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Let’s Get Together Thursday – Friends of School Libraries Groups October 23, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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Friends of the Library Week


Did you know it’s National Friends of Libraries Week?  While we often think of these groups as the ones who run the book sales for our public library counterparts, schools can take advantage of friends groups as well!

ALA’s United for Libraries Division has some wonderful resources for you if you’d like to explore starting one in your district or at your campus.  Check out their toolkit for school specific ideas, written by Executive Director, Sally Gardner Reed:


There are many routes to take with developing a friends group–leverage existing parent organizations, use students, find a community partner who would like to support the library!  Friends can help with fundraising such as bookfairs, volunteer their time helping with clerical duties, or even be advisory in nature.

One thing we know is that the school library is not the same place it was a decade ago.  By bringing in members of the community to see that we haven’t been replaced by the Internet, we are educating the public about how our roles and our libraries have evolved. It does take time and a commitment on our part, however, the rewards are potentially limitless. The best of all is that by involving community stakeholders in our library program, we are growing advocates–a type of collaboration we all need!

What to Read Wednesday – WHITE SPACE by Ilsa Bick October 22, 2014

Posted by Karin Perry in Check this out!.
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white space

In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real.

Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.

This one is perfect for this time of year.  Good YA Horror is hard to find and this one definitely fits the bill. If you are a fan of Stephen King, you’ll really enjoy WHITE SPACE.


White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages

Remembering the AASL14 Fall Forum October 21, 2014

Posted by Susi Grissom in Check this out!.
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Guest blogger Robbie Nickel is the School Librarian at Sage Elementary School in Spring Creek, Nevada.

As I return to my daily routine aftera attending last week-end’s AASL Fall Forum’s School Librarians in the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Landscape, I am pondering and attempting to absorb what I learned. One of the Forum’s key points for me was the phrase, “It is not just what is learned but what you can do with what you have learned.”  Here are my take-aways that I plan to put into action:

  • I can remember David Warlick daring me to show my learners the mistakes they make can drive the learning dialog.
  • I can remember  Ann Martin and Kathleen Roberts quoting Yogi Berra with  “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
  • I can remember David Loertscher sharing the information about many of the AASL best websites and best apps lists to provide Web 2.0 tools to students and staff.
  • I can remember David Loertscher providing a link to the spreadsheet full of ideas shared out from his discussions and presentations ( http://goo.gl/fv9I5m ) and continuing to examine new ideas.
  • I can remember The School Librarian as Partner panel sharing practical ideas from practitioners and administrators for collaboration in lesson planning, curriculum, research, book talks and literature circles.

One key idea from the panel, for me to embrace while working with material learned, is the effort to work toward helping students to function independently in the library and to develop a life time commitment to reading, questioning, and research, and to collaborate with staff and the library community in that effort.


Monday Means Leadership: Student Ownership of Library Media Program October 20, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Check this out!.
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Today’s guest blogger is Janice Edwards, Library Media Specialist at Durant Road Middle School in Raleigh, NC.


Students at Durant Road Middle School are involved in program planning for their school library media center. This aligns with the vision of our media center which is “a positive, student-centered physical and virtual community where students take ownership of their library and learning.”

One of the examples of this student-centered involvement is in the activities surrounding this year’s Teen Read Week. This year’s committee of students has taken charge of this event and has been involved in the planning and implementation from start to finish. In other words, they brainstormed ideas, developed activities, and implemented a successful school-wide event.

In order to identify students who might be interested in participating in this kind of activity, at the beginning of the school year, the DRMS media center staff don’t do a typical “welcome to the media center” orientation for 7th and 8th graders. Instead, students take a library orientation survey and, by doing so, provide the DRMS media center staff with a wide variety of data on student library usage. One of the questions asks if they would be interested in serving on a teen advisory board.

The media center staff pulls the names of the students who have expressed this interest and contacts the teachers of interested students. Since we are a year-round school, we typically focus on giving a different track of students an equal chance to participate in advisory responsibilities throughout the year.

This year, we were able to have a committee composed of eleven 7th and 8th graders who met once a week for six weeks. Students on the committee had a variety of strengths and abilities. And, although some of them knew each other, it was just as likely that they served in a group where they were meeting and working with someone for the first time. Collaboration was a key feature!

