Sunday, October 23, 2016

I MAY be a Little Behind - Ideas/Notes from ALA/AASL Pubs

The stack of magazines and journals under my desk is ridiculous. I'm working backwards in time with the goal of having everything read by the end of the school year. Today: May 2016.

I like "the National Academy of Sciences' metaphor of the internet as a swimming pool: It offers plenty of opportunities for recreation and learning, but it can be dangerous, too." As Deborah Caldwell-Stone from ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom says, "You can teach them how to swim, or you can put up a fence. What happens when they climb that fence and open the gate?"

Denise Agosto of Drexel University thinks we're using too many scare tactics when educating kids about online privacy. I'm going to look into the San Jose (CA) Public Library Virtual Privacy Lab.

Yet another goal: Some kind of event for parents during Choose Privacy Week. I wonder how they would take my suggestion to stop posting so many pictures of their kids when they're on vacation? "Hey, robbers, we're not home!" Do they realize that they're creating a digital footprint over which the kids have no say? Sometimes beginning in the womb?

Our students all have Gmail accounts, and for the first time, they're accessible via Aspen. Maybe I'll start some kind of "pro tip" communication for them. And ask my principals to include more info from me in their parent emails. About all kinds of things, not just privacy.


Idea #4,589: Post "Weed of the Week" somewhere, in the spirit of (tagline: "Hoarding is not collection development"). I regret not taking pictures of some of the gems I've gotten rid of so far.

Interactive Readalouds

From an article by Priscille Dando in Knowlege Quest:

"Joan Frye Williams' analogy frames libraries as no longer being grocery stores stocked with ingredients but kitchens where ingredients are combined to create something new."

I like the idea of working with classroom teachers to choose readalouds that can be delivered during library time.

"Readers never ask a question that they already know the answer to. As the reader, ask interpretive questions rather than factual."

Questioning as a Literacy

From an article by Sara Kelley-Mudie and Jeanie Phillips in Knowledge Quest:

"Understanding a question is different from answering a question; it means being able to form an idea of what an answer might look like and what type of information is being sought."

Write arounds

Question Formulation Technique from the Right Question Institute

Sample prompts: "How would it be different if ..."; "What is the purpose of ..."

Criteria for prioritizing questions

  • Which questions will best help us solve the problem?
  • Which questions will make interesting research questions?
  • Which questions can we answer through direct observation?
  • Which questions can we develop an experiment to answer?

Data Literacy

From an article by Kristin Fontichiaro and Jo Angela Oehrli in Knowledge Quest:

"Students often believe that numbers are objective, though data in the real world is rarely so. In fact, visualized data - even from authoritative sources - can sometimes be anything but." Categories include:

  • Statistical literacy: "Discerning correlation from causation; recognizing the difference in the meaning of mean, median, and mode; understanding what margin of error signifies in polling data; recognizing potential biases in collected data (e.g., where did they gather it from?)"
  • Data visualization: "Having skills to create and comprehend mapped data, graphs, pie charts, and emerging forms of visualizations"
  • Data in argument: Infographics need to make a point, not just be a random collection of facts
  • Big Data and citizen science: How much personal data is too much?
  • Personal data management: "While students might like seeing relevant ads or music recommendations that match their favorite, few know it is because of the breadcrumb trail they leave behind. ... "today's online content creators and social networks are engaged in a balancing act between maximizing advertising revenues and delivering quality content."
  • Ethical data use: Realizing that data can be "framed, edited, manipulated, or otherwise modified" to sway or confuse click to link to PDF version

Gaming as Meaningful Education

I've had board games available in my libraries for years. As the ALA infographic notes, "In game play, players work towards mastery and rarely experience failure as an obstacle to trying again and again. There is something in play that gives players permission to take risks considered outlandish or impossible in 'real life.' There is something in play that activates the tenacity and persistence required for effective learning."

Other key points:

  • "Many board games encourage players to detect patterns, plan ahead, predict the outcome of alternative moves, use deductive logic, and learn from experience."

  • "Research shows there is a link between playing certain types of board games and scoring well on math tests."

  • Games are a more powerful learning tool when we teach kids that problem-solving ability is like a muscle: It can be strengthened with practice and learning."

