Thursday, June 14, 2012

Your Common Core Secret Weapon

Today I had the pleasure of presenting a session at the first ever Administrators' Day at the Upstate Technology Conference with Kristen Hearne and Monique German.Untitled
We have dubbed ourselves the Librarians in the Middle. Kristen even made us a super cute logo that we've talked about putting on a Moo card, a la Gwyneth and Tiff.
When I found out that the Upstate Technology Conference was adding a day just for administrators I immediately thought that it would be a great time to present something about librarians. We often present to each other and never reach out to other groups and who has more power to change the landscape of librarianship (other than ourselves) than administrators. So I went online to submit a session proposal. I didn't see the Admin day listed on the drop down choices. Did that deter me? NO! I just put in the comments section that we wanted to present this at the Admin Day. A few days later I spoke with the conference organizers. Originally the entire day was going to be led by staff from Discovery Education, but when they saw my session pop up they liked the proposal so much that they agreed to let us come to speak that day. Hooray!
Let that be a lesson to those sitting back waiting to be asked, just go for it! We have valuable information to share and a worthy message to spread.
We wanted our session to attract as many administrators as possible and we know that Common Core standards are so important. We know that we have worked hard with our administrators and teachers to prepare for this change so we had lots to share about it. Our session title was "Your Common Core Secret Weapon."
We started the session by asking what comes to mind when they hear the term "librarian". Immediately our first group all shooshed us. That really broke the ice and had us laughing. Then we used the amazing graphic from Jennifer LaGarde to share with them what we really do and what they should be expecting. If their librarian wasn't living up to these standards ask yourself why. Do they have time to collaborate? Are they included in staff development plans? Do they have the staff, support and funds to provide adequate services?
We talked about our standards and how they overlap with the Common Core standards. Then we dove into providing ways their librarian can help them transition. The first suggestion we had was for the librarian to evaluate her collection. We wanted to emphasize to administrators that full shelves doesn't always equal a quality collection. All of our librarians submitted data that was compiled into infographic that simplified collection analysis. We urged them to ask their librarians to share the status of their collection and they in turn put trust in their librarian and allow her to remove books without being chastised at the dumpster. We wanted to emphasize that the goal of promoting recreational reading was more important now than ever since the Common Core places such an emphasis on nonfiction in the classroom. The good and bad of fixed vs flex schedules were discussed.
Administrators have the power to encourage classroom teachers to collaborate and we highlighted the value of those relationships. We followed that discussion with some of our professional development offerings and asked them to consider their own librarian as a resource for quality PD.  Finally we ended with the request that they encourage their librarian to attend conferences and bring back what they learn.
I feel like this may have been one of the most important sessions that I have ever helped present because it has the potential to influence so many schools. I hope that the administrators left with an excitement about how they can involve and appreciate their librarian. I know many did because they stayed after and talked to us about it. My worry is that some of them will want to see these ideas implemented in their school, but their librarian will not be receptive. I wish that all librarians were as passionate about the profession as my PLN, but we all know that isn't always the case.
We had a few people ask for our contact info so that we could visit with their librarians. I'm excited to see where this goes. The past two weeks have been extremely busy, but extremely rewarding. Now my summer can official begin and I can focus on the Level Up Book Club, #bookaday Twitter challenge and the approaching #summerthrowdown reading competition.

On the Road With the Librarians in the Middle

I have to start this post by bragging on my two middle school colleagues, Monique German and Kristen Hearne. I couldn't ask for more supportive, creative, and talented people to work with. I am so lucky to have them. Lately we have been on the road with our library show.
We recently presented a session to our middle school English/Language Arts teachers that explained the three components to evaluating text in the Common Core Standards. After explaining how to evaluate text we shared titles that we felt were exemplary novels. We shared genre bookmarks that we created on topics like zombies, after the Hunger Games, something for the sweet sixth grade girl, action packed, novels in verse, and more. We highlighted titles from our SC Junior Book Award nominees, and gave them several blogs to follow that would help them keep up with new and noteworthy titles.

Last week we presented two full days of professional development for our teachers. One day was for our foreign language teachers. We had so much fun with them. Kristen, Carla Nash and I led that day. We shared web tools, shared tools to create a PLN and had a very personalized version of the gadget petting zoo. They were so enthusiastic. It was a great day. The following day Kristen, Monique,  Jen Chesney and I presented to our social studies teachers. I started the day with nonfiction literacy strategies, followed by social studies resources with Kristen and Monique, and ended the day with tech tools with Jen. This was a session specifically geared toward helping them prepare for the new requirements in the Common Core standards.

