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.)

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

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: 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.

I Write Like

Need a diversion? Let this website analyze your writing.

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Dan, I am available for consultation. Fee negotiable.

Search Stories Video Creator

If you have yet to play with this video creator, put it on your “to-do” list for this summer.  It’s as easy as 1-2-3 (steps, that is).

Step One

What story do you wish to tell?  You will be asked to enter six search terms.


For each search term, you can choose the types of results you wish to show:  web, images, maps, news, blog search, product search, or books.  Once you make a choice you can see a preview of the search.

Step Two:  Choosing Music

Next, you will choose the music you wish to accompany your Search Story.  There are eight categories:  action, comedy, country/western, drama, family, horror, sci fi, and romance.  Within each category, you are given three choices to further personalize your Search Story.

Step Three:  Let Search Story Video Creator do the Rest

Once you have chosen your music, the video creator goes to work.

Finalizing and Uploading Your Search Story

Now you can preview your Search Story and choose to edit any portion of it.  Once you are satisfied, you will be asked to give it a title , description (optional), and category.   Your category choices here are the same as they are for the music.

Now you are ready to upload it to your YouTube account.


Easy – peasy!  How will you use this in your library?



Going Gaa-Gaa for Google

It is no secret to those who know me:  I am a Google fan.  Google offers great (FREE) tools that have simplified my life and allowed me to accomplish more  – efficiently and effectively.  Some Google services I use:

Google’s Educational Uses

For those educators who are still not sold on Google, here are some links that either offer more information for educators, or give examples of educators’ use of Google for their students.

General

Google Search Options

Google Docs

Other

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,174 other followers