Beyond Heroes, Holidays, and Special Events

Digital image courtesy of the Getty‘s Open content Program

The school library calendar is filled with events that are focused on both the library and literature: Banned Books Week, Banned Websites Awareness Day, Digital Learning Day, Read Across America, and School Library Month, to name a few. National organizations set the date these initiatives are to be held and library programs provide displays or sponsor programs to support the goals of these events. These efforts clearly fit into our responsibilities as program administrators who ensure that “all members of the learning community have access to resources that meet a variety of needs and interests” (AASL 2009, 18).

Getting beyond Months and Days

What may not be quite as clear is the school librarian and library program’s role in relationship to heroes, holidays, and special events that are not specific to the library. For example, “multicultural months,” such as African-American History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Women’s History Month, are celebrated according to the calendar in many schools and communities around the country. Spotlighting religious holidays may also cause challenges for school libraries. Some librarians may even wonder about the wisdom of the library being known for other special events such as “Poetry Month” or “National History Day.” Should these genres in our collection receive little attention except during their month or on a particular day?

The American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights” is clear about our charge to “provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues” (http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill). While heroes, holidays, and special events have a place in the academic program of the school, how can we help ensure that “diversity” is not simply something our school is checking off its list? What are some alternatives to these practices and how can school librarians take a leadership role in guiding our schools toward an integrated model rather than an additive model for diversity? Continue reading “Beyond Heroes, Holidays, and Special Events”

Power of Student Voice

flipgrid peace prize celebration (31) In  this article from the archives, Andy Plemmons shares how he makes sure his students have a voice in the library and beyond.
Subscribers can find more great articles like this here.

 

What does it mean to empower the voices of members of our library community? The library program does not belong to one person, and it is up to us as school librarians to look for ways to empower each voice in our school. By offering a variety of experiences and by taking risks to try new and innovative practices, we are more likely to find opportunities for students who may not have found their voice yet.

Student Voice in the Collection

When students come into the library to search for something to read, they should be able to find themselves and their interests. I, of course, have an obligation to diversify the collection and introduce readers to different perspectives and topics, but readers should also be able to find their own interests and passions. I cannot assume that I know what interests kids. Therefore, I’ve found value in turning the process of developing the collection over to students. Each year, I reserve a portion of our library budget for students. This student book budget project is led by third through fifth graders who are selected by an application process. Basically, if you apply to be in the group and have a genuine interest, you are included.

I offer advice, but the decisions belong to them. Using Google Forms, the book budget team develops a reading interest survey that is emailed to all third through fifth graders. For our younger students, the team individually surveys students in classrooms, at lunch, and at recess. All data populates a Google spreadsheet. Continue reading “Power of Student Voice”

Simple Advocacy: Maintaining Perspective

NYC Book Campaign
Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/item/2016646295/

It’s always a good time to advocate for your school library program. In that spirit, we’re sharing this gem from our archives by Allison Burrell.

Subscribers can find advocacy video workshops by Dorcas Hand and Susan Ballard, as well as many more articles on advocacy at School Library Connection.

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”

Professional “Pick-Up Lines”

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 firsJaegert 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””

Joy Tips in the Library

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Take a moment to think about how to maintain your sense of joy in the library with this article from Jim McMillan and Barbara Pedersen.

Subscribers can find more great articles like this here.

Life in the library can include many situations that try to steal your joy. We all know if we lose our joy, we lose our peace, and we don’t want that to happen. You may believe that when things go wrong you can’t control how you feel, but you can. Each of us can control how we respond to things through the use of our will power. Make your will power your library power and use it when you need it. Students will learn from watching you. The way you live your life in the library is what you teach others. They will learn by your example. So how do we use our will power, you ask? There are five Joy Tips that have always helped guide me and are guaranteed to help you too in holding onto your joy wherever you go. Continue reading “Joy Tips in the Library”

From the Archives: Joyce Valenza on Digital Curation

 

With an Svalenza1LC @ The Forefront  seminar coming up with Joyce Valenza and Brenda Boyer on December 15, now is the perfect time to revisit Joyce’s article from 2012. In it, she talks about the importance of digital curation and its place in school librarianship.

Sign up for “OER: Issues, Possibilities, and the Promise of Curation” on EdWeb here.

The Internet firehose analogy rings even truer today, twenty years after Internet access saw its beginning. Each of us is now not only a consumer but also a potential media producer, and it is easy to be drenched.

