Show Your Stuff!

Gloom and Doom

When animals feel threatened, they become defensive and attack.  When school librarians feel threatened, they become__________________.  If I had to fill in the blank based on what I’ve been reading on our state’s listserv, I’d be filling in “negative and whine.”

Yeah.  That’ll protect our jobs.  Let’s just sit back and whine – others will feel sorry for us and not only save our jobs, but pay us double and get us library assistants, and give us unlimited budgets, and, and, and….

Loud and Proud

Instead of feeling defensive, let’s do what some of our colleagues have done and toot that horn, blast that trumpet, raise that roof!

Kelly Knight, librarian at Fork Shoals School in Greenville County, South Carolina, began today what I hope to see as a continuing theme on the SCASL listserv and forums:  a thread entitled “Tooting my own horn.”

In the post, Kelly shared the success she has been experiencing while teaching her 4th graders about blogging. Today the students learned netiquette and began posting comments on the library’s blog.  Next they will tackle book reviews and are revved up and raring to go!

After wading through several negative “gloom and doom” messages, Kelly’s post was like a breath of fresh air.

We are doing AWESOME things in our school libraries.  Let’s share them with not only one another, but also with our school communities.  They’re dying for fresh air, too.

Challenge!

Let’s inspire one another.  Please share one (or more) awesome thing(s) that you are doing in your library in a reply to this post, or in a post of your own (and then share the link to that post here).  And remember to share it with your faculty, administration, parents, and community.

Image “African trumpet‘ by smithadri  is  used through a Creative Commons license

Dr. Stephen Krashen: Education is Not Broken; the Problem is Poverty

Tori Jensen shared this YouTube video with me today.  It is worth the time it takes to watch it!

Do you want proof that school libraries are a major part of the solution to our problem in education?  Watch this video!  Do you want to know where we can get the money to support school libraries?  Watch this video!

As an aside, do you want to know three ways to prevent dementia?  Watch this video!

SCASL 2011 Conference Day One

Last week was an exciting time for school librarians who attended the SCASL conference in Columbia, SC.  Those who were unable to attend were greatly missed and several of us have tried to capture the experience through tweets, photos, videos, and blog posts.

March 9:  Pre-Conference, Exhibit Hall Grand Opening, and SCASL Board Meeting

This was my first conference as a board member of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians.  Hearing some of the planning details of the conference for several months in board meetings added to my excitement as March 9th approached!

I arrived in Columbia in plenty of time to register and set up the Advocacy Committee Display (pictured above) in the Exhibit Hall before heading to my first conference session.

Leadership Strategies for Building Communities @ Your Library

Several intriguing pre-conference sessions were offered on the afternoon of March 9th, but as usual, I signed up to attend a session with the conference’s keynote speaker. This year our keynote speaker was none other than David Loertscher, currently a professor at the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University.

Dr. Loertscher directed us to a website he had created for the session:  Leadership Strategies for Building Community: Leadership by Demonstration and Doing.   He encouraged us to become experts on the Common Core State Standards and directed us to the English Language Arts Standards (pdf is found on the Common Core State Standards site).  He asked us to skim through this document and share any wording that would directly relate to what we as school librarians do.

We quickly discovered much that related to (and shared common wording with) the American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

Which tool?

Next Dr. Loertscher directed us back to the session’s website.  He asked if any of us had attended any “smackdown” sessions at conferences where the audience is introduced to a large variety of Web 2.0 tools in a very short amount of time.  Many of us (including me) had.  “What if,” he asked, “we focus on the learning experience first and then choose the tool?”

He pointed us toward the list “Types of Learning Boosts from Technology” on the session’s website.  Looking over the categorized  lists of 54 learning boosts, he encouraged us to choose a type of learning and then a tool that would address it. We then used that information to complete a survey (a Google Docs form) and analyze the results of the survey.

Knowledge Building Centers

Finally Dr. Loertscher introduced Knowledge Building Centers(KBC): his vision for creating learning communities of the future.  He was planning another session on this topic the next day so did not go into much detail during this session.  But it was definitely enough to arouse my curiousity!  He has provided templates for creating a KBC if you wish to further explore it.

