Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Share your Library's Annual Report!

We all know that the end of the school year is a crazy busy time, and it can be hard to find time to reflect on our own work. However, we also know the importance of sharing the impact our school libraries have with our community.  Creating an annual report is a vital part of communicating our value with our stakeholders, advocating for our students need for a school library, and for educating others about what our jobs really are.

Still not convinced?  Here are Library Girl's  reasons for creating an annual report. Jennifer LeGarde presented at the IASL Conference in 2015.

  1. Assuming others know what you do is stupid silly.  As librarians we constantly lament that we are the only ones who understand our jobs.  But, if we don't share the scope of that work and how it results in student outcomes, if other people don't get it, we kind of have no one to blame but ourselves.  An annual report represents an effective way to share what we do.
  2. Our work doesn't matter if it doesn't impact students.  The annual report is a great way to draw a line between what happens in the library and student outcomes.  Once students have worn their number 2 pencils down to their nubs, comparing testing data to library data is the only way for us to know if our work made a measurable difference.
  3. "We're in this together" is a message we cannot send too many time.  Using the annual report to reflect on student and library data shows teachers and administrators that we are just as invested in student growth as they are.  Instead of running around fretting about our inventories, the annual report gives us the opportunity to show that we are fretting about the same thing every other adult in the building is fretting about at the end of the year: student achievement.
  4. Reflection makes us better.  Period.  Think of it this way: would you rather your own child be taught by a teacher who reflects on his/her work and strives to make instruction better as a result of that reflection OR would you hope your child's teacher simply pulls out the same lessons year after year, regardless of their success?  Exactly.

On our Facebook page, several Iowa TLs shared links to their annual reports for this school year.  Take a look below, and share yours in the comments!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Facilitating the Sharing of Literacy Resources for families of ELLs

From the Iowa Reading Research Center July newsletter: 

Dr. Schmitz’s presentation at the IRA conference introduced a brand new resource on the IRRC website: Facilitation guides for family liaisons to introduce families to online literacy resources for children who are still learning English. We would like to extend our thanks to Vinh Nguyen and his staff from the Des Moines school district, Principal Julie Robinson of Mann Elementary in Iowa City, and ELL Consultant Lynn Tiemann of Grant Wood AEA for their assistance in reviewing these materials and providing helpful feedback. 

Teacher librarians may find one of these resources particularly helpful. The facilitation guide for helping parents understand how to make reading with your child most effective is a script for a great literacy night activity! 

Another guide leads you through introducing families to the International Children's Digital Library website.

Check them out!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Best Websites & Apps for Teaching and Learning

AASL recently announced the list of the best websites and apps for teaching and learning of 2016.

Already familiar with some of these tools?  Share how you have used them in the comments!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Calendar of Reading Promotional Events

Fellow graduates of UNI's SLS program recently received a great newsletter highlighting some of the work of Teacher Librarians in Iowa. For those IASL members who aren't UNI grads, we wanted to pass along some of their work!

Like many teacher librarians, Nicole Guldager found that reading programs that are based on extrinsic motivation and restrict book choice diminish interest in pleasure reading. To help teacher librarians build excitement around reading, Guldager compiled a list of 31 reading promotion events for elementary schools including Talk Like a Pirate Day, World Kindness Day and Comic Book Day. Although many reading promotional ideas are shared informally through emails and blogs, a clear and annotated calendar of pleasure reading promotion events did not exist prior to Guldager’s master’s research project.

An article explaining the need for reading promotion efforts and summarizing the calendar of events was co-authored by Guldager, Dr. Karla Krueger and Dr. Joan Bessman Taylor and published this month in Teacher Librarian. Guldager graduated with her MA in School Library Studies in 2015 and is currently the K-12 Media Specialist for the GMG Community School District in Garwin, Iowa.

We are especially excited about Nicole's work, as the IASL board has been working to create a calendar of education and library related events here on the blog. Click on the Calendar tab above to see what we have so far.  Please send suggestions for additional events to Chelsea Sims.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#WeNeedDiverseBooks in the classroom

My colleague, Tifani Daly, conducted a character census of independent reading books in her 6th grade classes.  Take a look.

WOW!  Kids were really surprised to see white, straight guys as the most represented characters with straight, white girls a close second. I guess I was surprised too. Students expressed an interest in reading about more diverse characters. Looks like I need to do more to build and promote a collection that meets this need.

