Monday, August 17, 2009

As I come to the end of what I call my second round of library school, I have been reflecting on how the perceived roll of the librarian is different in the school as compared to all other types of libraries. I use the word perceived because I don’t see the role of the librarian as being different.

It seems that classroom teachers that move into a school library keep that teacher hat on and look at this new position in that same way. Don’t get me wrong, teachers make great librarians. However, in the library I think the librarian hat should be worn with all the teacher experience there to hold it up.

What really made me come to this conclusion were the class presentations. In many of them it was hard for me to see where the library fit into everything. I know what needs to be worked on for library assessment, differentiation in instruction, and reading strategies. In the school library, especially in the higher grades, it is a very difficult task to address all of these concerns for each class without strong collaboration with classroom teachers. As we move forward in our careers we will need to focus on developing methods in the library for meeting all of these challenges. I look forward to reading all of your published works in School Library Journal!

I do believe most of you are pursuing the Masters Degree. That makes you a librarian. It is okay to be a librarian in a school. Sell it. What we have to offer is on such a higher level that it requires a Masters Degree just to have the title. Sell it. Do the profession a favor and strut your stuff as a librarian.

And remember, that all librarians are teachers; not just school librarians. We may not always have a class in front of us, but we teach every single day from preschool to the elderly. I could not imagine being anything else.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I have a new found respect for everyone who presents at a conference. It takes so much work to collaborate, coordinate and print!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Copyright Compliance and Physical Layout of the School Library

In the article “How Physical Design Can Influence Copyright Compliance” Meghan Harper offers advice to school librarians on setting up the library’s space to help with copyright compliance. I had never considered the space when I thought about copyright issues, so this article really stood out. Harper points out that if the copiers and printers are located in inconvenient locations where supplies are not easily accessible copying there is less likely to be infringement because it is not easy to do. If students have copying restrictions, or are charged for copies, there is less likely to be excessive copying for copyrighted materials. Harper recommends that copiers and printers be located near the librarian so that copyright guidance can be offered as needed.

The author also provides useful tips for the school librarian in monitoring copyright compliance without coming across as the copyright police. Some of the tips offered are posting links to copyright laws, be a role model for compliance, cite sources in your own handouts, and put copyright law tidbits in the monthly newsletter.

One piece of advice that I have come across in several sources is that the librarian should keep a log of compliance infringements that have been witnessed and what action was taken. This log helps identify problems that can be addressed in the newsletter or future workshops. It also provides evidence that the librarian tired to get compliance from the teacher.

Harper, Meghan. "How Physical Design Can Influence Copyright Compliance." Knowledge Quest 35.3 (2007): 30-32.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chapter 8: Teaching and Assessing

This chapter in Curriculum Connections through the Library discusses assessment in the school library in a perfect world. The author of the chapter, Sharon Coatney, agrees with Richard Stiggins’ argument that library assessment should be “for” learning. There are many suggestions in the chapter as to how to do this, all of which require close collaboration with the classroom teacher. How many of us have had classroom teachers eager to come in after instruction to share the assessment? And if the teachers do this, and some are very good at sharing assessment data, how much time has passed between the library instruction and the student assessment?

The teacher librarian needs assessment “of” learning to determine what worked and what did not work. Chances are that there is another group coming in for similar instruction and there is no data to help the librarian determine if the instruction works.

I read the article “The One-Minute Paper and the One-Hour Class: Outcome Assessment for One-Shot Library Instruction” which offers a real solution to library assessment that will not overwhelm school librarians. While this is designed for secondary education and college students, it can be adapted for everyone and is straight forward. At the end of a library instruction give a half page assessment. Just have the students answer two or three specific questions relating to the library component and turn it in before leaving. Another suggestion is to have the questions as part of the overall project and part of the grade for the assignment. However, this does delay results for the librarian and requires cooperation from the classroom teacher.

Many overworked school librarians will resist this one minute assessment because it requires more work for them. Many will feel that walking the room and doing informal formative assessment on the spot is enough for them to determine what is working and what needs to be adjusted. While this is true, this type of formative assessment does not provide data. We are now in a data driven educational environment and we need assessment data. This is just another reason to consider grading papers in the library.

Choinski, Elizabeth and Emanuel, Michelle. "The One-Minute Paper and the One-hous Class: Outcomes Assessment for One-shot Library Instruction." Reference Services Review 34.1 (2006): 148-155.

