Friday, September 30, 2011

Teaching with Primary Sources

You all know we can tell our students about the horrors of a pioneer's journey west in the 1850's until we are blue in the face, but there is just something special about reading about it from someone who was there.

Primary sources are a way for us to help students bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge of history and true, deep understanding of events that have transpired in our nation and our world. Here is just a wee smattering of some tools that may be beneficial to you or your teachers in using primary sources in your school library!

Library of Congress "Teaching With Primary Sources" Guide

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

National Archives: Teachers' Resources Page

Using Primary Sources on the Web (A Guide by the American Library Association)

Constitution app for iPhone and iPod Touch devices

 Declaration of Independence app for iPhone and iPod Touch

Smithsonian Institution

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Touted as one of the 25 best teaching tools by AASL, Edmodo just might become your favorite social networking site. One of the best features of this tool is that students can create an account without having an e-mail (an optional feature)! Edmodo allows the creation of a web page that features a calendar, grades, threaded discussions, assignments that students can download, and simple profiles that students can create without much difficulty. It is set up to look similar to Facebook, but with a focus on school. Students can choose a profile picture through e-mail, download from a digital camera, or simply choose one of the cute icons within the site. They can also choose their learning style and future career choice to round out their profile.

Create your own site and/or collaborate with a teacher on It's fast, easy, and it excites kids about learning! What's not to love? The web site itself says, "learn how in five minutes" and it's really true. I recently had a Social Studies teacher ask me about something fresh and new for his class. My answer? Edmodo! I had recently been browsing the AASL web site for ideas for myself. The students I have used it with are so excited to use it that they were through my assignment sheet in 15 minutes. At the end of the day I added two polls to ask them what they thought and I could see that kids had gotten on the site overnight. Not a single negative comment was written.

As with all social learning networks, the teacher has to closely monitor posts made by students.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jazzin' Up Atriuum!

*Today's post is by Meg Brooke, NBCT. Meg is one of the school librarians at Shades Valley/JCIB High School.

Atriuum has paved the way for us to have a great web tool to help with all of
our day to day library business. It also allows room for color and creativity in
our homepage appearance and visual searches that I’m sure everyone is using.
Something different that we’re trying this year is to add videos of author talks
or book trailers of some of our books so that students can click and perhaps be
more enticed to read that book! In our freshman studies we demonstrated how
the students could look at the videos when we showed them how to use Atriuum,
and there was a huge demand for the books with videos! The downside is that
finding the videos can be a time-consuming endeavor, and most of us just don’t
have that time. This project might be something you could get your student
assistants to work on, or maybe you have parent volunteers who could help. If
you have parents who want to help but can’t due to conflicts with their work,
perhaps this would be a project they’d want to tackle at home! You could always
have a list of books and publishers ready for anyone wanting to help with the
library program!

Getting Started:

We began our searching with the publisher's or the book's website. Scholastic
was a publisher that had some good videos. Googling is also an option,
but many of these will lead to youtube videos which can’t be seen on our
servers. You can get around this, however, by downloading this tool: http:// Next, upload the video to Teacher or School
Tube or your website and have Atriuum link to it from the unblocked source now.
I know……lots of steps AND time! This is a project for any down times (in a blue
moon!) or for helpers in the library to do.

*By the way, we may not be able to find videos, but we can certainly make our own, post to our websites, and link from there.  This would be a fun and educational library activity, and the library catalog would probably be viewed more than ever!

You’re close to the end now and the easy part as you’ll just have to enter the
URL and a note. It’s on the Add Item: Bibliographic Record page after Core and
Analytics and will say Media. You’ll just add the URL and a note. For the note we
usually write something like this: Click here to see author talk about book or Click
here to learn about the book. See below:

Try this if you haven’t already, and be prepared for the books to become instant

P.S.We’ve only just begun and aren’t experts on time management OR having
super success with videos. If you have suggestions, let’s blog about them and
help each other!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leaders in Librarianship

Check out some of these great thinkers in the school library world! Their blogs are fantastic sources for daily PD.

Doug Johnson: Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato Public School System in Minnesota

Joyce Valenza: School Librarian at Springfield Township High School in Pennsylvania

Kathy Schrock: former School District Tech Administrator, currently a professor of graduate coursework
-Discovery Education's Kathy Schrock page

Monday, September 26, 2011


Apple iPads are quickly becoming infused in the technology program of many schools in our district. Priced relatively low with serious computing power, iPads are becoming the tool of choice for supervisors, administrators, and teachers. iPads are overflowing with learning opportunities for children!

 Here are some great resources to peruse when making a splash with iPads:

Supporting English Learners

English Learners (nationally, the terminology has moved from ESL to ELL to now just EL) are continuing to become a very specialized group of patrons in our libraries. Our district has recently moved from the pull-out model to the coaching model for EL support and instruction, and the EL department at our central office has done a fantastic job of communicating effective ways to best assist English Learners in our schools.

Although the inclusion of bilingual literature in a collection is an essential way to meet the needs of EL students, I have noticed personally that many EL students prefer English-only books. This may be a cultural issue, the desire to conform, or it may simply be that there are more options in English-only. However, we should support our EL students with selections of bilingual literature in every genre of our collections.

