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.