting school libraries (and public libraries) is not an option.

Keep the faith that we’ll wake up and find out that this was all a bad dream.

November 7, 2010 at 4:34 pm 12 comments

New ALA Learning Post: Reflections on Co-presenting

Posted by Peter Bromberg

Hey, check out my new post at ALAlearning.org on the benefits of co-presenting:

http://alalearning.org/2010/04/27/9-reflections-on-co-presenting/

April 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm 1 comment

Using Inkscape to make a text based portrait

Hi, all. I got an email recently from an attendee of my GIMP and Inkscape workshop (which I’ve had the pleasure to give on behalf of a few of New Jersey’s finest Library Consortiums). This attendee  asked how I had performed a particular effect in Inkscape during the workshop in which I use a bit of text as a brush in order to render a portrait. An example follows:

text based portrait

Text based portrait

Instead of writing out the answer in text (I myself am a visio-audio/experiential learner, and tend towards those kinds of solutions), I decided to use the question as a starting point for an entry in a daily project I’ve been working on at http://365sketches.wordpress.com, in which I’m trying to make a quick sketch a day in 2010 using free software to demonstrate the power of those tools.

You may want to check it out from time to time (or subscribe to the feed, if you’re into that kind of thing) to get ideas for how you can use free software like Inkscape to create interesting designs for your library’s fliers, posters, and other advertising materials and platforms.

If you’ve seen me talk on the topic of Best Practices in Design, you also know that I feel strongly that design, and tools like Inkscape, can change your life, your attitude, and your view of the world.

At any rate, I made the following screencast to demonstrate how I make images like the one above. Enjoy, and if you have questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Author: John LeMasney

February 4, 2010 at 10:15 am 4 comments

Teaching Generation M handbook–"hot off the presses!"

Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators, edited by my New Jersey librarian colleague Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic (Rutgers University-Camden) and me (Robert J. Lackie, Rider University), has hit the bookstores and is now available for your reading pleasure! Neal-Schuman (N-S) Publishers promised delivery by June 30, and true to their word, yesterday afternoon, UPS rang my doorbell with two copies, still warm from the printing press. ;)

I am especially happy to announce this publication on the Library Garden (LG) blog, since four out of the eight senior contributors to LG were willing and able to take time out of their busy schedules to write chapters within the handbook: Amy Kearns, Karen Klapperstuck, Tyler Rousseau, and, of course, myself.

I know that I also speak for lead editor Vibiana and our project development editor at N-S, Sandy Wood, when I say that we sincerely appreciated the hard work and diligence of all our two dozen-plus chapter authors. We hope that you find our handbook about working with and devising quality educational resources for “Generation M” – today’s group of teens and young adults born in the early 1980s through the mid-to-late 1990s – to be interesting and helpful.

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: Gen M, Generation M, educators, librarians

July 1, 2009 at 9:46 am 6 comments

School Library Media Specialists and Teachers- Can we really collaborate?



Collaboration



It’s a buzz word everywhere. You’ve seen it at ALA, AASL and every faculty in-service. If you’re like me, you’ve got it in your PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) and you start the year out with high hopes of all the amazing collaborative projects you’re going to do with the teachers in your building. Then, somewhere around October/November, you realize that your co-planning time is limited or non-existent and many of your teachers are so regimented with their schedules that they can’t see how these shared projects will actually help them in the planning, implementation, and assessment processes. We have a wide range of responsibilities and we deal with most of the people that work in our building in one way or another. Collaboration should be our middle name, right? You would think so. I’m here to point out one reason why it might not be working and to give you some hope for looking at collaboration in a new way.