Some possible sources:

2016 Rainbow List

We Need Diverse Books resources

2016 Dia Lists

Do you have suggestions?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reading is the Talk of Iowa!

Chances are that you don’t have the time to listen to Iowa Public Radio’s 10:00 am weekday show, Talk of Iowa with host Charity Nebbe as it is broadcast live. Fortunately, episodes are posted the next day on their website for streaming and also on the the IPR mobile app.

You are definitely going to want to check out the archive because two of your IASL colleagues have recently done a great job representing Iowa teacher librarians during their interviews with the host.

In April, Marshalltown High School Teacher Librarian, Sue Inhelder shared her enthusiasm for the Iowa High School Battle of the Books.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.19.17 PM.png

And as the current school year wrapped up, Prairie Creek Intermediate Teacher Librarian, Ernie Cox spoke passionately about the importance of honoring the reading lives of students.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.24.44 PM.png

If you have time, drop an email or tweet a thank you to host Charity Nebbe for inviting Sue and Ernie onto her show. Do you have any topic ideas for her?

If you would like to learn more about how to locate and listen to podcasts, check out this short presentation from Kirkwood Community College’s Eagle Tech Land and Learn sessions.

Guest blogger, Kathy Kaldenberg, retired school librarian

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Write Stuff

by Kathy Kaldenberg, retired Librarian

When I see that one of Iowa’s own Teacher Librarians has published in a vetted source, I want to shout from the rooftop, “Hey, look at this awesomeness!”

I want their colleagues to share it on SLIK-12, tweet about it, post it on Facebook and blog it up.

I want their administrators to pass the article around at a staff meeting.

I want it to be read and to be noted.

And I want you to be inspired.

Because YOU can do this, too. And it important that you do...


1. For the CRED. 
Seriously, administrators WILL want to brag on you and what you are doing for the students and their organization. And it looks great on a resume.

2. To remember what’s it like to be a student
Writing an article for an editor is hard work. You will need to do some research, properly credit your sources and check the grammar. All those things that stress out your students and make them cranky. 
3. For the intellectual challenge
Publish or perish” isn’t really a thing in the K-12 library world, but the opportunities to stretch yourself and share your ideas are real. You don’t have to write to prove you are an asset to your school community, but it is almost guaranteed that you will feel a sense of accomplishment for doing so.

There are many publications just waiting for you and your well articulated ideas!

District Administrator (pair up with your superintendent or principal)

Feel like you aren’t ready for national exposure? Try writing for a blog! Pick your favorite and offer to do a guest post.

Too many words? Try 140 characters. Share with Twitter.

A note from the author:

In 2011, the local newspaper did a little blurb about the library and how we were using technology. I posted the link to the AASL email list and shortly after received a note from one of the editors about Teacher Librarian about doing an article. It was such an interesting experience, I found myself wishing that every teacher would give it a try.

When I saw a recent tweet that the IASL publications chair, Chelsea Sims, had recently had an article published, I requested permission to write something about the value of sharing via professional journals. She graciously agreed to post this even though I am officially retired.

Defined STEM at Grant Wood AEA

My list of learning goals for the summer continues to grow. One item is a new resource from Grant Wood AEA - Defined STEM (not sure if other AEAs are looking into this or not).

As explained on the site "Defined STEM is a web-based application designed to promote rigorous and relevant connections between classroom content, highlighting STEM content and real-world applications including career pathways, thus providing learning opportunities for students. Defined STEM provides teachers a resource where they can access highly effective media content and valuable resources to enhance the teaching and learning within the classroom. These resources and materials allow teachers to connect STEM with existing lessons, interdisciplinary content, and standards-based curriculum"

Grant Wood AEA will also host an half day workshop this summer (limited to schools in the GWAEA - sorry other AEA folks).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sharing a Love of Reading

As librarians, we know that there is no greater joy than helping our readers connect with that perfect book. But when we can empower students to share their reading experiences with others, it's "goosebumpy!"

While I try to encourage and empower all my students to share and celebrate their reading experiences, two of my 5th grade classes (and their teachers) wanted to take their sharing to another level. As their Teacher Librarian, I was more than happy to oblige!

