I was lucky enough to be in year two of the School Librarians Advancing STEM Learning (SLASL) project led by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management (ISKME) in partnership with Granite State University, New Hampshire, and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). I worked with the most fabulous math teacher, Becky Hanna on a Geometry project involving fractals and city planning designs.
We used the OER Commons unit plan template to develop and share our units. Check out the NH cohort on the OER Commons site here.
Our lesson was created to model text-based inquiry in STEM. Over the course of the unit, students explored a variety of texts and grew in their knowledge of fractals, city design, and ability to use informational text to support their inquiry and research.
Let us know what you think of our unit.
As summer comes to an end so does this chapter of my professional life. I have been a school librarian for 19 years and September 30th marks my last day.
The past five years in the Sanborn Regional School District have taught me so much about progressive educational models and how to serve as a collaborative leader in a public school. One of the high points in my career has been working with the administrators and teachers at Sanborn to move the entire district to become a national leader in competency-based education. The support and trust I received allowed me to become a better school librarian and I cannot thank them enough for that. I guarantee that my Sanborn friends have not seen the last of me!
As the fall begins, so does my new career. I’m going from working with high school students to preparing school librarians and technology integrators to better serve the next generation of learners. Beginning October 3rd I will be a Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Learning, and Curriculum at Plymouth State University. I will be coordinating and teaching in the School Library Media Specialist and Education Technology Integrator programs. I will have offices in Plymouth, Concord, and at my home in Exeter and will focus on:
I will continue to speak and work with school librarians across the country on improving services, resources, and programs.
I have always identified as a librarian and am definitely feeling challenged by this change. Ultimately, I will continue to do what I love - helping teachers better prepare their students for college and career. Please reach out to me if you want more information about PSU’s ELLC program or if your school district needs any help in moving your library and technology integration program from good to great.
The Future Ready Librarian effort is all about how librarians transform learning and teaching by providing leadership at our schools. We do this through designing welcoming spaces, collaborating with teachers, empowering students as creators, and curating resources. One tool I use daily to help me become more future ready is Twitter.
I worked with Jessica Gilcreast @JessGilcreast and Rachel Small @RachelVSmall on creating this graphic to help school librarians use Twitter more effectively.
What hashtags would you like to see added to the list? Let me know by commenting below.
Do you have a state hashtag that you use and would like to promote and share? Add a marker onto the map below and share your state name and hashtags with us!
As librarians, we are good at collecting data: circulation checkouts, database use, number of patrons walking into the library, etc. But how valuable is this information? This kind of data has little to do with our students learning to evaluate sources, gather evidence to support a claim, and ask good questions.
Librarians are reconsidering how to collect data about our school library programs. We all need to ask ourselves:
How does my work make a difference in improving teaching and learning?
What is my value to the learning culture?
How might I use evidence to improve my practice and enhance learning?
When my PLC (a multi-disciplinary grade level team) was tasked to begin collecting data about our practice and instruction I suggested we use our school-wide research rubric (read Pam's leadership story on how she created a research rubric here).
Our team of English, Social Studies, Science, and Wellness teachers picked 12 shared students. Each teacher used the research process criteria from our content area research rubric to give a quick formative assessment. The teachers had students compare given websites, or find evidence from a text to support a given claim.
The teachers brought the students' work into our PLC and together we scored their work. We recorded where the 12 shared students were on the rubric's continuum to gather a starting point for our data. We noticed right away that our students were lower on the rubric when they were asked to do research in Wellness and Science. They were higher on the rubric when asked to do research in English. We decided to perform some interventions and have all of our teachers work with their students on making it clear that our expectations are consistent across the disciplines.
Later in the Spring we did a second research-based formative assessment in most of our classes using the research process criteria from our content area research rubric. The teachers brought the student work back to our PLC where we graded and recorded where the students were now on the rubric's continuum and we were happy to see our students had moved into a consistent grouping closer to proficient than our starting point.
It was a new way to find out what students know about research at our school.
Use this Tuning Protocol for reviewing student work.