Working with the “enemy”

One definition of the word is “To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one’s country.” Sounds inappropriate for the school setting, right? I think it might be quite relevant. If we imagine the school building as a country, it’s easier to understand why teachers feel like their classroom is their ‘territory’. In my elementary school setting, the teachers are alone most of the day with their students. They bring and drop off their students to specials, such as gym, music, or media center and often feel as if another classroom is “enemy territory.” If you’re lucky enough to not be a prep coverage for that teacher, and they stay with their class, which I have for a few periods a week, the challenge becomes involving that teacher in the lesson in order to keep them from running off to make copies and phone calls, or my favorite, sitting and correcting papers. They don’t feel comfortable teaching or taking the lead in “your” classroom. We can change that.

Start small and socialize

Knowledge Quest, the AASL journal, features collaboration (“Social Scholarship”) this month. Barbara Schultz-Jones’ article, “Collaboration in the School Social Network” connects the popular subject of social networking to the school setting. Seeing the Media Specialist as a social network organizer will help to make connections between the ‘territories’ within the ‘country’ of the school. The teachers will feel more at ease when things are less structured and we start with small connections between our curriculum and theirs. For example, I recently showed a video on shapes to a 1st grade class and the students responded right away saying they had just learned about shapes and engaged their teacher from the back of the room to show off their knowledge.

Get involved- take the initiative

Collaboration, in all its facets, can be successful and seamless if we take the initiative to build relationships that break down the borders. Watching students make connections between subjects, or forget they’re learning as a result of a well-planned project makes it all worthwhile. Volunteering to work on curriculum development is a great way to harvest professional relationships with teachers and curriculum supervisors (who can be great supporters of your program).

Celebrate the small things and the success stories

Why not think more creatively about all the things we do each day that don’t traditionally count as collaboration and stop focusing on the “projects” that we aren’t able to do with colleagues. Media Specialist, Mary Alice Anderson, in her article for Multimedia Schools, “The Media Center: The Many Faces of Collaboration” suggests that we “celebrate the varied aspects of our multi-faceted roles” by including the support we give throughout the year to teachers, staff, as well as parents and the community. Do you organize the school’s book fair? How about author visits or other school-wide assemblies? Maybe you’re the “go-to” person for website help and technology issues. Our ability to help the entire school succeed is just as valid as a project we would specifically work on together. How about publicly acknowledging and praising those teachers that embrace collaboration? Students can describe how they felt learning and working that way and be your best publicity.

Anything is possible

We work hard to create an inviting atmosphere in the Media Center that feels like home to every person that enters, including students, parent volunteers, teachers, administrators and even our public librarians. We are responsible for supporting the school’s curriculum in many different ways, and with that, we have the power to break down barriers as we go along.

This year, I’m going to include some of the less traditional collaborative projects in my end-of-year meeting with my principal, and make sure to quantify how many people were willing to work collaboratively throughout the year. It’s time that we advocate for our program to all who “occupy” our building.

The White House Conference on School Libraries, in 2002, presented a session that is sure to inspire you to find a way to makeover your program to a dynamic, integrated media center, with you as the “information consultant” facilitating collaborative work throughout the year. The conference notes can be found at the Institution of Museum and Library Services site: http://www.imls.gov/news/events/whitehouse_2.shtm#kcl.



Keep your enemies close, but your fellow collaborators closer.

April 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm 4 comments

Giving Effective Presentations

Aaron Schmidt has a really great post over at Walking Paper on “How to Give a Good Presentation.” It’s definitely worth reading through, including many super comments.

A few months back I posted a collection of links, “Talk Good: How to Give Effective Presentations“. In addition to those links though I’d like to add a few of my own thoughts to this conversation. First, let me say that I prefer to frame this as giving “effective” presentations rather than “good” ones because effective implies that you’re actually trying to, well, have an effect. And I think that one of the most important elements of any presentation — the element that makes it much more likely that your presentation will be effective — happens before you’ve written one word or found one cool image for your powerpoint. The most important element is asking the question, “What do I want people to do as a result of seeing/hearing my presentation?”

