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Friday Finds September 19, 2014

Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
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The release of the new operating system for Apple iPads and devices has some great attributes for us librarians with those devices in our inventories.  The Safari improvements have many benefits.  The biggest and best improvement is that the search engine now has DuckDuckGo support.  If you are not familiar with DuckDuckGo, you need to check it out.  It is a search engine monitored and managed by educators.  All search returns are vetted by educators and are safe for our students.  Safari also supports Spotlight suggestions now.

Check it out!


Let’s Get Together Thursday – Keys to Collaboration Part Three: Choosing a Collaboration Partner September 18, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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Team Teachers helping students

There are many schools of thought about picking a collaboration partner.  There is the appeal of being associated with a successful teacher, someone who already has clout among his or her peers on the campus, and that is respected by the administration.  There are the middle-range teachers–those who are becoming more comfortable with their role, the curriculum, and who might be willing to take a new risk.  Then there are the teachers in need of assistance–those who are very new, or new to a grade level or content area, or those that are in danger of failing.

Which should you choose?

All of the above!

Let’s start with those that are floundering, or so new that they haven’t hit their stride.  The advantage here is that you are doing an ethical service to the students in that teacher’s class.  You are also approaching the teacher in a non-threatening, non-evaluative way and modeling good teaching, classroom management, and understanding of the curriculum.  If you take on a teacher in this group, be sure to maintain a supportive relationship, and don’t go straight to the administrator who evaluates that teacher with a report of what is not going well in that classroom, even if you get an eyeful!  Do take time to report the good things that came out of the collaboration to the administration.  They will probably be thankful for the mentoring you offered to that teacher, and especially thankful that those students spent their time engaged in meaningful learning while you were collaborating with the teacher.  This type of collaboration is much more work on you, and isn’t at all where you’d want to start if you were new yourself.  But the rewards should be great.  Some would say that your association with a failing teacher is something to be wary of.  Do be aware of that and make sure that you balance these types of collaborations with others so that isn’t a concern.

When you choose a teacher in the middle, you are able to approach things on a more even playing ground.  In this case, you are each bringing skills and experience to the table and you are negotiating the lesson design around your strengths and weaknesses–be sure to know yours going in to the collaboration.  In many cases these teachers are ideal collaboration partners!  They aren’t so experienced that they are set in their ways and they are willing to take some risks.  When you work in this type of pairing, you will both want to do a lot of reflection as you refine the lesson and plan to work together again.  Be sure to plan in advance for this time to reflect and debrief after the lesson.

Collaborating with that veteran teacher can be a risk for you, but it is one that you should always take when given the chance.  Just don’t take the opportunity lightly and be sure you are knowledgeable and have done your homework going in to this arrangement. The benefit here is that by showing that you can keep pace with this type of teacher, bringing your expertise in library and information literacy to the table, you are building your reputation at your campus.  Word of mouth about what you can do will spread faster than you might expect.  Be sure to take lots of pictures and promote these types of partnerships and help spread it yourself!

The best type of collaboration partner?  One who is willing!  Sometimes that’s the only criteria you can use.  If so, seize the opportunity and make the best of it!

Next week, we’ll do part four on Keys to Collaboration and look at how important the reflection piece is when you’re collaborating.

Tuesday Tech Tips – Google Chrome Fun September 16, 2014

Posted by Brooke Ahrens in Check this out!.
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Today I discovered 2 Google Chrome extensions that I don’t think I will be able to live without. First, is a website summary tool called TLDR. TLDR is an internet term for “too long; didn’t read”, a common occurrence for me.  Between the articles I find, the blogs I follow and the articles I am sent by co-workers and colleagues, I always have an overwhelming amount of content to process.  TLDR will potentially provide assistance in getting through all of that content, it processes the website content for you, and then provides a summaries of varying lengths.  TLDR didn’t work on every webpage I tried,  it was unable to pull content from articles posted by the New York Times, and unfortunately was unable to summarize web-based emails in Gmail. However, the summarizes it did create seemed to capture the overall gist of the webpage.  I certainly won’t be using it in place of reading, but it does a good job of skimming articles, and will help me filter for what I want to read.


