Today’s School Librarian, with thanks to Alice Yucht

A not-to-miss school library blogger is Alice Yucht, currently an adjunct faculty member of the Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Communication, Information and Library Studies Professional Development Program.  In her February 18, 2011 blog post entitled “Knowledge Broker,” Alice describes the role of today’s school librarian.

In one paragraph, she summarizes the roles we assume when we undertake the career of school librarian.  I have added a few of my own roles (including that of “furniture mover” – any school librarian worth his/her salt has to smile at that one!) and created a visual:

What additional roles do we play?

Discovering New (to me) South Carolina Talent

Flag-map of South CarolinaPalmetto Pride

Does your heart ever swell with pride when you hear the “The Star Spangled Banner” played?  I may not be able to hit the high notes when I sing along, but my heart is soaring along with them each time I listen to our national anthem.

As an educator, does your heart ever swell with pride when one of your current or former students is recognized for his/her excellence?  I teach with one of my former students who makes me proud every time I have the privilege of working with her.

Media Mavens

And so it is with pride that I share the work of three of South Carolina’s own media specialists who have been or will soon be recognized for their excellence.

  • Lori June is the media specialist at Alice Drive Elementary School in Sumter, SC.  Recently she was contacted by the eChalk Academy Site requesting permission to feature her site on their page.  Way to go, Lori!  You’ll want to add Lori’s The View from Here blog to your reader.  In it she addresses issues of importance to school libraries.  Her reflections challenge me to consider my own practices.
  • Tamara Cox is the media specialist at Palmetto Middle School in Williamston, SC.  What a powerhouse!  She shares her passion for reading, technology, and teaching at the Eliterate Librarian.  Check out her blog for awesome ideas to incorporate into your program.  Thanks for sharing the details of your Gadget Petting Zoo, Tamara!
  • Lorena Swetnam is the media specialist at Blythewood Middle School in Blythewood, SC.  Lorena recently shared with me the website she created for her library.  Wow!  She has held nothing back in creating an inviting, informative, and well-organized site for her students and faculty.  The slide shows and often updated Library News posts are bound to capture the interest of her students and provide other media specialists with “snaggable” ideas.

Share the Wealth

Both seasoned and new media specialists can spark our imaginations and creativity through their online sharing.  Most of you reading this post are familiar with Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, Gwyneth Jones, Doug Johnson, Carolyn Foote, Cathy Nelson, and Heather Loy.

Who are some of your newest inspirational “finds” online?

Image attribution:

By Darwinek [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tech ‘n Treat

Addressing Burnout

We are nearly through the first quarter of the 2010-2011 school year in my school district.  As the end of the grading period nears, deadlines loom:  grades to be entered, reports to be filed, parent-teacher conferences to prepare for, yet more paperwork to be completed.  Teachers are stressed.

How cans school librarians help alleviate the stress classroom teachers are feeling as well as provide ways to ease some of it in the future?

Schedule Time Out

Why not plan an end-of-the-quarter event in your library?  Invite your staff to drop by during their planning periods or after school one day for a “Tech ‘n Treat.”  Play soothing music, provide refreshments, offer door prizes, and let teachers go “trick or treating.”

Set up stations throughout your library where your teachers will not only find a container filled with goodies, but also discover terrific ideas to incorporate technology into their lessons.  At one station, teachers can discover Flip Video cameras and examples of how they can be used to enhance student learning.  At another station, they’ll find an interactive Jeopardy game that could be used for unit reviews.  At still another, they can watch video “how-to” tutorials – choose a tool that would be helpful to your faculty and either create a tutorial or find one online.

And at another station, play an inspiring video.  One of my favorites is Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make.”  Here is an edited version which is more faculty friendly than the original.

Remind your teachers that they shape the future, one child at a time.  Remind your teachers that you value them. Remind your teachers that you are there to assist them.

If you were creating a Tech ‘n Treat for your faculty, what stations would you include?

Credit: The title of this blog post was borrowed from an upcoming meeting of the Media Specialists of Spartanburg County.

Photo Attribution:

Burning the Candle at Both Ends by Julianne Villaflor

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennailuj/3611354390/

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulworthington/82648702/

Gearing Up for the New Year: Terrific Finds to Share with Teachers

Mining for Gold

Summer time….time to mine for those golden curriculum resources!  But, where to begin?

Of course, you can enter your own search terms and visit sites hoping to find a gem.

But why not use the collective brain of your PLN?  Each week, I get an email digest from several Diigo groups.  Members of these groups share links to resources  they found “bookmark worthy.”  To determine which resources will fit my needs and the needs of my school, I check many of these links.  The following  are a few I will share with our faculty:

Authentic Assessment Toolbox Jan Mueller shares the hows and whys of authentic assessment.  Follow the step-by-step process to ensure success in creating assessments based on standards.

The Learning Network The N.Y. Times‘ collection of links on often taught subjects.

DocsTeach Resources from The National Archives to bring history to life for students.  Create your own interactive learning activity.

EduHound Provides collections of topic- based links for education.  Some topics included in their sets:  Global Warming, Cyberbullying, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Research paper strategies, Measurement, Visual Arts, Oceanography, and Forsenic Science.

Villainy, Inc. Great interactive game for teaching middle school mathematics.  Dr. Eugene Wick and his sidekick Platypus have plans for taking over the world – but the plans just don’t add up.  Your students become Dr. Wick’s advisor in an effort to stop his evil plans.

Viper This free plagiarism checker is designed to assist students find possible problems in their papers.

Ready to Pick Up Your Mining Pan?

You, too, can be a miner of information resources!  Use the collective work of your fellow educators to uncover those information and curriculum treasures.

