Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Does your admin know you are #FutureReady?

Pssst!  Your administrator is probably heading to the School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) Conference next week on the 3rd and 4th!  Wouldn't it be great to give him/her something to think about before heading to Des Moines?

The federal Office of Educational Technology has been working on a campaign to improve connectivity, access, professional learning, and innovation under the name Future Ready. One of their initiatives specifically addresses the role of Teacher Librarians in these efforts!



Be sure to check this out, and forward it on to your administration!  

Want specifics to suggest to your administrator about how they can support you and your #FutureReady-ness?  This great blog post, from Texas Teacher Librarian Carolyn Foote, titled "Unleashing the Power: Future Ready Libraries" lists many great ideas!

How can administrators help?
If you are an administrator, how can you support librarian as leaders? Think of the list below as a starting point for optimizing the role of your librarian.  The students deserve this educational powerhouse on their side.
  • Contemplate your own stereotypes about libraries and talk with your librarian about them.  How can you work as partners to bring change to your school?
  • Add your librarian to your campus leadership committees and district leadership committees.
  • If you have an energized librarian, empower them.  If you have a librarian willing to learn, support them.  If you have a librarian who needs to grow, grow them.  
  • Send librarians to conferences that grow their leadership abilities (Like SLJ Summit, ISTE, Learning and the Brain, NSBA, NASSP, Tech Forum, state Library conferences, Makerspace conferences, Edcamps, and more).  
  • Share technology funding with the library since it is used by all students as a way of building equity of access and innovation in the library space.
  • Provide adequate staffing in the library including paraprofessionals and certified librarians so that the librarian can participate in school leadership teams, collaborate with teachers effectively, run new initiatives, and be mobile and flexible.  While librarians can lead from all over the school, the space that librarians manage is also a hub for learning–so there must be enough support to both effectively run the library as well as allow the librarian to be mobile.
  • Rethink the elementary “rotation” so that librarians have more time to work flexibly with a variety of students and to collaborate with teachers and school leaders.
  • Build equity into the school’s resources by adequately funding library resources, (both digital and print) to be sure ALL students at a school have access.
  • Incorporate librarians into space planning (both of library spaces and other collaborative spaces.). Of most staff on campus, they probably have put more thought into space planning and creative design than most of the rest of the staff due to the nature of their jobs.  (It is surprising how often librarians are not part of the library design at new schools, for example).   
  • Engage the role librarians can play in building the “genius” in our students through personalized learning opportunities–the library truly is the anti-silo of the school, where students can choose their learning.
  • Draw upon librarian expertise in regards to internet filtering for best practices and freedom of student access.
  • Support your librarian’s efforts to build a PLN online that can benefit the whole school community. 
  • Draw on your librarian’s knowledge in curation and organizing to help with curricular tasks like building local OER materials for the district, materials on copyright, new tech and research tools, etc.
  • Include your librarian as an expert provider of PD, or invite librarians as keynoters or trainers on topics of all sorts in your district–new tools, research instruction, engaging student readers,etc.  A powerful way to disseminate best practices to students is through librarian’s outreach to teachers.
  • Use your library as a place to build a PD collection of materials for teachers and teacher collaboration areas.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Read for the Fun of It!

"Read for the Fun of It" is the theme of this year's Teen Read Week, an annual literacy initiative of YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). Teen Read Week takes place Oct. 9-15, 2016. Check out these free Teen  Read Week resources at www.ala.org/teenread. Join the conversation on Twitter at #TRW16.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Share your Library's Annual Report!

We all know that the end of the school year is a crazy busy time, and it can be hard to find time to reflect on our own work. However, we also know the importance of sharing the impact our school libraries have with our community.  Creating an annual report is a vital part of communicating our value with our stakeholders, advocating for our students need for a school library, and for educating others about what our jobs really are.

Still not convinced?  Here are Library Girl's  reasons for creating an annual report. Jennifer LeGarde presented at the IASL Conference in 2015.


  1. Assuming others know what you do is stupid silly.  As librarians we constantly lament that we are the only ones who understand our jobs.  But, if we don't share the scope of that work and how it results in student outcomes, if other people don't get it, we kind of have no one to blame but ourselves.  An annual report represents an effective way to share what we do.
  2. Our work doesn't matter if it doesn't impact students.  The annual report is a great way to draw a line between what happens in the library and student outcomes.  Once students have worn their number 2 pencils down to their nubs, comparing testing data to library data is the only way for us to know if our work made a measurable difference.
  3. "We're in this together" is a message we cannot send too many time.  Using the annual report to reflect on student and library data shows teachers and administrators that we are just as invested in student growth as they are.  Instead of running around fretting about our inventories, the annual report gives us the opportunity to show that we are fretting about the same thing every other adult in the building is fretting about at the end of the year: student achievement.
  4. Reflection makes us better.  Period.  Think of it this way: would you rather your own child be taught by a teacher who reflects on his/her work and strives to make instruction better as a result of that reflection OR would you hope your child's teacher simply pulls out the same lessons year after year, regardless of their success?  Exactly.

On our Facebook page, several Iowa TLs shared links to their annual reports for this school year.  Take a look below, and share yours in the comments!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Facilitating the Sharing of Literacy Resources for families of ELLs



From the Iowa Reading Research Center July newsletter: 

Dr. Schmitz’s presentation at the IRA conference introduced a brand new resource on the IRRC website: Facilitation guides for family liaisons to introduce families to online literacy resources for children who are still learning English. We would like to extend our thanks to Vinh Nguyen and his staff from the Des Moines school district, Principal Julie Robinson of Mann Elementary in Iowa City, and ELL Consultant Lynn Tiemann of Grant Wood AEA for their assistance in reviewing these materials and providing helpful feedback. 

Teacher librarians may find one of these resources particularly helpful. The facilitation guide for helping parents understand how to make reading with your child most effective is a script for a great literacy night activity! 

Another guide leads you through introducing families to the International Children's Digital Library website.

Check them out!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Best Websites & Apps for Teaching and Learning



AASL recently announced the list of the best websites and apps for teaching and learning of 2016.


Already familiar with some of these tools?  Share how you have used them in the comments!