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

During the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening, Heather Loy and I “manned” the Advocacy Committee Showcase Display so that we could answer any questions posed by those who stopped by to examine our booth.  Because we were using the conference to announce our Snapshot: A Day in the Life of South Carolina School Libraries initiative, I had hoped for a large turnout.  However, the location of our booth was not conducive to tempting school librarians to “come hither.”  We did have several people stop in and show interest.

Board Meeting Dinner

Heather and I left the Columbia Convention Center in hopes of locating our dinner destination before the skies let loose the torrents of rain that seemed to be threatening.  Luckily, we found the Garden Bistro in time to avoid the downpour.  The food was delicious and the board got down to business as we readied ourselves for the two busiest days of conference.

A long, eventful day!  And only the first of three of the conference.

Dressing Up Destiny

This post is based on an article published in the South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Media Center Messenger (Volume XLVIII, Issue 4).

My school district upgraded our library catalogs to Follett’s Destiny over the summer of 2010 and provided training to the school librarians in August.  I was disappointed that the training provided little  information on creating a Destiny home page.  As I usually do, if the professional development I need is not provided by my district, I went in search of information to meet my needs.

I began combing the Internet to find great examples of Destiny home pages, and serendipitously stumbled across Alicia Vandenbroek’s Destiny home page.  Not only was her home page not just a list of links, it was colorful and animated.  How did she do that?

Wix

The answer:  www.wix.com.  Alicia discovered this awesome free web site creator that allows web pages to be embedded into other sites – including Destiny!  Not only has she created an inviting home page for her school catalog, but she has also shared detailed directions that all school librarians can use to dress up their Destiny home page.

Using her directions, I created our Destiny home page as seen in the screenshot above.  Wix offers many options, but one that I love is the Mini Page option.  Using this option, you can create hyperlinked sections to be displayed on your home page. I created three:  Library Info, Recommended Reading, and Book Trailers.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that the left column of our home page has changed to the Recommended Reading Mini Page where I have inserted hyperlinks and a book trailer. (Disappointing news at this point for my school district:  the embedded YouTube book trailers played perfectly for the first week or so, but the district once again blocked YouTube so I am currently looking for other options, including a Vimeo player that can be embedded into Wix.)

The third Mini Page I created is solely for book trailers:

Our new Destiny home page is colorful and informative.  At this point, Destiny is only on our district’s Intranet so we still use our library web page as our Internet home page on library computers, providing access to more research oriented links.  Although you cannot visit our page on the Internet, you can find Alicia Vandenbroek’s and her detailed directions for dressing up your own Destiny home page!

Shack Stacks, Shackelford Junior High’s Library Wiki:  http://shackstacks.wikispaces.com/Find+a+Book

“Wix and Destiny” found on the Librarian’s Lounge page of the above wiki:

http://shackstacks.wikispaces.com/Librarian%27s+Lounge

(The “Wix and Destiny” directions are the fifth embedded document on the page.)

Inspire Your World!

“We must stop reacting to the world around us and start inspiring it!

For too long have we defined the core of our profession – service – as standing ready to serve. No one ever changed the world by standing ready. We do it through action. This is the time – this is the place – we are the people.” ~ Dave Lankes, “Libraries and Broadband:  Forging a New Social Compact”

Changing Nature of Libraries

In his recent presentation at the Delaware Library BTOP Launch, Dave Lankes, associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, challenged several long-held beliefs that we as librarians have used to guide our work. He then  focused on the changing nature of libraries:

  • [from]quiet buildings with loud rooms to loud buildings with quiet rooms
  • [from] places of knowledge access to places of knowledge creation
  • [from] territory of the librarian to territory of the community

However, these changes are nothing new to those of us in the school library field.  Joyce Valenza and Buffy Hamilton have long been promoting these changes.

What Else is Changing?

What else have we been doing because “that’s the way it’s always been done”?  When we hear that statement, we should automatically reexamine the issue at hand.  This is a new day.  This is a new time.  And I am excited to be part of it!

Image Attribution:  Stock photo: beach, playa 6  http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1270499

Advocacy: School Library Newsletters

Problem…Resolved?

Planned:  monthly library newsletter to keep our school community abreast of library happenings and resources

Reality:  one, perhaps, two newsletters a year

Fix:  create a template that will simplify the process of creating the newsletter

Searching for Exemplars

Because I tend to be a perfectionist (I know, those of you who know me well are shocked), I wanted to locate some exceptional school library newsletters for inspiration.  I was surprised that my searches provided very few results, however, I did find several that provided me with food for thought as I worked on our template.

