Monday Means Advocacy: Where do you hang your hat? March 3, 2014Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Learning Standards.
Tags: Advocacy, Monday Means Advocacy
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At my library media learning team a few years ago, we looked at the beliefs that are the cornerstone for the standards in library media programs using the book, Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action (AASL, 2009).
First, we looked at the nine common beliefs through our own eyes, as library media coordinators. If we had to hang our hat on just one of the beliefs, where would we hang it? What did we see as our focus in our library media programs?
- Reading is the window to the world.
- Inquiry provides a framework for learning.
- Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught.
- Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs.
- Equitable access is a key component for education.
- The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changed.
- The continuing expansion of information demands that all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own.
- Learning has a social context.
- School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.
We were split between two of the beliefs: ‘Reading is a window to the world’ and ‘School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills’. Some of us felt that reading was the main focus of our programs and our work with students while others took a broader approach to seeing themselves and their programs as the place, environment, and access to all. No real surprises there.
But when we looked at the beliefs from other perspectives, we began to see how others view the library media program and how this affects our work. We asked ourselves which belief our principals would hold up as the hallmark for the media program. What would our students say is the most important belief? And what about our parents and PTA? Where would the superintendent or the school board member hang her hat on these common beliefs?
That’s when we realized that we have to consider all perspectives about library media, our influence on others, and the advocacy to promote our entire program. If a teacher views the library media program as a place for reading and that’s it, will they ever begin to incorporate instructional technologies or encourage educational and social networking with their students? If our principal sees our program as the place for students to improve their technology skills, will we ever get a budget to purchase the latest and greatest fiction? If the superintendent is most worried about and focused on ethical behavior in use of information, will he recognize the need for inquiry and critical thinking skills within the framework of learning?
We as librarians know that these are a set of beliefs and one does not necessarily outweigh another. It’s important to understand the perspectives of all our users in order to meet their needs, build influence and advocate for out total program. However, our hat rack may tell a different story if we tend to hang our own hat on only one or two of the beliefs instead of wearing the many different hats of our profession.
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Animoto and Wordle March 2, 2014Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Hot Topics, Technology.
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Have you ever wanted to breathe new life into boring, traditional assignments? Animoto and Wordle, both 2009 recipients of the BWTL, are favorite go-to ideas when I’m brainstorming with teachers for new projects. Often they are unaware of the programs, or worse, aware but don’t see the tie-in to their curriculum content. As teacher librarians we are always on the look out for activities, ideas, or projects that allow students an interesting way to demonstrate concept mastery. Tried and true paper-writing becomes mundane and boring, both for the student and the teacher. Providing teachers a tool for their teacher toolbox and giving students a unique avenue to show they have researched, read, or learned a required standard can be a catalyst for re-engaging students in the learning process.
One of my teachers each semester assigns one written book report. Often times the type of required book changes by either genre or type. In a collaborative session with her, I introduced her to Wordle and Animoto. The library has a digital frame on the circulation desk, and often we create visuals to promote ongoing initiatives, including things like contests, upcoming events, new books, what’s popular, really almost anything. Having the digital frame made me realize it was the perfect avenue to showcase student work as well. I approached my collaborating teacher with an idea that her students books reports could be improved by adding a visual route, and a digital project was born. Over the years it has taken many twists and turns, and in its current state, it has grown to students creating a book review for our Destiny Quest, a digital product for the digital frame, and that same digital product added to the Destiny Record. Because our Destiny program is open to the public via the world wide web, anyone who looks for books through our catalog may come across Animoto videos, book posters that have included wordles, and student reviews. My collaborating teacher has maintained a written portion to the project, requiring the students to write the review and citations. Citations are for pictures used in their projects and for their print book reviewed in a strict MLA format, and this is a part of the rubric we use, where students are assessed. The rubric assesses the following: MLA Review, MLA Citations, minimum of five pictures related to the story or the books content in a visual, minimum of five uses of text in visual, and an oral presentation to class using the student created visual.
The students are much more engaged in all facets of the project knowing their end product potentially has a global audience. They are also excited at the prospect of our using their work in our digital frame for promoting a print resource they used from the library. My collaborating teacher frequently tells her students the skill set they develop from these projects can be used in other classes. I know our students have done this, particularly with our Animoto Accounts because the Educator accounts we use with the students have many works finished and/or in progress in there. I used to download them and then delete them until recently a student came in the library hysterical because her project (one from some time ago) was missing. I had deleted it thinking it was so old we didn’t need to keep it. This student had actually used the embed feature, and my deleting it caused her work to be missing in another digital avenue. Lesson learned–leave the students previous or other work in my accounts.
Here are a few samples of students past projects from the class I described above. They are embedded in our Destiny catalog and used to advertise or highlight books in the library as well.
