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?”

School Libraries: Leading the Way into the Future

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, who describe the project and their process here:

ALA President Julie Todaro’s initiative, Libraries Transform: The Expert in the Library, builds on the ongoing ALA Libraries Transform campaign that focuses more on libraries in general, including the facility and the program. However, that facility and program are nothing without a librarian.

In discussing her initiative, Julie always outlines the work and shares how the school librarian members went into high gear, “Our teams met in October, decided on our vision in the morning and met in small groups in the afternoon. The school librarians had a structure, existing content, a rough draft of new content, and had lined up YouTube testimonials and best practices by the following day at lunch. I am always proud to say, ‘I have my all-level certification to be a school librarian.’”

Julie’s Task Force consists of representatives from public, academic, special, and school libraries. The school library group is co-chaired by Susan Ballard, Dorcas Hand, and Sara Kelly Johns, who worked with a subcommittee of outstanding school librarians. They, in turn, were assisted by the school librarian Expert Panel members (Blanche Woolls and Debbie Abilock) who review the School Library Team’s efforts before they go live at ALA Annual 2017 in Chicago.

After Susan Ballard adapted the Professional Standards for Education Leaders (PSELs, from the National Policy Board for Educational Administration) to reflect school library expertise, the school library group identified eleven competency areas–the original 10 plus Literacy and Reading–for building-level school librarians, developed a rubric for practitioners to self-assess their school library leadership competencies, and compiled a dynamic list of resources in order to build their expertise. Our competency list is entitled School Librarian Competencies Based on the PSELs; the competencies, the rubric and the supporting documents list will be available with the Todaro Expert in the Library materials beginning at ALA Annual 2017.

Thank you, Libraries Unlimited and School Library Connection, for supporting this initiative with access to these articles.

Competency 1: Mission, Vision, Core Values

“School Libraries: Leading the Way into the Future” by Carolyn Foote.  School Library Connection, October 2015

“We need to develop the capacity to think of a library as a developing enterprise rather than an established institution.” — Joan Frye Williams at ALA 2014 “Libraries from Now On” Summit (paraphrase)

Our campus become a 1:1 iPad campus four years ago, and watching the transition’s impacts on student learning and the library has made Joan Frye Williams’ words resonate for me personally. Going through disruption in our own library just as I was writing this article made it clear to me how much we need to build better internal capacities and mindsets to support ourselves in times of change. Both schools and libraries need to begin thinking of themselves as fluid enterprises, not fixed monoliths. Ultimately, we need to be sure that our deep love affair with libraries centers around our deep love for students and their learning. We can serve our communities and student learning best if we are tracking, aware of, and acting on trends to which our schools and libraries need to be responsive.
Continue reading “School Libraries: Leading the Way into the Future”

Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction (April 2017 Issue)

Subscribers: Browse our April 2017 bonus online issue at SLC online! In this issue, we explore how you can collect and use data to improve your library practice, advocate for your library program, and make your instruction more meaningful and effective.


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.

Table of Contents

Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction

Leading Positive Change through Strong Relationships and Communication By Priscille Dando

Thinking Outside the Lesson Plan Box: Designing Quick, Multi-layered Assessments By BJ McCracken

Developing a Meaningful Self-Assessment/Evaluation Instrument in Georgia By Phyllis Robinson Snipes Continue reading “Your Data Toolkit: Gathering and Using Data to Improve Instruction (April 2017 Issue)”

Leading from the Library

Do You Agree with the Statement “The Administrator(s) of My School(s) Perceive Me as a Leader”? This is the question we asked for our March One-Question Survey. Keep reading for Dr. Maria Cahill’s analysis of the results and strategies for boosting your leadership profile.

We hope you use these surveys to help you reflect on your own practices. Subscribers can view our archive of past surveys here.


