Lessons from My Father

When did you learn to value data?

In this editorial from our April online issue, Leslie Preddy shares her story. She blames her dad.

For more about using data, the importance of data, and what it can do for your practice, be sure to read our April online issue. Subscribers can access it hereNot yet a subscriber? Click here  for more information.

 

Ronald Carl “Pops” Burton

It’s all my father’s fault. His PhD is in analytical chemistry. He’s brilliant. I can remember when I was little and being awed when allowed to visit him at work, looking at all the scientific tools, equipment, and supplies he could use every day. I vividly recall sitting on his lap while he let me look through one of his scientific journals while he explained to me, as best he could to a small child, how important it was to keep comprehensive notes, charts, drawings, research for his projects. He showed me his bookshelf full of these journals and shared the value of retaining his old journals so he could refer to them and use past experiences to build upon when solving a new technical problem in order to improve efficiency, address environmental concerns, avoid contamination, or any problems in the factories that involved chemical analysis issues. Pops, as I affectionately call my father, was very patient with a very curious child. Who knew that would be a foundation for processing information that would serve me well as an adult? Continue reading “Lessons from My Father”

We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)

Subscribers: Do you love diverse books? Check out our May issue in which we look at connecting these books with your instruction and practice. Find tips and advice for getting these books into the hands of your students.


Subscribers can click on the article titles below to read more.

Not yet a subscriber? What are you waiting for? Click here for more information and to sign up for a free trial.


Serving Rainbow Families in School Libraries by Jamie Campbell Naidoo

Let the Dodo Bird Speak!: A Rejoinder on Diversity in Children’s Books by Kafi Kumasi

Whose History Is It?: Diversity in Historical Fiction for Young Adults by April M. Dawkins

One-Question Survey. Connecting Diverse Students with Diverse Collections by Maria Cahill

Continue reading “We Read Diverse Books: Connecting Our Diverse Collections to Our Instruction (May 2017 Issue)”

On Spring Cleaning & Evidence of Learning

“Perfectionism means that you try not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.” —Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

As the mother of a toddler, I deeply appreciate these words. In our house, a fresh array of sippy cups, cereal, books, socks, cars, and blankies adorns the living room before 7 AM.

In the spirit of developmentally appropriate exploration, and to preserve my sanity, I tend not to pick up the mess as it happens. Instead, I try to delight in my daughter’s energy and curiosity, and do my best to avoid panic if she finds and eats a forgotten Cheerio. I straighten and clean when possible, and often, it’s not perfect before bedtime. If Anne Lamott says there is proof of a rich and full life in this pleasant chaos, then so it shall be. Some might call this patience, others sloppiness. Either way, I’ve found this approach to be a critical skill for getting through the day. I didn’t learn this secret as a new mom, though. I learned it as a school librarian. Continue reading “On Spring Cleaning & Evidence of Learning”

What is the most important data you collect and analyze?

The theme for our April online issue is “Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction.” To that end, Maria Cahill asked school librarians, “What is the most important data you collect and analyze?” This turned out to be a challenging question! Keep reading to see Dr. Cahill’s analysis of the results.

We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices.  Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here or check out the complete April issue here.


First, we apologize for putting our school librarians through such a difficult task: we asked them to choose the most important type of data they collect and analyze. As one of our respondents replied, “This question feels a little like ‘which is your favorite child?’ They are important for different reasons.” We recognize that different data are used for different purposes and all of the options we listed have value.

In truth, we fretted a little bit over how to ask the question, as well as how to collect responses. In the end, we decided it was important for librarians to “have” to choose. In case you wonder, we too ground our work in evidence-based librarianship. The option choices were guided by findings from empirical research of school librarians’ evidence-based practices (Richey and Cahill 2014). Continue reading “What is the most important data you collect and analyze?”

Hot off the Presses: The Many Faces of School Library Leadership

Here at School Library Connection, we’re excited to share that the new edition of The Many Faces of School Library Leadership, edited by Sharon Coatney and Violet H. Harada, is hot off the presses. Completely revised and updated with new contributions, this book examines the responsibility to lead in many areas and identifies the real-world, day-to-day application of established theory and best practices.

We at SLC are fortunate that the book’s editors have asked us to host a continuing discussion around its important topics here on the blog, so please use the comments section below to start a conversation, ask a question, engage in dialog, or just follow along! Sharon, Vi, and all of us at SLC are looking forward to a great conversation.

(Faculty interested in course adoption can request a digital exam copy of The Many Faces here.)

Continue reading “Hot off the Presses: The Many Faces of School Library Leadership

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!”