One Book, One School, One Great Impact!

Illus. by W.W. Denslow; Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Looking for creative ways to engage your entire school—across grades and content areas—in learning? Cathy Evans, director of libraries at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, created a project that did just that. Even if you’re not lucky enough, like Evans was, to have extra money available, you’re sure to be inspired by this project. So sit back, give this a read, get inspired, and start thinking now how to adapt it for your own school!


What started as a gift grew into an idea and blossomed across the school community. In 2011, our school received a generous gift, in honor of a longtime friend of the school, to create an ongoing speakers series. The mission of this series is to bring to our campus thinkers and doers whose ideas challenge conventional wisdom and spark new thinking.

As the director of libraries and one of the people on campus with the most experience in bringing speakers to campus (mainly authors), I was put on the speakers series committee. At our first meeting we tossed around topic ideas and possible speakers, and finally settled on the topic of global hunger, food, and sustainability. Since we wanted to have speakers come to school in the fall, we had about six months to find dynamic speakers and build an exciting curriculum around the topic.

Linking Speakers with the Theme

The result was a unique pairing of internationally known activists in the field. Ido Leffler, the founder of the Yes To line of beauty products, Ellen Gustafson, co-founder of Feed Projects and founder of the 30 Project, and Dr. Cary Fowler, founder of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Leffler’s Yes To seed fund helps create gardens at schools located in impoverished areas across the country. Gustafson’s Feed Project takes simple burlap grain bags and turns them into chic accessories, funding school meals for children across the world. Dr. Fowler’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault deep inside a Norwegian mountain contains seed samples from crops around the world, more than 250 million seeds to date. Continue reading “One Book, One School, One Great Impact!”

The Many Faces of Collaboration

School Library Connection is pleased to collaborate with ALA President Julie Todaro and her school library group Task Force to provide access to a selection of key professional development articles aligned with essential professional competencies for school librarians. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns. You can read the latest about the initiative here.

“The Many Faces of Collaboration” by Stacey Gerwitz. School Library Connection, December 2015.

Much to my dismay, there are no hallway traffic jams caused by teachers lined up at the library door anxious to collaborate. In fact, some teachers might never cross our library threshold if I didn’t reach out and offer my services. Working with different faculty members can be quite the adventure, and it is never the same experience. There are different levels of collaboration. Some will be full co-teaching experiences, while others will include a division of skills and teachable moments. Whether you are just beginning your career or are a seasoned veteran, you may already know—or may someday meet—this assembly of collaborating teachers.

The Dream Teacher

This is the teacher who makes a librarian’s life amazing! When you meet with the teacher for the first time, you become instant collaborators. You want to work with her as often as you can throughout the year. In fact, the year isn’t long enough for all the ideas you have. She realizes the potential and increased cognitive gains for students through collaboration. It’s a win-win-win for the students, teacher, and librarian. Her units become your units and vice versa until you can’t tell which unit belonged to whom in the beginning. It’s a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Continue reading “The Many Faces of Collaboration”

ICYMI: November 2015 Author of the Month April Pulley Sayre

Who says kids find nonfiction boring and dry? Despite what many people may think about kids and nonfiction, children’s author April Pulley Sayre knows that kids really do love nonfiction, it’s simply a matter of “letting them graze and have some input so they can pursue their interests.”

If you want to inspire students to read nonfiction, April Pulley Sayre suggests that you make sure you have titles from “passionate writers. Stock the library with Seibert winners, AAAS/Subaru/SB&F award winners, John Burroughs Award winners, and so on. Check out the many great Internet resources like the Picture Perfect Science book website, http://www.pictureperfectscience.com/.” When you’re looking for some good nonfiction titles, Sayre’s own books are a good place to start. Continue reading “ICYMI: November 2015 Author of the Month April Pulley Sayre”