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Let’s Get Together Thursday – New to Your Campus? Advertise! October 30, 2014

Posted by Jennifer Laboon in Check this out!.
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Library Word Cloud

So you’re new to your campus, and you’ve found you’ve got a tough crowd.  How do you get the word out about what you can do for your teachers and students?  Advertise!  Lori Matheny, a librarian in Fort Worth created a video with Animoto to share what she does with her new campus.  Here are some of the benefits from this method:

1) It’s simple to produce! Animoto has been a go-to tool for several years for a reason.  It’s easy to create something impressive with their templates, even if you’re a novice! Lori said she tried other tools but finds that Animoto works universally on most computers–old or new–or devices where a teacher or student would play the video.

2) It gets the word out about what types of lessons she can do.  Sometimes teachers need to be told directly with specific ideas–not just “feel free to schedule your class for the library.”  She has been surprised that many teachers she hadn’t thought to target have spoken up asking for research lessons.  Sometimes we focus on the obvious, and forget that other departments are all doing research in some way.

3) It demonstrates that she has technical skills. Animoto is one of the more basic tech tools we can use, yet she clearly shows that she has mastered it.  As a result, she has had teachers ask her to teach Animoto to their kids, and Lori gladly accepted.  She has taught it to teachers as well!

4) It’s great PR for her administration!  She adds bits of data to show she is making progress, and data is the language of administrators.

5) It’s fun!  She puts the video on her library site, which she makes with Weebly and embeds on her site on her library software homepage.  It gives students something to look at when they stop by her page to use the catalog.

6) It’s professional.  For her high school teachers, she sticks with a very crisp and clean tone.  It definitely helps her convey herself as a competent, no-nonsense person who will get to business and not waste teachers’ valuable teaching or planning time!

To further hook her audience, she uses a graphic of a big red button with the hyperlink to get teachers to click through to see the video.  This has greatly increased the number of views of her videos.  During her first year, she said each time she sent these out, she has scooped up a few new customers.

The best part is it’s a great return on investment of her time!  If you’ve seen these and thought of doing one but never have gotten around to it, it’s time to give it a try! Great tip, and thanks for sharing, Lori!


Tuesday Tech Tips – Sharing Links October 28, 2014

Posted by Brooke Ahrens in Check this out!.
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Monday I attended a great edtech conference hosted by our county office of education. it was an opportunity to share lessons, ideas and lots of web links.

There are a variety of ways to share web links, URL shorteners are a popular way share links at conferences, or when you need to share a link quickly with a group. I’ve been a long time bit.ly user because you can customize the links you shorten. It also integrates well with Twitter, and users with an account can see how many times a shortened link has been accessed.

Today I learned about ShoutKey.com, a URL shortening site that uses a real word to make remembering the short URL much easier.  For example, I used shoutkey.com to create a short url for the AASL Blog page and it generated:  www.shoutkey.com/centerpiece.  The other major feature of shoutkey.com is that the link is designed to expire. When you create the shortened link, you can decide how long the link will last, from 5 minutes to 24 hours, which makes it great for sharing links at conferences or trainings. The link I created for the AASL blog has already expired, but it’s easy to create another when needed.

To share links that are designed to be more permanent, one of my go-to sites is SymbalooEDU which allows you to create a page of bookmark tiles. I created a symbaloo for my students with links to all of the programs we used at school. For my teachers, I’ve created symbaloo webmixes how to create podcasts, and digital portfolios using Google Sites. It’s easy to add  or remove links to the symbaloo,  link to another symbaloo webmixes, embed content, or add a symbaloo to a web page or blogpost.

Here’s a symbaloo I made of avatar creators for my web design students. http://edu.symbaloo.com/mix/avatarcreators3

If you haven’t tried SymbalooEDU, it’s an engaging, easy way to share web content with students and teachers.

It would be easy to create a Symbaloo of student book reviews or recommended readings, links to books of a particular genre, or links to resources to a specific skill.

Monday Means Leadership: Grant Writing October 27, 2014

Posted by Deanna Harris in Check this out!.
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In lean budgetary times, we often have to look for funding outside our school buildings and school districts.  Grant writing is a way to bring money into our school library programs by tapping into businesses and organizations that are willing to spread around the wealth.

Here are some grant writing suggestions:

  1. Seek out organizations and businesses that support literacy, reading, technology and are a good match for your library media program.
  2. Thoroughly read the grant proposal guidelines to ensure that you meet the requirements for the funding program.
  3. Outline your ideas, brainstorm with others, and possibly pull together a grant writing team.
  4. Make sure your goals, objectives and timeline are identified and your writing is clear and concise.
  5. Prepare an appropriate budget to include in the proposal.
  6. Double check to make sure your proposal meets all the criteria and guidelines and turn in your proposal before the deadline.

Explore the AASL Essential Links: Library Funding for additional information on grant writing and federal grant programs.

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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Fall Forum logo

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!

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

Posted by Susi Grissom in Check this out!.
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Fall Forum logo


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.



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: