April Author of the Month David Elliott

Fractured fairy tales? How about fractured mythology? Just in time for National Poetry Month, David Elliott gives us a modern take on Theseus and the Minotaur. Contemporary mythology in verse, you ask? Trust me when I say your high school students will love it, just as you’ll love its cucumber-washing, popsicle stick-making author.

 

This graphic pretty much sums up David Elliott’s latest novel, Bull. Perhaps it’s his love of opera that’s behind his ability to successfully combine verse and drama or maybe that has nothing to do with it and he’s just channeling his inner child’s love of Scrooge McDuck’s “The Golden Fleecing.” Whatever his inspiration, this unique retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur made us want to learn more about the author and we know you do too, so keep reading. Continue reading “April Author of the Month David Elliott”

“Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction.” A Supplement for LIS Faculty

Dr. Audrey Church

We are pleased to continue our series of learning experiences built around our latest issue and designed for use with school library candidates in graduate/professional programs, including pre-service school librarians and practitioners working as educators while earning their credentials. Dr. Audrey Church has provided suggested discussions, writing exercises, and other activities, written “to the graduate students,” so that faculty might borrow or adapt sections of the text directly into assignment instructions or online course modules.

Current subscribers can access the referenced articles via the hyperlinks below. (Magazine subscribers who still need to register for their login credentials at no extra cost may do so here.) As always, new subscribers are warmly welcomed into the SLC community, or we invite you to sign up for a free preview of our online platform.

Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction

This April issue of School Library Connection focuses on gathering and using data and rightly so. In today’s educational environment, data drive instruction, school improvement, teacher evaluation, and more. If school librarians are to be full participants in the educational process, they must be able to collect, analyze, utilize, and communicate with data. In fact, in my book, Tapping into the Skills of 21st Century School Librarians: A Concise Handbook for Administrators (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), in chapter 5, “Librarian as Program Administrator,” I have an entire section on Attention to Data: “Librarians pay close attention to data. Collection statistics are important: as program administrator, the librarian monitors the age of the collection, weeding outdated and inaccurate resources… Circulation statistics are important. The librarian monitors them to see which areas of the collection should be enhanced…The librarian also monitors usage statistics…Which teachers collaborate most often? She will use this data, not only to include in the library end-of-the-year report but also to target future collaborative efforts. Student data are critically important. The librarian will document how she makes a difference in student learning” (p. 70).

Continue reading ““Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction.” A Supplement for LIS Faculty”

Program Assessment: Enjoy the Journey and Results!

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.

Competency 10: School Improvement

“Program Assessment: Enjoy the Journey and Results!” by Ann M. Martin. School Library Connection, March 2016.

As I decluttered the other day, I was astounded by the number of maps I had accumulated and stored in a cabinet. With navigation systems available on numerous devices, I certainly don’t need all those paper maps anymore! Seeing all those maps, though, made me begin thinking about the importance of mapping your way to a destination, particularly when managing a library program. In our culture of high-stakes testing, assessment of the library program verifies the library-classroom connection (Martin 2012, 63), but just as importantly, assessment is a navigation tool designed to move goals and objectives—and consequently the library program—forward.

Hitting the Road

No matter what navigation choice is made when charting your course, in order to begin, you have to know the point from which you are starting. One place to begin is to identify obstacles impacting library program success using assessment instruments. Ever since the 1950s, when Dr. W. Edwards Deming emerged with the concept of continuous improvement, assessment has stressed the importance of eliminating root causes of problems. Deming changed the focus from “Who is causing my problems?” to “What processes are hampering change?” (Turner and Inman). Examples of processes impacting library programs are new policies mandated by legislatures, strategic plans targeting specific instructional strategies, and emerging technologies. Today, our navigation devices assess road obstacles and provide alternative routes as needed. Similarly, librarians can “correct course” and make measureable improvements to their program by analyzing it to identify the root causes of its strengths and weaknesses. By understanding these core causes, librarians can brainstorm solutions and create action plans to address each area of need (Martin 2012, 47).

Continue reading “Program Assessment: Enjoy the Journey and Results!”

School Librarians and K-12 Online/Blended Learning

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. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 9: Operations and Management

“School Librarians and K-12 Online/Blended Learning: Moving Critical Conversation beyond the Medium” by Lucy Santos Green and Kathryn Kennedy. School Library Connection, May 2016.

Much of the professional discussion surrounding our role as school librarians focuses on the ever-changing and flexible nature of the job. School librarians have quickly added a large list of technological responsibilities: maintaining a school website, delivering professional development on technology tools, coordinating school-wide BYOD programs, establishing computer coding camps, and more. Change in the profession has also resulted in change in the library space itself. The Learning Commons movement is still going strong, while makerspaces invite students to explore, create, and contribute their own artifacts and experiences to the library collection. One particular aspect of education, K-12 online and blended learning, is quickly and quietly impacting school librarianship, and yet, professional discussion of this topic remains minimal.

Brenda Boyer, a school librarian in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and a leading voice on the topic of school librarianship and K-12 online/blended learning, passionately explains why school librarians must engage in this critical conversation: “Libraries need to meet learners where they are, and where they are is on their laptops, tablets, and phones. To remain relevant in the lives of our digitally connected students, school libraries must be both available and useful” (Boyer 2016, 4). Continue reading “School Librarians and K-12 Online/Blended Learning”

Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!

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. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 8: Meaningful Engagement of Families and Community

“Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!” by Lee Ayoub, Greg D’Addario, Anne Malleck, and Sandra Sterne. School Library Connectin, September 2015.

It’s 7:00 on an October evening at Long Branch Elementary School in Arlington, VA and the library is buzzing with the sound of many languages. Families are arriving for the monthly Reach for Reading family literacy program. The Reach for Reading team, which includes ELL teachers, the family resource liaison, librarian, classroom teachers and administrators, greet the families in costumes from Mother Goose for this evening’s program. Children become quickly involved with the beginning activity of coloring a Mother Goose character with their parents. All the while, conversation flows amongst families and students. Everyone is excited to be there.

Our first program introduces parents and children to formal reading instruction. This year we’ve decided to use Mother Goose. First, families gather and receive personal nursery rhyme readers from Mother Goose herself. Each reader is a teacher-made booklet with the five rhymes that are featured in the evening program. As children and parents rotate through each nursery rhyme station, they will repeatedly read the rhyme written on chart paper and in their booklet, help point to the text, act it out, and finally, identify it with the appropriate sticker in the booklet. ELL students benefit from exposure to nursery rhymes, which are a foundation for building beginning literacy skills, such as voice to print matching, rhyming, chanting, and dramatizing. ELL parents become acquainted with nursery rhymes and acquire valuable techniques used to teach beginning readers. The heart of the program lies in making connections with parents and encouraging them to become partners with the school in their child’s education. Continue reading “Getting Second-Language Parents Involved…Here’s How!”

Differentiating for Adult Learners

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. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 7: Professional Community for Teachers and Staff

“Professional Learners. Differentiating for Adult Learners” by Melissa P. Johnston. School Library Connection, May 2016.

This issue’s focus on differentiating to address the needs of learners got me thinking that in the case of providing professional development, we have to differentiate for our adult learners as well. In looking back at the columns from this past year, we have talked about a variety of strategies you can utilize when working with adult learners, but I was just reading a new study that finds that the attention span of the average adult has now dropped to about eight seconds (Gracey 2016). After just eight seconds, teachers are going to be chatting with their neighbor, texting, checking emails, and/or looking at their social media feeds instead of paying attention to you. So how do you hold the attention of teachers in a professional development session?

Differentiate for the Needs of Your Learners

Differentiated instruction refers to a “systematic approach to planning curriculum and instruction for academically diverse learners” (Tomlinson and Eidson, 2003, 3). Differentiated instruction is based on the assumptions that students differ in their learning styles, needs, strengths, and abilities, and that classroom activities should be adapted to meet these differences. Differentiated instruction involves giving learners a range of ways of accessing instruction and assessment; interacting and participating in the global classroom; demonstrating and expressing what they learn; and understanding and taking in information (Powell and Kusuma-Powell 2011). We all know that these are best practices when it comes to teaching our students, but why does it seem that professional development for teachers is still a “one-size fits all” experience? Continue reading “Differentiating for Adult Learners”

The Administrator’s Academy

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. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 6: Professional Capacity of School Library Personnel

“The Administrator’s Academy: Changing a District’s Technological Mindset” by Bridget E. Belardi. School Library Connection, January 2017.