Source Illiteracy
This article by Nora G. Murphy in Knowledge Quest reminded me of when I worked for Johnson & Wales University, and The Daily Show wanted to do an interview with one of our deans re: the new "Sip and Spit" law in Colorado that allowed underage students to do wine tastings. "It's a national news show!" some people exclaimed. But my friend/colleague Stacie and I could only imagine the questions a comic fronting as a serious reporter would ask. We turned down the interview.

Kids need to have "the ability to interpret from context, to know what to ask, to read the clues, and to use the understanding brought from knowing about other sources." That understanding is hard to teach, because "source literacy is usually gained through experience and not instruction."

I like Murphy's suggestion of having kids create source banks, similar to Pinterest pages with boards for different types.

Creating a Literacy Plan for Your School

Realize that it "takes years of intentional effort" and don't "try to tackle every grade at once."

  1. Be the leader - Gather a group of stakeholders and start with SOMETHING with the knowledge that it will undergo a ton of changes
  2. Know what you can and can't control - Focus on what you can do without relying on anyone else
  3. Make the goals visible and generate excitement - Get decent posters made; present at meetings with teachers, parents, and administrators
  4. Determine where the skills will fit - Build a big-picture view by meeting with every teacher, even just for 20 minutes, to create a comprehensive document re: what is already in place and where the holes are
  5. Plan, plan, plan - Map out ways for student understanding to grow and build over the year through all subjects/classes
  6. Assess, rinse, repeat - Share accomplishments and make adjustments as necessary

Sunday, October 9, 2016

RI Mock Newbery 2017 - November Reads

Love Jen J's spreadsheet! Because of it, I'd already read most of the books on the list before the list was even out. I'll be adding to the post as I make my way through the list: favorites at the top.

MaydayMayday by Karen Harrington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic. Loved it. So much humor for such heavy topics. And the holding planes in his hands? I laughed. I cried. True story.

p. 223 - "When you want something in your own life, it looks like everybody at every table in a restaurant has it. I'm not just talking about eyebrows."

The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully written, albeit overlong, and I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. However, the writing definitely deserves to be considered "distinguished."

Counting ThymeCounting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fantastic portrayal of a girl struggling to make her way in a new setting while her family is preoccupied with her brother's cancer. And the shout-out to No Fits, Nilson! was great.

Thank you to Conklin for giving me my new favorite knock-knock joke:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Europe who?
You're a poo, too!

GhostGhost by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reynolds is able to capture his narrators' personalities within a page or two.

p. 27: I felt like I had seen this in every single sports movie I had ever watched. All of them. "Ma'am, your son has potential." If this went like the movies, I was either going to score the game-winning touchdown (which is impossible in track) or ... die."

p. 155: ... you can't run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.

Ollie's OdysseyOllie's Odyssey by William Joyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Epic. Will be recommending to my 2nd grade teachers who do class readalouds.

The Best ManThe Best Man by Richard Peck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the fence on this one. Loved the dry style and some of the ridiculous - yet realistic - things that people said. However, the plot was choppy, and I'm very confused on the timeline of uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod's relationship.

p. 137:
"This isn't the body I wanted to take to middle school. Look at it. I need another year. I'm pre--what?"
"Prepubescent?" Mom offered.
"Probably. You'll have to homeschool me."

The Seventh WishThe Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First off, I liked that Catherine named her flour baby MEREDITH. I also enjoyed the family word game, which is similar to Apples to Apples. And Charlie's thoughts about Abby's drug use and relapse were spot-on (I also have an addicted sister and have thought a lot of the same things). I very much appreciated when Leah said, "There's nothing you can do when someone you love is an addict. So you just ... you keep living. And do other stuff." (p. 212). Because I needed therapy to get to that understanding.

But I took away a star for the magic fish. The fantasy and the harsh reality just didn't mesh for me. Poor, poor Robert.

Nine, Ten: A September 11 StoryNine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The kids' stories were fine, but the actual 9/11 events were kind of vague. If the reader doesn't already know what happened, they will be confused. Also I'm not sure I buy that all four families would have made the trek to NYC in 2002.

p. 79. "'...what matters is what's in here.' She tapped her heart and then her head. 'And here. And how you treat people. Yourself included, dear one.'"