Should your slides be graphic heavy? Text Free? Should you provide handouts? Should the presentation be posted, and if so in what form? Should additional information be included in the posting? My answer is, it all depends. I think it makes absolutely no sense to dictate the answers to these questions without first asking, “what am I trying to achieve?” The next question of course is, “and how can I best achieve it?” How you answer this question dictates your content and sequencing.

There are also many variables that will affect how you craft your presentation: Just a few variables of the top of my head:

  • Who will be in the audience? Is it heterogeneous or homogeneous? Are there certain people in the audience with more influence that I would like to reach?
  • How large is the audience? Will I get to mingle? Am I miked, or is it more intimate?
  • What is there outlook?
  • What is their predisposition to change their behavior? Are they a friendly or resistant audience?
  • What is their knowledge level?
  • How much time will I have to present?
  • How much other information is being thrown at them (am I the main act, or one presentation of many?
  • What technology tools do I have at my disposal? Live internet? Projector? Just a microphone?
  • What is the room setup?
  • Will the presentation, or parts of it, be archived or made available online after the fact? Do I intend this to ever be seen again?
  • Is the presentation intended to be instructional? provocative? informative? heretical? inspiring? challenging?

I’m sure you can think of more variables that you’ve considered when crafting your own presentations. The important thing while preparing is to continually refocus yourself on what you are trying to achieve and critically evaluate the content and sequencing of your presentation to make sure everything supports and nothing detracts from your goal.

A few other ideas that may enhance the effectiveness of your presentation:

  • Share your presentation with others before you do it and get feedback to see what’s working and what isn’t. Inevitably, you will have written things that are clear as crystal to you, but clear as mud to others.
  • If it’s appropriate to the presentation, try to make it as interactive as possible. Ask questions. Encourage audience members to talk to each other. Doing this early in the presentation with a provocative question can create an immediate buzz and get a lot of energy flowing.
  • Conclude the presentation with a challenge or a request. Ask something of the audience. Ask them to commit to doing one thing differently.

What are your tips? What’s worked for you?

October 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm 4 comments

10 Principles of Improv and why you should care

I’ve been meaning to get to two posts for months now: A post about Toastmasters (the toast post) and a post about taking improv classes in Philly. Well, this is a (slightly modified) version of a Toastmasters speech I recently gave about my experience with improv. Two birds, and all that :-)

A few months ago I started taking Improv classes in Philadelphia on Monday nights. I signed up for improv not because I have a burning desire to be the next Will Ferrell or Mike Myers, nor any illusions that you’ll soon be seeing me on the big screen or on SNL. What inspired me to sign up for class was a small, remarkable book called Truth in Comedy, written by Charna Halpern, Kim Johnson, and Del Close (one of the most important influences in modern day comedy improv. Just look at the list of folks he mentored!)

The more I read about improv, the more I realized that the principles of good improv are also the principles of living a good, centered, happy, connected, and fulfilled life. So today I’d like to take a few minutes to share 10 improv principles with you, and tell you a little bit about my experience of the past eighteen weeks learning to doing improv.

First I think it’s useful to briefly address the question, “What is Improv?” Inevitably when I tell someone I’m learning to do improv, they say something like, “Oh standup comedy, I could see you doing that.” So let’s clear this up right away: Improv is not stand up comedy. In many ways it is the antithesis of stand up. Stand up is generally written, memorized, practiced and polished. It’s also (usually) a solitary activity. Improv is spontaneous, free-flowing and created on the spot. It’s also (usually) a team sport.

Often it’s the unscripted nature of improv that is most associated with the form, and for that reason many people say things like, “You’re doing improv—isn’t that hard? Isn’t that scary to work without a script? To have to make it up on the spot?” To which I can only reply with a scratch of my chin, “Hmmm… Having to make it all up on the spot… That sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before??? Oh yeah!!… it’s what we do every single day of our lives!”
Look, not only can anyone do improv, we are in fact, all of us, doing improv all the time.