This week we have been busy at the Upstate Technology Conference organized by the Greenville County School District. This is one of my favorite conferences and completely free! We presented two sessions together. Our first session was "Tech Gadget Speed Dating". Eleven of our fifteen librarians were able to attend the conference. We each adopted a gadget. Attendees came into the session and started at one station. Every five minutes we rotated. Just like a speed dating session, they had a few minutes to meet and get to know a gadget before moving on. The gadgets we discussed were cell phones, digital frames, iPads, iPods, Edmodo, Flip cameras, QR codes, ereaders, and the Livescribe smart pen. Attendees were raving about the session as they left and we even had people coming up to us during the day saying their friends were talking about how much they enjoyed it.

In all the pictures we are the ones in purple. We wore our state organization's t-shirt so they would know were to go for the next station as well as promote the fact that we are proud, techie librarians.
I'm excited that the attendees learned something, but I am also proud that so many of our librarians came and presented. We showcased ourselves, as librarians and Anderson District One employees. I know that many of them have not presented tech sessions before so it was a big confidence booster for them. Only having to learn one gadget and prepare one five minute lesson let everyone get involved, regardless of comfort level with technology. If you are hoping to motivate your group of librarians you may want to try something similar. I hope we can do this again next year.
Our next session was a modified version of the PD With a Twist webinar that I presented with Tiff Whitehead. Kristen, Monique and I shared all of the professional development sessions that we have organized and presented to our teachers. There were a few librarians in attendance, as well as instructional coaches and administrators. We hope that they all left with ideas for their school and an interest in asking their own librarians to share expertise and lead PD for their school.

After the session we had administrators from neighboring counties asking if we would be willing to come and talk to their librarians and share these ideas. This is really exciting and makes me so proud to work with these ladies.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fiction Has Been Genrefied

With a little prompting from the super-cute-in-an-ISTE-or-Bust-balloon Tiffany Whitehead, I finally genrefied my fiction. I put genre stickers on my fiction last year, but left them in alphabetical order because I changed my nonfiction to subject last summer and frankly, I was tired of moving everything around. I've been thinking about it for a while. I read this post from Jennifer Northrup and Tiff's post about changing her fiction around.  I have collected other posts on if you want more inspiration.
This is me in the middle of moving things around. 

Luckily I have some awesome student helpers that assisted me in the switch. Having stickers on the books already made it pretty easy.
Here is what a finished shelf looks like with signs made from the sticker design.

Here is another shot of the graphic novel section.

The sections in our library are Adventure, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Humor, Manga, Mystery, Picture Books, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Sports, Thrillers. My library helpers and some of die-hard visitors that have continued to come in these last few days already love it. I can't wait to show all of the students when schools commences in the Fall.

Trying Out Summer Checkout

I'll make a confession. Summer checkout makes me very nervous. I know all the arguments about the books sitting on the shelf for weeks isn't helping anyone and the books belong to our students. I know and I agree, but it still caused me to hold my breath when I thought about it. We have a high level of poverty in our school, which means a large number of transient students. Here one day, gone tomorrow or moving from mother's to father's to grandma's house and losing books along the way. Add to the that the inability to pay for those lost books and it just made me nervous. We have these problems when I see them regularly and hunt them down all year so I knew sumer check out was a risk. I have thought about summer hours, but our cleaning staff is usually in the building waxing floors and other big projects that can only be done with no students around so scheduled hours wasn't feasible. Transportation is another issue that makes me think I would not have a big turn out even if I were able to open. Excuses, excuses...

Well, finally a solution presented itself. First I saw a tweet from Beth Redford (@bethredford) about her summer checkout which led me to her post. Then I saw this post from @Mrsreaderpants and I decided to go for it.
I created a short permission slip that students would have to return to me with parent signature and I emailed this to our English teachers with instructions to share with readers, especially those that probably could not afford to satisfy their reading habit with book purchases. I also put in the stipulation that they could not owe me books or have a history of late or lost books. This is a small group that I usually know by name. Granted this was on the last full day of school, but I still had 5 students come to the library the next day with permission and big smiles on their faces. I had two more today and one that had already finished a few over the weekend and wanted to trade for more.
I'll admit I was actually glad that it was a small group because I want to see how this goes, build up my confidence and try again next year with more preplanning.
Thanks to Beth Redford and Mrs. Readerpants for inspiring me!

Here is a pic of one of my lovelies leaving with his stack of books. I played around with the picture in the new app Snapseed on my iPad, thus the grungy look to the photo. Snapseed