Sample Student Visual Book Reports using a mashup of pictures and an overlay of a Wordle.
Sample Animoto Student Projects
Blog Cross Post from Cathy Jo Nelson: AASL Best Websites Committee Member
Monday Means Advocacy: Library Legislative Day February 24, 2014Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy.
Tags: Advocacy, Monday Means Advocacy, National Library Legislative Day
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National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) - May 5-6, 2014
From the American Library Association –
National Library Legislative Day is a two-day advocacy event where hundreds of library supporters, leaders and patrons gather in Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress to champion national library funding. National Library Legislative Day also includes a virtual advocacy component for library supporters who cannot attend the Washington meetings—advocates have the option to work remotely to connect with legislators via phone calls, text messages, emails and social media platforms.
Twice I’ve had the opportunity to attend Library Legislative Day, representing school librarians in North Carolina and across the country. One of those times was during the 1999 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and one of our goals was to make sure that school librarians had a voice as teachers for their students and for school library programs.
My attending NLLD was an eye-opening experience and an introduction to how policies and laws are really created and affected in our country. After a full day of briefing with ALA representatives, lobbyists, and consultants, we attended a reception on Capitol Hill where we informally met senators, representatives, and legislative aides who listened to our elevator speeches and stories of “down home”.
The real meetings, however, were held the following day. Constituents grouped themselves to meet with their representatives in their offices. While the overall message conveyed and asked for was support of libraries at all levels, I was charged with sharing the school librarians’ message. My two-three minutes of the agenda focused on the importance of highly qualified professionals at every school and well-funded programs with appropriate access to print materials.
The message to legislators does not seem to have changed in the last fifteen years: highly qualified school librarians and well-funded school libraries are essential to the education of our children.
I encourage you to watch the video of the North Carolina delegation to last year’s event - Library Legislative Day: A North Carolina Story, 2013 - in order to get a feel for the two days.
Take time to check the resources regarding NLLD and see how you can advocate for school libraries on May 6. Or maybe connect with your state’s coordinator and book that trip to Washington, D.C. now!
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: LitPick February 20, 2014Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Hot Topics, Technology.
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Empower Your Students with LitPick.com
Monday Means Advocacy: Parents February 17, 2014Posted by Deanna Harris in Advocacy, Check this out!.
Tags: Advocacy, Monday Means Advocacy, parents
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Parents can be some our greatest advocates for supporting strong school library media programs. Traditionally school librarians have appreciated the support of parents who have shelved books, manned the circulation desk and coordinated bookfairs. But parents can do so much more to support library programs: they can share their technology expertise, they can tutor students face-to-face or virtually, and they can assist with clubs and library events. They can be a powerful voice for support!
But how do school librarians get parents more involved?
- Join the PTA and attend regular meetings so that the school library program and the school librarian are seen as integral to the whole school curriculum.
- Invite parents to serve on school media and technology committees so that they have input and buy-in to teaching and learning.
- Communicate with parents about the teaching and learning happening in school libraries through PTA newsletters, media and school blogs, media and school websites, and Twitter postings.
- Facilitate parent workshops on internet safety, social media, instructional technology, great YA reads, and other topics to bring parents to the school library.
- Organize parent or parent/child book clubs to read the books their kids are reading or to read books on parenting.
- Print and share the parent brochure on School Library Programs Improve Student Learning
Parents who are involved in our school libraries will share their experiences and become advocates for strong programs.
What do you do to get parents involved in your school library program? How are parents supporting your efforts and advocating for libraries and librarians?
Technology Tuesday – IFTTT February 4, 2014Posted by Karin Perry in Technology.
Tags: Technology, Technology Tuesday
Are you a busy person? Would you like some shortcuts for some basic tasks you do every day? Well, do I have the tool for you. IFTTT.com is so cool!
Basically, you choose Channels and Triggers and Actions to create a Recipe. For example, I couldn’t find a good way to keep track of all my Tweets that I favorite so I created a Recipe to take care of it for me. I chose to send every Tweet that I favorite to an Evernote notebook. My Recipe looks like this:
Here is what my Evernote notebook looks like with my favorite Tweets.
I had the same issue with the Tumblr posts that I like, so I created another one for it.
Here is my Evernote Tumblr Favs:
Have you ever used IFTTT? If so, what Recipes have you created?
Monday Means Advocacy – Get the Word Out February 3, 2014Posted by Karin Perry in Advocacy.
Tags: Advocacy, Monday Means Advocacy
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Happy Monday to all. Welcome to the first day of the new AASL blog schedule. Each day will focus on a specific topic of interest to school librarians. Today we start with Monday Means Advocacy.
How do you get the word out about your library? In this day of diminishing budgets it is imperative you tell the school and community what you can do for them. The research is out there to back you up. Visit Keith Curry Lance’s website for information and links to his recent School Library Impact Studies.