At the initial meeting, students brainstormed ideas for activities that showed the TRW theme of “Turn Dreams Into Reality @ Your Library.” Then, they voted for their top three activities. At the end of the first meeting, the plans evolved into having a scavenger hunt, a poster contest, and book displays. As you might expect for middle school students, two out of the three activities featured a prize!

By the next meeting, they had organized themselves into who was going to serve on each of the three planning groups. Then, they got started. My job was mainly to be a facilitator and to guide them with some of the organization and details. They did the rest.

This type of student involvement not only helps the DRMS media program by having students take ownership of their library, but it also helps our students by giving them a chance to lead, create, and collaborate. I’d like to think that this type of experience is one that they will carry with them as they move on by giving them practice in skills they need for success in school and beyond the classroom.

Check out the Durant Road Middle School library media program at http://durantroadms.wcpss.net/web/itlms/  and follow on Twitter @drmsmedia

#AASL14 : Craig’s Quick View from Vancouver October 19, 2014

Posted by Susi Grissom in Check this out!.
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Guest blogger Craig Seasholes was a member of the AASL Fall Forum 2014 planning team and served as the Project Manager for the Vancouver Fall Forum satellite site .

For our small group in Vancouver Washington, #AASL14 presented itself as a worthwhile bit of professional development and networking, a work-in-progress along the road to greater anywhere/anytime learning for librarians and the schools we serve. Participants came from Vancouver BC, Vancouver, Seattle, Husum and Walla Walla, WA, and Portland, Oregon,,  and took away a diverse set of impressions and action items to share in their work. We kept an active “back channel” running  using TodaysMeet.com/aaslcouv that allowed sharing links and observations during presentations without interrupting the attention of others to the broadcast presentations from the St Louis Mothership.  Friday evening we had a rocky inaugural run of the ambitions knowledge-creation session in AdobeConnect  with David Loertscher that helped iron out some of the initial presentation for its Saturday morning presentation to the other sites. After the initial video presentations and introductions by Dr  Loertscher got things rolling, and as the 8 sites responses began filling in the GoogleForm on Saturday morning there was an exhilarating feeling that this real-time sharing of ideas and information was really taking off as 50, then 100, 200 finally 240  individual examples and responses came in from around the country!  Anywhere, anytime….and then problems arose.
In hindsight, switching from Adobe Connect to the #AASL14 conference call-in for reporting was like “changing horses in midstream” and the unfortunate technical difficulties truncated  plans to further analyze the data and characterize the big ideas behind the examples grouped and sorted as “One Step Forward” tab on the GoogleDoc spreadsheet . Nonetheless, the examples remain visible and we hope to hear a short video recap from David in the near future.  All in all, I’d still have to say that the ambitious interactive “anywhere/anytime” learning session was “One Step Forward” on a journey to engage teacher librarians in the same learning journey we hope to provide for our students.
As David Warlick was opening his closing remarks noting tweets about our tasty conference cuisine, a majority of our participants were already beginning another afternoon conference with the Oregon Association of School Librarians across the mighty Columbia River in Portland. The AASL Fall forum dovetailed nicely with their annual gathering, but it left a boatload of delicious scones for Mark Ray and me to take home.
I’d like to post again in a few days after others of the Vancouver Crew are able to reflect and consider the connections between #aasl14, OASL and WLMA conferences. Even before the conference ended we had begun a collaborative group document to share impressions and continue the take-away teachings from our two days together.
As R. David Lankes stressed so eloquently in his video keynote, to another group last March “The Community is Your Collection,” and we are better for the time, effort and conversation we’ve engaged in. Let’s keep sharing!

2014 Fall Forum–Day 2 October 18, 2014

Posted by Audrey Church in AASL Fall Forum, Conferences, Online Learning, Partnerships, Professional Development.
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Day 2 of the Fall Forum focusing on School Librarians in the Anytime Anywhere Learning Landscape was action-packed and information-filled!

Our first major topic of the day was Librarian as Innovator with discussions led by David Loertscher.  Each site viewed two videos, 15 Websites in 15 Minutes presented by the amazing Heather Moorefield Lang  and 15 Apps in 15 Minutes presented in one-minute clips by members of the AASL Best Apps committee.