Human Filters Help

Digital curators can prevent oversaturation by filtering and diverting the onslaught and by directing what is worth sharing into more gentle and continuous streams.

Blogger, author, and NYU professor Clay Shirky, in Steve Rosebaum’s Mashable post, “Why Content Curation Is Here to Stay” on May 10, 2010, describes the problem with traditional search and identifies the issue of filter failure:

Curation comes up when search stops working. [But it’s more than a human-powered filter.] Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.

[Part of the reason that human curation is so critical is simply the vast number of people who are now making and sharing media.] Everyone is a media outlet. The point of everyone being a media outlet is really not at all complicated. It just means that we can all put things out in the public view now (Shirky in http://mashable.com/2010/05/03/content-curation-creation/).

Human filters make a difference. Librarians can be filters in the best sense of the word. Librarians can synchronize communities.

Curators make sense of the vast amounts of content that are continually produced. They are talented at scouting, identifying relevance, evaluating, classifying, organizing, and presenting aggregated content for a targeted audience. They create what Allen Weiner calls “informed playlists” (http://curationchronicles.magnify.net/video/Clay-Shirky-6#c=M5ZX2G2S2CH2LNGS&t=Allen%20Weiner%20defines%20curation).

Perhaps Albert Barnes was the ultimate curator for the pre-digital world. His suburban Philadelphia art collection and educational facility was unlike any other. Barnes was known for his visionary scouting, and for his careful selection of art work before the world discovered it as great. Known for his thoughtful juxtaposition of paintings, Barnes created wall ensembles for his students. One section of a gallery wall might contain works of different styles, periods, and from different parts of the world. They were gathered strategically so they might be contextualized, compared, and studied. His goal was for these wall ensembles, these highly curated works, to inspire learning. Continue reading “From the Archives: Joyce Valenza on Digital Curation”

Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month

picture-bookPicture books. Who doesn’t remember looking at a favorite picture book over and over until it became worn and tattered? Who doesn’t love sharing favorite picture books now with those eager little readers as they delight over the colors and drawings that come together to tell a story? To celebrate National Picture Book Month, we’re sharing an article from our archives by Jennifer Kelley Reed about creating a successful picture book celebration at your school.


Picture Book Month is “an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November” (http://picturebookmonth.com/). The initiative affords libraries, schools, and literacy organizations the opportunity to promote the power of the picture book. Our school has participated for the last five years, and each year we have been building on our experiences, extending the reach of the activities from the library to the classroom to students’ homes. Our most recent celebration was a success on many fronts—it reminded K-5 students about the richness, information, and enjoyment of picture books, boosted library circulation, and strengthened the connection from our school to students’ families.

Individualizing Student Experiences

In our latest observance, the celebration lasted for the entire month of November, and we focused activities on students’ individual connections with picture books. Students in grades three through five challenged themselves to read a specific number of picture books from one of three “neighborhoods” in the library: biographies, picture books, or nonfiction. They were encouraged to set realistic goals for themselves, and to keep in mind that they weren’t in competition with other students, but instead enjoying the opportunity to explore and read books in a neighborhood they didn’t often frequent. It was clear that students heard the message, with some committing to read ten books, while others committed to fifty.

For the students in grades one and two, we focused on a nonfiction Picture Book Month challenge. For the month of November, I had more students than ever before coming to the library to exchange books, sharing what they were learning while reading, and marking the numbers on their challenge sheets. (This video on my blog shows the state of the library in the midst of Picture Book Month: http://reederama.blogspot.com/2014/11/what-does-school-library-in-midst-of.html.) Continue reading “Growing Readers and Parent Involvement through Picture Book Month”

Get Your Library Organized with Apps and Tools

moorefield-lang_heather-2Worried about that upcoming presentation? Want help with those everyday tasks in the library? In this excerpt from the archives, tech guru Heather Moorefield-Lang shares her expertise on finding the right tool to help you run your library more efficiently and impress your patrons and administrators with your knowledge and creativity.
Subscribers to SLC can read more helpful ideas like this by visiting School Library Connection.

Being in charge of others comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Those who work for their library administrators hope that they will be empathetic, creative, and flexible, have vision and good communication, be able to work well and collaborate, and serve the community at large (Chow and Rich 2013). There are a host of online tools and apps that can aid library administrators (and their employees) in communication, organization, presentations, creativity, and with everyday client, patron, student, and faculty service.

