Over the past year and a half we have been upgrading and maximizing our use of Destiny. For example, as a part of the updates to our library automation system and the tools that we make accessible for students, we started to look around at what we had that was being underutilized. One of the biggest resources are the online subscription database services from Gale that are provided by the Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS) to all districts in Oregon. Typically, these databases are used in the library; classroom teachers don’t know what they are, nor do they teach students the specific search skills needed to efficiently access information.
There are two ways that we have tried to make these databases more accessible. First, we have embedded several of the Gale Widgets on the front page of all of our libraries. By embedding the widgets, students can search the databases directly, and easily, from their library’s home page. At the elementary level, we have KidsInfoBits embedded; middle school students have access to Junior Reference Collection, Student Resources in Context, and Opposing Viewpoints in Context. At the high school, the Gale PowerSearch is displayed.
In addition, students can also include search results from these databases when they do a power search in Destiny. At each level, media library specialists selected the databases that they felt were most appropriate and the databases were configured in the Destiny Catalog under Search Setup/Enriched Content Searches so that students could search them directly.
Some of you may wonder why we selected both options. For strong readers, the Destiny’s power search works well. However, for struggling readers, the presentation of the database resources is simply too difficult to access.
Our next steps are to review our usage statistics. Essentially, we’ll be looking at how our usage of the OSLIS resources has changed over the past three years. In a quick look at the data, we can see some pretty drastic changes to our Kids InfoBits usage:
Year # of Sessions Total Searches
2010 651 4,444
2011 544 1,354
2012 4,633 13,472
2013 2,541 8,436
Finally, in our district, teachers are invited to attend technology integration field trips. I’d like to invite you to take a quick look at the short video and associated resources from Field Trip #6: Critical Issues in which a classroom teacher and the school librarian team up on language arts TAG students. The unit uses library databases (Opposing Viewpoints, Learn 360, Citation Maker) and Google Docs.
For more information:
“OSLIS is a K-12 web portal providing access to quality licensed databases within an information literacy framework. Learn more...
OSLIS is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library”
Lynn Lary is the Instructional Technology Specialist &
Media/Library Coordinator for the Springfield Public Schools in
Springfield, Oregon where she spends her time working with teachers and
teacher librarians to support 21st century teaching and learning.
In this second blog post, I hope to make you think and question what you do. Together we will begin the foundation for you to build your campus Learning Commons. What do you think of the words I chose in the title? Ideology - Philosophy - Manifesto? Think of these words and decide which one gives YOU more passion.
ideology : visionary theorizing
philosophy : 3b : a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought
manifesto : a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer
Today or tomorrow I want you to stand quietly in your library and look at it. Be critical of what you see! How is your entire room used? Are students and teachers in the library every day or every period? Are all of your resources being used daily? Which print or electronic resources are students using? How many choices are you giving your students? Are you teaching students the 21st Century skills needed for success?
For years I asked myself did my program meet the needs of all students, so my program supported the gifted student , the failing student, the fine art student, etc. These programs worked for several years on my campus. The culture was changing rapidly in education; however, we were not preparing for it. Why not? The 21st century skilled librarian is more important to students now than ever before. Information retrieval on the Internet is getting harder and harder especially if you seek valid information. Our students are overwhelmed with information, and so are our teachers. I have mentioned two changes one regarding education as a whole and one regarding accessing information.
Education needs to change. These TED videos by Sir Ken Robinson are thought provoking. Answer these two questions. What is your ideology of education? What can you do to instigate educational reform?
What did you think of the videos? Which one impacted you the most? Let me know your thoughts.
When I saw Ken Robinson speak he struck a nerve and ignited my passion for education. Robinson showed me the pieces of the puzzle in Changing Education Paradigms. That is when I knew I needed to change my library paradigm and began my quest. Thisquest lead me to the Learning Commons. I hope you feel EMPOWERED now this very second to begin transforming education in your library into a Learning Commons.