With the publication of Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs, the American Association of School Librarians (2009) identified “leader” as one of five primary roles school librarians should enact. Yet, labeling school librarianship as a leadership profession doesn’t necessarily mean that school library stakeholders will perceive the position or the professional occupying that position as such. Rather, leadership is a contextual process in which individuals develop relationships that position them to influence others. Naturally, some contexts are more conducive to leadership and some individuals have developed skills, dispositions, and behaviors to better position themselves as leaders. Nevertheless, all individuals are capable of becoming leaders (Northouse, 2015).

We asked school librarians to identify their level of agreement with the following statement: “The administrator(s) of my school(s) perceive me as a leader,” and we provided space for the school librarians to elaborate on their responses, if they so chose. Encouragingly, the overwhelming majority (81.5%) of the more than 800 respondents to our survey Agreed or Strongly Agreed that they are perceived as leaders within their schools, and this was especially true for school librarians working in middle schools, nearly half of whom responded, “Strongly Agree.” Continue reading “Leading from the Library”

March Author of the Month Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

It is quite likely that when a student asks you for a book about the impact of war on real people, you will recommend a title by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. When our reviewers gave highly recommended ratings to two of her new titles, Making Bombs for Hitler and Adrift at Sea, we decided it was time to learn more about Skrypuch herself.

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s books have received numerous awards and honors—and for good reason. Skrypuch can take a subject like famine (Enough, a picture book about the Ukranian famine), genocide (Armenian Genocide Trilogy), refugees (Adrift at Sea, Last Airlift, and One Step at a Time, about Vietnamese refugees), or war (World War II Trilogy and others), and turn it into something that is not just suitable for children but, perhaps more importantly, that children can relate to also. With protagonists who are children themselves, her books invite young readers to place themselves in these circumstances and think about how they might have responded to the same situation. But enough of that for now; you’ve read her books, you already know all of this. It’s time for us to get to know a little bit more about Marsha herself.

When did you know you wanted to become a children’s book author?

I wanted to write books ever since I began reading at age nine. I write the stories that burn in my heart – the stories that if I don’t write I won’t be able to sleep at night.

Writing specifically for children wasn’t a conscious decision until much later.

Why do you think it is important to write books for children that deal with such tragic events (refugees, war, genocide)?

We need to be respectful of children’s intelligence. I will never write a book that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Young people deserve nuanced, tough, and interesting stories about real life and real history. Letting kids chew on gritty stories about real history is just as important as giving them good food. Reading about what other young people had to go through in different times and places gives a child the strength and context to deal with their own challenges.

I want to give children a safe way to feel what it’s like to live in the midst of war and what it’s like to have to make impossible choices. But most importantly, when you live inside a character that you’ve grown to love, the whole concept of “us” versus “them” falls away.  Literature set during tragic times is one of the best ways to help a reader develop empathy. Continue reading “March Author of the Month Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch”

“Piecing Administrators into the
Collaboration Puzzle”
A Supplement for LIS Faculty

This month at School Library Connection, we are debuting a new feature on our blog—a set 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. The suggested discussions, writing exercises, and other activities are 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.

Feedback on this supplement is  greatly appreciated as we develop this evolving area of School Library Connection’s professional development materials. Please tell us if you applied some of these ideas with your graduate students, and how they went! What did you try? What changes did you make, or might you incorporate next time? What other kinds of materials might be useful to you—more like this? Something different? We look forward to hearing from you!
—Dr. Rebecca J. Morris, Adjunct Faculty, Library and Information Studies, UNC-Greensboro, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

 

Piecing Administrators into the Collaboration Puzzle
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the relationship between the school librarian and school administrator can make or break the library program. A myriad of practices and policies within the control or influence of the principal stand to affect the library program. Among them are student and teacher schedules, budget, staffing, collaborative opportunity, and school-wide literacy culture, not to mention support for and belief in the value of the school library for student learning. Continue reading ““Piecing Administrators into the
Collaboration Puzzle”
A Supplement for LIS Faculty”