The first two examples are from slideshare allowing you to go through the entire newsletter if it is multiple pages.


To view two other newsletters, click on the links below.

Hillside Middle School Library Newsletter

The Dean Librazine

Widespread Problem?

Are other school librarians also having difficulty finding time to create a monthly/quarterly/once a semester newsletter?  Is that why my searches on Google and Libworm produced few results?  Or are school librarians just not posting the newsletters online?

As we advocate for our programs, we need to strive for transparency.  In today’s connected world, that means posting information online for our communities to see.

BSHS LMC Media Matters

Below is the January 2011 issue of BSHS LMC Media Matters. It still needs some tweaking, but if I were to try to perfect it anymore, it would go the way of past issues that I had every intention of finishing (but never did).

Please Share

If you know of any other online school library newsletters, could you post links to them in the comments section? 


Food for Thought: Data Collection and Analysis

Last month in an effort to improve my own practice, I studied monthly reports from several high school libraries around the country.  I found many outstanding examples which assisted me in creating a new format for my monthly reports.  (I reported on this process here and here.)

I am still pleased with the transformation of my monthly report, but….

New and Improved?

This wonderfully relaxing five day holiday has provided time to further reflect on the data I collect to share with the school community.  School librarians understand the value of statistics and measure such things as student and class visits to the library as well as items circulated. These numbers are the backbone of many school library monthly (and yearly) reports.  In the past, library resource and facility usage = proof of the necessity of a school library.

However, the more I contemplate this, the more I am convinced that these statistics are not enough to prove the need for a school library program.

In my annual report, I include statistics on the number of pages read by those participating in our voluntary reading program.  But even that does not provide proof positive that my program is impacting student achievement.

Using Collaboration Data

Pam Harland of Plymouth Regional High School includes a Monthly Collaboration Highlight table in her report. She indicates five levels of collaboration in her table that range from merely scheduling classes to teaching an information literacy skill concept and planning a unit with teachers.

Armed with her monthly reports and test data from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), Pam could correlate data that indicates her program’s impact on student achievement.  Having taught only in South Carolina, I do not have specific knowledge of the NECAP, but if it is similar to our High School Assessment Program (HSAP), then New Hampshire’s students’ research skills are tested.

Extracting the research skills data from test reports of students who benefited from an information literacy skill library lesson would be time consuming and tedious, but it could be done. However, school librarians do not have to await state test results to obtain proof of their program’s impact.

“Our Instruction DOES Matter!”

Sara Poinier and Jennifer Alevy**, teacher librarians at Horizon High School in Thornton, Colorado, successfully proved their program impacts student achievement.  In “Our Instruction DOES Matter! Data Collected from Students’ Works Cited Speaks Volumes” (Teacher Librarian, February 2010, p. 38-39)* they share that success.  Partnering with health classes, they spoke with the students about available reliable resources and demonstrated how to create citations and Works Cited pages. When the students had finished their reports, the teachers shared the Works Cited pages with the teacher librarians.

Sara and Jennifer also collected a class set of Works Cited pages from a science class that did not receive library instruction.  Then they began to analyze the papers and gathered data concerning the types of resources students had used as well as the format of the Works Cited pages.  When the dust settled, these ladies proved their instruction made a difference in student achievement.

How Can You Measure Your Impact on Student Achievement?

We know that our programs increase student achievement, but being able to provide data that demonstrates it can be powerful.  What suggestions do you have for measuring your program’s impact?

I’m starting small.  Tomorrow, two English classes are coming in for brief instruction before they begin researching aspects of the Roaring Twenties.  I’ll ask them to complete a Google form and use the feedback to help us as we plan library instruction for next semester.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*You’ll want to read this excellent article for more details on their accomplishment.  I do not subscribe to Teacher Librarian but was able to locate the article through SC DISCUS, the databases our state library helps provide.  You might be able to locate it through databases in your own school or public library.

**Jennifer Alevy is now a teacher librarian at Northglen High School.

Image attribution: “Clementine” by ilmungo   http://www.flickr.com/photos/48094050@N00/392088926

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