Friday, September 23, 2016

Speak Up for Teacher Librarians and Effective School Library Programs

The Iowa Department of Education has a statewide task force that is collecting input on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The Iowa Association of School Librarians has a work group working on this initiative which could have a tremendous positive impact on school libraries and school librarians in Iowa. If we do not get involved, it could have a negative impact.

Here's where we need your help. We just learned the dates of the public input meetings. The first one is Monday in Johnston. We need to have as many teacher librarians and library supporters at each of these meetings. We will provide you with talking points if you are willing to attend and speak.

The Iowa Association of School Librarians (IASL) has an important and necessary role as a stakeholder organization in supporting the Iowa Department of Education’s ESSA plan development. The work school librarians do impacts every student and teacher in every school. Research shows that an effective school library program boosts reading test scores. At this time, there are no school librarians on the task force and we are trying to get our voices heard.

If you are interested in attending one of these meetings, please complete this survey:  We will follow up with emails with directions and talking points. 

All public input meetings will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Meeting dates and locations are as follows:

Monday, September 26 - Heartland AEA, Johnson
Tuesday, September 27 - Green Hills AEA, Council 
Tuesday, October 11 - Keystone AEA, Elkader
Thursday, October 20 – Northwest AEA, Sioux City
 Tuesday, October 25 – Mississippi Bend AEA, Bettendorf
 Wednesday, October 26 – Prairie Lakes AEA, Storm Lake
 Wednesday, November 2 – Grant Wood AEA, Cedar Rapids
 Monday, November 7 – AEA 267, Cedar Falls 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Research to Support Importance of School Libraries - K-16

From Jean Donham, PhD.

IASL and Iowa ACRL are working on ways to raise awareness of the importance of school libraries to the transition from high school to college. 

This annotated bibliography lists articles about K-16 cooperation as well as articles describing what students need to know to be successful as they enter college.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: Emmy & Oliver

Imagine you're in second grade.  It's a Friday and everyone is anxious for the weekend, passing notes and generally not paying attention.  Your best friend gets in the car with his dad after school...and never comes back.

Emmy and Oliver were neighbors and best friends, practically from birth.  Oliver's parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce when his father picked him up for a long weekend, but never returned.  Police called for searches, news reporters were on the lawn, and Oliver's mother pledged to never stop looking for her son.

Ten years later, Emmy and her family are still next door, and Oliver's mother is still looking, although media coverage has waned.  But suddenly, Oliver has been found.  He is coming home! Where has he been? Where is his father? How will he fit in with his family, which has expanded while he was missing?  How will he reconnect with his friends and at school, after being the center of an extended media frenzy?

Emmy & Oliver, by Robin Benway, is literally a "coming home" story.  Oliver is remarkably well-adjusted after ten years missing, but still has a lot of issues to work through.  The book is a quick read, fairly light-hearted considering the subject, and focuses on family relationships, friendships, and romance.  If you have readers who enjoy heavier subjects with a light-hearted touch--think Sarah Dessen and John Green--I would highly recommend Emmy & Oliver.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Get to know the Board! Becky Johnson

Becky Johnson has been active in IASL for many years. She currently is Iowa's delegate to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Affiliate Assembly. She is a past president of IASL and also served as publications chair prior to that. She loves advocating for school library programs and networking with other teacher librarians across the state and nation.

Becky is in her first year as Teacher Librarian at Wilson Middle School in Cedar Rapids and serves as a curriculum facilitator for the Cedar Rapids Community School  District. This is her 17th year as a Teacher Librarian, including 16 years at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids.  

She earned her Master's in School Library Media Studies from the University of Northern Iowa in December 2003.   

Becky is an At-Large Board Member and our AASL Affiliate.  What does the AASL Affiliate do, exactly?

At-Large Board Member/Affiliate Assembly Delegate
This is an elected position with a three-year term.

  • Serve as the official representative of the Iowa Association of School Librarians to the American Association of School Librarians Affiliate Assembly and Region 3 meetings in accordance with the AASL Affiliate Assembly Policies and Procedures (ALA Annual, ALA Midwinter, and Region III) If the delegate is unable to attend, the President is the first alternate. Otherwise, the President may designate a representative.
  • Solicit from the Board statements of concern and statements of commendation prior to ALA Midwinter.  
  • Present Iowa concerns and commendations to AASL Affiliate Assembly Region 3 Representative by the prescribed deadline.
  • Report regularly to the Board and membership about AASL initiatives.
  • Must be a member of AASL.
  • Participate in ALA Connect communication on a regular basis.
  • Communicate regularly with AASL Staff to ensure state’s information is up-to-date.
  • Be provided by IASL with partial financial support to attend the required AASL meetings. Some out-of-pocket expenses will occur.
  • Attend IASL board meetings as a voting member of the board.

Sound like something you are interested in? You can run for this position this year, or in three years from now! Fill out this form to express interest!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Library Orientation - Pokemon Style!

Many school libraries have been successful in making library orientation engaging and even fun with interactive activities like scavenger hunts, mapping activities, or series of videos with embedded quiz questions.