For years I have savored the words of David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Esther Rosenfeld . Their combined efforts produced, to me, an amazing book The Virtual Learning Commons. They state what a Learning Commons is:
"...a common, or shared, learning 'space' that is both physical and virtual. It is designed to move students beyond mere research, practice, and group work to a greater level of engagement through exploration, experimentation, and collaboration. A Learning Commons is more than a room or a website. A Learning Commons allows users to create their own environments to improve learning. A Learning Commons is about changing school culture, and about transforming the way learning and teaching occur. "
Reflect back on what Ken Robinson said and what you just read. Are you seeing a different picture? Can you start putting the pieces of the Learning Commons puzzle together? Let's begin!
When you move from the traditional school library to the Learning Commons you will remove top down control and instigate behavioral expectations and choice. Giving up control of your environment could be one of the hardest pieces of the Learning Commons for you. I am not saying the environment is loud and uncontrolled. I am saying you establish behavioral expectations of students and teachers for environmental control of the Learning Commons. Next let's start taking a good look at your space and make assessments. I will go into more detail one these assessments in later blog posts. I want to show you the pieces of the puzzle now. Lay the pieces of your puzzle on the table and then we will build it together.
The assessment puzzle.
Next you need to conduct assessments of the following areas:
class seating areas
collaborative seating areas
21st century skills
In Alan November's book Who Owns the Learning he talks about allowing the student to drive the learning. In the Learning Commons you are doing the same thing, allowing students to drive the learning by providing them access to technology and connecting them to the world of information thus allowing for creativity. In this book I read about James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, who wanted to find a better way to use the library space. He found a model that made sense for the school's new library in a open, collaborative space at the Google offices in Mountain View, California. Cushing Academy took out bookshelves and re-purposed the area into a collaborative, common study and interactivity space.
He also provided areas where students could work in groups of two or more. James call these areas "micro-climates of interactivity." Take a look at the Fisher-Watkins Library at Cushing Academy. One thing that James Tracy did, which surprised me, was he moved the faculty mailroom into the library so every teacher would have to go there every day.
My friends I have shared a lot of information with you. Are you excited about your future? Are you ready to lead the charge? I hope this blog has made you think of your Ideology - Philosophy - Manifesto for your Learning Commons.
Keep in touch and until we talk again... have fun with your puzzle.
Works Cited Loertscher, David V. Virtual Learning Commons: Building a Participatory School Learning Community. N.p.: Learning Commons Press, 2012. Print.
November, Alan C. Who Owns the Learning?: Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age. Bloomington: Solution Tree, 2012. Print.
- - -, prod. "Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!" YOUTUBE. N.p., 2010. Web. 1 May 2013.
Standards for the 21st-century Learner in Action. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.
was born in Oakland California, and after two boys finally her parents
had their one daughter. After JoAnn's father retired from the Army they
moved to Loveland, Colorado where she graduated from high school.
JoAnn obtained her M.Ed then MLIS both in Colorado. For twelve
years she taught at Poudre School District in northern Colorado before
working at Cherry Creek School District.
Because Denver hosted
the ISTE conference, JoAnn's life took a dramatic change. While looking
through the ISTE website, she discovered a job opening for Director of
Innovative Resource Media Systems. Being the wild Irish woman that she
is, JoAnn applied for the job and six months later moved to Houston,
Texas. Because her loving family supports her, JoAnn can honestly tell
you this she has a wonderful job and she is a lucky woman. JoAnn's three
children live in three states, so frequent flyer miles are her best
friend. She has two grandchildren and two grand-dogs who she spoils
every time she visits.
It’s a bit “old news” by now, but a study in 2009 showed that “study suggests that buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them.” And one even older, conducted in the 1970’s concluded that winners of millions of dollars, such as can be won in a lottery, were no happier than those who were far less financially successful.
While I often think that I’d love to test that theory myself, I got to thinking about experiences, spending priorities and libraries.
This year we had several opportunities to have guest speakers in the library. It’s not cheap to invite an author, storyteller, poet, or other speaker to come to a library to speak at anywhere from 2-4 sessions and since most libraries don’t have a huge budget – and often have no budget at all – deciding on whether or not to have a speaker come in vs. purchasing a computer can be a difficult decision.