The “Before”

As a second grade teacher who loved children’s literature and thrived on trying new technologies in the classroom, I followed the suggestion of my principal to pursue a master’s program in library science. Despite memories of myself as an eight-year old who disliked ripped pages, the smell of dirty books, and the utter silence of the neighborhood library, I was excited at the mix of books and technology the program offered. Early in my graduate program, I attended a local educational technology conference. My mind was filled with words like wiki, blog, Web 2.0, etc. I couldn’t wait to return to school and give my students new learning opportunities. I set up a teacher blog and a class wiki and began planning collaborative projects right away.

When I got to school the following week, I opened the wiki to edit it. Blocked. I tried to log into my blog. Blocked. All of the revolutionary technologies I had just learned about were blocked, locked, and frowned upon. My blog collected virtual dust for a year. What could I do? Continue reading “The Administrator’s Academy”

Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation

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. We’ll be posting at least one article every work day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 4: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

“Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation” by Judi Moreillon School Library Monthly 30, no. 2 (November 2013).

Teacher evaluation is a hot topic in many school districts across the country. Spurred by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other state or district level reforms, evaluation instruments for educators are under review. It is, therefore, important for school librarians to make sure that their evaluation, too, is an essential part of this review process. School librarians need to take a leadership role in suggesting the most effective ways to measure the impact of the librarian’s role in the school system.

Validation

In many states, teacher evaluation is or will be based, at least partially, on student achievement scores in standardized tests. This approach to evaluation presents a challenge for many school librarians who must provide specific information on which, if any, learning outcomes are taught and measured only in the library. One way to address this challenge in the library is to demonstrate the positive results of teaching by collecting formative assessment data. Librarians can validate their impact on instruction by using pre- and post-tests and assessments, graphic organizers, checklists, rubrics, and reflections, and combining these with the students’ final products. Continue reading “Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation”

Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing

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. We’ll be posting at least one article a day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 3: Equity and Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness

“Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing” by Judi Paradis. School Library Connection, January 2016.

Who’s In Our Schools?

More and more the answer is “everyone from everywhere.” Plympton School in Waltham, Massachusetts, is typical of many urban districts with students from around the world. Almost half our students are English Language Learners (ELL), and while most of these students are Hispanic, we have substantial numbers of students from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. As Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel point out:

Diverse work teams, scattered around the globe and connected by technology, are becoming the norm for 21st century work . . . Understanding and accommodating cultural and social differences to come up with even more creative ideas and solutions to problems will be increasingly important throughout our century. (Fadel and Trilling 2012)

The library can play a role in giving students the understanding and skills to be comfortable and adept in this multicultural world. We also serve as a strong welcoming point for families, with an ability to engage and provide outreach. The Plympton Library has become a key player in the school’s Multicultural Committee, which seeks “to promote, in a caring and enthusiastic way, the value of diversity in a community that is child-centered.” Continue reading “Exploring Your School Continent by Continent: An Approach to Multicultural Sharing”

Internet Filtering: Are We Making Any Progress?

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. We’ll be posting at least one article a day between now and April 15. These articles were hand selected from our archives by an expert panel of librarians chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns.

Competency 2: Ethical Principles and Professional Norms

“Internet Filtering: Are We Making Any Progress?” by Helen R. Adams. School Library Connection, April 2016.

Congress approved the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in 2000 with the best possible motives—protecting children and young adults using the “wild west” Web. Unfortunately, the legislation is misinterpreted by many school districts and has created the unintended consequence of choking off access to valuable educational resources for students and teachers.

What’s the Current Filtering Situation in Schools?

Fifteen years after CIPA’s implementation, the filters in many districts continue to be overly restrictive and block far beyond the requirements of shielding against visual images that are obscene, contain child pornography, or material harmful to minors as defined by federal law (FCC). The law does not require that districts filter text, audio, social media, or interactive web tools, although filtering software routinely bars access to these resources. To compound the problem, many schools make unblocking of mislabeled, but legitimate, websites a lengthy process. Continue reading “Internet Filtering: Are We Making Any Progress?”