Let me ask you: When you were born, were you handed a script that layed out all of your lines so you’d know just the right thing to say and do for the rest of your life? I don’t think you got that script. I don’t know anyone who got that script. I know I didn’t get that script. So we’re doing improv all the time. All the time. Every day. You. Me. Them. We’re improv-ing baby!

And you may have noticed that IN our unscripted lives, sometimes, ‘stuff’ happens. And learning and practicing the principles of improv can help us deal with that stuff.

TEN PRINCIPLES OF IMPROV


Principle 1: Be prepared (Warm up!)

In my improv class we don’t rehearse scenes, but we do practice. We do train to learn and internalize certain structures and methods the way jazz improvisers learn scales. Before getting into scene work, we activate our minds and bodies by playing games; games that will help ground us physically and emotionally to characters we create in scenes. Sometimes we play 2 or 3 games at once to help sharpen our awareness and listening skills and get us out of our heads. Props to the Boy Scouts on this one.

Principle 2: Willingness

Willingness to do what you ask? A lot. We have to be willing to fail, and fail spectacularly. Since we don’t know what’s coming next, we have to accept that we may get knocked off balance. Therefore we have to be willing to mess up –and mess up big time.

Being willing to fail spectacularly means being willing to take risks. Lack of success is not due to trying and failing; it’s due to not trying, often out of a fear of failure. Being willing to fail means being willing to look foolish. It’s been said that we wouldn’t care so much about what people thought about us if we realized how seldom they do. If we’re not willing to look foolish doing improv then we won’t risk, we won’t commit, and the scenes will lack energy and direction. Being willing to risk reconnects us with the zest and energy of life. When we risk, our senses our heightened, our adrenaline is flowing. It’s a rush.

Finally, we have to be willing to make mistakes. The point is not that there are no consequences. Rather, it’s accepting that if we are truly risking there is no question that we WILL make mistakes. But we also realize that others are there to help dig us out of our mistakes. And ultimately it’s our mistakes that lead us to growth and improvement. We learn to choose better next time.

Principle 3: Stay in the Moment

In improv what is happening NOW is the key to discovery. I was at a Library Futures conference recently and heard someone say, “I’m very interested in the future because that’s where most of my life will happen.” That got a big laugh. Well I’m very interested in this moment, because that’s where ALL of my life has happened. And I’m pretty sure that’s where most of the action is. (Coincidentally, it was at the library futures conference that Mary Catherine Bateson suggested that the best way to prepare for the future is to take an improv class…)

Principle 4: Shut up and Listen

Good improvisers are not necessarily more clever, or more quick-witted. They just listen better… Improv is about hearing what others are offering, and building off it. It’s hard to do that when your gums are flappin’.

Principle 5. Action beats inaction

Don’t talk about doing it, do it. Be specific. In Improv there is a “bias for action”. I’ve also seen the term “bias for action” listed as a common trait of effective leaders. Why? Because active choices move things forward. The more specific the choice the better. Specific choices are committed choices. Specific choices move things forward and allow others to respond to and build off of your offers.

Principle 6. Be honest

In improv we are taught to express whatever is coming up in us at that moment. To do that we have to learn not to censor or judge our own thoughts, which requires some major rewiring of the brain… The only value we bring to the scene is our honest response to what’s happening.

Principle 7: Let go of (your need to) control

The only thing we can control are our own choices. Realizing that we are not in control of anything else is the key to de-stressing and getting into the flow. And the flow is where we are creative. The flow is where we are productive. The flow is where we are connected to others. The flow is where we are happy. [an aside] Interestingly… What happens when we stop focusing energy on things that we can’t control? That energy gets focused on things that we can control, and ironically, we end up exerting more influence.

Principle 8. There are no mistakes

Earlier I said that we have to be willing to make mistakes. But moving beyond that, we learn to not see choices as mistakes. In improv, there are no mistakes or bad ideas, there are only interesting choices. We respect all the choices (aka offers) made by others, and find ways to build off of them, no matter how challenging they may be. There are no mistakes because everything can be built upon. Everything that happens is an opportunity.