The second extension I discovered allows you to use your smart phone to control Google Drive presentations. It might seem like this is a frivolous app, but at my school site you are often unable to move around the room while presenting.  Even if using a wireless mouse, you don’t have access to your presentation notes unless you stand in front of  your laptop screen.  The deMobo software will allow me to move around the classroom and better connect with students or faculty while presenting. Using the app is a 2 step process: first you install the Chrome extension on your computer, and second you install the de Mobo app on your smart phone. The deMobo extension remains gray until you visit a site that allows you to present remotely, and then it will turn orange and add an icon to your browser address bar. Using the smart phone apps, you scan the QR code the extension generates, wait for your presentation to load. Once it loads on your phone, you are able to see your notes and control the presentation from your phone’s screen. (Warning note: if you notice a shield shaped icon in your browser address bar, you must click the shield and then “Load Unsafe Script” or your phone won’t be able to connect to your presentation).   So far I have connected and controlled a Google Presentation, a YouTube video and a Prezi, but additional sites that can be controlled are listed. It took a little patience and practice to get everything to work correctly,  but once I understood how the program worked, it was easy to use.  I can’t wait to use this app in my next training session with students, it’s so simple and yet so powerful.

Monday Means Leadership: Supporting the Right to Read September 15, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Check this out!, Intellectual Freedom.
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Banned Books Week, scheduled for September 21-27, 2014, celebrates our right to read.  Launched in 1982, this celebration of free speech finds many libraries providing information about censorship and intellectual freedom to their patrons through displays, programs and other events.

In 2013, six of the ten most challenged books were found in children’s and young adult sections of libraries.  The only way that we can continue to provide open access to all materials is through education, standing up and speaking out about our right to read and our students’ right to read.

How do you support your colleagues’ and students’ right to read?

For more resources on celebrating Banned Books Week and educating about censorship and intellectual freedom, check the links at ALA’s Banned Books website.

Updates on Ebooks September 14, 2014

Posted by Susi Grissom in Check this out!.
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Ebook Icon by algotruneman - Ebook in a tablet frame for use as an icon on a web page

Guest bloggers Shannon Acedo and Cathy Leverkus co-authored the AASL publication, Ebooks and the School Library Program: A Practical Guide for the School Librarian(2013). They are also the authors of “Update on Ebooks: Changes and Challenges,” an article appearing in the September/October 2014 issue of Knowledge Quest. Shannon is chair of the Library and Information Technology Department at Harvard-Westlake Upper School in Studio City, California. Cathy serves as the director of Library and Information Services at the Willows Community School in Culver City, California.  

Cathy and Shannon responded below to the question, “What has been your biggest e-book challenge as you have developed an e-book collection in your libraries?”

Cathy: I began developing an ebook collection in 2009. At the time, there were two major related challenges to overcome: finding ebook vendors that catered to the elementary/middle school population, and finding publishers that permitted libraries to circulate their ebooks. Initially, most ebook vendors developed collections for secondary and academic libraries. Eventually, these vendors and new vendors entering the ebook market recognized the value of adding elementary and middle school titles to their ebook collections. Now that some ebook vendors carry large quantities of titles for K-12 and academic libraries, the challenge is to plow through the many listings and find specific titles that meet the needs of the school’s demographic.

A few years ago, many of the Big Six Publishers stopped providing access to ebooks for libraries because they were concerned about the possible longevity of the format, and they were worried about how that would affect their profit margin. Some publishers like Scholastic wanted libraries to use the Scholastic ebook platform, and they discontinued licensing their ebooks with library ebook vendors.

In the past few years, many publishers have started to circulate their digital products through library vendors again. To combat their fiscal concerns, they have developed creative pricing models for libraries. While some publishers lower their prices after the book is published in paperback format, others require repurchasing yearly, and still others offer ebooks at triple the price of the print version.

In 2012, a majority of the books on the New York Times Bestseller list were not available in ebook format to libraries. Currently, publishers offer libraries many of the titles on the New York Times Bestsellers Lists. The library prices listed in the following chart are from Baker & Taylor’s TS 360 and Follett’s Titlewave online catalogs.