This year at South East Junior High in Iowa City, my teaching partner, Elizabeth Schau, and I were inspired by Karissa in the Library's approach: using Pokémon to introduce our students to the library! Of course, Pokémon Go has made the collectible cards and video games popular again for students.... but also for adults! I happen to be Level 22, Team Mystic... no big deal.

Like any other orientation, we wanted to make sure our lesson introduced students to library staff, our basic expectations, help them find where books are located, and inform them of our checkout policies. We began with a short introduction to the library as a large group, scheduled with each section of 7th grade language arts. We then explained to students that they would have to discover how the library works by hunting for Pokémon.... but with no apps involved.

In pairs, students were to move about the library and answer the questions listed on their "Pokédex" by finding the printed Pokémon. Get a copy of our Pokédex questions here.

Each Pokémon was printed with a speech bubble giving a short description of something we wanted students to know. I used Google Drawings to create each image and printed 2 of each in landscape orientation. We spaced them out in the relevant sections to avoid too many students crowding in one place. Students found the Pokémon, read the questions, and then wrote the answers on their paper. 

This low-tech orientation worked perfectly in our 47 minute class periods, giving students time to complete the Pokémon hunt, find a book to checkout, do some silent reading, and review a few of the most important points at the end of class. Because students were working at different paces, it was easy to assess their understanding at various points, and as students completed their work, to check their answers.  For example, we were able to quickly reteach a few skills to partners who missed questions like using Destiny Quest to find the call number of a book. 

In addition to the achieving our objectives for content, we were also please that students were consistently engaged in this library orientation. We were a bit concerned that some students would be disinterested in Pokémon, or that not knowing enough about the game would make them less successful in the activity.  However, all students seemed to enjoy moving around the library to hunt for answers, and even those unfamiliar with Pokémon were able to ask classmates or teachers for clues when needed.

Bonus? When orientations were done, we added the Pokémon to our bulletin board as a visual reminder of library expectations!

This gamified orientation could be easily adapted to other lessons or subject areas.  Imagine students with vocabulary words locating Pokémon to find out their definitions. Or students on a number hunt locating Pokemon with number stories that match. You could use technology to make it paperless, or even add augmented reality to make it more like Pokémon Go. 

What are you doing for orientation this year? Did you use a Pokémon hunt, too? How else do you think you could integrate Pokémon Go into your lessons? 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Library Associate/Volunteer Training

With a new school year, this can sometimes mean new staffing & volunteers within the library. While each situation is unique, I wanted to try to come up with a list of important topics to cover. Even if you don’t have an associate, but are trying to better utilize volunteers, these might also be some things to consider.
  1. Library System- Library systems are vast. Even though they are fairly user-friendly, there are tricks and quirks to each program. Set goals for what you feel they need to know and what is a nice to know.
Goal for the end of the first day: Checkout & check-in books
Goal by the by end of the first week: put a hold on a book, request a hold from another library in the district, etc
  1. Emergency Stuff
While 75% of the time I would be in the library when a drill happens, it is important for my associate to know how to handle a drill if I am not there.
  • Fire Drill
  • Tornado Drill
  • Emergency Drill/ Intruder Drill/ Lockdown Drill
  1. Tour- This is not just a tour or the building (where various classrooms are located), but also other important locations. Some of these might include restroom, vending machine, copy machine/printers, and mailboxes. This also can include where to find leave forms or the location of the time clock in the building. Also, think about the tour of your library & computer labs. Where are items and supplies stored? What items will he/she need to know how to access & use? Are the items or supplies that they do not need to be aware of right away?
  2. “Virtual Tour” - While you can have a tour of the physical space, there also is a tour of who’s who of the school or district. While I often act as the first line of defense when it comes to questions or problems, I don’t have the answers to everything. It is also important for an associate to know who they contact with questions related to their pay, sick leave, and other issues.
  3. How to part of the job- This comes down to some of the daily tasks. This could include tasks like processing books or other items as well as basic book repair.  As books came in over the summer, I tried to save as many as possible. I tried to give examples of fiction and nonfiction as well as different types of books (paperback, hardback, hardback with a book jacket). This helped as books came in over the year and I did not have to explain how to process each type of book, because, I had already saved examples over the summer.
  4. Job expectations & duties- While this seems obvious, it is simply being clear about what you expect them to do as well as how their job duties vary and differ from the librarian. It also is allowing them freedom in other parts of their job. For example, if you expect your associate to change out bulletin boards would you consider to allow them to create or design a bulletin board.   
  5. Get to know them. Ask questions about family, hobbies, and more. You need to be able to work closely with this new individual. While it takes time to get to know each other and to understand each other's’ likes and dislikes, it is important to build this relationship and start to build trust between each other.  

The most important thing I have learned is to go slow. You have the whole year to figure things out and to train your associate or volunteers so prioritize.

  • What is the most important things for your associate to know?
  • Are there things that they can live without knowing right away?
  • Will it just be easier to teach/show something as it comes up? (For example when a box of books comes in, then teach them how to check the packing slip and other parts processing books).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Iowa Book Awards - Coming to a Library Near You!

