Beyond Junior Shelvers: Involving Students in Creative Library Work

Have we got a GREAT author line-up for you this fall, dear readers. First up, we’ve got an issue examining the school library as an incubator for our democracy. Hot on its heels, the October issue will focus on Making, where you can look forward to a fabulous new article by Melissa Techman and Lars Holmstrom looking at fostering a maker culture across the curriculum. To whet your appetite, we thought we’d share this article by Melissa from our February 2016 issue. How do you involve your students in creative library work? Let us know!

Feb_cover
from School Library Connection, February 2016, “Collaboration 360*”

Whether or not your library has enough staff, there are compelling reasons for involving students in the work of the library. The widespread interest in makerspaces and student tinkering has pulled students into libraries, giving them new creative roles. Including students in design decisions and outreach projects builds their sense of ownership and increases their interest in libraries in general. Not only do these efforts connect the school community in new ways, but there are easy advocacy benefits as well.

Be Open to Clubs and Informal Groups

Open up your library as much as possible. If you’re in K–5, keep working toward a flexible schedule, if you don’t already have one. In high school, welcome lunch groups and students with study hall periods. Enlist students who are already in the library but also seek out those who aren’t and invite them in. I have an informal group of 30 students I call Design Crew. We meet occasionally and I email them requests and solicit ideas. Everyone who contributes in any way is a member. Students making things for the library is new for my school, but I’m seeing growing interest. Continue reading “Beyond Junior Shelvers: Involving Students in Creative Library Work”

Let the Sounds of Summer Inspire You

TakeMeOutBallgameCoverHere’s something to think about when you’re enjoying summer music in the park: collaboration! In his most recent column, Stony Evans, describes ways to bring music into your school library for both enjoyment and curricular connections.

Subscribers to SLC can look forward to reading Stony’s next Advocacy in Reach column on encouraging student voice and choice in the library in the August/September issue. Subscribers can also read his past columns by visiting School Library Connection.

I spent the first twelve years of my career in education as a school band director. Even after leaving that career eight years ago to become a teacher librarian, I still enjoy a part-time career in music. As teacher librarians, our strengths and passions just may be contagious within the learning community. By maintaining relationships with local music teachers and musicians, I have brought music into the library whenever possible for enjoyment and curricular connections. Continue reading “Let the Sounds of Summer Inspire You”

Meeting Rock Stars

Rattner_StaceySummer is a time when many of us finally find time to travel. Stacey Rattner’s new Leap into Reading column from the summer issue of School Library Connection gives you ten compelling reasons to make sure your next road trip includes a book festival.

The next time there is a book festival within a three-hour drive,* grab your pocketbook, make sure your phone is charged and has extra storage for pictures, gas up and go. Believe it or not, book festivals could be your ticket to success in your library. Just one example—I wouldn’t have had the talented, multiple Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King award winning illustrator, Bryan Collier, to my library if we hadn’t met at a book festival.

The Top 10 reasons to clear your calendar for a book festival near (or not so near) you:

10. You get to meet your favorite authors. Yes, authors equal rock stars in our minds. How lucky are we that we have book festivals to meet these creative folks we’ve been admiring from afar for so long? Ever hear of a movie star festival where you could get this close to dozens of stars?

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Great Titles for National GLBT Book Month

Here at SLC we are always proud to feature titles that promote tolerance and diversity in all library collections. In honor of National GLBT Book Month check out this list of titles recommended by our reviewers.

076367382XThrash, Maggie
Honor Girl
2015. 272pp. $19.99 hc. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-7382-6. Grades 9-12

Thrash’s graphic memoir presents a love story with which every reader will be able to identify. Told primarily through flashback, Maggie recalls one particular summer she spent at Camp Bellflower, Kentucky when she was 15. After a brief encounter with a counselor, Maggie’s emotions and thoughts become confused; she contemplates her feelings, sexuality, and actions in a way with which most teenagers will empathize. Thrash’s plot and dialogue flow easily, keeping the reader intrigued. Her rough outlines, especially for people’s faces, will hopefully prove more interesting in the final full color illustrations. Honor Girl will be a page-turner leaving readers with many unresolved questions, a scenario familiar to LGBT and straight teens alike. Carrie Randall, Maine-Endwell Central School District, New York
Recommended