Use this Rubric Scoring Guide as a method for developing rubrics.
Use this template to begin collecting data with your team. Set SMART goals, collect and compare data, and plan for next steps.
This post originally appeared on the Let the Librarians Lead website. Find out more about working with data and assessments from the website.
Valenza, Joyce Kasman. “Evolving with Evidence.” Knowledge Quest. 43(3) Jan/Feb. 2015. 37-43.
After we hacked Dewey in our nonfiction, students requested that we break fiction up by genres. We had so many students asking for mystery books and horror books that we knew we had to make the change for them.
The process was incredibly daunting, but we wanted to give our students what they were asking for, so we gave them: horror, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and survival (which is really our “dystopian worlds” collection).
We made the change in our fiction collection over the summer of 2013. We started with weeding. And then we went through the collection and pulled any books we thought would go into one of our genres. We kept about half of our fiction collection as is: alphabetical by author filed under “Fiction.” We relabeled our genre books, added the call number prefix in the OPAC, created signs, shifted and reshelved our entire collection in order to shelve genres together.
We spent time defining the genres. Where would Silence of the Lambs go? Horror or mystery? Are all zombies filed under horror? What about Warm Bodies? Horror or romance or survival? It helped to say things like: all ghost stories and zombies will be part of horror and then be flexible about your definitions! We defined time travel books as science fiction, however, when we got to Outlander and The Time Traveler’s Wife we had a doubt. Should they actually be shelved in romance? Who was more likely to read those titles? These are all decisions you will have to make based on your readers, reading culture, and current practice.
We recently pulled the classics out of our fiction collection and moved them next to our Poetry and Shakespeare shelves. We had some rules for pulling classics. We talked to teachers and students about what made something a classic book. We defined classics as having both popular and critical success. We decided right away that the author had to be dead. While we all agreed The Color Purple by Alice Walker could be considered a classic but when she publishes her next novel, is it an instant classic? Is everything she wrote a classic? We didn’t want to have those debates. So we added to our definition the idea that a classic book has had popular and critical success over time.
Librarians ask why we don’t have a historic fiction collection. Our students are not requesting this and currently do not do a lot of reading in that genre. We do consider adding an “urban,” “comedy,” “sports,” or “adventure” section next. Although the more genres we add, the more crossover we will get. We made the decision to shelve titles (even multiple copies) in one area (not in multiple genres) however we may consider changing this rule soon. John Green books, for example, could be in multiple spots within genres, but should we split his books up? The Fault in Our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines in romance and everything else in fiction? Or should we put Paper Towns in mystery? We find students want to read everything an author writes, so we currently want to shelve authors’ works together.
We have also recently been talking about creating a “sports” section but shelving them with the nonfiction sports book display. Yikes! This seems scary to me, but I see it work in elementary school libraries (you might have all of the Halloween books shelved together whether they are fiction or nonfiction). We will keep you posted.
Overall circulation has not changed much however, student satisfaction and empowerment has gone up! We did have an initial bump in fiction circulation when we made the change but there are a number of factors impacting our numbers: standardized testing (we do Freshmen and Sophomore NWEA testing in September and October now), faculty changes (we had 3 new English teachers in 2 years), frozen budgets, school enrollment is down, etc. All of the things that impact a typical school library year-to-year.
Essentially we changed the way students browse for fiction books in our library. We all have to do what we think is best for the students in our school.
I’ve been blogging about the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDCS) for years now. I started in my high school library by Putting Dewey on a Diet, where I talk about my ideas for focusing less on the DDCS and more on providing immediate and seamless access to our nonfiction print collection for my high school students.
I talked about specifics in Breaking Up with Dewey. I shared images, reasons, and successes.
After publishing those two posts and getting a lot of feedback (both positive and negative), I went on a little Dewey Decimal Rant. It felt good to get that off my chest!
And now I want to share my reflections three years after the change - what I wish we did differently, how our students use the system, and how this has impacted my day-to-day practice as a school librarian.