Julie Chambers shared her Athenian Middle School Virtual Learning Commons, and we examined the 10 recommended initiatives from the November 2013 joint action brief, Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the School Librarian

Participants from all sites then loaded ideas for best technologies, best practices, and best strategies into a Google form: final total—an amazing 240+ ideas!

The second major topic of the day, School Librarian as a Partner, first featured various Follett initiatives:
Project CONNECT: Bringing Educators Together Worldwide, an initiative which supports the central role of the librarian in teaching and learning and works toward the day when school librarians are not in question!
Follett Community, a community space in which school librarians can network, and
Follett Challenge which recognizes innovation, giving schools embracing 21st century teaching and learning programs the opportunity to win big bucks!

Next on tap was an awesome panel of librarians, teachers, and administrators from Marquette High School (MO) and Rockwood Summit High School (MO) who shared how they collaborate and work together to promote libraries, reading, and learning. Each site then worked with discussions around goals, obstacles, and benefits of collaborative blended learning environments, and panel members graciously responded to questions submitted.

To conclude this year’s Fall Forum, David Warlick  gave closing remarks, reminding us to think of “library” as verb, not a noun. He described the library as a place to find information, work the information, and share the information and suggested that our conversations should be about learning, not about teaching and instructing.

As librarians, we function naturally in the anytime anywhere learning landscape: we attend conferences and we learn from each other face-to-face; we read professional journals; we participate in webinars; we network and learn on our listservs, and we communicate via Twitter chat. It is our role in our schools to guide our students (and sometimes our teachers) in the anytime anywhere learning landscape. We do this: we are learning specialists!

AASL Fall Forum — First -time Attendee Reports October 17, 2014

Posted by Susi Grissom in Check this out!.
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Guest blogger Lindsay Brennan, Head Librarian at Graland Country Day School in Denver, Colorado, shares her thoughts on her first AASL Fall Forum. 

A walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning ended the St Louis Cardinals season as they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the American League Series. In a city mourning the loss of its World Series dreams, school librarians have gathered for the AASL Fall Forum.  My tablemates and breakout session buddies include an array of elementary, college, and other school librarians; some who’ve attended previous Fall Forums, and others, like me, who are enjoying our first AASL experiences.  Gerry Solomon entertained our table with tales from the 2008 Fall Forum in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Keynote Speaker David Warlick captured his audiences by juxtaposing himself as a  leisure-suit wearing emerging educator trained to teach in an age of “Information Scarcity” with his current self, a soon to be retiree presenting in an age of “Information Abundance.”  After illustrating the value of “responsive” learning environments and demonstrating “Scratch,” software from MIT for students to learn code, Warlick demonstrated the power of social learning through asking conference attendees to identify pictures of historical figures.  Nearly everyone recognized Einstein but learned the visage of Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, or Margaret Meade through a colleague.

After discussing how to facilitate responsive learning opportunities that encourage students to ask questions and make mistakes, our table enjoyed an engaging conversation regarding the impact of local politics on school libraries in our Breakout session. Despite some initial technical difficulties, St Louis conference attendees then heard ideas shared from respondents at satellite conference locations before sharing our own insights.

In School Librarian as Leader by Ann Martin and Kathleen Roberts, school librarians were introduced to free technology tool Today’s Meet as a back channel conversation aid and then completed a Single Point Rubric.  We also learned a plethora of tools for managing people, managing technology, and for communicating.

As the citizens of St Louis recover from their baseball season woes and look toward their Super Bowl dreams, the AASL Fall Forum will come to a close.  No doubt attendees will take home new ideas and tools as well as professional connections. I’ve enjoyed my first Fall Forum day as well as the company of my breakout session colleagues.



Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Vocabulary.com October 17, 2014

Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Hot Topics, Technology.
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Gone are the days of old-fashioned vocabulary flash cards!  Vocabulary.com, one of AASL’s 2014 Best Websites, combines proprietary technology and an advanced digital dictionary in this game-like learning resource. One of the factors that makes this website stand out from other digital vocabulary sites is its technology – Adaptive Vocabulary Instruction (AVI). AVI’s algorithm monitors students’ responses to provide words and exercises on a student’s learning level, thus avoiding spending time on words too easy or too hard. This adaptive technology supports differentiated instruction in the classroom allowing all students to learn.

