Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Reading Memories

Iowa school librarians and teachers are busy reading this summer. One list many of us have in common is the 2014-15 Iowa Children's Choice Award nominees.  In addition to reading the books we are preparing promotional efforts when school is back in session. Be sure to check out the custom 2014-15 booklist resource sets from (Thanks to Iowa AEAs for statewide access!).  Teachingbooks has aggregated an array of audio, video, and website content related to the nominated titles and their authors.  Take an occasional break from all that reading, viewing, and listening to head over to twitter to discuss the nominees - #iakidpicks

I've been asking nominated authors to share summer reading memories. Below are the first two responses.

"Reading was a huge part of my summer experience growing up. We would go to the library every day (yes, every day, I'm not exaggerating) and I would get a stack of books and read them and have to bring them back and get another stack the next day. In addition to the library, sometimes I would save a little money and when we went grocery shopping--which I thought was so boring--I would buy a book in the little bookstore in the corner of the supermarket, and read that while my mom shopped. My favorite places to read were on top of my bunk bed and out in the grass in our yard. The library ran a summer reading program, in which you were encouraged to read ten books, and you got a prize for each book you did a report on. The trouble for me was that I would run through the whole program three times each summer and they would have to stop giving me the prizes after a while."  ~ Suzanne LaFleur

"As far as summer reading memories go, my parents were both teachers, so the whole family had summers off. We would go on camping trips in our van for anywhere from 2-8 weeks every year and would each borrow a stack of books from the public library to take with us. When I was twelve, we drove from my hometown of Vancouver, BC, across Canada and down the east coast of the United States, all the way to Key West, Florida and back through Texas. By the time we reached Washington, DC, we were somewhere around the halfway point of the trip and I'd already read all of my own library books as well as the books my parents and brother had brought along. We stopped at a bookstore and I bought a copy of Noel Streatfeild's, "Ballet Shoes". I wasn't particularly interested in ballet, or books written so long ago (1936), but for some reason, it really piqued my interest and I was anxious to read it. So, when my family parked the van and headed

for the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, I brought the book with me (and received a lot of strange looks from people who had traveled from all over the world to see the museum). I toured one exhibit (for less than ten minutes), then told my parents I was going to read in the lobby. I found a comfortable chair and sat down for the rest of the afternoon, totally absorbed in the book. By the time I was finished, so was the museum visit and my family was ready to go. They'd all had a fantastic time and chatted away about all of the amazing and fascinating things they'd seen, then shook their heads when they realized I'd had my nose in a book all afternoon. For years afterwards, whenever the topic of Washington DC or the Smithsonian came up in conversation, I never mentioned to anyone that I hadn't really made it past the lobby. It's the kind of thing that only people who really love reading would understand." ~ W.C. Mack

Pictured at left is W.C. Mack's copy of Ballet Shoes.

Posted by Ernie Cox / @erniec

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

10 Things to Know About Modern Librarians...

Have you read (and shared) this great post by Allegra D’Ambruoso on her blog "Trust me, I'm a Librarian."?

D'Ambruoso shares 10 things she would like to remind classroom teachers (or even the general public!) about our evolving roles and what we really offer to our school communities:
Oh, sure, the typical view of a librarian is an older woman, in a cardigan and cat-eye glasses, with a tight bun, shushing everyone who dares to make a sound. That may have been the case a long time ago, and may still be the case with some dinosaur librarians (they still exist, sorry!), but generally, librarians don’t like quiet. Quiet means that no one is collaborating. 

Thanks for sharing, Allegra! 

D'Ambruoso, Allegra. "10 Things Classroom Teachers Need to Know about Modern School Librarians." Trust Me Im a Librarian. N.p., 18 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. .

Mulitple Literacy Series: Mass Literacy

Mass Literacy can be described as getting literacy support to the masses.

The Mass Literacy mission statement is listed below.  How can school librarians and libraries support mass literacy?

Mass Literacy partners with public and private institutions and organizations to achieve these goals: 

  • Educate the public about literacy through coordinated media outreach.  Recognize and reward leadership and excellence in the field of literacy. 
  • Empower strong families and a literate workforce.
  • Encourage collaboration and partnerships that strengthen literacy. 
There are standards that correlate with mass literacy.

Articles and readings about mass literacy related to libraries. 

Next post multiple literacy series: Visual literacy 

IASL Board Summer Retreat...Making Things Happen

The IASL Executive Board recently met for our summer retreat.  It wasn’t at the Harry Potter Hotel though that would have been fun.  Instead we were at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa.  This beautiful 1913 hotel has many unique rooms and special settings like the library with a copper fireplace.