Presentations
Every library administrator has to call meetings, and often it would be useful to have tools to aid with presentations.

Haiku Deck (www.haikudeck.com). Similar in style to PowerPoint, this app and online presentation tool won AASL’s 2014 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning and the TIMEs 50 Best Websites for 2014. Presentations can be made on an iPad or computer. Haiku Deck makes creating presentations incredibly easy with templates, colors, and a partnership with Getty Images for a vast collection of gorgeous Creative Commons pictures. Presentations can be shared online or downloaded for free for offline presenting in PDF or PowerPoint format. (Free and Pro Levels Available).

Editor’s note: Subscribers can get more presentation ideas by checking out Heather’s article “Presentation on the Go” available online.

Organization
Just about all of us struggle with organization in one area or another. Here are some sites and apps that might be useful.

Droptask (www.droptask.com). This online site and app works in two ways. It is a concept mapping and task management tool. Users can group their workload by categories into circles and then add to them as needed. It’s a visual way to view tasks as an individual or group. Collaboration is a strong component of this site. Tasks can be shared among employees and departments, and Droptask is great for presentations as well when sharing ideas for an upcoming project. (Free and Pro Levels Available) Continue reading “Get Your Library Organized with Apps and Tools”

Planning a Free Book Night

Here’s a great idea from the archives. Subscribers to SLC can read more articles like this by visiting School Library Connection.

giftsMost librarians realize that families are at the heart of providing support for developing lifelong readers. Involving families in reading fun, activities, and training is integral to creating a strong network of readers. Families (along with other significant adults in the reader’s life) can support and promote reading at home by making reading an everyday, even casual, activity. School librarians can play an important role in helping families in the school’s efforts to support and develop readers at home as well as at school. Free Book Night is a great way to offer a special event that focuses on reading.

Communication
School librarians can play a central role in communicating information on reading to families. They can let families know what’s new in reading, how to support and build a reader, and what social reading activities are available in the school or community. School librarians can also lead the effort to host special reading events like a Free Book Night for families. This event helps readers become interested, motivated, and efficient by developing a home support network and home reading habits. It is an opportunity to remind parents of the importance of being reading role models, providing reading time at home, maintaining a home bookshelf of reading materials, participating in reading conversations, and providing moral support for reading. It is also a way for the school to promote opportunities in the community for participation in reading-related activities with connections to the library.

Free Book Night
Pre-planning: Work with administrators to set a date on the school calendar for an evening family reading event. Once the date is set, establish a committee to help and to ensure there are others on the staff with a vested interest in the project. Begin by collaboratively developing a promotion plan in order to get the word out to the community and families. Create a plan for the evening. Consider spaces needed, supplies, donations, training, and entertainment. Plan for the important components, but also think outside the box. For example, would attendees enjoy having a local sports mascot or book character in costume to greet them as they enter? Continue reading “Planning a Free Book Night”

Coteaching: A Strategic Evidence-Based Practice for Collaborating School Librarians

moreillon_judiHave you preregistered for Dr. Judi Moreillon’s upcoming webinar on EdWeb, “Classroom-Library Coteaching 4Student Success“? Join Dr. Moreillon and our colleagues from Libraries Unlimited on October 13th at 5:00 PM EDT for an interactive exploration of strategies for identifying potential collaborative partners, electronic collaborative planning tools, providing evidence of the value and efficacy of classroom-library collaboration, and much more. The best part? Joining our EdWeb community, SLC @ the Forefront, is 100% free.

To whet your appetite we’re sharing this gem of Dr. Moreillon’s from the March 2016 issue. Happy collaborating!

The collaborative classroom teacher–school librarian model can take various forms. Educators can co-develop a library collection aligned with the classroom curriculum. They can co-plan schoolwide literacy events or promotions such as Love of Reading Week, Poetry Day, or the book fair. Educators can collaborate to plan for a makerspace or technology purchases. They can collaborate to develop strategies for integrating technology tools and resources into students’ learning. They can also coteach by co-planning, co-implementing, and co-assessing standards-based lessons and units of instruction. Of all of these collaborative possibilities, coteaching, has been shown to make a measurable difference in student learning outcomes. Continue reading “Coteaching: A Strategic Evidence-Based Practice for Collaborating School Librarians”