But I had such a fabulous experience reading the book “The Distance Between
Us” by Reyna Grande that I knew I wanted students to hear her speak. Her book describes her life in Mexico as a child left behind by her parents seeking a better life in the United States. She endured neglect at the hand of her grandmother and lived in a world of stark poverty. She was able to overcome this childhood trauma when she herself came to the United States. I felt her story was one that would resonate with students in my school. I was right. They loved her book. Deciding to have her come to visit was easy.
A few weeks later, I had been working with some history students as well as some students with an English assignment. Both assignments had all the students talking about the concepts of ‘ethos’, ‘logos’, and ‘pathos’. Some of them just weren’t “getting” the differences, much less how to apply those ‘big idea’ thoughts to their assignments. This got me to thinking about my friend Joe McHugh. Joe is a storyteller who had spoken at a California School Library Association conference a few years back, and who later came to my school to speak with students.
His talk called “Slaying the Gorgon” tells the story of media, myth…and the message. In his talk he describes how the media mixes up the elements of mythos, and pathos and uses them to their advantage – and has done so down through the millennia.
Using story, images, songs, and instruments, he brings these ‘big idea’ concepts to life in a way that students understand.
He and his wife, Paula came to present to classes over a two-day period. At the end of each presentation, students rushed up to speak with him about some of the ideas. A few stopped him on the way out to his car to chat. His ideas sparked some discussions back in the classroom.
Should I have spent my library budget on these two speakers? Certainly had I decided otherwise, I’d be two computers richer. But I have to admit, that when I saw students – lots of them – go to the shelves after hearing Reyna speak to pick up books by the Latina authors she mentioned, and when, weeks later I see them still passing those books around to each other, I got to thinking that maybe I invested in the right thing.
Students today spend so much time interacting with text; either writing it or reading it. Text is good. I love text. But many students don’t get the opportunity to meet the kinds of people who are in our community doing things. “Access” isn’t always about getting to an iPAD or a computer. Access can mean that students be exposed to the rich variety of people, activities and interactions that could be available to them, and whom they might never get to know about without an introduction from educators. Many of us already book author visits. With a little thought, we can give our students far more of the world by having interesting but “ordinary” people drop by.
Do experiences always have to cost money? Absolutely not. A while back when I worked in the Junior High we staged bi-monthly “brown bag lunch” experiences. Students came into the library with their lunch and community members came in to show off their talents and share their own experiences. We had a police dog come in and locate hidden things in the shelves; a make-up artist did “mini-makeovers”; a television dog came with his owner to show students fun tricks to teach their dogs; and once we had a band from the high school come in and play an hour of lunch time rock & roll.
The librarian at that junior high now, Valerie, stages origami festivals and offers challenges that students can participate in. These are all fun events, easy to put on, and cost no money. Working with our local independent bookstore we get lots of YA authors on their circuit across the country. For every experience I’ve had to decide whether I could afford or not… and then did decide to “go for it” I’ve been rewarded two-fold (or more!). • Spoken word poets turned the world around for two Latino students who thought that school had nothing for them. • The actor dog brought one student into the library for the first time. • A loner, really-smart student caught a presenter’s eye one year and they chatted long after the presentation ended.
Doctors, dentists, llama owners….
Yeah, it’s worth it.
Williams is a high school librarian and an advocate for school libraries.You
can contact her via email, or leave a comment below.
1. Citation: San Francisco State University. "Buying Experiences, Not Possessions, Leads To Greater Happiness." ScienceDaily, 17 Feb. 2009. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. 2. The Minimalists: http://www.theminimalists.com/scientific/ 3. The Press Democrat: article & picture http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20130129/ARTICLES/130129495/0/search
One of my least favorite jobs every year is trying to set up a volunteer schedule. I'm luckily in that I do have some support staff who help with processing materials, checking in materials, and all the other clerical stuff that has to happen. My teachers are also great about helping with checking out materials. We have our Destiny Library Automation System setup so the kids can do self-checkout and it makes the process run pretty smoothly.
Our library has a very liberal check out policy. We allow students to checkout as many items as they can be responsible for. We encourage kids that if they want to check out more than five items they should have a good reason. As a result, most of our kids take five items. 5 items x 530 kids = a whole lot of books coming and going every week.