Using Padlet, I am sharing the Thinglink and Animoto book recommendations my 5th graders created. These book recommendations were also shared via our library website and through our Library Google Classroom in order to engage as many readers as possible! Below this Padlet, I have included a description of each tool (and how we used it)!

Created with Padlet


One of my 5th grade classes utilized a site called Thinglink. Thinglink allows students (and teachers) to create interactive images and videos. Students (and teachers) start with a base image or video. Once the base image has been uploaded, creators add "Tags," or the interactive touch points. Information added to the images includes text or links to sites or videos. Finished Thinglinks can then be shared multiple ways, including shareable links or embedding in sites/blogs.

I utilized the free version of Thinglink Teacher. This allowed me to create student accounts. The process of creating classes and student accounts was fairly easy, but tutorial videos are always helpful. While I am able to view my students' creations, I am unable to collaborate in the editing of the Thinglinks.


Animoto is a web-based video production tool, allowing for professional-looking video creation. To begin, students (and teachers) pick a theme (there are a variety of free ones to choose from). Each theme comes with a selected song, but Animoto provides a robust music library if creators wish to change. Creators then add a variety of text and images to create their video. The text slides are limited to a total of 90 characters each and videos must have at least one image. Pacing and transitions are automatically generated during the production process, but various slides can be highlighted during creation to ensure ample focus time. A preview option also allows for editing during the creation process. Much like Thinglink, finished Animotos can be shared a variety of ways, including shareable links, downloading, and embedding.

As a teacher or librarian, you can apply for an educator account. If approved, you are provided with a code that allows you to create student accounts. Both you and your students can then create videos exceeding the 30 second limitation of the free version. Animoto does provide detailed instruction in how to create the student accounts. 

There are a multitude of ways to have students extend their reading experiences! These are just two that worked really well for my students and allowed them to create a reading experience that could be shared with others!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Summer Book Boot Camp

A few summers back I ran across the idea of hosting a Summer Book Boot Camp for Teachers.  We are considering it again and I've been looking over the previous design.  Nearly 100% of our language arts teachers participated (we did use Teacher Quality money to fund this work).  Below is what we offered to teachers.  Our teachers read widely and created authentic products for classroom use. What would you change?  Have you offered events to boost teacher engagement with youth literature?  Please share.

The June Book Boot Camp

The Iowa Core states that students need to engage in the reading of increasingly complex texts. Research shows that students who read widely (a variety of text types and levels of complexity) have better academic outcomes (as well as developing the habits of lifelong readers). Determining the appropriate level of complexity for our students is left to the professional judgement of local educators. Finding the time and method to build teacher knowledge about youth literature can be difficult.  This Professional Learning experience will:
  • build (or expand on) an understanding of the need for wide reading across genres
  • provide classroom resources ( trade books, booklists, review sources) to support wide reading  in your classrooms
  • give time for you to read a wide selection of contemporary youth literature
  • facilitate the development of tools, guides, and teaching strategies to help students navigate their individual path to wider reading.


Learning Platform - (School social networking tool)
Participants will have the flexibility of responding to readings and sharing authentic artifacts using the school social networking tool Edmodo. No need to come to an empty school building. Ernie Cox will support and moderate our experience.

Shared Professional Reading  (your choice)
reading ladders.jpg

Quantity and Quality: Increasing the Volume and Complexity of Students’ Reading by Sandra Wilde

Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading by Fisher, Frey and Lapp
or another title on text complexity/wide reading etc

Book Boot Camp Artifacts

Participants will choose titles to read from pre-selected genre lists.  We will share our reflections on these titles in Edmodo in the form of video booktalks or shelf cards recommendations.  
  • one video booktalk (Video Guide)
  • one shelf card recommendation
ONE of the following (you decide) :
  • Reading Ladder based on one of the books.
  • Analysis of the qualitative text complexity using the tool.
  • Notice and Note inspired signpost guide to one of the books.
  • an original artifact of your design which will guide student wide reading of complex text

Genre lineup
  • Action & Adventure
  • History
  • Memoir & Biography
  • Sci Fi
  • Fantasy
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Historical Fiction

How the books were selected.

What is provided?
  • 8 hours of flexible work time
  • Trade book budget (approximately $60 per person = 5 books )
  • Copy of a professional text

What you will make for your classroom
  • a video booktalk
  • shelf recommendation card
  • Reading Ladder or a Text Complexity analysis or another artifact design by you.