-With their permission to share, here are some helpful links provided by our EL department regarding bilingual literature in school libraries:

*Scholastic Book Wizard can help with this as well. Here is an example of a search for "bilingual."

These are specific tips offered by the EL department for all educators in supporting the needs of English Learners:
1. Establish a classroom community that values and celebrates all languages and dialects. 
[Implications for librarians: include literature with a variety of dialects!]

2. Encourage parents to develop and maintain primary language at home. 
[Implications for librarians: provide translations of library documents and communication in native languages. There is a procedure in place for securing authentic translations from professionals at the central office level. For more info, see your EL Handbook!]

3. Offer primary language support through bilingual parent and community volunteers, peers, cross-age tutors, and extended day programs.

4. Learn and use some second language yourself with students. You don't have to be fluent. Just learn a few phrases and key vocabulary! 

5. Understand the differences between supporting and developing the primary language.
[Implications for librarians: celebrate a variety of cultures through creative programming!]

What are some ways you have provided language support for English Learners? Please share!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Fridays

On the first Friday of every month, the state department plans a webinar session to assist school librarians with professional development.

For many school librarians and in these difficult days of limited release time, these webinars are the preferred format format for professional development because it minimizes the time we are away from our schools. Because the state department offers these sessions twice monthly, this helps provide us with additional flexibility to choose the sessions that work best for our schedules. These are great opportunities for professional development!

See the list of sessions for the 2011-2012 school year HERE.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Sarah's Key (Tatiana de Rosnay)

*Today's post is written by Christina Sutton, the school librarian at Clay Elementary. 

Sarah's Key is a wonderful realistic picture of Paris during 1942 - and the "roundup" of Jewish people.  (The Paris police were actually the ones that did the "roundup" which adds to this terrible part of history.)  A lot of us may know about the Holocaust in general, but not necessarily the role that Paris and other places may have played in this part of history that changed our world forever.
Here is the School Journal write up that I found on Titlewave - it's a great summary.
 Library Journal (May 15, 2007)
Pivotal to this novel is the key in ten-year-old Sarah's pocket. It opens the cupboard in which she has hidden her younger brother from the French police, who are rounding up Jews in Paris. It is July 16, 1942, and Sarah, along with her parents and hundreds more people, are brought to the stadium VĂ©lodrome d'Hiver, where they spend several days without food or water before being sent to French camps en route to Auschwitz. Arriving at the camp Beaune-la-Rolande, Sarah is separated from her parents and manages to escape. Nearby farmers not only protect but eventually adopt her. In alternating chapters, we read of American-born journalist Julia Jarmond, who's working on a magazine story about the "Vel'd'Hiv" roundup on its 60th anniversary. Because the grandparents of Julia's husband moved into the apartment once owned by Sarah's family, we learn what Sarah discovers when she finally returns ten years later with the key-knowledge so traumatic that it changes Julia's life forever. This debut by French-born de Rosnay has been translated into 15 languages and will surely be an international best seller. Masterly and compelling, it is not something that readers will quickly forget. Highly recommended.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get Googly with G-Docs (Dion Staton)

*Dion Staton is the school librarian at North Jefferson Middle School. 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Setting up a Google Docs Account

While Google is not the preferred search engine for student use in completing projects, it does have many very useful extras that make our jobs much easier. One tool I really like is Google Docs. Google Docs is an online document storage solution that is easy to use and accessible from anywhere you have internet connection.

I regularly have my students use this tool so that they do not have to keep up with or purchase flash drives. It has worked very well for us, and the students like using the tool. The only real drawback to this tool is that it does not save in the new Microsoft .docx format. But it will save items in the older .doc format.

Now the following is the step-by-step instruction guide that I use with students who come to the library and do not have a way to save their work.

Setting up a Google Account
1.  Open Internet Explorer and type in the address bar the following:

2. Go to the top right hand corner and click the sign-in link.

3. Click on the link on the right hand side that says “Create a Google Account Now”

4. Fill out the required information. (Note that some students may not have an email account; if they don’t, you may have to first set them up an email account, or you can just use your email address to confirm the Google Docs account.)

5. Click the ‘I accept’ button.

6. Follow the instructions on the page to activate the account.

7. Once you click on the link that is sent to your email you will see this page.

8. Click the link shown below.

9. You are now in your account profile page and you can access and add all the Google tools from this page.

10. To add more tools to your products section click on the 'More' link in the bottom left of the screen.

11. You can add and explore many useful tools from this page. Have fun learning. The Google docs product is shown below. Click it to add it to the products line-up.

12. Once you add it to the products line-up click it to enter the world of Google Docs.

13. The first time you come in you will see this;

14. Click the blue “Learn More” link if you are unfamiliar with online document creation and storage. You can also upload documents you have already created at this point as well, or you can wait until later. You can use Microsoft, Open Office, and several other programs to write the documents or you can write and create from within Google Docs. Either way you choose, documents you save here are available from anywhere you have internet access.