Two social bookmarking sites to try are Diigo and Delicious.  Not only is your life simplified by keeping your bookmarks in the cloud, but enriched if you join groups at these sites to help you uncover fantastic resources you may not have found on your own.

You’ll discover a plethora of groups on these sites to assist you.  I am a member of the following (among others):

http://groups.diigo.com/group/teacher_librarians (312 members as of this post’s writing)

http://groups.diigo.com/group/classroom20 (1340 members as of this post’s writing)

http://groups.diigo.com/group/diigoineducation (4668 members as of this post’s writing)

Taking It One Step Further

After you have created your own social bookmarking account, why not create one for your classroom or library?  Visit Creekview High School’s Delicious site to see how their media specialist, Buffy Hamilton harnesses the power of social bookmarking.

Readers, how do you use social bookmarking in your personal and/or professional lives?

Image Attribution:  This image is a work of the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

New to the Job?

Yesterday I was honored to be videotaped as a guest presenter for Dr. Virginia Wallace of the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science program. Her course, SLIS J742, concerns the curricular role of the library media specialist, but she encouraged me to discuss other aspects of a high school librarian’s job.

Where Do I Begin?
As I was checking my Shelfari account this morning (one of the tools I recommended in my presentation), I found a request from a new media specialist who is excited to start her job this fall but wanted some guidance on where to begin.  Since I had shared a few tips in my presentation, I was able to quickly supply her with an answer.  I am providing it below, just in case this might benefit any other media specialists who are gearing up for their first job.

My Response

Congratulations! This is my dream job because it combines so many of my passions.

1. Find the Policies and Procedures manual and read it. This is not set in stone – you can change things, but you need to know what is in place now.
2. Memorize your mission statement (again not set in stone). Your programs and instruction must support the statement.
3. Begin advocating for your program early. Meet with the principal before the year starts and ask A) what committees you can serve on (School Literacy Team would be perfect), B) to be added to the first faculty meeting agenda so that you can introduce yourself and share info on how your program can help the teachers, C) ask to be put on the new teacher orientation agenda – you may be one of the new teachers, but you can still help ease everyone’s jitters by sharing with them what your program can do for them, D) find out what your budget is and the proedures you must follow in ordering for your school/district.
4. Create a library brochure geared towards your teachers to share at both of those meetings. (Email me and I can send you what we use.)
5. Familiarize yourself with the library’s collection – walk the shelves to see what is available. Run a Titlewise Analysis to get an overall view of the collection.
6. Organize your office.
7. Set up a method for signing up classes to visit the library.
8. Set up a method for checking out equipment and videos to your teachers. (This may already be in place – just know how it is done.)
9. Make sure you are familiar with the circulation program that your library uses.
10. Get your bulletin boards up before the teachers come back.
11. Plan on keeping monthly statistics to share with your principal. (Again, I’ll be glad to share what we use.)
12. Start a folder in which you put a copy of every handout, brochure, bookmark, monthly statistics, program information,  etc.  This way you have a record of your year so that you will be able to create an end of the year report.
13. Your first few days will be a whirlwind of activity! Being prepared for them will make things go more smoothly and will project the image  that you are knowledgeable about your program. First impressions are so very important.

Good luck – I hope you will love your job as much as I love mine!
My email address:   fran.bullington@gmail.com (Please include “New SLMS” in the subject line.)

Additions?

Okay, those  wonderful media specialists reading this post, what other suggestions do you have to share with new media specialists as they are preparing to embark on this new adventure?

Image Attribution:  http://www.d49.org/schools/mres/mediacenter.JPG

Conferencing Vicariously

This week I am attending the Education Business Summit in Greenville, South Carolina.  Although the program includes many interesting, informative sessions and motivational keynote speakers, I continue to check Twitter to see what is happening in DC and Denver.  Many members of my PLN have traveled to these cities to attend conferences I’ve only dreamed about:  ALA and ISTE.

Twitter allows me to experience some of the excitement and innovation occurring at other conferences by following hashtags.  For those unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines a hashtag as “a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching.”

Tweetdeck

To simplify my Twitter use, I have installed Tweetdeck on my laptop and iPhone.  Tweetdeck is the equivalent of a social dashboard allowing the user to customize to suit her needs. The hashtags I have been and/or will be  following are #iste10, #ebc10, #sigms10, and #ala10.  Check here for a list of other ALA hashtags for various interest groups.


The above screenshot displays several of the columns in my Tweetdeck dashboard.  If you’ll look closely at the last two columns, you will see that they are labeled “search #iste10″ and “search #ebc10.”  All tweets tagged with those hashtags are displayed, allowing me a glimpse into what is happening concerning those two events.

@AuntyTech (Donna Baumbach) has begun an archive of the #sigsms10 tweets here.  This hashtag will really pick up tomorrow as the SIGMS forum (with the now legendary “Learning Tools Smackdown” lead by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones) gets underway in the morning.

Jewels

In case you haven’t been following these hashtags, I thought I’d share just a few of the jewels that I have found through them.  Perhaps seeing these will whet your appetite for more!

  • List of smackdown tools shared at Edublogger Con – and a blog post discussing them
  • Free download of book Teaching with Netbooks by Brad Flickinger
  • Blog post on Edublogger Con session on student blogging  – includes great links to guidelines, Web 2.0 Code of Conduct, and a pdf on setting up blogs as electronic portfolios
  • Readability, a tool that removes the clutter from web pages, making reading more enjoyable
  • HP Teacher Experience Exchange - teachers sharing lesson plans
  • DEN Summer School 2010 – great professional development on digital storytelling, professional learning networks, and project based learning

What exciting, innovative ideas have you come across either through attending the conferences, or following the tweets of those who have attended?

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