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Realistic sister relationship, but the ghosts were just odd.

When the Sea Turned to SilverWhen the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So I gave "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" 5 stars, and "Starry River of the Sky" 4. But this one ... this took me forever to get through. At one point I literally fell asleep. It was like homework. But people I respect on the RI Mock Newbery committee raved about it, so I saw it through until the end. But I wish I hadn't bothered and had spent more weekend hours binge-watching "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" instead.

The stories being told seemed like just interruptions until about page 140, when I started to see connections. However, by the time we get to the Sea King, and Yishan's stunt with the string, I didn't care anymore about how anything was going to go together. And the tortoise chapters were distracting. And the big reveal on p. 345 made me roll my eyes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

RI Mock Newbery 2017 - October Reads

My feverish summer reading is paying off ... by the time the list came out a few days ago, I had already read most of the books. Favorites closest to the top. A couple I plan to read only if they make it to the finals: I'm skipping Hour of the Bees for now, because I've had enough family problem plots for a while; I tried to read Samurai Rising, but there was too much to keep track of; and Some Kind of Courage might be too stressful to read at the beginning of a new school year.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All SeasonsWhen Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now THIS is a picture book with Newbery-worthy text.

may 20
"enough already"
i whispered
to the clouds
(just loud enough
for the sun to overhear
but not enough to wake the rain)
"the strawberries are furious
and i think i just heard
even the roses sigh"

august 30
if you could take a bite
out of the middle of this morning
it would be sweet
and dripping
like peaches
and you would need a river
to jump in
before a bee comes along
and calls you
a flower

october 22
october please
get back in bed
your hands are cold
your nose is red
october please
got back to bed
your sneezing woke december

january 30
it is the best kind of day
when it is snowing
and the house
sounds like slippers
and sipping
and there is nowhere to go
but the kitchen
for a cookie

The Wild RobotThe Wild Robot by Peter Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was 5 stars until I hit page 200 or so, and things got violent and I got distressed. But up until then, love love loved it.

BookedBooked by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not the same level of emotional resonance as The Crossover, but still a solid middle-grade book that I will buy for my libraries. Loved the inclusion of words and novels as part of the plot. And Alexander is definitely a poet. If we had a Sharpie budget, I'd have the kids make blackout poems from the pages of weeded books.

As Brave As YouAs Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amusing and poignant. Fantastic voice and depiction of guilt, confusion, and striving to fix what's broken. Loved Genie’s book of questions. Still not entirely sure why the dad was so mad at the grandfather, though.

Wolf HollowWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four stars for the writing, two stars for the dread and the nonsense of a war veteran taking orders from an 11-year-old girl. Like some other reviewers, I had to peek at the end midway through because the plot was stressing me out so much. Supposedly the publisher wanted to aim it to kids in grades 3-7, which is MG, but they call it YA. I call it a book for grownups.

Raymie NightingaleRaymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Quick read that I don't think will stick with me. I did like that the girls took initiative in attempting to solve their problems, but many of the situations they ended up in were kind of insane.

Full of BeansFull of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The history of turning Key West into a tourist destination was interesting to me, but I can't see it appealing to any of my students. I would have preferred nonfiction. Also, I couldn't keep any of the oddly named kids straight.

View all my reviews Maybe a FoxMaybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The fox points of view aren't working for me this year. Everyone else loves this and Pax, but while I WAS able to actually finish this one, I think it would have worked much better with no fox stuff. The running, the rocks, the grief, that was all good. The fox ruined it

Paper WishesPaper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

While I think it's important that children learn about this aspect of the WWII homefront, there are other books that do it better. I didn't feel connected to Manami; the choppy prose didn't help.

PaxPax by Sara Pennypacker
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I know everyone else loves this book but I thought it was dreadful. Even though I know it will be on the RI Mock Newbery list, I gave up halfway through, because I won't be getting quizzed on it, and I have a stack of other books I'd rather read.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer Reading - Ideas and Notes from Professional Journals

School starts in a few days, and I finally just now getting around to tackling the huge stack of professional reading I was supposed to have kept up with all summer. Here are some takeaways:


AASL has a new toolkit for educating principals and classroom teachers about "the positive impact school librarians and school library programs can have on student achievement."