Signing up to create an account is easy and free.

Vocabulary.com is comprised of three sections – The Challenge, Dictionary, and Vocabulary Lists. After creating an account, students can immediately begin playing the Challenge’s interactive game to build knowledge and create a learning environment on their level. The Dictionary offers basic and advanced searches going beyond just definitions. Explanations and usage examples taken from current publications and classic literature provide a fuller context that helps fortify students’ understanding. Thousands of word lists are available in the Vocabulary Lists section which also lets teachers and students create their own word lists based on assignments and personal interests.

Here is a short video that shows an overview of the site and is a good tool for acquainting students with the site’s features.

The site’s gaming environment enables students to earn points as they respond with correct answers and master words. As points are accumulated, students earn achievement badges representing their levels. Also, overall achievement for each student can be seen by clicking on the My Progress tab to see various progress charts.

Show students this video to motivate them to set personal learning goals, earn achievement badges, and see how they rank with other students on the site’s leaderboards–

School pride and competing with other schools can be great motivators for students! Be sure to have students include their school’s name on their profile pages. This way your school can compete for a cool banner awarded to the school that masters the most words each month. Also, your school can enter the site’s Vocabulary Bowl that recognizes the school that masters the most words for the year, along with the top achieving students.

There are lots of ways teachers can use Vocabulary.com in the classroom..

  • Teachers can create word lists from a designated text for a pre-reading activity using the copy and paste feature in the Vocabulary Lists section.
  • Students can curate personalized word lists based on their individual reading and interests. These words can be used in journal assignments, creative writing exercises, and class discussions.
  • The site’s use of contextualized word items can help ESL students strengthen their understanding of words, better relate to words and actively use them.

Vocabulary.com recommends the site for grades 5 through college and adults. Through my experience I would highly recommend it for middle and high school students. The site also offers a subscription-based Education Edition.

Elizabeth P. Dumas

AASL Best Websites Committee member

Friday Finds October 17, 2014

Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
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If you want to keep up with all the new technology that has anything to do with education, you need this free publication!  This monthly periodical if filled with all the newest techie stuff and has excellent education articles about various schools across the nation.  The October 2014 issue even featured a high school library!!!!!!

Use the following URL to sign yourself up:


Let’s Get Together Thursday – Collaborating with Your Counselor on Cyberbullying Prevention October 16, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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Digital Citizenship Week

October is National Bullying Prevention month and next week, October 19-25, is Digital Citizenship Week.  It’s not too late to take advantage of the opportunity to educate your students on the ethical responsibilities that go along with using technology in our daily lives!

There are many wonderful resources available out there–videos, posters, lessons and even a scope and sequence written to support digital citizenship instruction.  A good thing, too, because most of us non-millenial librarians are learning what we know about it by trial and error and osmosis!  If you’re staying abreast of the latest apps, social media sites, and ways that students are communicating online, you’re pretty much the expert on your campus in this subject.  Don’t be shy to admit that you don’t know everything, but you’re willing to start the conversation.  It’s a conversation that can’t be ignored, even if your campus isn’t participating in BYOD or 1:1 device implementation to students.

Did you know that in 2012, federal CIPA regulations began requiring that campuses who receive eRate funds teach and document instruction in appropriate online behavior, including social media and cyberbullying?

In Fort Worth ISD, librarians stepped up to make sure this was happening systematically.  It was a great way to take on a compliance piece and demonstrate our skills to our administration. We knew our counselors were already addressing cyberbullying in their overall bullying prevention curriculum, so we worked with them to provide a comprehensive approach to include privacy and staying safe online.  True, in some places there was some professional jurisdiction to negotiate, but when the dust settled, it has been a very good partnership.  Counselors and librarians have a lot in common as the professional auxiliary staff on campus, but often go our separate ways.   This new relationship has been a good one in our district.

Whether you’re working with your teachers, your counselors, or your administrators–who most likely deal with discipline stemming from social media on a near daily basis–make digital citizenship part of both your October and your year round instruction.

What are your favorite online resources for teaching digital citizenship?