ALA’s “Our Authors, Our Advocates”

The American Library Association is sponsoring the “Our Authors, Our Advocates” program.  Library lovers are encouraged to share these Public Service Announcement (PSA) videos with not only our friends and families, but also with our communities.  You will find four PSAs, each featuring a different author:  Sharon Draper, Brad Meltzer, Sara Paretsky, and Scott Turow.

Why not embed one or more of these videos on your library’s website?

The videos are posted on YouTube, which is blocked by many school filters.  School librarians might find success in sharing these videos by using VodPod or SafeShare.tv.  Both services are free and easy to use.

 

Bull’s Eye!

Image attribution:  Poster by thewikiman   http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewikiman/5163839574/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Ned Potter, author of thewikiman blog, created and shared the above poster in a Jan.4th post.  Short, simple, to the point. Love it!

 

 

Updated Advocacy Page

Over the holiday break, I found more resources to add to this blog’s Advocacy Page (you’ll see the link above).  Because the page is growing in length, it was getting quite cumbersome.  I thought it best to organize it.

You’ll now find resources in three categories:

  • ALA/ALA Affiliates’ Resources
  • State Organizations’ Resources
  • Other Resources

What other great advocacy resources do I need to add to this annotated list?

 


Image attribution:

“This is not a social media megaphone” by altemark    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24844537@N00/337248947

Edited through a Creative Commons license using Big Huge Labs Pop Art Poster utility

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? 


Worth the Effort!

October 2010 report

My last post concerned revamping my monthly report.  The previous format I was using left a LOT to be desired.  It was useful in quickly compiling data to submit to my principal.  Period. Ever heard the saying that goes something like “You get out of it what you put into it”?  Definitely applies here.

I put more into October’s report.  Not just more data.  More thought, more time, more effort.  October’s report does more than present data; it analyzes data.  When I finished the report (I can’t say “completed” the report because there is actually more that I wanted to add), I found that I was using it to analyze my collection’s cost effectiveness.

I finally met with my principal on Friday to share the report.  I had been anxious to see his reaction to the new format and discuss how I was using it to inform my practice.

I was confident that the report was superior to any other monthly report I had created but wasn’t prepared to be overwhelmed by his response.  After just a few minutes of discussion, he picked up the phone and asked our assistant principal in charge of curriculum to join us (this was a first).  She found the graph illustrating each department’s usage of our facilities and resources informative and requested that I create a larger copy to be placed on our school’s Data Wall.

Then they discussed sharing this information with department heads this week and accompanied me to the library for a show and tell – identifying the Dewey sections each department would find useful.

Wow.

All this because of one little monthly report.  Ladies and gentlemen, it was worth the extra effort!

Just a side note:  I remove pictures of students before I post reports online.  The five photos this month put a “face” on my program – reminding the reader that it is all about students.

Advocacy: Monthly Reports

How do you keep your program front and center in the eyes of your school community? Many school librarians create and share monthly statistics reports with their principals.  But should we stop there?  Why not post these reports for the entire school community?

Example Monthly Reports

Excellent examples of monthly reports are posted online each month.  Each report is different in not only what it contains, but how it is presented.  The common factor?  Transparency.  We must let our communities see how our programs impact student achievement.

Buffy Hamilton’s Unquiet Library report (see link above) provides program highlights, photographs, and statistics.

Lorena Swetnam’s Blythewood Middle School report is a quarterly,  rather than monthly report, on her library website.  The slideshows help bring her program to life! She also includes program highlights, collaborative work, and statistics.

Blythewood Middle School First Nine Weeks Report

Pam Harland’s Plymouth Regional High School report is a pdf file linked to the library home page.  This colorful report includes library highlights, statistics, and collaboration highlights, as well as levels of collaboration attained (from 1-5 with a key explaining each level).

Plymouth Regional High School Library report

Laura Collins’ Clovis High School report can also be found through a link on her library’s website.  She not only includes program and instructional highlights, library statistics, and collaboration information, but also includes standards met through collaborative lessons.

Clovis High School Library reports

Reassessing My Monthly Report

Mrs. Hinmighty, English teacher extraordinaire, has consented to read and grade the latest set of school library monthly reports.  Uh-oh.  Can I say the dog ate mine?  Compared to the examples I have shared here, my monthly report isn’t worthy to even warm the bench.

Up until last spring, my monthly report consisted of statistics and a listing of special events held in the media center.  Can you say drab and uninspiring? (Mrs. Hinmighty is “tsk-tsking” and shaking her head sorrowfully as she considers my report.)

When we moved into our new facility, I began adding photographs of students and student work to the monthly report, but I still felt that I wasn’t doing our program justice.  (Tsk-tsk. Sigh…..)

How can I find the time to create the report my program deserves while maintaining that program?  Fellow South Carolina school librarians provided help this week.

The Advocacy Committee of the South Carolina Association of School Librarians recently requested that example monthly reports be shared on our listserv.  Several have been posted and inspired me to revamp our report.

My October report is taking shape.  Statistics appear in tables and some will be represented visually with pie charts and bar graphs.  The one page report is now a thing of the past!  That page limitation (self-imposed) limited the number of photographs I could include and stifled my desire to be creative. (Mrs. Hinmighty will probably still bleed across my report, but perhaps she may occasionally smile rather than tsk.)

Creating the first revamped report is time-consuming, but will provide the template for future reports, thereby eventually saving me time.

Now to create a page on our library’s website to begin posting our monthly reports…..

What do you include in your monthly reports?

Gearing Up for the New Year: How Do You Assess Students?

As you prepare to begin a new school year, consider starting an “Advocacy” file on your computer.  Include links to resources (see the Advocacy page of this blog) that can assist you as you plan your advocacy strategy for the year.

We often refer to studies conducted by Lance, Todd, Baumbach or others as we explain the need for school library programs.  But in bleak economic times, statistics from a study conducted years ago in another area (studies have been conducted in Ontario, Canada, and 18 states) aren’t going to provide the support you need to prove YOUR program is making a difference.

Gather Evidence

How do you assess student learning in your media center?  If you have only used observation in the past, plan to gather concrete evidence this year. Add this evidence to your Advocacy file and include information from it in each and every meeting you have with your principal.  Plan on sharing your monthly reports with your superintendent and your school board.

There’s Strength in Numbers

In a March post, I shared the above presentation created in Google Docs and asked readers how they assessed student learning in their media centers.  Two school librarians responded, but only Joquetta Johnson of Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore, Maryland added information to the presentation.

I have met many awesome school librarians at conferences and online and know they use a variety of methods to assess learning.  I hope that some of them are reading this and will add to the presentation, allowing us all to benefit as we face one of the toughest years yet in education.

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.

Free Gale Marketing Tools

The South Carolina State Library provides all South Carolina citizens with an awesome collection of databases, known as SC DISCUS, and Gale Cengage Learning offers librarians a way to promote them.

Visit Gale’s “Power to the User” page to order copies of the poster shown above as well as bookmarks, posters, tent cards,  and stickers for several  SC DISCUS databases.  Have them ready to issue to teachers and students at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year to rev up research!

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