            The New York Times Children’s Middle Grade Bestseller List

                                                   September 14, 2014

  1. WONDER, by R. J. Palacio. (Knopf Doubleday Publishing) 2012 $50.97.
  2. PERCY JACKSON’S GREEK GODS, by Rick Riordan. (Disney Publishing Worldwide) 2014 $24.99. 26 circulations limit
  3. A LONG WALK TO WATER, by Linda Sue Park. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing) 2010 $6.99.
  4. THE CARE AND KEEPING OF YOU 1, by Valorie Schaefer. (American Girl Publishing) 2013. not available in ebook format to libraries
  5. OUT OF MY MIND, by Sharon M. Draper. (Simon & Schuster.) 2010 $11.99. one year circulation limit
  6. STAR WARS: JEDI ACADEMY, RETURN OF THE PADAWAN, by Jeffrey Brown. (Scholastic.) 2014. not available in ebook format to libraries through vendors except Scholastic
  7. THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, by Katherine Applegate. (HarperCollins Publishers.) 2012 $14.99. 26 circulations limit
  8. FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTIMATTER MOTOR, by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Brian Biggs. (Abrams.) 2014 $13.95.
  9. ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, by Chris Grabenstein. (Random House Publishing.) 2013 $20.97.
  10. THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH, by Jennifer L. Holm. (Random House Publishing.) 2014 $50.97.

As you can see, the price of ebooks and the availability are still an issue, but I am confident that the vendors and publishers that cater to the school library program will continue to improve their services for school libraries.

Shannon: The huge number of ebook vendors and access models, coupled with a general lack of industry standards and shared conventions, has been perhaps the most problematic aspect of the ebook universe as I see it. My advice is to take a page out of Phillip II of Macedon’s playbook and “Divide and Conquer” (after all, he managed to leave a whole empire to Alexander the Great). Don’t imagine you will meet all your ebook needs with just one vendor. Realize that there is a big difference in vendors for general non-fiction/reference and those for popular fiction. One of the simpler ways to get started is to begin acquiring solid reference-type ebooks that can easily be purchased title by title or in bundles, and even better—you can often work with companies you’re already familiar with such as Gale-Cengage and Salem History.

Fiction is a whole ‘nother animal, but even here we can break things down into smaller steps. No need to dive in before testing the waters. Many integrated library systems are providing some type of ebook acquisition and circulation control, and this is often a great way to try things out. Follett’s Destiny ILS has an ebook component called FollettShelf where you can add just those books you want, at your own pace. New ebook purchases appear in your catalog and can be circulated in a number of ways. One of the advantages of this type of system is that you can start with one title, ten or one hundred, and (depending on the vendor) your obligation is just a one-time purchase. For some of these programs there is no annual fee; for many others that annual fee is minimal.

I have found myself back where I began. “Depending on the vendor” becomes a haunting refrain. With print books and even digital databases, there is an established convention that we understand as “how things work”. With ebooks there is no such established convention. Not yet, anyway. Recently there has been an uptick in activity that could lead to the development of industry standards that would serve both the publishing industry and ebook consumers well. ReadersFirst is a coalition of librarians working together to improve ebook lending practices, and they have made a good start with motivating publishers, vendors and others to sit down together and start to figure this out. This is a sign that in the future the ebook world will be easier to understand and to navigate, and that’s good. But I know for certain that this wonderful future will not be here tomorrow; in the meantime get ready to take those first steps now. As the old saying goes: the most comprehensive collection of ebooks starts with a single purchase.

Let’s Get Together Thursday – Keys to Collaboration Part Two: Be Collaboration Worthy! September 11, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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photo (1)

I will never forget the time when, as a new librarian, I had that veteran 3rd grade teacher with all of the GT kids ask to collaborate with me on a unit over holidays!  One of the most respected teachers on my campus was asking to work with me!  It was all I could do to not start gushing and tell her we’d need at least three weeks to get all the way through the research process from start to finish.  Thankfully, before I blabbed that all out in a moment of glee, I heard her mention that she was thinking maybe one or two periods would be enough!  I’m sure my face sunk, but I realized I was going to have to gain her trust.  She needed to know that giving up time to bring her class to the library was going to be a good return on investment.  This teacher knew her stuff, and she was not going to turn over her kids to me if I was not worthy.