Principle 9: Trust

Learning improv we learn to trust ourselves. We trust our impulses and our choices (which we can do because there are no mistakes, and we are not alone.) And we learn to trust in others (to “justify” our “interesting choices”, build off them, and weave them into the fabric of the scene.) When learning to trust our ideas, it helps to remember that ideas are infinite. So no matter what strange hole it seems we’ve dug ourselves into in a scene, there are an infinite number of ideas that can help dig us out.

Principle 10. Teamwork (row, row, row)

We’re all in this together. No one person is responsible for the success or failure of a scene. It succeeds, or not, based on our ability to work together. This requires strong individuals making strong choices, who trust each other and themselves. As a group, we learn to focus on solutions. As individuals we learn to focus on getting results (i.e. moving the scene forward) instead of being right, or angling for attention or credit. We rise, or fall, as one.

The Uber Principle: “Yes, and…”

So there are the big 10 principles of improv as seen by an improv newbie. But I’d like to conclude by mentioning one final improv principle. It’s a principle that runs through all the others and infuses improv with it’s spirit. This is the principle of “Yes, and”. “Yes, and” means that we accept everything that happens as an offer, as a gift. It is our job to bring our unique perspective to bear, and build off of whatever is given to us. “Yes and” implies acceptance, but not acquiescence. “Yes and” acknowledges the reality of the moment, but also inspires us to create the future.

In the end, “Yes and” is a powerful attitude of affirmation. It is an attitude that affirms ourselves, and therefore gives courage. It is an attitude that affirms others, and therefore inspires trust. And it is an attitude that affirms what is and therefore inspires hope and excitement for the possibilities of what may be as we join together to create our shared future.

July 6, 2007 at 12:21 pm 10 comments

Celebrating and Teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr.–Quality Resources


As I ride into work at Rider University early this morning, I listen to a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., and I check my RSS feeds for anything unique about MLK that I might be able to learn about. Right away, I find an Associated Press article on Yahoo! News published yesterday, entitled, Rarely seen King papers go on display. The article describes a bit about the “collection of more than 10,000 King papers and books,” now displayed at The Atlanta History Center, previously in New York at Sothebys’ auction house, described as “an unparalleled gathering of primary documents from Dr. King’s most active years.” It is impressive, and I enjoyed watching the video clip from ABC Video linked on the left of this article, “Memorial Sheds New Light on MLK,” which described the exhibition, as well as the “MLK Day Is For Volunteering” clip, also there. Reading this article and watching the clips was good way to start the day, and after watching the “Volunteering” video, I thought, why not blog about these and other quality resources and help celebrate and teach about MLK–a small way to volunteer.

Additional resource sites of interest to everyone this fine day:

- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute housed at Stanford University “serves as the institutional home for a broad range of activities relating to King’s life, the civil rights movement in the United States and the history of struggles worldwide to achieve social justice.” It details their King Papers Project’s website, described as “the world’s largest online archive of King-related materials, receiving over 500,000 hits a month.” I really enjoyed surfing the site map available at Standford, and thought the The Liberation Curriculum section there for teachers that provides “teachers with educational materials that engage students in active learning and critical inquiry” was especially valuable.

- The King Collection: Morehouse College is also one of my favorite MLK sites, not only because it gives additional details about the large collection of “handwritten notes and unpublished sermons of Martin Luther King Jr.,” described above, but I find that the short, easy-to-print-out King Timeline and King Fact Sheet were also great handouts to display in our library.

For more on MLK, you may also want to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, with links for teachers and kids, as well as the Seattle Times: MLK site, and, of course, Librarians’ Internet Index provides two dozen more links to other quality resource sites.

January 15, 2007 at 7:20 am 2 comments


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