 Day 1 of the IASL retreat focused on activity and committee reports from Past President Susan Feuerbach, incoming President Dixie Forcht, and current President Christine Sturgeon.  Our presidents provided details on legislative updates, advocacy, and collaborations.  Becky Johnson, AASL Affiliate Assembly chair, detailed her work on behalf of IASL at a national level.  Carol Van Hook, ILA Liason, is excited to be working in the search for a new state librarian. Awards chair, Alicia Patten, has some exciting ideas in mind that will continue to build on the enthusiasm for the Iowa Award book lists.  Publications chair, Amy Power, continues to keep our webpage looking great and up to date.  Kathy Kaldenberg, our Professional Development chair along with Kate Lechtenberg, new to the committee, are already hard at work on the 2015 IASL Spring Conference. Chelsea Sims, Advocacy chair, is spearheading the delivery of our message in many formats.

After this intense day we enjoyed dinner at the restaurant at the Hotel Pattee.  The owner personally checked with us to make sure we were enjoying our stay. Everything at Hotel Pattee was fantastic. We toured the unique rooms and admired the artwork, furnishings, and architecture before we went bowling at the Hotel.  Afterward, we soaked in the hot tub before resting up for Day 2 of the retreat, which focused on our action plans and budget for 2015.

As membership chair, I am happy to say that our membership has grown!  Thank you for being a member.  The IASL leadership team is committed to advocacy for Iowa’s students and teacher librarians. There is plenty of opportunity to join the IASL leadership team so contact us if you want to be involved!

As July winds down and we get ready to head back to school take this quiz to see how well do you know the IASL board!

Which member:
1.    Has 6 children?
2.    Has a son who is a professional wrestler?
3.    Recently found a new favorite free museum in Little Rock Arkansas at Central High School?
4.    Did not get eaten by a cougar on the Pacific Crest Trail this summer?
5.    Has 3 photos at the Iowa State Fair?
6.    Will be hosting an exchange student from China this year?
7.    Planned to stop at the Kate Shelly Bridge and antique stores on the way home?
8.    Recently celebrated her one year anniversary?

 From left to right: Diane Brown, Christine Sturgeon, Chelsea Simms Yates, Alicia Patten, Sue Feuerbach, Becky Johnson, and Dixie Forcht.

1.    Dixie Forcht
2.    Sue Feuerbach
3.    Becky Johnson
4.    Diane Brown
5.    Carol Van Hook
6.    Christine Sturgeon
7.    Alicia Patten
8.    Chelsea Simms Yates

 A big thank you to Diane Brown for writing this post!

Monday, July 21, 2014

FlipGrid - Why be an active member of IASL?

IASL has a flipgrid!  
flipgrid is a place to ask questions and receive responses video style.  Get into the groove back to school teacher librarian style and put in your two cents worth.

Kathy Kaldenberg recommends viewing the flipgrid by Joyce Valenza.

Communicating with your legislators

Do you have a relationship with your local representative? Do they know how students are impacted by Teacher Librarians and their library programs?

Legislators can only focus on what they hear from their constituents. They need to hear what we teach, how we help students and teachers, how we lead in technology integration, and our vision for Iowa's School Libraries.

Call, tweet, email, or have coffee with your representatives. Prepare a short anecdote about your experiences in your school community - better yet, share a story from a student or teacher who has seen what library programs can do for you.  

Collect a few statistics to share about your program - especially if you could compare it to a school with or without a strong library program.

Not sure what to talk about with your legislator? Check the IASL website for our legislative agenda, position statements on issuing affecting Iowa, or our Advocacy Toolkit for ideas.

Want to know if your legislator is on Twitter?  Check the spreadsheet here!

Another great avenue for communicating with legislators is letters to the editor. Get your message into local opinion pages and they will hear it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Multiple Literacies Series: Digital Literacy

How are our discussions changing?  Are we all the experts in our participatory culture and learning?

After writing a series about the digital divide, I would like to springboard into investigating multiple literacies and how they enhance our roles as teacher librarians. The literacies include digital literacy, mass literacy, transliteracy, transmedia, media literacy, information literacy, and anything else I stumble upon.  Perhaps learning more about these topics will expand your current library practices into something unexpectedly good. I like taking ideas and concepts and make them my own.

This quote signifies my focus and purpose as to why I am writing the literacies series.
"Kids are coming up with the content then helping to promote it back to themselves. In an endless feedback loop between broadcast and social media." Generation Like l Frontline

Most posts will contain a definition, article highlights and questions to consider. Accompanying the information from the article will be a list of recommended readings.

What is Digital Literacy?
Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

A Digitally Literate Person:
•Possesses the variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats;

•Is able to use diverse technologies appropriately and effectively to retrieve information, interpret results, and judge the quality of that information;  

•Understands the relationship between technology, life-long learning, personal privacy, and stewardship of information;

•Uses these skills and the appropriate technology to communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, family, and on occasion, the general public; and

•Uses these skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.

Source: ALA Connect

Article about digital literacy.

Rheingold, Howard. "Stewards Of Digital Literacies." Knowledge Quest: American Association of School Librarians 41.1 (2012): 53-55. Print.