The statistics speak for themselves. Keep in mind 2012 was a great year for circulating fiction and we were seriously considering getting rid of our entire nonfiction print collection. Seriously! Students were checking books out - but not nonfiction books.
After the Dewey Hack, our circulation of nonfiction books tripled in places. We continue to tweak our collection by talking to our users (students and teachers) about what information they are looking for and where they instinctively go to find it.
Regrets? I have a few…
As we began to make the change in our OPAC, we deleted some of the call numbers from the initial group of reclassifications. When I started running reports using Follett’s TitleWise, I immediately realized that we had made a huge mistake! My newly reclassified nonfiction books were coming up as “unrecognized” in my TitleWise analysis. If I could do it over again, I would have left the Dewey number in as the call # and added the reclassified label as a “call # prefix.”
What we noticed more than anything is although we worried a lot about what the OPAC record would and should look like for students, this was a needless worry - students were not using the OPAC at all. Why? Since our Dewey hack, students found they could easily find and browse to the book they wanted simply due to clear signage on our shelves. They no longer had to look up a keyword or code to find the title they wanted - they simply went to the shelf marked with the appropriate label!
Daily, I found my job has shifted from fewer directional reference questions i.e “Where can I get a copy of Hamlet?” to deeper research and inquiry teaching i.e “Can you help me find evidence that the quote in Hamlet ‘to thine own self be true,’ should be the most important thing in a person’s life?” I get to spend more time discussing, asking deeper questions, and guiding students and less time teaching high school students about a classification system they may never use again.
We all understand that the Dewey Decimal System is not an essential life skill. We need to make decisions based on what is best for our students - not what is best for librarians.
Think of small ways you could connect your users with information in new ways.
December has been a fun month with school librarians on Twitter. We decided to build this fun book display and challenge other school librarians to keep warm by the fire while building their own displays out of books.
I'm so impressed with the creativity of these school librarians!
We challenged several librarians in the area to top our Sanborn Regional High School display and this is what they came up with.
And now the librarians from Vermont have joined in the fun:
Our friends in Maine got in on the action with this creative idea. We are coming up with a winter carnival challenge like this for next month. Thanks Casey Brough at South Portland High School Learning Commons!
Which one is your favorite?
Happy Holidays to all school librarians, book lovers, technology integrators, lifelong learners, and school leaders out there!
If you are looking for suggestions for something to read over the holiday break, take a look at Pam & Kathy's Holiday Book Picks for 2015!
10. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
The comedian teams up with a NYU Sociologist to explore the nature of modern relationships, evaluating how technology is shaping contemporary relationships and considering the differences between courtships of the past and present. You will laugh out loud and feel gratitude for not growing up in this age of techno-dating!
9. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming--meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted. This book is fascinating, sometimes funny, and definitely eye-opening.
8. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Explores the true story of Helen Macdonald, who purchases Mabel, a goshawk, as she battles with the reality of losing her father, a falconer, ready to embark on the business of trying to train the bird as a way of dealing with her grief. This memoir is eccentric, weird, and funny!
7. The Prize: Who's In Charge of America's Schools by Dale Russakoff
Examines the fallout after Mark Zuckerberg, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and mayor Cory Booker announce on the Oprah Winfrey show their plan to reform Newark, New Jersey's failing schools despite strong opposition from local politicians and union leaders, including Newark's own school superintendent. This book is engrossing!
6. The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett
Jamie Bartlett takes us deep into the digital underworld and presents an extraordinary look at the internet we don't know. Bartlett reports on trolls, pornographers, drug dealers, hackers, political extremists, Bitcoin programmers, and vigilantes--and puts a human face on those who have many reasons to stay anonymous. This is definitely a look at a world that doesn't want to be known.
5. The Martian by Andy Weir
A real page turner! Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded and completely alone on Mars, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive, but Mark isn't ready to give up and drawing on his engineering skills and determination, he faces each obstacle with resourcefulness, but will it be enough for him to survive?
4. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
Pip Tyler accepts an internship in South America with the Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world, in order to find out who she really is, but for reasons she can't understand, she is drawn to Andreas who is on the lam in Bolivia. It's better than Franzen's last book Freedom.
3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.This book is more about the lives it affected than the battles that took place.
2. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this expansive novel, Groff presents the story of one marriage over the course of 24 years told from two perspectives.
** 1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara **
The most heartbreakingly disturbing but amazing story of the year!
Four friends' relationships darken over the years, especially in regards to Jude, who is unable to get over an extremely traumatic childhood.
What are your best books of 2015?
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act." Amelia Earhart
So, you want to move to a learning commons? I am with you! But, I have some questions before you get started ordering furniture, buying whiteboards, and choosing paint colors.
Why do your students need a library today?
Why will they need one tomorrow?
Think about this: Wifi has become ubiquitous in most of our schools, homes, and towns and we have devices available in our pockets, in our classrooms, at our homes that provide access to amazing resources. The information we can find on the internet is sometimes better than what we have in our library. It's certainly more current. In the case of ebooks, the information is identical and this is where the Internet and the library intersect and provide multiple ways to access the same information. So why do we need a library now if I have this mobile device with better, more current info than is available in my school library? The information on my device is interactive. I can read books, do research, type a paper, communicate with experts, chat with friends… all of the things a traditional library provided for me-- but I can do all of these things on my phone now! from Starbucks or my classroom or my bedroom.
How have you changed what you're doing to address this?
Before we begin advocating for our programs, training our teachers on the location of resources, and teaching students about all of the exciting new tools available to them, we must first shift our mindset. We need to think about our space more as a lab than as a place to organize books and provide access to computers.
Students are now creators of information and new knowledge and less consumers of it. Our learning commons need to be the place where everyone turns for tools, resources, and space to create new knowledge, projects, and products.
I've been the school librarian at Sanborn Regional High School in New Hampshire for five years. The Sanborn School District is a leader in competency-based education (CBE). The goal of CBE is to allow students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. This type of teaching and learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant and more tailored to their unique needs. (Read more about CBE at Sanborn via Brian Stack's blog posts on www.competencyworks.org.)
I learned quickly what the faculty and administration needed from me. They needed an information curator, a flexible collaborator, and a nonjudgemental colleague.
The following tips will help you to better identify and serve your school's needs under the competency-based framework:
Learn the Competencies
Not that you have to memorize each course competency, but take a look at them. Be familiar with the language, expectations, and grade-by-grade changes in English, Science, and Social Studies. Work with the other teachers, too, but especially focus on the academic areas where you can help the most!
Know the Standards
Read, re-read, and understand the Common Core ELA Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and C3 Social Studies Framework.
It may seem like a lot, but read through the standards on the Let the Librarians Lead website (where the similarities and differences from grade-to-grade are highlighted) and notice the common language in the standards. Making claims as well as finding and evaluating the validity and reliability of evidence are all common skills woven throughout the standards.
As your school begins the process of moving to CBE, offer to lead the way. Serve as a facilitator of meetings where competencies are first developed. An engaged but objective point-of-view is the only requirement for a good facilitator in these meetings. Offer this objectivity and engagement in rubric and assessment development, too. Your teachers will appreciate the honest and thoughtful feedback.
Offer to search for different reading levels for new assessments. While teachers are revamping their curriculum they may need assistance in differentiating for all of their students. Finding articles at three different reading levels helps with personalization of the assessments as well as differentiating instruction. Look for tools that provide an audio version of readings. Ebooks? A database with a read-aloud feature? Playaways? Any of these resources will help to engage and assist students at your school. Plus, your teachers will love you!
Listen to the Teachers
Moving to competency-based education is a difficult process for the entire school. Your teachers will need help, but sometimes, they may just need to talk about their challenges and frustrations. We do not need to offer solutions to every situation: just a friendly ear to help them process some of the more complicated differences in rubrics and changes to assessments.
How have you helped your school in the move to CBE? Comment below! I'd love to hear from you.