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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Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde

Classic fairy tales and virtual reality games with a twist, children with magical powers, tongue-tied dragons, princesses who don’t need rescuing, time travel, mystery, adventure, wizards, ghosts, troll teachers, unicorns, and more, all brought to you courtesy of Vivian Vande Velde.

Vivian VVV_WVande Velde can’t remember a time before she knew she wanted to write. She tells us that even as a very young child, “I would make up my own stories by taking what someone else had written and giving it a different ending…or I’d give the story from my own perspective if a character did something I couldn’t imagine…or I’d mix together characters from different stories to see how they’d react to one another.” Some of her published works reflect, in one way or another, these childhood imaginings. In Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, and Cloaked in Red, Vande Velde provides different takes on traditional fairy tales. Remembering Raquel tells the story of Raquel Falcone from the varying perspectives of her former classmates. Continue reading “Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde”

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.

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What Barriers Do You Face in
Differentiating Instruction?

In the May issue of School Library Connection, Maria Cahill takes a look at responses to our most recent survey and highlights articles to help you overcome common barriers to differentiating instruction.

Survey results

For our May 1QS, we asked school librarians, “What barriers do you face in differentiating instruction?” As expected, time is the barrier that school librarians face most frequently, and as the table illustrates, this problem tends to be even more pronounced at the elementary level. Lack of resources was identified as a challenge for nearly one-third of respondents, and support from teachers and/or administrators was indicated to be the third most common obstacle to differentiating instruction. Continue reading “What Barriers Do You Face in
Differentiating Instruction?”

Using Images as Scaffolds for Reading Complex Text

Nov_coverApril at School Library Connection has been all about inquiry—but we’ve got inquiry on the brain all year long! In case you missed it, check out this great article from our November 2015 issue by Nicole Waskie-Laura and Susan LeBlanc on using images to scaffold learning as we move students toward the goal of reading complex texts.

Picture this: a class of students with a wide range of reading levels and abilities engaging deeply with the same introductory text. The topic and text are unfamiliar, yet the students that typically struggle to read are leading the text-based conversations. As the lesson progresses, the room buzzes with conversation as students grapple with the information in the text, ask inquisitive questions of their peers, and provide evidence-based answers.

How is it possible that all students across reading levels are independently accessing the same text? Because the introductory text is an image, allowing for the engagement of all learners. Visual texts sustain interest and help build understanding, scaffolding the reading of complex, printed text. Continue reading “Using Images as Scaffolds for Reading Complex Text”

Author of the Month: Don Tate

April is National Poetry Month. Don Tate’s new book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, received a highly recommended rating in our April issue of School Library Connection/reVIEWS+.

Don Tate

Bill Traylor and George Moses Horton were two men born into slavery; one taught himself to draw, the other taught himself to read and soon after began to write poetry. In two beautifully illustrated books written by Don Tate, you can introduce these inspiring individuals to your elementary grade students.

If you’ve never heard of either Bill Traylor or George Moses Horton, you’re probably not alone. As Don Tate suggests, “So often with books about historical figures, the same stories get told time and again. I think publishers realize that a story about Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King or Harriett Tubman will sell well. But,” he reminds us, “there are a lot of equally inspiring stories out there that haven’t been told.” Continue reading “Author of the Month: Don Tate”

Great Reads for Earth Day

Need some great nonfiction titles for Earth Day? Check out these recommended Nature & Environment titles from the April issue of School Library Connection.

Amazing Biomes: GrasslandsAmazing Biomes
Deserts.  9781781212417
Grasslands. 9781781212424
Oceans.  9781781212431
Polar Lands.  9781781212455
Rivers and Lakes.  9781781212448
Tropical Rain Forests.  9781781212462
2015. 32pp. ea. $31.95 ea. hc. Black Rabbit Books. Grades 3-5

Each title in this series contains a brief overview of its specified biome. All follow the same format including a world map, Climate and Zones, Animals, People, Future, a Quiz, and a Fact File. Attractive stock photos span most pages, and backgrounds complement each book’s theme. Text features include captions, headings, bold print, and books for further research. Some discrepancies regarding Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion were found in identical information across volumes. An enjoyable series for casual research or browsing despite a few flaws. Glossary. Table of Contents. Websites. Index.— Leticia Kalweit, School Library Media Specialist, Cobbles Elementary School, Penfield, New York
Recommended

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Help! My Assistant Doesn’t Like to Shelve Books!

This column by Mary Keeling from the latest issue of School Library Connection has been getting some buzz. Happy reading, and remember: “Everyone is a volunteer!”

Keeling_MaryAt a recent meeting of new elementary librarians and their mentors, someone asked, “What is my assistant supposed to do? She doesn’t like to shelve books!”

A paradox of school library management is that the librarian is in charge of the library program, but a school administrator evaluates support staff performance. Without clear lines of authority, supervision experience, or detailed descriptions of successful task performance, the new librarian may feel it would be easier to have no help at all. Continue reading “Help! My Assistant Doesn’t Like to Shelve Books!”