Monday, April 29, 2013

Increasing Reading Scores - the School Library Connection

An article in the Des Moines Register on Sunday focused on Iowa's students and some of the strategies we as educators and as a community can use to support their reading abilities.  Unfortunately, school libraries were not mentioned.

There have been many studies that show a relationship between school libraries and student achievement.  A 2012 study in Pennsylvania, found that schools with strong library programs had students who were more likely to have higher scores on state Reading and Writing assessments than those without well-staffed, funded, equipped, stocked and accessible school libraries. This was true for all students, even more so for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

In New Jersey, a three-year study published in 2012 found “school libraries and school librarians contribute in rich and diverse ways to the intellectual life of a school, and to the development of students who can function in a complex and increasingly digital information environment.”

A research compilation report by Scholastic (linked here) lists 19 other state (and one Canadian) studies about the impact of school libraries on student achievement. A 2002 study of schools in Iowa showed that students who scored highest in reading on ITBS tests used more than 2.5 times more books and materials during library visits than other students. In Colorado, 7th grade students scored 21% higher on reading tests in schools with a well-staffed library and strong collection than those without. In Florida, elementary students scored 9% higher when their school had a school library staffed more than 60 hours a week.  In Massachusetts, they found that both elementary and junior high school students scored higher on state tests when a school library program was present. In this report alone, there are many more examples of how library programs impact our students’ success.

In Iowa, some school districts have long recognized the contributions of school libraries and have made quality programs a priority.  However, many districts in our state barely meet state mandates for employing at least one qualified teacher librarian in each school, stretching one teacher across up to six buildings and programs.  If Iowa is truly interested in increasing the reading scores of our students, an investment in school libraries is a strategy that needs to be seriously considered.

As you know, increased reading scores are not all that school libraries can offer – access to high quality, current, and high-interest resources is just one part of a great library program. Teacher Librarians are also equipped to collaborate with teachers to integrate information and digital literacy skills into regular classroom curriculum, offering teachers and students a chance to enhance what they already do. Teacher Librarians are experts in implementing appropriate and effective technology to engage students and advance their learning. Teacher Librarians teach the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate a growing global digitally-centered world. School Libraries offer a physical and digital space to connect learners to the larger world around them, opening doors to opportunities that in the past may have been unavailable.

I urge you to read over a few of the studies mentioned and familiarize yourself with data that can support what we already know and see in our daily work. Be prepared with hard numbers for those who crave data and personal anecdotes for those who understand the real lives of our students.

And stay tuned for a follow up article in the Des Moines Register!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Message from the IASL President
By Susan Feuerbach

What a Great Conference we had at The Hotel at Kirkwook Community College.  Thank you to all involved. Those of you who were there please continue to share the great things you learned and continue to collaborate with the colleagues that you connected with. As I reflect on our time together with you I feel the need to continue to challenge you to advocate for yourselves.
Several weeks ago one of my teachers came to me and said that a teacher in a neighboring school district had sent her an email asking her if she had a good lesson or unit on finding good sources on the internet.  My teacher replied to her that she usually worked with the teacher librarian when she taught that subject, but that she would talk to me and see if I would share some ideas. I responded with “Has she talked to her teacher librarian?”
I tell you this short story to make you ask yourself some questions.  What would your teachers respond to this colleague?  Would you be the first person they thought of? Would he or she be confident that you would be there to assist them in teaching this subject?
At the IASL conference I kept challenging you to take something home to show your teachers and administrators.  We need to be our best advocate in our districts.  Your teachers need to know how important you are and how you can help them meet those standards that are looming over their heads.  Share something at the copy machine, lunch room, hallway or classroom.  Stop in for a minute during a prep and tell them you have something to show them when they have a chance.
When I finish a project with a teacher I select a few and make sure the principal gets to see the project and how we worked together.  I also send him a quarterly report that along with circulation and library usage numbers I let him know how many times I met with teachers and how many projects we worked on together.  As we continue to implement the core standards I will add those to this quarterly report.
I will tell you that I was not always comfortable “promoting” myself and the program.  During the last twenty years as a teacher librarian I have come to the conclusion I would rather be promoting than trying to justify.
Susan Feuerbach
IASL President
Teacher Librarian
Camanche Elementary and Middle Schools

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Carry and share a favorite poem today! 
 Find one in your library or write your own.  

Twitter: #pocketpoem

Sunday, April 14, 2013

IASL Conference 2013

The feedback is still coming in, but here are some snapshots representing the comments:

General sessions

Concurrent sessions

Conference arrangements

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

School Library Snapshot Day

Back in 2011, ALA promoted Library Snapshot Day - librarians across the nation were invited to participate by taking photos throughout one regular day at your library and share them with the world. Well, here in Iowa, we'd like to resurrect this idea!

Pick any day in April (School Library Month) to take photos of your library and its users all day long. Then, upload them - either to our group Flickr page mentioned here, or to your own site and share the link here.

 These photos are a great advocacy tool. A picture is worth a thousand words, so think how many words an album can say about our library programs and what they contribute to student learning! 

Bonus: these photos make a great addition to your monthly newsletter (perhaps a photo essay?) and to your annual library report!

Bonus #2: other Teacher Librarians and administrators can get a peek at what libraries across the state are up to and inspire some great ideas! Get your camera ready!