Design Thinking

In the June 2016 issue of American Libraries, Linda Braun writes about using the design thinking approach to problem-solving. It's pretty similar to the scientific method, what with coming up with and testing a hypothesis (or prototype).
She gives a link to a toolkit for libraries

Oh, my, maybe this can be a PGG in itself ... the site says, "On average, working through the entire toolkit can take 5-8 hours a week for the next six weeks, depending on how much time you have on a weekly basis with a team or on your own."

I'll send my principals a link to the toolkit for eductors to send out to my colleagues.


Yet another goal - have more volunteers in the library. A book on the topic - Library Volunteers Welcome! - is coming out in the fall. One recommendation is to match the person with the activity they're most interested in and able to perform. Sadly, not everyone is dying to put away nonfiction.
I definitely need to look into the feasibility of reaching out to other organizations, like high schools, colleges, and companies that place value on community involvement. One mom did contact me because her workplace will give a $1,000 grant to the school if she puts in 100 hours of time. Godsend! Hmm ... there's something called VolunteerMatch that I will investigate. 

I also need to come up with more things that volunteers can do from home. Maybe they can do blog posts re: local literacy events and new books in the catalog?

Cassie Hileman of Harmony School of Excellence in Houston has a nice idea: award exceptional voluhteers with a bookplate to place in a library book of their choosing. I could do this at the spring book fair. 

Social Media in the Classroom

I have tweeted authors and illustrators about their books making it to our Mock Caldecott finals, or being used in a lesson, and it's always very exciting to get a response! I'd like to do more of this, sharing questions or comments from kids. I guess I should set up accounts for my two schools for that and leave @mercolleen as my personal PLN account.

Quote from Burlington (MA) Public Schools assistant superintendent Patrick Larkin in summer issue of Entrsekt: "Social media presence is the new resume." Kids need to know about digital citizenship.

Possible to-do: Look into Edmoto as a way for my kids to interact across town. Or is it just adding too much if I already have a blog and a LibGuide? Maybe too much to manage effectively, but not too much to offer?


In American Educator, Daniel T. Willingham writes about how "Grit' is trendy, but can it be taught?" He defines grit as "passion and perseverance for long-term goals," and points out that long-term in this case can mean over several YEARS. Grit "seems to measure one's willingness to keep going even when the task becomes arduous."

Grit is related to conscientiousness ("doing what you're supposed to do right now") and self-control ("avoiding impulses to do something else"). These two traits are more applicable to the classroom. However, if you want to try and teach grit-related behaviors, he gives these suggestions:

  • "help students identify what they are passionate about
  • encourage them to pursue their passion
  • teach them how to find resources to pursue their passion
  • teach them to learn from failure
  • teach them the importance of practice
  • teach them when to persist and when to seek a different path if they encounter an obstacle"

Writing for Understanding

In American Educator, an article adapted from a book by the Vermont Writing Collaborative makes the case that the way we've been teaching the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) isn't enough these days. Kids are presented with a glut of information and have trouble turning it into a coherent piece. They need:

  • "opportunity to reflect on their knowledge, to analyze information, to synthesize ...
  • a framework for organizing and developing ideas
  • frequent opportunities to write"

One tenet of the authors' process is "oral processing," which is something I've done with my kids. I don't give long writing assignments, but sometimes students have trouble even coming up with a few sentences. I ask struggling kids to just tell me what they want to say, and they're usually relieved that they can simply transcribe what they said. (Getty Images)
If I were to give a more complex research assignment, the students would need to soak up as much information as possible before even attempting to get anything down on paper. I feel like all too often, teachers give due dates that allow only for looking up a few facts and regurgitating them. The kids aren't becoming experts on their topic ... indeed, they usually aren't given much choice on their topic, and so couldn't care less about gathering the knowledge in the first place.

Since I only see the kids once a week, and have only about 20 minutes for lessons, I don't attempt long-range research projects (I tried one year, and it was a disaster). The article states that "students cannout and will not become effective writers if this kind of instruction occurs in a fragmented or decontextualized way." The same applies to research skills. 

