Monday, February 25, 2013

Genre-fying Your Collection?

Opinions abound on genre-fying a collection. According to Affiliate Assembly at AASL meeting in Seattle, AASL has received many questions on this issue. So, the genre-fying session at ALA was born: "Dewey vs. Genre Shelving in School Libraries Discussion Group".

Here is one of the questions that AASL has received: "Is this a viable way for shelving? If so, please set some standards."

Hilda Weisberg moderated the session. Attendees can listen to the audio version sent in an e-mail blast from ALA, but if you weren't there here are some of the panelists' opinions.

Panelist 1 went on to discuss her community not having a lot of "high professionals" so she likes to "keep things simple". She said kids move and go to a different school. Example: 796 is sports no matter where you go she said.

Panelist 2 used Ebsco to re-categorize her fiction books. Students did all of the work and they made new signage. She's keeping them in alphabetical order within the genres.

Panelist 3, "Chris" yelled the whole time and got the audience riled up! He is against genre-fying and said "Why not locate the army books out of vehicles and locate them elsewhere?!" He said why not develop a system to fit with subjects?

Panelist 4 from Arkansas said her area caters to retirees and why would we ever want to change a system that has worked for years? She argued that perhaps it is "not the system, but the teaching that needs to be changed" in regards to Dewey. She also argued that Dewey is universal.

Panelist 5 is a cataloging instructor and she is "not totally opposed to the bookstore model". However, she believes Dewey is "effective and useful", but she agrees that it is okay to genre-fy fiction area, not non-fiction. She advised using subject headings: "they allow you to have a little more detail".

Panelist 6 argued that the area of focus should be what students read. She highlighted the rise of e-books and the fact that students are sophisticated consumers. Tagging, sharing, and yelp are on the rise she said, and everyone has adapted. She used hash tags on Twitter as an example. Our systems are too antiquated for this though.

So, the work is cut out for anyone who decides to take on this task, but I also think it can be a lot of fun. It can allow you to really get to know your genres and get into great discussions with students about which fiction goes where.

Irondale Middle School shelves in the midst of genre-fying the fiction collection
As for me, I am a combination of Panelist 2 and Panelist 6. Which panelist do you agree with?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Training for the Alabama Virtual Library

If ever you are in need of training on a specific database or would like to offer this as PD for your teachers, contact the AVL through this site to schedule it. There are even opportunities for you to become a trainer, if your schedule so permits!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Collaboration at its Best!

Collaboration can be achieved through short meetings, forms, and tweaking annual projects that teachers turn to year after year.

It can turn to fun when the teachers are so "on fire" with teaching and collaborating with you that they say things like, "What cha got next?" That's when  it no longer feels like such hard work.

The picture here is of an 8th grade Social Studies class getting help from their teacher with downloading a video on Islam.

In the January 2013 issue of School Librarian Monthly, A Matrix for School Librarians: Aligning Standards, Inquiry, Reading, and Instruction is available. The columns include CCSS, AASL Standards Indicators, Inquiry Process, Reading Comprension Strategy, and Learning Applications.

In Alabama we use the College- and Career-Ready Standards (we added a lot of standards, such as cursive writing). Here is a look at one line of the Matrix graphic and how it compares to my collaborative lesson with an 8th grade Social Studies teacher:

CCSS: Production and Distribution of Writing (Students had to research and write a script before beginning filming). 6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

AASL Standards Indicators: Use writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings. (2.1.6) Students had to use a creative scenario like freinds from differing religious backgrounds meeting up at a camp.

Inquiry Process: Demonstrating ability to integrate knowledge and apply it to answer inquiry questions. They have definitely done this with their project!

Reading Comprehension Strategy: Synthesizing information. They have done this as well! Some are teaching lessons and recording their lessons.

Learning Applications: Using Multiple literacies to create and share final products that inform, persuade, or explain new understandings. This project accomplishes that.

All of this goes to show that many lessons you already use are going to mesh with CCRS. If you are interested, this Matrix is an amazing chart and very helping for cross-checking.

The Matrix was created by Judi Moreillon, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies at Texas Women's University. Click here for a link to the Matrix and search for the January 2013 article in the search window.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ASLA Call for Proposals

*Text taken from a message to members of the Alabama School Library Association from Carolyn Starkey, ASLA President Elect and conference coordinator. 

The Alabama School Library Association would like to take this opportunity to invite you to share your knowledge with us at our ASLA Summer Conference 2013 on Monday, June 10th, 2013, at Irondale Middle School. Last year our conference had 220 registered librarians, 25 school administrators, 11 vendors, and several authors in attendance, and we hope to top those numbers this year.

Our 2013 conference theme is “leadership@yourlibrary,” and we particularly want to focus on librarian leadership roles in our schools in support of the implementation of the Alabama College-and-Career-Ready Standards. Opportunities for sharing include 45-minute concurrent sessions (two computer labs available for hands-on workshop proposals), a 30-minute free-visit poster session period, or a 10-minute “Speed-Dating” type event where you will have 10 minutes to share a Common Core / ACCRS lesson plan three or four times with rotating small groups of participants for your grade level.

