Believe it or not, behind the scenes, February is the time of year where we’re wrapping up work on the current volume of School Library Connection. While our readers are still waiting for their copy of the March issue to arrive—in both their mailboxes and inboxes—we’re actually already hard at work putting the final touches on our May/June articles before they move into design. So while you may still have several months of the current volume left to enjoy, this is the time of year where we get to say THANK YOU to all the authors in our community who make School Library Connection the incredible professional publication it is.
This is also the time of year where we get to look ahead with excitement to the next volume, and we’re thrilled to share this list of themes for the issues of next year’s print magazine. We warmly welcome back our past authors and look forward to reading your ideas. Just as importantly, we welcome new and first-time authors—we consider it part of our mission to provide a platform for new voices, so don’t be shy!
Let us introduce you to Elly Swartz—we guarantee you’re going to love her and her debut novel, Finding Perfect. Swartz’s warmth and charm are apparent in her answers to our questions, just as they are apparent in her portrayal of Molly, a typical tween but one whose adolescence is complicated by her obsessive-compulsive disorder. Get ready to be charmed!
Be sure to look for our review of Finding Perfect, which received a highly recommended rating in the January/February issue of School Library Connection.Subscribers can see our complete archive of reviews at reVIEWS+.
Once we had read Finding Perfect, we knew we had to talk with the author, Elly Swartz. She kindly agreed to answer a few questions and we were rewarded with a glimpse into the creation of a story from beginning to end and also a glimpse into the heart of Swartz herself. When you’ve finished reading this, you’ll want to invite Swartz into your library and add Finding Perfect to your collection.
When did you know you wanted to become a children’s book author?
I have been creating stories since I was a little girl. Not with the idea of becoming an author, but simply for the love of the story. When I was young, I wrote short stories and a lot of terrible poetry. As a young mom, I channeled my creativity into storytelling. I would create characters and adventures with my sons and weave stories until they fell asleep, the magic passageway was discovered, the princess was found, or the world saved. Then, sixteen years ago, another creative spark was lit. I wanted to write. This time, I wanted to write a children’s book. That summer I started this journey. I wrote my first children’s book. Then I wrote another. And another. And another. And—finally—I wrote Finding Perfect.
This month we asked “how do you facilitate opportunities for students to connect with those from other cultures?” In the article below, Maria Cahill discusses the results and offers resources and ideas for you to use with your students.
We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices. Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here.
“Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance” (Mansilla & Jackson 2011, xiii). To prepare students to become globally competent, schools must meaningfully incorporate global topics within the curriculum, ideally through inquiry-based learning; integrate technology tools that enhance learning outcomes; and provide learning environments conducive to developing and sustaining creativity (P21 Global Education Task Force 2014).
We wondered what roles school librarians play in creating those learning environments conducive to global education; therefore, our One Question Survey this month asked school librarians to identify the ways they, individually or in collaboration with teachers, facilitate opportunities for students to connect with students from other cultures. Continue reading “Connecting Students with the World”
What do you think you know about the English language learners in your school? What do you know about teaching English as a second language? Sylvia Vardell,our reVIEWS+ collections editor, debunks four common myths about learning English as a new language.
Subscribers can find a new editorial by Sylvia every month as well as our archive of reviews and other content at reVIEWS+
ESL students learning English as a second language are the fastest growing group in U.S. schools today. These learners come from a multitude of countries and backgrounds with many born right here. They speak many languages, and their reading levels range from preschool to high school. These students can experience great cognitive and emotional demands as they are asked to quickly learn both language and content in order to participate fully in the school curriculum and in classroom life.
As we as librarians and educators think about our students who are learning English as a new language, as we select appropriate books for our libraries and plan meaningful programs and instruction, it can be helpful to consider some of our questions and preconceptions about language learning. What do you know about what it’s like to learn a new language? What can you do in the library to support students learning English as a new language?
As I write this, I am marking the one-year anniversary of when I moved from being a high school librarian to being the only librarian for my entire school district. I write this column not as an expert in advocacy, but as a librarian who realizes that being an advocate is a necessary part of my job. I also realize that being an advocate can be easily overlooked or forgotten in the chaos of everyday life.
Advocacy is a work in progress; it is also something that involves a wide scope, because every one of us should participate in some form or another. The ideas I am sharing here are ones that I want to improve as I implement them both now and in the future. I am hoping that by the time this article is published, I will have established an even stronger practice in these ideals. Continue reading “Simple Advocacy: Maintaining Perspective”
Those of you who know Paige Jaeger (and really, who doesn’t?) know she’s big on inquiry and collaboration. In her latest webinar for SLC @ The Forefront, Paige offered solid advice on repackaging those social studies research projects so inquiry is front and center. For attendees looking for Paige’s pick-up lines for approaching teachers so you can get started collaborating, we present this article from February 2016.