Ideally, I would be able to partner with classroom teachers and give instruction on using databases and crediting sources at the exact time the kids need it. Teaching these concepts in a vaccum does nothing. The kids don't remember anything I went over the previous month in library, and I find them copying from Wikipedia in the back of the room as they frantically try to finish something for social studies or science. It makes me bananas. The way to go, I think, is to teach the teachers. I'm just not sure when this will happen, given that my schedule between two schools is hideous. I'd love to meet with grade-level partners during their common planning, but that's when I have their students!

Friday, August 26, 2016

RICBA Nominees 2017

I will be adding to this post as I make my way through the list ... favorites at the top.

Full Cicada MoonFull Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you liked Inside Out and Back Again, you will love this. It made me full of righteous anger. Poor Mimi. But she keeps bouncing back. And then Santa gave her a gift and I cried.

Paper ThingsPaper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Powerful depiction of how easy it is to fall through the cracks, and a reminder that you don't always know what's happening in the life of the kid sitting next to you. I kind of wanted to kick Gage, though. Will recommend as a readaloud to classroom teachers.

Quote: "That's the great thing about librarians; they'll help you find information without being too nosy."

The Honest TruthThe Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of those books I didn't really want to read: terminally ill kid + pet dog + some survival stuff does not equal my usual reading interests. But the story pulled me in, and I think it would make a great book club read for middle grades. Lots of choices to discuss.

Ruby on the OutsideRuby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short and sweet. Ruby's voice was so realistic, especially her hesitation and worrying about doing/saying the wrong thing. The fear of "getting in trouble" was heartbreaking.

p. 2: But just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not there. And just because you don't remember something doesn't mean you don't miss it. And just because you are used to something doesn't mean it's normal.

p. 32: I wanted to keep my two worlds apart. I didn't want anything from this inside world that might affect my outside world. When I got home and that world became this world again.

p. 86: I guess you never know what you should be grateful for.

p. 108: I don't even realize what I've written until I pass it back to Margalit and then I realize that in order to keep the lid on, and keep anything from spilling out, I just switched pots on the stove completely.

p. 127: My inside and my outside are colliding. Everything is about to spill over the top, making a mess on the stovetop.

I have to add, looking at other reviews, I am not the only one who got distracted by poor proofreading ... you need to hire better freelancers, Simon & Schuster!

Trombone ShortyTrombone Shorty by Troy Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Engaging memoir that I'll be sharing with the music teacher. Thought the text was great. But the illustrations had some issues; I liked the collage-iness, but I didn't like how Trombone Shorty's face looked deformed in some of the pictures. And he definitely didn't look young enough! The photos in the back were surprising because they showed just how tiny he was ... he found his first trombone when he was FOUR.

Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Powerful, although students will need background information filled in before or after.

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal KingdomHow to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super interesting, although a bit long for a readaloud. One star deducted for the sometimes confusing layout.

Masterminds (Masterminds #1)Masterminds by Gordon Korman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn't going to win any writing awards - I couldn't tell the difference between the narrators, and the plot was a little holey - but said plot is definitely interesting. It's like a SyFy show presented for middle graders - most of the time, this kind of story is YA. Will recommend to my kids.

Upside-Down Magic (Upside-Down Magic, #1)Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute, quick read. Never hurts to remind kids to "Just be who you are, not who you think you should be."

The Boy Who Crashed to Earth (HiLo #1)The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am not the target audience for this book, and I found some of it kind of dorky. However, I know my kids will LOVE the combination of adventure and humor. I forsee a long hold list. Also, I love that Judd was on the Real World: San Francisco and is now finding success in his chosen field!

Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major LeaguesGrowing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Tavares
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice messages re: family ties and working hard.

SistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solid depiction of adolescent angst and sibling annoyance.

View all my reviews A Whole New Ballgame (Rip and Red, #1)A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit heavy-handed with the anti-testing message (not that I disagree), but overall a nice early-middle-grade book with sports and classroom angst mixed together. Will definitely recommend as a readaloud to 4th grade teachers.

Books mentioned: Out of My Mind; Lawn Boy; Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities; I Survived series; From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun; Real Revision by Kate Messner.

A Handful of StarsA Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Lily was a realistic character - a somewhat paranoid, stubborn character. My 4th grade girls will LOVE the book.

RatscaliburRatscalibur by Josh Lieb
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was fine for a fantasy adventure with talking animals. Not my cup of tea. And Uncle Patrick calling Joey "honcho" was very annoying. However, the twist with the villain was definitely interesting.