 

SimonAlbertalli, Becky
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
2015. 320pp. $17.99 hc. Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins). 978-0-06-234867-8. Grades 9-12

Simon hasn’t told anyone he’s gay except for Blue, someone he knows only through emails. When Simon forgets to logout of his secret email account on a school computer, Martin Addison, the class goofball, happens upon the account. Martin blackmails Simon into getting Abby, one of Simon’s best friends, to hang out with him. When Abby doesn’t return Martin’s affections, Simon’s coming out happens more publicly than he wished. The story is told in alternating chapters of Simon’s first-person narrative and his emails with Blue. It is a charming story of coming out, falling in love, and the many changes that happen within families and between friends. Personable, funny, and insightful, Simon is a character that readers can connect with and root for. The novel is utterly delightful and a valuable addition for any high school or public library. Stacy Holbrook, School Librarian, Middlebury (Vermont) Union High School [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format.]
Highly Recommended

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In Case You Missed It: October 2015 Author of the Month Sarah Albee

Pick up a book by children’s author Sarah Albee and you just might be surprised what you can learn about history from bugs, poop, and fashion. Sarah is a favorite of the team over at School Library Connection and reVIEWS+, and she was our pick for Author of the Month last October. Subscribers can access our reviews of her books via the hyperlinks.

albee 187x250“There is so much wonderful nonfiction out there right now. No longer is it the dry, fact-based, expository stuff so many of us grew up with.” So says Sarah Albee, and she should know.

Sarah Albee loves social history and has made it her mission “to get kids to see that history can be relevant to their own lives, and to love it as much as I do.” She’s certainly done her part to draw children in by writing books with attention-grabbing titles like Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up, Bugged: How Insects Changed History, and Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History. Students who pick these up will find that “societies that paid attention to sanitation tended to be those that survived and thrived,” and that although “insects have wiped out populations…we have co-evolved with them and must learn to co-exist.” Moreover, those who think clothes are just clothes may be astounded to discover how much “fashion reflects the political, social, economic, and moral climates in which people lived.”
Continue reading “In Case You Missed It: October 2015 Author of the Month Sarah Albee”

Three Ways to Differentiate Inquiry

author-Maniotes_Leslie1Inquiry offers many opportunities to differentiate learning. This column by Leslie K. Maniotes from the May issue of School Library Connection describes three ways to design more differentiation into your inquiry lessons: using a workshop model, increasing student voice and choice in the process, and incorporating a variety of student groupings into daily work.

Inquiry as a Workshop Model

The Guided Inquiry Workshop 1
(Kuhlthau, Maniotes,, and Caspari 2012)

Inquiry learning occurs in a workshop model. Similar to the writing workshop, a workshop provides time for students to work, and for teachers to hold conferences (Obermeyer 2015). In Guided Inquiry, each workshop session includes these basic components: Starter, Worktime, and Reflection (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari 2012; Maniotes, Harrington, and Lambusta 2016).

The workshop model provides time for interventions outside the traditional classroom structure. Teachers confer with students during the Worktime to address individual needs and to keep students productively moving along their process, thus providing opportunities for differentiated teaching and learning. (Kuhlthau 2004; Maniotes, Harrington, and Lambusta 2016). Continue reading “Three Ways to Differentiate Inquiry”

Engagement with Genius Hour

Daley_JillCongratulations from School Library Connection to our contributor Jill Canillas Daley, who was named New Hampshire Teacher Librarian of the Year at last weekend’s conference of the NH School Library Media Association. To celebrate and give our blog readers a taste of why this honor was so well-deserved, we’re sharing this article on Jill’s Genius Hour program from our November 2015 issue. Enjoy! (And don’t miss her great “FAIL” handout, available via the hyperlink in the article)

How do you get 70% of students to devote their time to learning voluntarily? Read on.