When I first started as a librarian, I had to fish for collaborative teacher friends. I didn’t wait in line for them to swim up to me, but I floated around the building with a baited hook. My pick-up lines included, “How can I help you?” “How can I connect to your curriculum?” “How can we work together to increase achievement?” I’d leave little weekly notes in teacher’s mailboxes to see who would befriend me.
Initially, teachers may have collaborated out of pity, but they returned for the fun. They were hooked. I remember modifying an insect unit with a first grade teacher so that kids would not only have to “report” on their insect but also speak in the first person voice. I remember reforming a biographical presidential biography report to a first person campaign speech, and I remember teaching perspective because a fifth grade teacher said he didn’t have time. It was a slow walk down a long road, but we eventually reached that collaborative plateau.
When we successfully collaborate, it weaves us into the fabric of instruction and it enlarges our students’ world. It allows students to travel on our Internet Superhighway to destinations unknown. There are a few levels of collaboration, and dare I say we have experienced them all? We have covert collaboration, low-level collaboration, and full-collaborative planning. Continue reading “Professional “Pick-Up Lines””
We all know how important it is to stay abreast of technology trends, but how do you do that? In this article from our Jan.-Feb. issue, Dr. Maria Cahill discusses our latest survey question:
Which Is Your Favorite Source for Learning about New Technology Tools?
To fulfill the role of information specialist, it’s imperative that a school librarian stay abreast of the latest trends in education and technology. Doing so enables the school librarian to integrate emerging technologies and tools into learning and teaching scenarios across the school environment and curriculum (AASL, 2009) which, in turn, facilitates the development of digital literacies of students and teachers and positions the school librarian as an instructional leader. Recognizing the power of technology expertise, we wondered where school librarians learn about the latest and greatest technology tools. Continue reading “Where Do You Find Great Tech Tools?”
Joel ben Izzy, one of our favorite award-winning travelling storytellers, has put aside his recordings for the moment and taken up the pen. With his usual warmth and engaging humor, ben Izzy shares his semi-autobiographical story of 12-year-old Joel, master magician and nerd incarnate, who is looking for a Hanukkah miracle.
Be sure to look for our review of his new book, Dreidels on the Brain, which received a highly recommended rating in the January-February issue of School Library Connection.Subscribers can see our complete archive of reviews at reVIEWS+.
If you’re not acquainted with Joel ben Izzy, you—and your students—have been missing out on some of the best storytelling to be found.
In Stories from Far Away, a recipient of the ALA Notable Recording Award, ben Izzy takes you with him as he goes from Turkey to Tel Aviv, China to Tokyo and places in-between, presenting us with folktales embellished with his own personal touches as we travel through these foreign lands. And it’s quite obvious why How I Learned to Love Liver: And other Tales too Tall to Tell received the Parents’ Choice Honors award; the stories are full of that type of gross humor that makes kids squeal “ewwww!!!” as they giggle and quiver with delight, and those same kids can be found quivering with horror and suspense as they listen to the stories in The Green Hand: And other Ghostly Tales from around the World, recipient of the Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence. Continue reading “January Author of the Month Joel ben Izzy”
Have you been following the #OneWord2017 hashtag? I love this trend—people on Twitter, even teachers and their students, are proclaiming in just one word their goals, ideals, and hopes for the new year. The idea is simple, yet it isn’t—like that famous saying about wanting to write a shorter letter but not having the time or those January home magazines suggesting how easy it is to organize household mail if you only touch each piece once.
It’s harder than it might seem to be efficient when completing certain tasks or collecting certain thoughts. And distilling a year’s worth of ambition into a single word is no different. But I like the spirit of this exercise in nudging what might be a jumble of ideas toward a more focused lens. Too often with resolutions and to-do lists, we get excited and ambitious, and well-meaning plans end up diluted. Choosing one stream feels practical and attainable.
I like the one-word resolutions that could apply to many aspects of living and working—like “adapt.” Vow to adapt to the unexpected snowfall, request, or detour. Adapt when a website goes down, a student question brings surprise, or a new resource falls in your lap right before teaching. Continue reading “You and Your Library in One Word”
We’ve all the seen the photos of groups of our friends who worked together to try and get out of an escape room—some successfully and some not so successfully. Librarian Maddie Powell decided to see what the idea might look like in the school library in Frisco, Texas. Her goal with the escape room was to engage non-readers and bring them into the library. Students had 10 minutes to figure out whether a character in the story had jumped or was pushed out of a window. A series of clues and riddles led students to find a black light in the sock of the dummy on the floor, which was used to uncover the answer on the walls. There was a high rate of participation and excitement that got many non-readers into the library space. Demand was so high that teachers began bringing whole classes in together. School Library Connection’s own Carl Harvey talked to Maddie about the experience and her tips for others hoping to try their own escape room.
Carl Harvey: What was your motivation or inspiration to do something like this?