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By Lissa Davies
Ahhh, developing an effective library program in .2 time. Sounds like an administrator’s dream, doesn’t it? (Ooops, better do a disclaimer: “The views here are my views only and not related to my administrator, my district, my family, my friends or my dog.”)
Gentle Readers, Let’s start with my history (I’m sure you are all dying to know...). I began my library career three years ago. Before I turned into Super Librarian (really!), I was an elementary Learning Strategies teacher. Our .6 part-time teacher librarian was retiring (and she really was a Super TL!) and I was asked by my administrator if I would like the position. I leaped at the chance. After all, I loved inquiry learning, and reading, and reading, and books, and kids. What more was needed? There was a small, teensy-weensy catch. I would be .5 and in order to make it a full-time position, I would be teaching a new grade: Kindergarten. (You should all be hearing the duh-duh-duh- DUHN! sound of doom in your heads by now!)
Come September, Gentle Readers, I was supremely lost and bewildered. Fortunately I had my retired Super TL (aka Maureen) and our district’s Fearless Library Consultant (aka Betty-Lou) to support me in my hours of need. Soon I had a plan to work with all classes on inquiry projects, did booktalks and bookfairs, managed the technology in the school and our live broadcast morning news, was on the Best of the Best committee to review books, and was registered in the Teacher Librarian Distance Learning (aka TLDL) program at the University of Alberta, taking one course per term and one in the summer. I still felt lost, but I was too busy to think about it. Much.
The next year, our enrollment dropped, and so, perforce, did our budget. I was retained as TL at .23, with .5 Kindergarten and .17 grade 1/2 (another new assignment). That year, I worked with two classes on inquiry learning projects, did booktalks and bookfairs, managed our live broadcast morning news, took TLDL classes, and (now that the TLDL program has taught me so much about what at teacher-librarian COULD be) I dreamt about the things I ‘should’ be doing.
This year, anther drop in the budget, so I am now .2 TL and .8 grade 5/6. While my courses in the TLDL program were expanding my ideas of libraries and librarians, my TL time in reality was shrinking. However, this is the reality for many of our elementary schools...as a matter of fact, it is better than the reality of most. Few schools have a TL, and some schools don’t even have a library tech. While we all know the value that a great library program brings to student achievement (Keith Curry Lance, 2001), others require convincing. Ross Todd (yes, those of you who have taken courses with me know that Ross Todd is my library idol, and I don’t apologize for that. Much.) talks about the need for us to use evidence-based practices to track and show the value of our libraries, still many people feel that when push comes to shove, administrators will choose to have a teacher who has a class of students sitting in front of them rather than a teacher librarian.
So, let’s consider our options in .2 time. What does a strong library program contain? What should a strong TL be doing in her/his school? Harada and Zmuda (2008) have a few suggestions about what TLs should be (Gentle Readers, you may disagree with me, but you can’t disagree with Harada and Zmuda, can you?):
Leaders in providing PD to schools
Experts in curriculum development and resources
Experts in instruction and collaboration with teachers
Joyce Valenza (I call her ‘She Who Does Not Sleep. Ever.) goes even farther. She says we should be:
a leader in using technology for teaching and learning
a leader in inquiry teaching and learning
a leader in reading and developing readers
a leader in understanding and teaching information fluency
a leader in developing your collection
So what CAN we do in .2?
Given my time this year, the needs of the students in my school, and our district focus on literacy, I decided that I needed to have one focus. I chose developing readers and focusing on booktalks and the collection. Yet what about technology? What about inquiry learning? What about....? Was it the right decision? Am I now in danger of turning into....
An old-fashioned GOL? (Grumpy Old Librarian)
I certainly hope not! Students are engaged and excited during booktalks, which I do for each grade group twice a month. (I should mention that I am on a flexible schedule, so I do not provide preps). When I am not in front of kids, I am organizing and weeding the collection, helping teachers with technology, or book suggestions, or pulling books for units, adding websites to our Diigo account, preparing booktalks and grants, and answering emails like crazy. Often I think I live in the Twilight Zone, as time seems to morph and shorten when I am in the library.
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Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library
How should teacher librarians or instructional leaders engage in action research to improve their school library and benefit students' learning? This book provides the answers.Teacher librarians need to get directly involved with the research process in the learning commons in order to create actions and strategies that will enhance student learning—and benefit their own professional development as well as demonstrate accountability through their action research efforts. This book provides practical tips and work spaces for educators at the local, state, and national levels, clearly modeling and explaining the process and the tools for conducting action research in a school library setting that will identify the program's strengths and weaknesses. The author coalesces current expert opinions on the topic of action research in the school library environment and highlighting what other teacher librarians in the field have identified as the pros and cons of using the process. Readers are directed to focus on mitigating the "cons" through the use of specific working pages and templates and by initially exploring "five favorite" links, thereby encouraging those who are new to action research to try what might otherwise seem a daunting process. School principals K–12 who read this book will be better equipped to support their teacher librarians and teachers in this important professional process.
• Supplies invaluable insights from experts and practitioners on the subject of action research
• Provides a clear model of the process in action
• Directs readers to additional resources that facilitate effective action research and timely topics for school library research, such as time management and technology in learning
Students create digital projects with images, music, videos, and websites to win an iPad Mini or annual subscription to one of Rosen Digital's online databases
New York (Feb 27, 2013) -- Help your students harness their creative energies while putting their 21st-century skills to use with a new contest from ThingLink and Rosen Digital. Students in grades K-12 can create Interactive ThingLink images, providing the opportunity to explore their interests and passions, connect multiple resources into a cohesive presentation, and share their projects with a large community. Visit ThingLinkContest.com for more information.
ThingLink allows students to connect audio, video, images, websites, and text into one interactive image presentation. Projects deepen learning as students delve into content through research to present knowledge and ideas as they learn while practicing digital literacy skills of image creation and selection, content curation, tagging, and sharing.
"ThingLink is o ne of my favorite and most frequently used tools because it supports active student participation and requires users to construct ideas as they create," says Susan Oxnevad, Instructional Technology Facilitator and educator for 26 years. "The tool can be very useful for designing and implementing the types of deep learning experiences required by the Common Core and it is also an effective way to help students develop digital literacy skills. ThingLink is fun, flexible, and intuitive!"
Eligibility: All students K-12 are eligible to enter. Teachers and parents may enter an image on a student's behalf.
Submission Deadline: Images may be submitted through May 1, 2013. Enter images at ThingLinkContest.com.
Winners will be announced on May 15, 2013.
Categories: There are 10 categories:
My Favorite Books or Authors
Science -- Think Like a Scientist!
Health & Well-being -- You, Your Family, Your Friends
Environment -- The World Around Us
Community -- Volunteering & Making a Difference
Money Smarts -- Earning, Saving, Spending
Art & Music -- Express Yourself!
Sports -- Game On!
History & Social Studies -- From Yesterday to Today
Animals -- Furry, Friendly, & Fierce
Students can enter as many images as they like. All entries are viewable on ThingLink.com.
Voting: Friends and family can vote on their favorite images by using a "touch" icon on a ThingLink image. The most "touches" counts for a portion of the score. A team of educational advisors will review entries and determine winners.
Prizes: One iPad Mini will be awarded to the top winner in each category. The winning school in each category will also receive one Rosen database subscription for a year (Teen Health & Wellness, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, or the PowerKnowledge Science Suite). Certificates will be awarded to second and third place winners in each category.