Take a look at 3.0 Where School Is Cool! Frontline Advocacy for School Libraries Toolkit from the ALA page for some great information.
So, what are some easy things you can do right away?
1. Use a Time Management Worksheet to keep track of all the classes you teach, the students that visit the library, and the activities you do each day and provide it, along with a weekly summary, to your principal. The principal needs to know what you do!
2. Let your voice be heard. Read short book reviews on the morning announcements and ask to share information at the faculty meeting.
3. Advertise. Create book review posters to hang around the school. (Invite students to submit their own to get more student involvement – hey, what about a contest??)
What do you do? We are a large organization and can generate a lot of ideas. Please spread the word and post your ideas in the comments section of the blog. Let’s pull together and help each other.
Stay tuned for:
What to Read Wednesday
Let’s Get Together Thursday
Ideas for Using AASL Best Websites: Codecademy January 21, 2014Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Hot Topics, Technology.
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Codecademy Wants to Teach the World to Code
2013 might be called “The Year of Code.” The popularity of events such as the Hour of Code campaign, part of Computer Science Education Week, encouraged school librarians and K-12 students all over the United States to explore computer programming, discovering how much fun and rewarding it is in the process. Did you know that according to Code.org, over 1 million jobs in coding, engineering and data mining are projected to be available in the United States by 2020? Did you know that according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, starting salaries for 2013 computer science majors averaged $65,000 and are projected to increase at a rate of 5% per year? And finally, did you know that MIT researchers identified coding as an “aspect of fluency in the 21st century” that teaches problem-solving, collaboration and communication
As an instructional technology and school library media professor, I have been able to introduce coding and basic computer programming to my students, most of whom are classroom teachers and future school librarians. At first, the idea of coding seems mysterious and overwhelming, but once they begin, many of these teachers find that coding is engaging and much easier than they expected. They also share with me that they enjoy integrating coding exercises into their classrooms and library programs. Much of the positive experience we have with coding I attribute to Codecademy, part of AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2013 list under the “Content Resources” section.
The website offers a free After-School Programming Kit to any K-12 educator who would like to start a coding club because “by learning to program, kids can have a say in how software shapes their world.” What a wonderful philosophy! I encourage you to explore Codecademy’s wealth of resources. Integrate coding into your school library program and help your students develop into 21st century digital citizens who shape their own future. For the latest updates and information on this resource, follow the Codecademy Blog, “like” Codecademy on Facebook and/ or follow them on Twitter.
Dr. Lucy Santos Green
2013-14 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee
Ideas for AASL Best Websites: BiblioNasium December 30, 2013Posted by Heather Moorefield-Lang in Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, Technology.
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BiblioNasium….A Fun Social Network For Our Young Readers To Flex Their Reading Muscles
Being a teacher librarian and part of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee, I spend a lot of time trying out all of wonderful websites on these lists each year. I was especially excited to see BiblioNasium as part of the 2013 list under the “Manage & Organize” section. My students, teachers, and families have been using BiblioNasium for over a year now and we all love what this free, safe, and secure social networking reading website has brought to the young readers within our school community.
We love how it connects young readers to their reading interests and friends; gives librarians, teachers, and parents a place to explore; lets them share book reviews and recommendations; and how students use BiblioNasium to “flex their reading muscles” as they connect to a large variety of good books to read.
“Marjan and her kids realized they needed a digital solution to organize the information, keep track of their own favorite books, and connected a new generation of digital kids. Part kids social network, part parent’s guide, part teachers’s tool, BiblioNasium blends technology with personal connection to create a supportive, engaging space for reading success.”
What a great idea! I couldn’t wait to get our students using BiblioNasium and even more excited about reading!
I started using it with our 3rd through 5th grade last year by introducing it as their own “virtual reading” space. We talk a lot about social networking and digital citizneship throughout the year and by using BiblioNasium it has given us a chance to have great conversations about being resonsible and respectful online with others in these types of networks. This fall our students in grades 2nd through 6th grade are using BiblioNasium, while our younger and older ones will too second semester.
Once in BiblioNasium, students can search for books, including titles that are just the “right fit” by getting the reading level information for any title; mark, favorite, and review books; place books on their very own shelves; create reading challenges; log their reading minutes; and recommend books to others within their class. Teachers enjoy it for many reasons, especially how they can track students reading through the logs and recommendations. And as a parent, I really love looking at what my 8-year-old Hagan enjoys reading and what he looks forward to read too.
As part of sharing BiblioNasium , I also asked Marjan to share a few thoughts.
Marjan stated in an email to me,
“Within BiblioNasium, there are over half a million books that are shelved by our students on their virtual bookshelves and we are growing at the rate of about 1000 new students a week.