Let’s face it—time is precious in the school day and there never seems to be enough of it to get to everything.  Unfortunately, many things—those things that educate the whole child, like recess and fine arts and even library—end up cut from the schedule.  In many schools, each minute is dictated and scripted and teachers feel they have no ability to make their own choices because the tested curriculum drives those decisions.  Given this difficult climate it’s a wonder that teachers are able to bring their classes to the library at all!

What do teachers need from us?  True, a few would definitely abdicate all responsibility to us and let us teach a six week unit to their students from start to finish, but most are guarding their time with their students carefully.  That also goes for when they come to request the collaboration—as much as we’d like to sit down and take 45 minutes to plan the lesson, they need us to be concise.  And they need us to be effective with the time that we have.

After much preparation for my “audition” with the 3rd grade teacher, I was ready.  And I did okay!  I spent a few minutes the day after the lesson extending a quick thanks and reflecting on the things that I thought went well, but mostly discussed things that I’d change the next time.  This further upped my trustworthiness and she came back again—giving me a little more time and letting us deepen the rigor.  After a few lessons, she knew she could trust me to be organized, informed about her curriculum, and be efficient with her and her students’ time, and that laid the groundwork for future collaboration experiences with her and with other teachers.  It takes time—years even—to build good collaborative relationships.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to find collaboration partners and the various schools of thought on where to start.

Tuesday Tech Tips – YouTube Your Way September 9, 2014

Posted by Brooke Ahrens in Check this out!.
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In the past 9 1/2 years YouTube has become a repository of videos from around the world, on a whole variety of subjects. I’m constantly amazed by what I can learn simply by watching a YouTube video tutorial.

As wonderful as YouTube can be, there are a few drawbacks, particularly when using YouTube in a school setting. The suggested videos that appear on the right aren’t always child-friendly or age appropriate. The comments that appear beneath the video are sometimes unsavory or seem better suited as examples of bad digital citizenship. And then there are the distracting ads that play before the video starts, or appear on the video while it plays.

I was one of those teachers that played the video and told the students to ignore the ad until 5 years ago, when a smart student mentioned that I could use an ad removal software to make my YouTube videos ad free. As the tech teacher, I was a little embarrassed at my lack of knowledge, grateful to my student for calling this to my attention, and happy to know that I could have more control over how and when my video played in class.

I’ve used a variety of YouTube softwares and browser extensions to remove ads during the last 5 years. Unfortunately some have closed, or haven’t been updated to stay current, but the following are three tools I’ve returned to time and time again.

Toogl.es is a YouTube interface with all of the extras removed, including the ads before the videos. Easy to search and to use, toogl.es hides related videos from view, doesn’t display comments and blocks all ads. It’s the best way I’ve found to display YouTube videos in front of students from any browser, without having to install a browser extension or script.

If you’re interested in sharing a specific portion of a YouTube video, TubeChop.com is a great tool.  TubeChop allows you to designate a start and end time for a YouTube video, and then generates a link to the “chopped” portion. TubeChop has been useful during professional development trainings with teachers when I want to share just a few minutes of a much longer video. It’s also great for creating teasers for students to show before assigning the entire video as homework.

YouTubeTime.com is similar to TubeChop.com, but it only allows you to set the time you want the video to begin.  It’s an effective way to eliminate content that isn’t relevant at the beginning of a video, or start a video exactly where the action or instruction begins.

Monday Means Leadership: Engaging Students September 8, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Check this out!.
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“We’re not ready to go to high school, Ms. Ziller. We don’t know what you’re going to do without us? I mean, how will you be able to get everything done in the library without our help?!”

Students at Durant Road Middle School take ownership of their library media program. The resources here are THEIR resources. This is their space. This is their program. When our students thrive in this environment and call it their own, I say that’s a mission accomplished! They are the best advocates for this program and our library media staff have worked diligently to provide opportunities for students to make this THEIR library.

At the beginning of the school year, instead of your typical ‘tour of the media center library orientation,’ 7th and 8th grade students complete a library orientation survey that provides our library media staff with reflections on student library usage during the previous school year. The DRMS library media staff LISTENS. We tell students that their feedback matters by our active involvement in implementing their ideas and connecting students with greater involvement in their library media program.