As the school year starts, start thinking about how you will promote the Iowa Book Awards to your school!

IASL has a few resources available for you for free - click on the Awards tab at the top to find specific resources for each award, and watch the blog for more information!

In the meantime, print the bookmarks!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Get to know the Board! Christine Sturgeon

Christine Sturgeon is the Teacher Librarian/Technology Integrationist for Manson Northwest Webster School District in north central Iowa.  It took her 21 years to get her BA in elementary education (Go UNI Panthers!), 18 months to get her MA in Library Science (Go Mizzou Tigers!), and she is now working on a PhD in Educational Leadership from Drake University (Go Bulldogs!).  Her dissertation will be about makerspaces (as her district is the first in the state with makerspaces at all district schools - okay that means two but it still counts), but she is also passionate about early childhood (she started a 1,000 books before kindergarten program at her school's preschool) and writing really long sentences.  

Christine is a past IASL President, and was appointed chair of the Advocacy committee last year! What exactly does that mean?  Well.... here are her duties!

Advocacy Chair

This is an appointed one-year board position that may be renewed.

  • Appoint a committee of 3 IASL members to assist in advocacy and report names to President and Secretary.
  • Work with committee to plan and implement advocacy activities.
  • Submit a proposed committee budget to the IASL president at or before the November ILA Planning meeting.
  • Remain vigilant to needs for advocacy at the state or national level and communicate time. sensitive advocacy opportunities and suggestions to the membership as they arise.
  • Collaborate with publications chair to keep advocacy web page refreshed.
  • Attend IASL board meetings as a voting member of the board.
  • Submit a progress report for the IASL membership meeting.
Sound like something you'd be interested in in the future?  Fill out this form to express interest in joining the committee or being appointed chair!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Get to know the board! Dixie Forcht

Dixie Forcht is the secondary Teacher Librarian serving grades 5-12 at South Tama Community Schools. She is beginning her fourth year at STC, and previously served the East Marshall as the PK-12 TL. Dixie holds a B.S. and M.S. from the University of North Texas in Communication Studies, an M.A.E. from the University of Northern Iowa in School Library Studies, and UNI's Educational Leadership endorsement and K-12 TAG endorsement. Dixie enjoys working with students and teachers to improve research and analysis skills.

Dixie is now the Past President of IASL. What exactly does the Past President do? Well, here are her duties!

Past President
This position falls to the president at the end of the presidential term for one year.

  • Assist President in transition to office.
  • Chair the Nominations and Elections Committee consisting of at least three members.
  • Identify elected positions to be filled for the upcoming year.
  • Identify and invite at least two candidates for all open elected positions, and report the names to the IASL board.
  • Carry out the election of new officers in October.
  • Notify candidates of outcome of election.
  • Send new officers information about expectations for their respective positions and assist in their transition into office.
  • Communicate with the ILA Nominations Committee when that committee is seeking school library representation and submit names of potential leaders for their consideration.  
  • Attend board meetings as voting member of the board.

Sound like something you'd be interested in doing? We are now seeking self-nominations for the role of Vice President/President Elect! Fill out this form to express interest!

Get to know the board! Val Ehlers

Val Ehlers is the K-12 Teacher Librarian at Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Grundy Center schools and the 5-6 drama teacher in Grundy Center.  She is starting her 6th year as a TL and has been in education for 26 years as a 7-12 English, drama, speech, debate, reading, and TAG instructor.  Val keeps busy as a speech and drama coach for both schools..  Val enjoys spending time watching her son play on the ISU Baseball Club Traveling Team, and watching her daughter compete in cross-country, basketball, track, and softball.

Val was elected to serve as an At-Large Board Member and ILA Liaison.  What exactly does that mean?  Well, here are her duties!

At-Large Board Member——ILA Liaison
This is an elected position with a three year term.
  • Serve as liaison to ILA.
  • Coordinate with ILA Board liaison.
  • Report at each board meeting about ILA Board activity of interest to IASL.
  • Attend board meetings as voting member of the board.
  • Appointments as requested by the board
  • ILA IF representative
  • IRRC Liaison
  • ILA Liaison

She has also served as our Conference Planning Committee Representative.

ILA Conference Planning Committee Representative
This is not a board position, but a position appointed by ILA.

  • Attend the ILA Planning Meeting in November and participate in ILA Conference Planning Committee meetings throughout the year for the October ILA Conference.
  • Suggest/submit proposals for a pre-conference for the ILA conference, if IASL intends to sponsor a pre-conference.
  • Solicit and submit proposals for IASL-sponsored concurrent sessions for the next ILA October conference.
  • Advocate for programming of interest to school librarians at the ILA conference.
  • Submit a budget to the IASL President at or before the November ILA Planning meeting.
  • Communicate with other committee members, potential speakers and IASL Board.
  • Report to IASL Board developments from the ILA Conference Planning Committee meetings.
  • Collect speaker information.
  • Write articles for publication on speakers and presentations.

Sound like something you'd be interested in? Fill out this form to express interest in running for an At-Large position or in serving as an ILA Conference Planning rep!