Our morning keynote speaker is the nationally-known school librarian Jennifer LaGarde, aka “Library Girl.” Jennifer, a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), is a 2012 School Library Journal Mover and Shaker and was named a 2011 winner of “I Love My Librarian” award by the American Library Association, The Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times Company. You can read Jennifer’s blog “The Adventures of Library Girl” at

For our luncheon keynote speaker, we have the return of our extremely popular 2012 luncheon speaker, Dr. Thomas Bice, Alabama State Superintendent of Education. Before his January 1, 2012 appointment as State Superintendent, Dr. Bice served as Alabama’s Deputy State Superintendent of Education for Instructional Services, Superintendent of the Alexander City School System, high school principal, career tech director, alternative school teacher/director, special education/residential school director, early childhood teacher/parent trainer, and as a teacher at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. Dr. Bice also serves as an adjunct professor of Educational Leadership at Auburn University.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Carolyn Starkey (ASLA President Elect and conference planner). Deadline for proposals is April 1, 2013.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Women's History Month

As February zooms into March, we have developed a quick list of resources for Women's History Month. 

Women's History Month for Teachers

Has ready made lesson plans for teaching Women''s History.Highlights using primary resources.

Infoplease-Women's History Month

Has a database of different biographies.

Scholastic Recommended Books for Women's History Month

Scholastic Everything You Need Women's History Month

This ink includes computer learning activities, articles and research projects.

Encyclopedia Britanica Women Who Changed the World

Links to short biographies, also includes lesson plan resources. This is eared toward older kids.

Children's Encyclopedia of Women

And for the younger ones, a bare bones database of biographies.

Gale-Cengage Women's History Month

This site has more sophisticated activities for high school and college students.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Being Called the Next Big Thing! (after Hunger Games)

Trend spotter alert! In case you haven't noticed, dystopian literature is suddenly everywhere!

Move over 1984 and Brave New World because author Victoria Roth is taking the genre to a whole new level! Readers are saying these novels are the next new Hunger Games - only better!

One of the similarities between these novels and The Hunger Games series is the idea of separating people into different groups. Children have to take aptitude tests and be placed in factions based on their personalities. Each group wears a particular type of clothing and stereotypes can be seen, such as the Amish and humility; and punks and nose rings. The compelling, fast-moving, original storyline along with a subtle love story thrown in that will keep teen readers coming back for more though.

Not only are they great reads, but Roth took inspiration from Aeschylus (ancient Greek Tragedian), Frank Herbert, (author of Dune), Sophocles (another Green Tragedian), Galatians 5:15, and Lord Alfred Tennyson's Ulysses. From each of these she either found a voice, an idea, or some intrinsic something that let her inside the mind or soul of humanity to create her characters.

From the quotations listed in the backs of some volumes of Divergent readers are allowed inside the mind of this writer. It takes lot of work and a lot of reading to become a writer!

So, from getting students interested in pleasure reading to taking it to the next level with Common Core in an Englist literature classroom, these books have tons of potential!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Docs Teach - The National Archives Experience

Looking for ways to connect with your Social Studies teachers? Docs Teach: The National Archives Experience might be the next great door-opener for conversation.

The site is easy to use, relevant to the curriculum, and being able to look at original documents is plain surreal. It's almost like taking a peek into a time period, an oval office, a soup line.

You can use the ready-to-use tools, but you can also "Join the Community" and create your own account and portfolios which is recommended.

Here's a sample lesson from the archives:

Click "Find Activities" and historical eras pop up.

Choose one - Post War United States pulls up choices like the 1968 Democratic Convention and A Famous Person and Event.

A synopsis and teacher instructions are given.

Here is the beginning of the instructions for Rosa Parks' arrest warrant:
This activity can be used during a unit on the Civil Rights movement, in teaching about protests and civil disobedience, or when focusing on Rosa Parks individually. For grades grades 5-8. Approximate time needed is 15-30 minutes.
The instructions are very detailed!
The names are blacked out. The size of the actual document can be increased for better examination. These are great documents to get students thinking! It is amazing - and sometimes sad and shocking - to have access to these documents and photographs.
USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306
Thank you, Rosa Parks, for all you have done for America!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Strengthening Your Core...

Can you tell I have recently been to a yoga class from the title of this entry? It is very difficult to empty my mind, so I usually am thinking about school things during my yoga practice. Plus every time the instructor mentions "strengthening your core" I am automatically drawn to College and Career Ready Standards (as they are referred to in Alabama).

Here are some awesome books I just learned about at ALA in Seattle recently and wanted to share them. They could serve as "conversation starters" for books to accompany Common Core Curriculum.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

This novel is set in New Orleans and centers around a young girl who finds refuge in a bookstore when her mother clearly does not want her around. It is a story of survival, crime, and ends in a love story.

The novel could easily be used to discuss to poverty, ways to get into college, the difference between right and wrong and various ethics. It could also be used to discuss mental health issues and insurance issues. It fits in with high school curricula.

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan

One of the best books ever about human rights author Tara Sullivan tells the tale of an albino boy who is "hunted" for his skin and other "parts". I don't want to spoil it for you, but it is less gruesome than it sounds. The novel focuses on the superstitions of some Tanzanians and money-hungry criminals.