Wondering how they will explain everything to Mom?

Took: A Ghost StoryTook: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was my first Hahn book - and my first eBook! I thought it would be scarier.

Into the Killing SeasInto the Killing Seas by Michael P. Spradlin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So stressful. And the twist at the end was annoying.

Stella by StarlightStella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I just did not connect with Stella, and the dialogue seemed stagey.

The Misadventures of the Family FletcherThe Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Just because a family has two dads and four adopted kids doesn't make them all that interesting. I didn't get a true sense of anyone's personality; the omniscient narration seemed all over the place, and I didn't really care about any of the characters. I did, however, like the short notes that started each chapter. That was a nice touch. Maybe if the entire book had been epistolary, I would have liked it more.

Ellie's Story (A Dog's Purpose)Ellie's Story by W. Bruce Cameron
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I didn't think I'd like it, but I read all the RICBA books each year, so I suffered through it. However, my kids already LOVE it. And they're the audience.

Ideas from Sept/Oct 2016 American Libraries

Upcoming Events to Celebrate
  • September: Library Card Sign-Up Month. Our department met this week and discussed partnering with the public libraries in some way to try and get all students to sign up for a library card. One roadblock is that an adult signature is required for anyone under the age of 14. Which means that said adult needs to go to the library with the kid to get a card, which is not always possible. We're looking at some way to have parents sign something at home and then have the kids get their cards at school.

  • October 16-22: National Friends of Libraries Week. Our state organization is trying to come up with a toolkit for school libraries to create Friends organizations. The problem is that most public library Friends pay dues, and that's something we might need school committee approval on. I need to look into this more ... oh, look, a toolkit has already been created by United for Libraries

Readers' Advisory

I show my kids how to use Novelist (we have a subscription through our statewide consortium) and Goodreads to find a new book to read. Here are some libraries who are doing it very personally:

I'm thinking that a goal for the future could be to set up an online book recommendation service for my kids like Darien's "You Are What You Read Next."

Web Site Accessibility

Meredith Farkas points out that now people are able to create their own web content v. hiring a designer who would keep accessibility in mind, and we usually aren't really thinking about it. She gives some tips: add alternative text descriptions to images; make sure title attributes of links are clearly described; check this list from the University of Washington.

Farkas also notes that "accessiblity isn't just a nice thing to do - it's a legal requirement. Several colleges have been subject to lawsuits from the National Federation of the Blind in recent years for requiring the use of technologies that were inaccessible."

Coding in the Library

The CS4RI initiative championed by our governor seeks to have computer science offered to all public school students by December 2017. Linda Braun mentions the ALA/Google "Libraries Ready to Code" project, but I can't find anything much about it online besides a press release announcing its launch. I've heard great things about the curriculum, but here's the thing:

The longer I've been teaching in an elementary school library (I'm going into my 6th year), the more I believe that my most important role is to foster a love of reading for pleasure. It sounds so low-tech and old-fashioned, but given that kids are bombarded with required texts that in turn require them to parse out theme, author's purpose, etc., they just don't get much time during the day to read for fun. And when they go home, most of them are bombarded with other ways to spend their time. ... and yes, I realize that grandparents reading
may not inspire kids, but I couldn't find a photo online
of the youngest daughter reading her book
RELATED NOTE: I watched a couple of episodes of Life in Pieces last night, and was struck by the fact that several characters were shown reading at the start of a few scenes. Another reason it's a great show!

BACK ON TOPIC: Colleagues have told me that there are lots of lessons that don't even require computers; they focus more on "computational thinking" and problem-solving. Which I'm all for. However, I was hired to teach information/media literacy, as well as to run a circulating library. I already don't have enough time to cover everything I'd like in the (max) 12 instructional hours PER YEAR I have my kids. I'd be happy to deliver a coding/tech curriculum, but it would have to be during a dedicated coding/tech time.

Professional Development

I'm not being formally evaluated this year, but I have ideas for my Professional Growth Goal for next year. Being Indispensible: A School Librarian's Guide to Becoming an Invaluable Leader by Ruth Toor and Hilda K. Weisburg will probably factor into it.
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