The library media staff consistently consults student survey data as we involve students in planning programs, analyzing the space, and selecting materials for the collection. Simply stated, DRMS students advocate for THEIR library media program by actively participating in it.

  • Student volunteers check in books, straighten shelves, and create book displays before school in the morning.
  • Students recommend books to add to the media center collection. These requests become the number one source for book selection for the media center each year.
  • Student recommendations saw the addition of more comfy seating, rearranging shelving to allow for more cozy floor space for reading, and allowing the use of cell phones for reading and school work in the media center.
  • Student bloggers write about their library experiences as featured ‘guest bloggers’ on the DRMS library media website.
  • Students lead book clubs and discussion groups as the media specialists act as facilitators.
  • Student ideas brought our craft table to life with duct tape projects, origami, and bookmark making.

Selfishly, I want the library media program to be one of the most memorable things about our students’ middle school experience. This program advocates for each student’s educational growth, but it also nurtures their maturity as individuals. The future is passing through our school and because we’ve given them the opportunity to lead and create, our students have shaped their library media program with relevance and enthusiasm. Their voices speak the loudest about the success of our library media program.

Kristen Ziller, NBCT Library Media Specialist
Durant Road Middle School, Raleigh, NC
Twitter ~ @wavinglibrarian and @drmsmedia

Friday Finds September 5, 2014

Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
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Meet online with fellow librarians!

edWeb hosts professional learning communities specifically for school librarians. Their communities offer free webinars, live chats, and online discussions.  You can choose your degree of involvement.  You can earn a free CE certificate for attending a live webinar  or watching the recording.  Webinars are scheduled throughout the week and you can watch and learn at your convenience.  Their website is a wonderful way to connect with other librarians, experts, find resources, and integrate technology to improve your school library program.  They cover no tech, low tech, and high tech applications for your library.  A wealth of information and it is all free!

Check it out!


Let’s Get Together Thursday – Five Keys to Collaboration Part One: Warm and Welcoming September 4, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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A new year is underway—new pencils, new students, and new staff members for most of us.  Whether you’re new at your campus, or you’re one of the veterans helping mentor new teachers, don’t forget the importance of a first impression.  Somewhere in library school we all learned the importance of a “warm and welcoming” environment.  However, it’s not about throw pillows, posters, and plants.  The facility itself can be pristine or cluttered, chic or cutesy, but the place called library isn’t nearly as important as the librarian staffing it.

Are YOU warm and welcoming?  Are you available to those dropping in?  Does your signage reflect a spirit of helpfulness rather than a list of don’ts?  Are you creating a people centered environment?  How do you handle teacher requests—is it a complicated system that deters those who may need you most from asking for assistance or from scheduling classes?


If we want to build a collaborative environment, our attitude in greeting people who pop in is far more important that how attractive our “Welcome Back” displays are.  Our teachers will pick up a great deal from our non-verbal communication—having the door open, making eye contact and greeting them when they come in, having materials/supplies they can borrow available when they are working in our libraries.  These are all ways that we set the tone for how open we are to working with them—that they aren’t just an annoyance distracting us from the clerical or administrative tasks we never seem to have enough time to do.

Being a librarian is more than liking books and research, technology and literature.  It’s about liking and serving people, too.  Our teachers are just as much our patrons as our students.  If we want to have a busy library filled with students learning, we’ve got to have the teachers happy to be there as well.

I have winced many times at some of my own colleagues bragging about telling teachers off and sending them away because they didn’t follow the librarian’s rules.  To that I say it’s very difficult to recover a relationship once you’ve gone there.  Remember how it felt to be that teacher that just needed a kind word today—and not a lecture about how it’s really not that hard to fill out an online request.  Even those teachers who have no kind words for others can be killed with kindness.  These are our customers, like it or not.  If we expect teachers to bring their students to the library, we must begin by being customer centered with them.

Meaningful collaboration is a proven means of increasing student achievement, but it doesn’t just happen.  We’ll look at other keys to collaboration the next several Thursdays.  Next week we’ll talk about being “Collaboration Worthy!”