Book Review: The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult

Sage is an isolated baker that is having problems dealing with her troubled past, when she meets Josef, an elderly man who has also suffered loss.  Sage is enjoying their unusual connection, when Josef suddenly shares that he was a Nazi S.S. officer, and pleads with her to help him die.  When Sage finally believes him, she reaches out to an FBI agent to confirm his story, as well as to her own grandmother, who is a Holocaust survivor.  What follows is the intertwining story of Sage and Josef’s families, a short story authored by her grandmother, and Sage’s struggles as she discovers the truth...and possibly the ability to move on with her life.

The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult, is a wonderful novel of history meeting the modern era.  Picoult does an excellent job of honoring the Holocaust story and giving it life, as well as giving us her normal end-of-the-book twist.  She especially shows through the story of the grandmother how Holocaust victims were caught unaware as conditions slowly deteriorated.  Anyone who enjoys reading historical novels set during World War II will love this book!

IASL Book Award winners

The winners of this year’s Iowa Association of School Librarians’ annual book awards were announced Monday at the annual spring conference in Cedar Rapids.

And the winners are:
Goldfinch Award – The Boss Baby by Maria Frazee
Iowa Children’s Choice Award – Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret
Iowa Teen Award – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Iowa High School Book Award – Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Thanks to all who participated!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

IASL13 Maker Space as PLN

Sunday night attendees of the IASL conference in Cedar Rapids (which was awesome!) had an opportunity to participate in a Makerspace event - everyone contributing artifacts and ideas to various "containers" in order to share.  What better way to create a Personal Learning Network?

All of these sources will be open for contribution and available for reference.

YouTube Playlist - Iowa School Libraries
Pinterest Board - Iowa School Libraries Matter
Sqworl Group - Iowa School Library Webpages
Flickr Photostream - Iowa School Library Association
IASL GoogleSite - Resources for Advocacy & Policies

Let's keep our PLNs growing and active!  

Please offer your great ideas (Seriously! Your ideas are great!) to one or more of these groups so we can share what we are doing with each other and our communities!

If you wish to contribute to the YouTube page or submit a library webpage, policy document or web resource to the Sqworl or GoogleSites page, please submit links in the comments!   

If you would like to be able to pin to our Pinterest board, please let us know via email so we can add you.

If you would like to upload photos to our Flickr photo stream, you can use your own Flickr account to post to the Group called Iowa School Library Advocacy.

Symbaloo From IASL 13

Check out some of the great resources shared at the conference. Symbaloo compiled by Shannon Miller.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Over 20,000 Iowa Students Participate in Children's Choice Book Award Voting

Each year, students in grades three through six are invited to participate in at the Iowa Children's Choice Award statewide reading program. This year, over Iowa 20,000 students voted for ther favorite of the twenty one nominated titles!

Statistics for participation in the Goldfich Award for preschool through third gade, the Iowa Teen Award for grades seven through nine, and the Iowa High School Book Award for grades nine through twelve will be reported at the IASL conference this weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Great Infographic!

In our run up to the IASL meeting next week, I encourage you to check this out, courtesy of Jean Donham. More articulation as to why school librarians are important!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April: School Library Month

School Library Month has just begun!  What could be a better excuse to advocate for library programs than that?

Check out AASL's resources here.

Share your ideas for celebrating this wonderful month in the comments!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin

Lucy was just a normal teenager, with normal teenage concerns:  boys, homework, getting a date to the prom...and making sure no one finds out about her crazy bag-lady mother, who pops up at the most inconvenient times.  But things take a turn for the worse when she discovers her mother’s diary, finding out that there is a reason that her mother is insane...and the same fate awaits Lucy, unless she can break an ancient curse, based on a specific version of “Scarborough Fair.”  Can she break the curse before it’s too late?

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?  
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thy
Remember me to one who lives there
She must be a true love of mine...

From the sting of my curse she can never be free
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Unless she unravels my riddlings three
She will be a true love of mine” (Werlin n.p.)

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin, is a modern day fairy tale, with romance, adventure, drama, and a taste of tragedy before the inevitable ending.  It is a very entertaining read, although it does have some events that would be more appropriate for older audiences.  I would recommend it for readers who enjoy romance (especially if they don’t mind a little fantasy thrown in) or for readers who enjoy fantasy or modern twists on fairy tales.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Making Practice Public

Did you catch this great article in LMC way back in November?  Even if you did, now is a great time for a reminder about making our practice more public.  

Many Iowa school districts are lucky to have strong support for their library programs, but unfortunately, the sense of urgency in Creighton’s article is all too real for many of our colleagues.  I am in awe of those of you who teach students in multiple buildings, manage up to five different collections for different populations, and administer programs that support your communities all on your own.  And yet, while you are working these miracles, our communities may be in the dark about what it is you do (and why there should be at least one of us in each building).

Creighton’s article suggests blogging as a way to make what we do more visible.  But it doesn't have to be a blog. It can be a newsletter, a Twitter account, consistent appearances at PTO meetings... whatever you can do to make sure that the library program and what it can do for students is in the spotlight.

Another great way to advocate for students and what their library can do for them.... is to attend your state conference!  Attending a conference like IASL (next weekend!) demonstrates that Teacher Librarians not only love to collaborate and learn from other professionals, but that we are a thriving group that values developing our own practice and bringing our expertise back to our schools.  

Read the article here:
Creighton, P. (2012). MAKE YOUR PRACTICE PUBLIC. Library Media Connection, 31(3), 32.

6 Days Until IASL Conference Kickoff!

Where are our attendees coming from?
Check out the map at:
Or download .kmz file to see the pins on Google Earth.