Highlights from the article.
  • "You can't participate without knowing how.  And cultural participation depends on a social component that is not easily learned alone or in a manual.  That's where school libraries and school librarians have a critically important part to play."
  • "I use the word "literacies" to ecompass the social element as well as the individual ability to encode and decode the medium."
  • "Digital literacy specialists...In school libraries and librarians, we already have a public place and a community of experts to help us learn the cognitive and social skills as well as the technical skills for navigating today's infosphere."
  • "Who else but school librarians are better equipped to facilitate these new literacies?  And with the massive bypassing of gatekeepers, how do we deal with the massive floods of inaccurate information, misinformation, disinformation?"
  • "Is all this digital stuff any good for us? Some people benefit; others left behind...the economic and education divide between the world's have and have nots is a real depends on now many people know how to detect bogus information online, mange their information, participate as a contributing digital citizen."
  • "Crap detection...thinking like a detective...if nothing else, helping people understand a little more than they do now about how to find information online and how to test that information, whether they find it on their own or someone else feeds it to them, is a crucial mission for today's librarians."
  • "School librarians have the opportunity to increase the amount of good information by helping their constituents learn how to become productive, mindful. effective participants."
  • "How teach those billions to become active participants...and use tools?"
  • Literacies are infectious, but they need stewards, catalysts, and teacher librarians to spread fast and far."

If you want to learn more about digital literacy and learning.

Feel free to add additional articles about digital literacy and learning in the comments section below. 

Next on the multiple literacy series mass literacy.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Digital Divide Series: The End of the Digital Divide?

Dear education administrators,

This letter is about the digital divide and how it relates to school libraries.  Here is a quote about net neutrality an issue that will impact your students and staff’s access to quality information in the future.   

“To control traffic is to control information”-David Carr

The purpose of this letter is to nudge administrators to become more active supporters of school libraries. Yes I understand that your educational courses may have not included information about school libraries but I am here to help clarify the potential of a school library. Those administrators who make it a priority to include school libraries with their action plans thank you.   

Here are some points to consider. Working as a teacher librarian our primary role is help others become effective users of information. A teacher librarian works well in the areas of technology, information literacy, research, and reader advisory.  I know that you are busy but if administrators aren't investing their energies to improve library resources that produces higher academic achievement, how are Iowa teacher librarians suppose to meet the criteria for the Outstanding School Library Award? Excelling in the categories below increases the likelihood that a school library will earn the award and I believe lessen the consequences of the digital divide.

  • Qualifications of Staff
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Library Management
  • Administrative Support

How do you view your school library program? Here are a series of questions that you can reflect upon.

  • Can your teacher librarian successfully apply for the Outstanding Library Award? What can you do to help?  
  • What percentage of your budget are you allocating to school libraries? After legislation was passed in Iowa a few years ago there is no requirement of a specific percentage of the budget designated to spend in school libraries.  
  • In terms of the digital divide, how can we keep an even playing field as much as possible? What roles do innovation and imagination play to find solutions?
  • Does your curriculum align with standards in a way that is clear and cohesive? Do you have a Information Literacy Program for K12?
  • How can you rely more on your teacher librarian to bridge the interests of teachers, tech and administration?

Librarians are your secret weapons to push the possibilities during the digital information age.  Feel free to read and ask questions about my previous posts about the digital divide.  My passion in the library is to help people find and apply the information that they need.  By adopting and adjusting our job descriptions to promote our skills, we can benefit educational systems so they can reach its highest potential. For starters check out the Department of Education School Library webpage. Let’s think about what motivates students to be efficient users of information so they are prepared to understand the possibility of “hiding information is a powerful tool of social control” (Popular Resistance).

Still Not Convinced?

Yes I understand that traditionally in Iowa educational decisions are made at the local level but we can make technology less daunting and more empowering by maximizing the skills of a teacher librarian.  Information literacy is here to stay and I think that your staff will rise to the occasion if you raise the bar for technology.  This is important because It is our duty to match our curriculum with jobs skills of the 21st century.  Since technology is changing so rapidly we must be equipped with the ability to adapt our perceptions, react proactively, and encourage collaboration in a positive manner to work towards bridging the digital divide together.  

Expectations, Challenges, and Tools or Potential Solutions

Expect more from your teacher librarians than checking and checking out books. I challenge you to think twice about setting him or her out to supervise more than one school library unless absolutely necessary. We value deep thinking. We need people to view the library as everything between the librarians ears.  Students have varying skills and abilities.  How much more can we widen the gap before bigger and economic and social problems arise? School libraries promote democracy.  By pumping resources into school libraries we are fueling ideas to deal with the issue of the have and the have nots by looking at solutions instead of blaming the victims.  Supporting school libraries means enabling people to take of themselves and each other with the power of knowledge.

The future of America

Sources of My Irritation

Digital Divide...Net Neutrality
Why not invest in libraries? How can you afford not to?
Expectations...teach higher level education to the few?
Communities dying
Worthlessness value less
No relevancy…your help is not needed here
Losing connections, we need connections for human progress
Triumph of the self. Are you opting out?
Resistance to it...learn what you can...move on
Educational equality...access is everything....keeping libraries progressive.
Shout it out! Information is Power!

Recommended reading from President Christine Sturgeon