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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

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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

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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

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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.



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

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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?


Tuesday Tech Tips – Critical Thinking with Bloom’s Taxonomy October 14, 2014

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A co-worker sent me an email last week asking for critical thinking resources for her science class. My go-to resource for getting students to think critically has always involved Bloom’s Taxonomy, probably because it forces me to think critically as well. I’ve become a bit of a Bloom’s Taxonomy collector over the past few years because there are so many amazing Bloom’s resources available.  When I saw the email from my co-worker, I poked through my digital files to see what I had stashed away to share.  First, a few low tech resources.

I loved these colorful, (and cute!) The 6 Levels Of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Explained With Active Verbs posters. These posters would look great in a library or classroom, and provide a great way of reminding students to think and question critically. The creative variety of verbs, like “dig up” and “scrutinize” allow for greater student (and instructor!) insight into that level of Bloom’s questioning.

Another collection of posters, 14 Brilliant Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters For Teachers, includes a variety of Bloom’s questioning and critical thinking opportunities, appropriate for a variety educational levels.  The pinwheel poster, incorporating a variety of educational technologies is visually pleasing and worth exploring.

I also found an interactive poster, called the Bloom’s digital taxonomy Wheel and Knowledge Dimension that helps instructors to align student work, technology, and learning objectives. Most helpful about this interactive poster was the example activities provided for each area of Blooms, and type of knowledge.

My favorite new Bloom’s Taxonomy discovery is the The Differentiator an interactive assignment builder that starts with Bloom’s Taxonomy, but allows teachers to add in content, resources and groups.  The Differentiator can’t possibly incorporate every possible option, but it does provide a great framework for building engaging differentiated lessons for your students. I’ve had fun coming up with wild instructional possibilities, and then puzzling over how and if these combinations would work, and how I could support students to make these more wild combinations feasible.

What are some Bloom’s Taxonomy favorites you have discovered recently?

Let’s Get Together Thursday – Involving Students in Teen Read Week Planning October 9, 2014

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What are your plans for Teen Read Week? In this guest post, Nicole Graham, a high school librarian at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas, describes how she collaborated with her library’s student advisory board to take this annual celebration to the next level.

At the beginning of the year I received approval from my principal to start a Student Library Advisory Council (nicknamed the SLACers) as a way to get my intense readers involved with each other socially and also to help the library be more student centered and fun. SLAC is in its infant beginnings but I have had over 40 students sign up to be involved with a core group of about 8 that have become my early leaders. I looked to them to help choose our Teen Read Week program ideas chosen and next week, they will help put our plans into action. These plans include Paschal’s “New Favorite Books” survey, a “Caught You Reading” promotion, a makerspace after school event, and the beginning of our first student led book club.

For our “New Favorite Books” survey I plan on taking YALSA’s top 10 list when it’s released and create a Google survey for my students to vote on their favorites. I’ll share the link on our library homepage and I plan on collaborating with a few of our ELA and Reading teachers to promote student voting.

The “Caught You Reading” promotion is a teacher collaboration. We have created little business cards for teachers to pass out to a student they see pleasure reading (at appropriate times) around campus. The student will bring the card to the library and can choose a book from our collection of ARC’s and donated books.

We will be attempting our first makerspace of the year on Wednesday the 15th after school as both a Teen Read Week event, and a fun way to unwind after a morning of PSAT testing.

Many of my SLACer kids have come to me about wanting to start a book club and we decided that next week would be a great time to begin our first book. One of my freshmen volunteered to head the first one and he chose The Giver by Lois Lowry. We figured with the movie release, it would be a great first book club selection. We will be signing up interested students starting this week and promote the book during the rest of next week.

My students seem genuinely excited about next week and we’ll be having a final Teen Read Week working lunch on Thursday. I can’t wait to see how everything goes and we’ll be posting lots of pictures throughout the week on Twitter so follow us @PaschalLibrary.

Tuesday Tech Tips – October 7, 2014

Posted by Brooke Ahrens in Check this out!.
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a11I’m often asked by parents for recommendations on software that will limit their children’s access websites that could be considered distracting. These distracting sites are generally social media, video, or gaming sites that are more entertaining than our learning management site.  While I understand a parent’s desire to help their students retain focus, I’m wary of completely blocking access to these distracting sites. At the high school level, not only are these sites important socially, but it’s also a time in life when students should begin to learn how to monitor distractions and retain focus. Instead, I tend to offer them software that helps to limit distractions. 

There are a variety of software programs, extensions and websites designed to help all of us use the web more effectively, and with less distractions. I enjoyed this article, “12 Geeky Techniques to Stop Yourself Slacking Off” because it organized the tools on how they function for the end use. Gizmodo’s “Seven Tools to Help Block Out Online Distractions” includes reward based systems for limiting online distractions, allowing the user a short amount of time on the restricted site after working for specified time.

I think all of us have sites that tempt us, sometimes providing a needed respite from our work days, and often taking us away from what we really need to get done. I personally like the idea of Tomato Time, the reward system, as well as KeepMeOut, which blocks a website as you specify.  Cold Turkey however seems too smart for its own good, and I don’t know how well I might respond to such a punitive program.

How do you keep yourself focused with the multitude of distractions the web offers? What tools or techniques have you provided to students, or parents, to help them manage the distraction of the web?

Friday Finds October 3, 2014

Posted by Judy Deichman in Check this out!.
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A new digital magazine for school librarian produced by AASL!  You can view it electronically or download a pdf version.  Here are the articles in the first issue:


  • “I’m an Expert”
  • School Librarians Transform Learning
  • Reimagining Advocacy for School Libraries
  • “Do Kids Even Use the Library Anymore?
  • Creating Coalitions
  • Building Advocacy before a Crisis


Copy and use the link below:


Check it out!