Thursday, December 17, 2015

In the News: Teacher Librarian Miranda Kral

Check out this great article highlighting the work of Iowa Teacher Librarians - specifically, Miranda Kral of Solon!

It's so great to see this positive leader represented in the press - thanks for all you do, Miranda!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Teaching the Online Catalog

We're all familiar with the quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." When it comes to catalog searching, this is entirely true! So when and how are you teaching your students to use your online catalog?

We begin our work in second grade when we talk about the different kinds of searching our catalog allows--keyword, title, author, subject, and series. We use task cards and work in both large and small groups to practice using the catalog. Not only are students using the catalog; they are also searching for books on the shelves and familiarizing themselves with spine labels. After much practice, students show their skills with an online catalog bingo card. (A few examples appear below.)

My colleague Christi Taylor (@ctator58) was helpful in planning my lessons, suggesting the task cards and offering handouts, including the catalog bingo card. Sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest also offer a wide variety of resources related to this work. How and when are you teaching your students "to fish" the online catalog so they can become independent library users?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Lesson: Genre Review

Earlier this year, I blogged about the change we made with the genrefication of our fiction section of the library. It has been a huge success! Our circulation is up, especially in our fiction section. I feel that students are able to find books and genres that they enjoy easier. It also helps when students come looking for a specific genre, to give them some independence. I can point them to the section of the library, and recommend a title or an author, but also allow them to explore.  

Every year in the fall, I have done a genre lesson with all the English classes. This year, this lesson was particularly important with the change that we were making to our fiction shelving. I wanted students to feel confident that they could locate books within different fiction genres.
For this lesson, I created a Google Doc. This Google Doc was shared with students through Google Classroom so each student had a copy. In the Google Doc, students identified characteristics of the genre (i.e. Fantasy- magical creatures or made up worlds). Students then went to the shelf to find a book that they might like that would fit this genre. Students then brought this book back and recorded the title and author. Students repeated the process for all the genres.  
  • I did this as a 1 period (45 minute) lesson. Our English teachers have a double block.
  • Students started on different “parts” of the activity so that students were not all on the same genre at the same time.
  • While students each filled out their own Google Doc, students worked in partners.

Here is the link to the Google Doc that I created for students.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Consider Coding in Your School Library!

With the Hour of Code celebrations kicking off next week in coordination with Computer Science Education Week (December 7-13), students across the nation will be exploring the basics of computer programming and get an introduction to computer science.

Will your school library be part of the celebration?

Why Hour of Code?

The statistics speak volumes.

According to's site, right now there are 3,930 computing jobs waiting to be filled here in Iowa. Nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as found via, "67% of all new jobs in STEM are in computing."

In a society which grows more and more dependent on technology, we need people who can "speak" the language of computers in order to not only keep up with the technology we already have, but, more importantly, to create the technology we've never imagined. How can we expect this to happen if we aren't offering our students the opportunity to explore the skills they'll need? By hosting Hour of Code events, we are allowing our students a deepen their understanding of our technological world and unlock hidden potential and interests that have implications for their futures.

And beyond the implications for our students' future (and our own), there are additional benefits to hosting Hour of Code events for our students. I love this infographic created by Sylvia Duckworth:

Image via @sylviaduckworth

I can bear witness to the "hidden" advantages of providing students the chance to explore coding. As I watched my 2nd through 5th grade students work their way through our Hour of Code events last year, I saw them engaged in authentic and meaningful problem-solving, critical thinking, analyzing and collaborating practices. Students who often hesitant to try new things were willing to take a risk and learn from their mistakes. Students who often rush through work were engaged and determined to finish each challenge placed before them. That's learning at it's best!

So why should libraries be involved in the Hour of Code?

Libraries have always been about empowering our students, encouraging exploration of interests, and supporting literacy. Hour of Code provides our students with an opportunity to do all three.

As a side note, some might argue the coding is a far stretch to literacy. I would argue that your definition of literacy might need to be redefined. Coding is a literacy that requires students to be fluent (read and write) in the language of computers in order to embrace the future and be part of developing the technology that is so much a part of our lives.

Libraries are uniquely situated to serve the needs and interests of all students.  Libraries are intended to support, extend and enhance the traditional curriculum delivered in the regular classrooms. Hosting Hour of Code events is just another extension of these principles.

And like any librarian, you know that you don't have to have all the answers. You just need to know where you can find the resources!

Hour of Code Resources:

Image of the Lewis Central Hour of Code Symbaloo (linked below)
My colleague, Josh Allen, the Technology Integration Specialist was kind enough to create an Hour of Code Symbaloo (pictured above) for our students at Titan Hill Intermediate full of links to online coding games. tutorial videos and information about coding apps. Feel free to use the link to explore with your students as well!

And as an ultimate collection of coding ideas and resources, our friend Shannon Miller has put together a Coding Padlet as a place to reference and share all things coding, just in time for Hour of Code next week!