The one thing that I can never seem to find enough help with is - SHELVING!
The Road to Finding Helpers to Shelve Books
Shelving books-no one likes it. Goodness knows I hate to shelve books. Philosophically I decided a long time ago that I should spend my time focused on working with teachers and kids. If the books pile up, then they pile up. Now every once in a blue moon (I say maybe once a decade) we get so far behind that I'll sneak in on a weekend to shelve books. This is a rare, rare occasion.
I've probably shared this story before, but my mom was not surprised that I became a librarian because as a young child I used to pull off all the books I could reach on the bookshelf. She said I was never very good at putting them back. If you ask my assistant, I haven't gotten any better at that. :) Mostly it is a perception thing. I don't want an administrator to see me focused on that. I know the shelving of books has to be done, but there has to be other ways to get it done.
I've had a few friends that have had wonderful success with Jr. Librarian clubs where the kids help us shelve the books. We've tried it a couple of times and both experiments have failed miserably. I can't figure out the exact reason why this has failed. Is it the schedule, the other activity choices available to kids, or just a lack of interest? Whatever the case, I am always envious of those programs. They just don’t seem to work for us.
Calling Parent Volunteers
So, every year begins the hunt for parent volunteers. We always make a plea to parents on back to school night for help. We are always hoping we can rope in a few Kindergarten moms and if we’re lucky maybe we can keep them until 5th grade!! We really welcome anyone else who would like to spend some quality time helping us put back the books. We send home flyers with the newsletter with our call for help. This is moderately successful. We start out the school year strong with volunteers and as the year goes along, they start to drop off as life gets busy. We certainly understand, so if we end the year with one or two dedicated folks, we are thrilled!
Teachers to the Rescue
This year, we went searching for volunteers in the same manner as always, but I had an "aha" moment. I've always tried to get retired teachers into the library to help with the book fair. They love to come in and see some of their former students, have lunch in the teacher’s lounge, and catch-up with their friends. But, this year it dawned on me we could utilize them even more.
Last year we had a few teachers retire that just weren't sure about the whole retired thing, so I said if they wanted to come in they could volunteer in the library. Guess what? They took me up on it. We now have three former teachers who come in each week -- pretty consistently. It has saved us since our usual parent volunteers didn’t work often this year.
But, shelving isn't for everyone, so when our annual inventory looked like it wasn't going to get done, we brought in the retired teachers to also do the scanning for us. It is taking a while, but they just come and go as their schedule allows and slowly but surely we're getting the library inventoried.
I don't know if these retired teacher volunteers is something that will last forever, but sure has been a windfall this year. Hopefully we can keep twisting their arms to keep coming back until the next round of teachers retires!
It Is a Long and Winding Road
We're thinking more and more in terms of specific projects, too. We have one Mom that loves to cover books, so when a big order of donations got processed we call her and she's been coming in a few days each week to begin to knock out these books. The targeted calls for help seem to be much more successful then when we try to get someone to come in every week or every couple of weeks.
What strategies or tips do you have for recruiting volunteers or getting the books back on the shelves?
Carl is the librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Indiana. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or @caharvey2 on Twitter. He is a Past-President of AASL, and an author
of professional books for school librarians. He blogs at Library Ties.
When I was assigned to teach in the library two and a half year ago, I spent the year happily engaging students in various reading activities, information and technology literacy skills, teaching students how to create BookTubes (similar to a movie trailer but for a book) and also collaborating with teachers. Though I was constantly challenged with my workload (I had no idea librarians worked so hard), I really enjoyed what I was teaching and was thoroughly enjoying the new, updated library. Surprisingly, at the end of the year, I was informed I had been transferred to teach library at another school due to changes in FTE.
In my last post I briefly mentioned the state of my school’s library when I first arrived eighteen months ago: sixteen antiquated bubble Macs operating without high speed internet and no wireless access or digital media tools like a video or still camera. Web 2.0 tools, teaching information and technology literacy, and creating BookTubes were out of the question in this outdated library.
