Advocate! Advocate! School Libraries Rock!

Cue the music:  “Celebrate” by Three Dog Night

Replace the ending of the song  (“Celebrate! Celebrate!  Dance to the music”) with:

Advocate! Advocate! School libraries rock!

Advocate! Advocate! School libraries rock!

…and it goes on and on….just like our advocacy efforts should.

New Resource

Formal advocacy efforts often take a backseat to the hectic pace of our everyday routines.  The Colorado Association of School Libraries has created an inspiring site that provides resources to simplify your efforts to promote school libraries and your school library program.

Survive and Thrive!  An Advocacy Toolkit for School Librarians 

If you don’t have the time to peruse the entire site, these three pages provide excellent examples of why you should bookmark it:

  • Video Gallery  There are ten videos demonstrating the roles school librarians play.
  • Email templates  Those linked here will help you promote collaboration with your teachers.
  • Newsletter blurbs  Those linked here provide examples of how school librarians empower our students with 21st century skills.

And, yes, I was around when this song debuted.  Still love it!

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Three for: Free Resources for You and Your Library

Free is always good!

  • The Libraries Agency offers free templates for posters, notices, announcements, and more.
  • Have Playaways or considering purchasing them?  Circulation Station provides both  Click & Ship and a Build & Print options.  Get free posters, stickers, info takeaways, and shelf tape through the Click & Ship option.  Customize posters, trifolds, and newslettters on the Build & Print page.
  • Love, love, love this downloadable pdf (see photo above) to display in your library!  Gale Cengage Learning offers this and more.  School librarians can find resources designed specifically for K-12 here.  Check out the Lesson Plan Library.

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/

Reading Challenges

J. Kaye of the Home Girl’s Book Blog has issued the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge.  The rules of participation are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

–Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

–The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

–Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

–Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

–Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

****You do NOT need to review your books. That is optional.****

(excerpted from the Home Girl’s Book Blog)

What a great way to promote your library and resources!  Imagine using this as a contest in your own library.  Create fliers with the challenge’s image and post throughout your school.  This would be a great advocacy tool to share with your school community.

J. Kaye has other reading challenges listed on the website.  Encourage your students to choose one or more of them.



Plagiarism

Muchilottu+Bhagavathy+Theyyam

My friend Cathy Nelson recently wrote a post entitled “If An Assignment Can Be Plagairized.” We attended the same pre-conference session at the recent South Carolina Association of School Librarians Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. Doug Johnson‘s session was entitled “Designing Research Projects that Kids (and Teachers) Love!”

Doug shared how to try to plagiarize-proof assignments:

     One way to prevent plagiarism is to require students to use primary sources such as interviews, surveys, and experiments.

     Another way to prevent plagiarism is to allow students choice and creativity. The use of technology allows creativity.  Even      if the teacher has assigned a PowerPoint project and specified the number and content of the slides, the students still gets to choose the color, font, clip art, etc.

That last line was a “light-bulb” moment for me.  Students are given (not allowed to choose) an assignment.  Their final product is the beat-to-a pulp-dead-horse PowerPoint slideshow.  Students are told they have to have X number of slides.  So, they come to the media center, head for the computers, and ….what….begin to research? Not quite. 

No…they open PowerPoint and start a slideshow before they have any research to put in it! They design the first slide with a title, their names, and the date due….and then play with design and look for pictures, and try different font. 

I tell them, “You need to research first.  Don’t worry what it will look like yet – that comes at the end.”

Do they listen? Uh…no.  And why?  Because this (the design, colors, font, pictures) is the ONLY thing they have control over.  It’s the only choice they are given in the whole assignment.

When they finally do get around to “reseaching,” they end up copying and pasting (and putting way too much text on a slide – but that’s another post).

Instead, we need to plagiarize-proof the assignments as Doug and others have suggested.

Now, my brain is fried after doing true research and working on a paper for a grad class today, so forgive the departure here from anything remotely relating to plagiarize-proofing assignments.

Instead, I offer for your viewing pleasure a video that was shared by Holly Foster, a fellow grad student in my Master’s of Library and Information Science program at the University of South Carolina. 

Genius!

 

Image attribution:

Quality Garanteed    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124413076@N01/1680927