Second, I think its so important to mention over and over that we support “independent reading” which is the best predictor of a child’s reading comprehension and reading fluency achievement. (Independent reading in our definition means reading that is usually done outside of the classroom setting, at home, on the weekends, breaks, summers …) We are also agnostic to the format or content that they read. We want them to track, record and get credit for reading print books as well as ebooks, fiction books as well as comic books, what ever excites them to read.
Third, we are strong believers that when educators and parents collaborate, the kids can get the most gains. Therefore we support and encourage the connection between the school and the home.
Fourth , we have been very responsive to the feedback from our librarian community and they have helped shape and directed the many new features that are now on the platform.
Finally, we want to make reading fun!!!!! :))”
As you can see BiblioNasium is a place for students to fall in love with reading and books over and over. It is a social network that we can encourage our little ones to connect and collaborate with others through reading and writing. I just know you and your students will love it as much as we do within my school community and home.
You can connect with BiblioNasium on Facebook and on Twitter at @BiblioNasium.
Shannon McClintock Miller @shannonmmiller
2013-14 AASL Best Websites For Teaching and Learning Committee
School Librarian Crisis in NYC August 21, 2013Posted by Patricia Sarles in Advocacy, Hot Topics.
Tags: New York state law, NYC school librarians
In a Wall Street Journal article published last week, (a story also picked up by the Atlantic Wire), it was reported how the New York City public school system is and has been out of compliance with the New York state law that mandates either a full or part-time librarian in all secondary schools, depending on the school’s enrollment. It is because of this law that many of New York City’s school children have the benefit of a librarian to serve them within their buildings, but despite this law, many NYC school children don’t have that benefit. Now the New York City Department of Education is seeking a waiver so that they do not have to be in compliance with this law at all. According to a NY1 News piece, the Department of Education cites that due to changes in “technology and teaching structures, schools can provide adequate library services without a traditional librarian.”
This is the thing though. Because of the control that principals were handed several years ago with the reorganization of the DOE, some principals will decide to keep their librarians anyway and some will breathe a sigh of relief that because of the waiver, they will no longer be out of compliance, even though they were never held accountable to be in compliance with state law in the first place. But does nobody in the DOE realize that this will only increase the achievement gap? We school librarians are already familiar with the research that points to the fact that having an endorsed librarian in schools increases student reading scores. Some NYC principals, recognizing the benefits of having a school librarian, will decide to keep their librarians, regardless of the waiver. But some principals will let go of their librarians. It may be that the children in schools with librarians will do better, while those unfortunate enough to be in schools without librarians will not do as well. Time will tell. But who in the DOE will make the connection? As it stands right now, nobody in the DOE seems to care if there is an inequity in the services that the students receive in New York City public schools as there is no mandate that all children receive the same services they are entitled to within the same system wherever they decide to go to school.
New York state already does not have a mandate for elementary school librarians, which has always been baffling to me. It is in elementary school that children first learn to read and if reading is the foundation for all future gains in knowledge, then why not have a librarian who would encourage their early reading, not just their skills in reading, but to also instill a passion for reading? Librarians = books and reading at the elementary level after all. It is at the secondary level that the role of the librarian expands to research skills in addition to continuing to foster and encourage reading. And speaking of research skills, are our leaders not aware of the Common Core Anchor standards for writing, which require that students “research to build and present knowledge?” Librarians are trained to teach these skills and have been teaching these skills all along. That is why so many of us are on board with the Common Core. Parts of the standards speak our own language. But who do our leaders think are going to teach these research skills? Sadly, there is still a lack of knowledge about what we librarians do, which is sadly evident in this letter to Dr. John B. King, New York State Commissioner of Education from the NYC DOE’s Chief Academic Officer, seeking a variance to “provide equivalent library services in alternative ways.” Why? NYC already has certified librarians. Hire more and they won’t need to seek “alternative ways” to provide “equivalent library services.” We are trained to do what we do. Classroom teachers, literacy coaches, and others who serve children in school buildings are not. They might also not be aware that New York is a PARCC state. The PARCC test will be one of two new Common Core assessments. And it is on this PARCC test that students will be given a “Research Simulation Task”, whereby students will be provided several authentic texts to read and be required to write an analytic essay that synthesizes the information they read. This is one third of the PARCC test, the other two being a narrative task and a literary analysis task.
We know what we do. We have to keep doing what we do and hopefully we will continue to be given that opportunity. We need to keep having conversations with our principals, collaborating with our teachers, and we need to keep writing, especially for journals outside our field. We need to “seize the opportunity” as Olga Nesi, NYC library coordinator, said in an SLJ article last year. This is the era of the Common Core. We know we are vital to student success but we have to ask ourselves why our educational leaders do not see this.