Research skills, the Holy Grail of information literacy to librarians, are essential. Among the many other abilities we strive to ensure students acquire, this skill set is the one I struggled with the most. Upon introducing a new lesson, the inevitable eye rolls and groans from my students have been strong indicators of the monumental difficulty I faced. Student engagement, excitement, and motivation were lacking, and these were the traits that I wanted to cultivate. My quest became this: how do I empower students to take charge of their learning while properly teaching them the skills needed to succeed outside of school?

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Get Surreal! Celebrating the Imagination of Salvador Dalí

The paintings of Salvador Dalí grant viewers glimpses into fantastic, surreal locations bound only by the imagination. To celebrate the birthday of the famous surrealist, check out this collection of picture books all about the power of imagination and the potential for even the youngest artists to shape their very own fantastic worlds—and maybe even influence the real one while they’re at it!

 

Campoy, Isabel F. & Theresa Howell
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
Illustrated by Rafael López. 2016. 32pp. $16.99 hc. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 9780544357693. Grades K-2

Looking around her neighborhood, young Mira sees a dull urban setting devoid of color. Beginning with small paintings, she attempts to brighten the gloomy landscape with little success. A chance encounter with a muralist and his magical paintbrush empowers Mira and her neighbors to create a beautiful community pulsating with colorful murals, rhythmic poems, and vibrant songs. Inspired by the work of Rafael and Candice López on the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, this joyful ode to the power of community engagement encourages budding artists to use their talent to make a difference in their world. The dazzling illustrations invite readers to explore Mira’s multicultural community and discover the transformative nature of art. Pair this with Patricia Markun’s The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, George Ancona’s Murals: Walls That Sing, and Peter Reynolds’ Sky Color for further explorations into creative Latino muralists and street artists. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Associate Professor, University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies, Tuscaloosa, Alabama [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format.]
Highly Recommended

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Inquiry Infusion: Surviving and Thriving in a 1:1 Environment

Like the traveler in Robert Frost’s poem, we found ourselves standing at a crossroads—facing a transition to the 1:1 device environment. Our success however, came not through selecting only one path, but through each library following its own path towards the common destination of inquiry and information literacy. This is the story of how our district’s library program was able not only to survive the transition to a 1:1 environment, but also to thrive.

Set Your Goals

Here at Lake George Central Schools we are very fortunate to have a strong connection between the two libraries and the technology department. Together we created a shared vision of integrating technology and information literacy skills through inquiry-based instruction. This vision helps guide each school building in their integration of both inquiry and technology, and allows us to continue thriving even as faculty and technology resources change.

Build Your Basic Infrastructure

Our elementary library serves students kindergarten through sixth grade while our high school library serves students seventh through twelfth grade. Both programs are fortunate enough to have flexible schedules with collaborative lesson planning. Each library has built a web presence as well as a solid collection of resources to support students and teachers in teaching and learning through inquiry. In both libraries we use the WISE (Wonder, Investigate, Synthesize, and Express) model for inquiry, developed by the Warren Saratoga Washington Hamilton Essex BOCES (WSWHE) School Library System, to guide our instructional practice when working with teachers and students. This inquiry curriculum was used district-wide when building curriculum.

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Mary Boyd Ratzer: Knowledge Products and the Brain

The incredible Mary Boyd Ratzer will be speaking this morning at NYLA-SSL. Don’t miss it, New York readers! For the rest of our colleagues around the country, here’s her column from our November 2015 issue, in case you missed it.

If a learner’s brain could talk, it might provide some valuable advice about inquiry. Engaged learning experiences that lead to rigorous knowledge products build in dynamics that work for the brain. The outcome of brain-based teaching and learning is what Ross Todd calls formative knowledge—knowledge that hard wires and becomes the foundation for new learning. Without a knowledge product that demands synthesis and manipulation, use, and application of new knowledge, the brain’s recycle bin gets emptied in two weeks. Stopping short of a knowledge product disempowers learning experiences and learners. Just ask a candid kid about that. You will hear a tasking mindset concerned with “getting done” and giving the teacher what she wants for a grade.

Continue reading “Mary Boyd Ratzer: Knowledge Products and the Brain”