I contacted our district’s library coordinator, Lynn Lary, who just happens to also be our district’s Instructional Technology Specialist and asked for some ideas. She worked to push the completion of the high speed internet installation which had been delayed for a variety of reasons. She also personally visited my library and brought with her the head of our technology department, Brad McEntire.
The parent community at Walterville is very supportive and one day while visiting with a parent, who happened to be very involved in our school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), I shared my technology woes. She suggested I approach the PTO for some help. There just happened to be a PTO meeting the very next day. I met with the PTO and shared with them how I would like to create BookTubes with students but that it was difficult to do with the lack of technology in our library. I mentioned the importance of teaching information literacy skills and that these skills would be challenging to teach given the current state of our library. Parents were very receptive to my ideas and the next day I was told the PTO was purchasing four desktop iMacs for the library! Oh my, you can imagine my excitement!
I then applied for a grant from our local education foundation, Springfield Education Foundation (SEF), and was awarded enough money to purchase three more iMacs, making a total of six new desktop iMacs for our library! I was ecstatic! To top it all off, shortly after receiving my new iMacs, Lynn and Brad returned to my school to help me brainstorm how to organize my library and its new technology. While we were making a plan I noticed they were planning for more computers than I had. When I pointed this out, Brad and Lynn looked at me with a smile and told me they were going to match the number of computers I had received for our library! That’s right, I was getting seven more iMacs for our library for a total of fourteen new iMac computers!
They left me with that wonderful news and my dilemma of how to arrange all of these beautiful new computers in our school’s library. What a wonderful problem to have! Tune in next time to hear about how our library’s technology resources continued to grow with iPads and ebooks.
Have you updated your library? How did you do it? Shar e y0ur experience in the comments below.
Amy Page is a K-5 library media specialist with a passion for reading,
learning, technology, travel, and adventure. You can connect with her
by leaving a comment below. Check out her library blog.
The inventory resource center is your one-click stop for tips, help and more to take the headache out of your end of year inventory process. It doesn't have to be long and painful. As part of your support agreement, Follett Software has centralized all of its online resources to address your most common inventory questions. Visit the Follett Software Inventory Resource Center 24/7 located here for tips, guides and all the information you need to complete your inventory process.
Resources you will find when you login to the customer portal for end of year inventory tools are:
Online inventory help-Click on your product to see what's available.
Complimentary eLearnings that guide you through inventory from start to finish.
Pre-recorded webinars to view at your convenience.
Best practice for a successful inventory
While you are in the customer portal, check out our new support page. Here you will quickly find answers to frequently asked questions. We have a number of support articles available, and new and meaning articles are added every day.
Speaking of improvements, check out Follett's Guest blogger Andrea Keller in her newest blog post, "Spring Cleaning the Classroom". In this blog post, our guest blogger Andrea Keller explores her classroom with you and her ideas and tips for organizing.
I am Jo! My sentimental father named me after my maternal grandmother and mother JoAnn. However, the hospital did not follow his orders giving me a space between the Jo and Ann. Thus my life has been interesting and different since the day I was born. Dad saying her name is JoAnn not Jo. I imagine you noticed I said "orders". Yes my father was in the Army and proud of it especially since he was born in Ireland.
I have family in Ireland and have traveled back to see them many times. What a cultural change it is going there and I love it! I have taken my children there as well to embrace our relatives. Luckily for you readers I have kissed the Blarney Stone three times and it gave me the gift of gab! Now kissing the stone is not an easy task because you do not want to fall into the moat. Here is a picture of Maneesh preparing to kiss the stone. Thank goodness for the steel bars!
My life experiences have enhanced the way I teach because from day one I made it applicable. Have you ever heard a student say, "What's in it for me?" Well some times I find myself thinking the same thing about educational changes. Have you? Heavens when my children went through the why stage I thought I'd lost my mind. Those years found me talking and immediately explaining the why BEFORE they asked.
Maybe that's why I love taking my family hiking. We walk and talk for hours. Those hikes are where I learned Mom does not have all the answers and that is okay. We cannot always be expected to know the answer right then and there can we?