Monday, July 20, 2009

International Society for Technology in Education
Making 21st Century High Schools: Go Mobile Go Global with Cathleen Norris, PhD and Elliot Soloway, PhD

I viewed this session of the ISTE conference thinking there would be information specific to high schools and technology. This session was more of a K-12 sales pitch for smart phones; which for me was a disappointment. That is not to say that I did’t take away a few valuable bits of information during the presentation.

Norris and Soloway spent the first part of the presentation on why technology in schools as not been a huge success. The reason for pointing this out is so that schools can avoid the same mistakes as they plan curriculum for 21st Century learning. Their points are valid and the advice should be heeded.

When a district is getting ready to purchase technology there should be goals in place and the technology should be essential to the curriculum. Examples were shared about how schools bought laptops without educational software or did not buy the laptop cart to make the computers mobile. There was no plan in place for how to use the equipment. Another reason that schools had not utilized the technology that had been purchased was that professional development, teaching teachers how to utilize the equipment, was not provided. What good is something if no one knows how to use it? Also, the expensive machines were purchased without any software applications for teachers. The machines jut had a word processor and an Internet browser. The third mistake that was mentioned was that the technology was purchased without a connection to the curriculum.

These are all valid points. Schools should have a curriculum in place and then look for the best tools to teach that curriculum. If laptops, desktops, or hand held mobile devices are selected for delivering this education than the teachers need to know how to use the equipment. Access to the technology should also be readily available.

I’m not sure that cellular devices and blue tooth will be the future of technology for schools. I see several problems with this, the main one being that the screens are too small for sustained work. The one point the presenters made that I think is the most import thing in the entire presentation is that schools should not necessarily focus on the device, but rather the focus should be on the type of connectivity and the cost of the connectivity should be weighed into the equation during the planning stages. It was suggested that a monthly cost per student to use the technology with all things taken into account is the way to have a sustainable device for students.
Technology for the sake of technology is useless. There must be a need and a reason for having this type of equipment. I agree with the presenters when they say that the technology needs to be essential to the curriculum.
Does this mean we overhaul the curriculum to teach with technology?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Curriculum Connections Through the Library Post 2

The curriculum map is a great way for the teacher librarian to know what is being taught in the classroom and a valuable tool in developing the library curriculum to enhance student learning in the building. The map is also valuable in the collaborative efforts with the classroom teacher because the librarian has an opening in the collaborative conversation. As we move forward and implement these great plans how do we know if the students are learning what needs to be learned?

As I read through the text I can’t help but notice that self-reflection is stressed time and time again. I think it is one of the most important steps in curriculum development for the library media specialist. Many of us do not have a way to take student assessment after each lesson, so how do we know if the students learn what we are teaching them? How do we self-reflect?

Charlotte C. Vlasis adds assessment as Step 4 in using the curriculum map for writing curricular units. There are five questions Vlasis feels need to be measured which can be found on page 114. These questions are also valuable to ask for self-assessment. After each unit we teach we need to ask ourselves if we gave the students enough information to answer the essential question. Did we address the chosen standards? Did we present the material at the right level for the students in front of us? Most importantly, did we provide an exercise that was interesting and relevant to our students?

How do we know the answers to these questions? One way is to ask the classroom teachers for feedback as part of our collaboration. What worked and what didn’t work? Ask for suggestions. The library component of instruction needs to work with the unit being taught in the classroom. The best way to know if we did our jobs well is to find out how the students did in their unit. Did the work done in the library improve the student’s work? If the answer is yes, add the unit to the library’s map and if the answer is no, it is back to the drawing board.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Curriculum Connections Through the Library

As I read chapter one I realized that I worked in a school library that got it right. Every instruction was based on the inquiry model. There were foundation questions and essential questions given to the students to guide them through their research. As the students progressed through the years they had to develop their own questions to base their research on.

Where instruction in the library got trickier was in collaboration.

How do we make classroom teachers realize that we enhance what it is they are teaching? Our curriculum encompasses all disciplines. Violet H. Harada gets it right in chapter 2 when she states that "...thinking permeates the disciplines, library media specialist are key team members in identifying the relationships existing between thinking skills and dispositions and the processes embedded in the disciplines and information literacy (Stripling 1995)" in Curriculum Connections Through the Library on page 44.

We teach our students to think, to reason, to solve puzzles, to ask questions, and to verify information. We lay our curriculum on top of whatever assignment the students are given. We teach a life long transferable skill.