This novel would be a good one to discuss human rights, kindness, and well, genetics. In addition, illegal wildlife trade could be discussed and the economic ramifications. The English classroom could read it while the science classroom discusses genes and DNA (okay, there are probably a lot of other scientific subjects that would fit here as well!).

Be on the lookout for it in June 2013!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Postermaker site

Kids are visual, and creative posters can be the best effort we can make to help them understand announcements, details of events, etc.

BigHugeLabs and Glogster are among the most useful sites out there to help with the visual cause!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Copyright Resources

Look, none of us want to be the copyright police, but unfortunately it comes with the territory. Students (and teachers) will straight rip off others' work without a second thought. Crediting sources seems to be a foreign concept to many. 

Here are a few sites that might help: 

Teaching Students About Copyright (15 sites) 

Teaching Students About Copyright With YouTube *Yeah, it's blocked. But if you watch it and then give the kids a synopsis, that might be a close second. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Library Vision Around the U.S.

Library Vision was named one of the "Top 100 Blogs for School Librarians!"

Check us out (Scroll down to Professional Learning and Development), and also take a peek at some of the other blogs listed on Edudemic as well. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Not in Kansas anymore...

Ever moved to a new city? If you’ve not been through this, it’s quite an experience. Originally from the coast, moving to this area about ten years ago turned my whole world upside down. The interstates are much more complex here than they are down South, so it was difficult to navigate. Well before GPSs and Google maps, I literally could not even make it to the grocery store without calling for help. I didn’t know the tornado culture of Birmingham at all, and had an all-out panic attack when suddenly one Wednesday morning sirens erupted in our neighborhood. Another aspect that made the move difficult was starting over again on friends. It was hard to know who to trust and who could be counted on. These are things that only time could help.    

Transitioning to a new school this year has been very similar to a geographic move. Having spent the past five or so years at a quaint little elementary school (and the five or so years before that at another heftier elementary school), middle school has been a new adventure for me in more ways than one!

The first order of business has been figuring out the people. Who works here and where are their classrooms? The school website has been a great resource for determining who is in which department and which grade level. Using this information, I created email groups in my contact lists to ease communication with them. This has helped me begin to memorize who teaches what and in what grade levels they belong.

I believe that one of the single most powerful indicators of becoming successful in a new environment is learning the culture. The “hidden curriculum,” so to speak. When I’ve been accustomed to working with one administrator and now there are three, who do I go to about what? How does the copier work and what are the rules? Where is the faculty restroom? When do I have bus duty and what are the procedures? How does the financial secretary prefer me to submit paperwork and book fair money? I’ve never had to submit grades or attendance before, so how do I log in to iNow, set up my grade book, and post grades and attendance? What is a department meeting and in which department do I belong? These are only a few from the eternal list of questions that have flown around my brain this year.

Next, because I know that understanding what the teachers teach is the springboard to collaboration, I began reading and reviewing the curriculum for each grade level. I miss being able to know exactly when the 4th grade teachers are going to cover certain objectives in their social studies curriculum, and exactly when the 2nd grade teachers cover the life cycle of a butterfly. My first attempt to fix that has been to print courses of study from ALEX and organize them into a nice, neat binder. I read and reread those standards every chance I get, in hopes to know it like the back of my hand like I did the K-5 curriculum. It is helping to initiate some dialogue with the faculty about teaching lessons with them.   

Also important has been adjusting to the library facility itself. At first I was frustrated because I could not print (all devices were disabled as we were setting up 21 new desktops) and couldn’t find scissors, paper, pens, tape, etc. An abundance of basic supplies were HERE, I just couldn't find them. It has taken some time to discover and reorganize to suit my own style and preferences. I also have several maps scribbled out as a guide for rearranging the main library space. That will take some time for sure, but I would like to accomplish minor renovations as I settle in and make the place my own.

Other differences for me this year have been learning the quirks of the equipment at this school, how to manage student aides, and dealing with the incredibly destructive nature of middle school students. (Seriously, why do they break everything?!) A few months into my move, everything seems so incredibly difficult that I kept wondering if I had made a mistake. The kids were great, the teachers were great, the administrators were great…it just didn’t feel like home yet.

With all these adjustments, though, over time I have grown to really love my new school. I’m still learning and trying to figure things out, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come. But…it is beginning to feel like I just might belong here after all. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Digital Learning Day - February 6

Alabama is celebrating Digital Learning Month, but the official Digital Learning Day is Wednesday, February 6.

My library will be celebrating on Tuesday with an afternoon BYOD - Bring Your Own Device Day. The library will be open from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Students can bring snacks and I am supplying the lemonade. Up to 40 students can sign up.

One of my library aides made a huge sign with butcher paper to advertise the event and hung it in the hallway. She then taped up a sign-up sheet with a pen taped to the wall. So far 30 students have signed up and the pen has not disappeared!

We are going to share information about great Apps and I will talk for one minute about Internet safety. The rest is up to them!

Please share what you are doing for digital learning day!