Hiking taught me a valuble lesson. In order to hike to the summit, I must simply put one foot in front of the other and just keep going. I also wanted my children to reach the top of the mountain so I never gave up on them. It was worth it the day we reached the top together. Why? The view is amazing and you can see forever!
Join me on this journey of our from School Libraries to Learning Commons!
JoAnn was born in Oakland California, and after two boys finally her parents had their one daughter. After JoAnn's father retired from the Army they moved to Loveland, Colorado where she graduated from high school. Later
JoAnn obtained her M.Ed then MLIS both in Colorado. For twelve years she taught at Poudre School District in northern Colorado before working at Cherry Creek School District.
Because Denver hosted the ISTE conference, JoAnn's life took a dramatic change. While looking through the ISTE website, she discovered a job opening for Director of Innovative Resource Media Systems. Being the wild Irish woman that she is, JoAnn applied for the job and six months later moved to Houston, Texas. Because her loving family supports her, JoAnn can honestly tell you this she has a wonderful job and she is a lucky woman. JoAnn's three children live in three states, so frequent flyer miles are her best friend. She has two grandchildren and two grand-dogs who she spoils every time she visits.
When JoAnn isn'tworking you will find me reading, hiking, biking, camping and traveling the world!
April may be the cruelest month, but as the director of a high school writing center, it may just be my favorite month. As you probably know, it is National Poetry Month, the month when I get to thrust upon my co-workers my own literary agenda. Because I do have an agenda. My job is just my vehicle in my mission of corrupting young minds by engaging them in the act of reading poetry. I dream of a world in which the poetry section in Barnes and Noble actually takes up more space than the Teen Vampire section.
And fortunately, I have many co-conspirators. Organizations like the Poetry Foundation offer many activities you can use to bring poetry into the classroom. Activities so well put together, you will feel like you are taking the easy way out by not crafting your own amazing poetry filled curriculum.
Here you will find ideas for participating on April 18th and a stack of poems you can print and handout. Last year, our writing center distributed poems to all staff and to students who visited us. Throughout the day, teachers shared their pocket poems and offered students extra credit to share the poem they brought. We had our army of student writing coaches share their poems throughout the day, too.
Elizabeth Joy Levinson runs a high school writing center and library
on the west side of Chicago. She has been teaching for more than ten
years, with experience in museum education, private education, and in
the classroom. She is also a writer with work appearing in several
journals, including Grey Sparrow, Hobble Creek Review, Up the Staircase,
and Apple Valley Review.
The Follett One Search Webinar- From Launch to Use had over 70 attendees today. Andrew Dutcher, Middle School/High School teacher librarian at Dryden Central School, shared his District's story with us today. Affectionately known as “Captain Podcast” by some of his teachers, Andrew explores how Web 2.0 tools and other educational technologies can be integrated into classroom instruction to promote student thinking and learning. He earned his MS from Buffalo State College and his MLS from the University at Buffalo. He is the host and producer of the Visitor Showcase Podcast. Andrew can also be found on Twitter, his handle is @DrydenLibrarian. Andrew shared his experience in training his district on the use and value of OneSearch, setting up patrons, and a lot of practial experience and real world use of OneSearch by both students and teachers in his district.
We microblogged the webinar on Twitter. Here is the digest:
Today, April 11, 2013 at at 11 a.m. CST tune into our #Follett webinar: One Search- From Launch to Use. Andrew Dutcher from Dryden Central School District in New York will share how his district set up and uses One Search.
Our webinars are social. During the webinar we will be microblogging the event live on Twitter from the handle @follettsoftware using the hashtag #FollettLearning. Today we want you to be a part of the conversation. Share our webinar with the Twitterverse today by tweeting your takeaway to @follettsoftware using the hashtag #FollettLearning. You will be entered into a drawing to win one of three iTunes giftcards.
Get social, share your knowledge and good information, gain a chance to win an iTunes giftcard. We'll see you later today.
Rebecca Levinson is the Manager of Online and Social Media Marketing for Follett Software. Social media is her passion and blogging is her first love. You can find Rebecca on Twitter @follettsoftware or @rebeccalev.