The issues of the teacher librarians and para-professionals in California School Libraries. Please share your concerns, feedback and questions.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Picture Books in Elementary and Middle Schools

Nancy Cussary TL Francisco Middle School SFUSD

Picture books are very useful in a middle school library. One way we recently used them was to further teach the elements of a story. Using a range of picture books that were personal narratives, representing characters of different cultures and having text of different complexities, students chose a book and read alone or in pairs. They completed a brief note sheet describing the story elements - narrator, characters, plot, conflict, what the student and the characters learned, and how the pictures informed the story.

If you look at the titles in the image, you’ll notice that many can also be used to address historical eras.

One teacher had her classes read one book and complete the activity together. We used the book Say Something by Peggy Moss because the story takes place in a middle school, is a narrative that is meaningful to students, has characters of different ethnicities, and is accessible across different learning abilities.

Another activity involving picture books was to use them in a science project on biomes.  Students were asked to create fictional picture books that took place in one biome.  They needed to include information about the environment and different animals and plants found in that biome.  The professionally published picture books served as mentor texts, or examples, for the students.

Lisa Bishop TL Aptos Middle School SFUSD
Because I spent most of my teaching career as a 4th/5th grade ELL/Bilingual teacher, Picture Books have been ESSENTIAL to my teaching and to my students “getting it”. I LOVE picture books! The science class I took for my teaching credential program employed a Bay Area 3rd grade teacher who taught us about how she educated herself on unfamiliar science concepts by beginning with children’s picture books and then worked her way up to the college level concepts and vocabulary. I thought that was such great advice. When you don’t know something about a complicated topic, start with a picture book! That is what I do now and teach my students to do as well. Go to Picture Books. 

Currently I’m a middle school Teacher Librarian at a large urban school for 6th-8th graders and many of my students are learning English as a second language and picture books can help a student use visual cues to understand complicated social, political, scientific and historical issues better than dense text on a page without incredible artwork.

Last year a 7th grade ELD class participated in World Read Aloud Day or WRAD. I did a 5 minute introduction to WRAD and a quick book talk of the stack of picture books I had on the tables.  Students paired up and chose a picture book that they were interested in reading aloud to another student. The students spread out all over the library to read aloud to each other. The collaborating teacher and I deemed it a SUCCESS! The students clearly loved the opportunity to read aloud to each other and learn about interesting historical events and the people in those events.

For our STEP UP program this summer, we brought our incoming 6th graders into the library and I read aloud two books to them. Kathryn Otoshi’s One and Todd Parr’s  It’s OK to be Different. As they get ready to come to a large middle school I wanted to have a conversation with them about bullying and about the importance to be able to be themselves and not be pressured to follow other people in middle school when it doesn’t make you feel good. During the middle of the year I read Byrd Baylor’s The Table Where Rich People Sit. This book is so beautifully written and brings the message that you don’t need to have a lot of money to be RICH! I often bring picture books like Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side adult pressures to keep children separated, Eve Bunting’s One Green Apple about being a young muslim immigrant, Yoshiko Uchida’s The Bracelet friendship in the times of Japanese Internment, and, The Case for Loving; The Fight for Interracial Marriage to student’s attention during different times of the school year. During Banned Books Week, I introduced The Rabbit's Wedding by Garth Williams and  And Tango Makes Three as just a few of the picture books that have been challenged by the public to be taken off of our shelves.IMG_2159.jpgIMG_5245.jpgIMG_5243.jpg

Let Picture Books for Older Readers grow in your library!

Nancy Lucero  TL Sutro Elementary School

Picture books are a main staple in my elementary school. From preschool to 5th Grade, novice to proficient readers, my students thrive on picture books. Picture books support ALL readers. Ninety-five percent of our students are English language learners. The illustrations in picture books not only help a child’s comprehension or support developing their new language but develops a sense of inclusion.

Just recently I introduced the story First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. Students were asked to look closely at what was going on in the pictures and share with a buddy. Before too long, students were creating noises taking place in this particular classroom; students whispered,  used loud voices, made bells ring and chairs scraping the floor. Another student mentioned one child sitting all alone and feeling really angry. As in this case, visuals are better to support a child’s understanding of the “whole picture.”

In our library, students can check out a book in a bag with the character of the story. Be it Clifford, Pete the Cat, or Fly Guy, they serve as reading buddies straight out of the book. Often times, I will present a story and provide an activity that allows the students to experience what is going on in the story such as constructing something and then transforming it into something else as in Changes, Changes.  One of the students’ favorite activities is having our own tea party after reading Miss Spider's Tea Party How do I support readers at home as well? I have a treasure box where students can take a book or two to add to their home library. 

Pictures and photos are truly worth a thousand words!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

CSI & CSLF: Library Education via Vendors

by Lesley Farmer

How do you repair books? How do you import records into the library management system? How can I get statistics about the library online portal? What is a good way to check out magazines? What is a makerspace? These questions might not have been answered in your library training. So where do you turn to get those answers – and keep current in the field?
    One group who can help are vendors. While they do have to deal with their bottom line, profit, most vendors who deal with school libraries also want to educate their clientele – it is good business. Vendors know that an informed customer is more likely to use their products more successfully, and will remain a valued customer.
    Conferences serve as a convenient central place to talk with several vendors, and get tips. In some cases, the sales reps might not be able to answer a very specific question, but they will generally refer you to the right expert in a follow-up communication. They often provide printed materials that you can pick up; sometimes the vendor will let you have several copies if they know that you will be sharing them with your colleagues.
    Vendors will sometimes come to a school district site or professional association workshop if several library staff gather there. Here is one example of association-archived webinars that can be access for free: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/past/webinar. Vendors can demonstrate a product, and answer relevant questions. Sometimes they will provide free or fee training with hands-on activities. Sometimes the training can be recorded for later access. Simultaneously, or separately, vendors may also offer trial periods, especially for accessing services or products such as cataloging tools or subscription databases.
    Increasingly, vendors provide online training through downloadable documents, videos, and real-time training. Nowadays, vendors frequently give interactive webinars, showcasing new developments and ways to optimize the use of their products.  In most cases, the explanations focus on their own products, naturally, but they often give good generic advice, such as ways to preserve materials or create publications.
    In those cases where Internet access is limited or unstable, library staff might consider gathering at a site where the Internet connectivity is good, and then watch the training together, and download documents onto flash drives for later individual use. In some cases, the viewers can dial in to hear the webinar, and that phone call could be connected to a speaker. In the group meeting, staff can discuss issues and share ideas before and after the online session. It should also be noted that vendors often record and archive their webinars, so you can access those trainings at your own convenience, even though you will not have the advantage of asking questions right then.
Another option is for one or two librarians to get vendor training, and then train their staff peers.  Using this train-the-trainer model, vendors sometimes will provide handouts for the follow-up training, and may offer to answer just-in-time questions via the telephone.
A good place to start is the Librarians Yellow Pages: http://www.lyponline.com/. The American Library Association’s American Libraries Buyers Guide (http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet09) is an online resource designed to help in locating companies and vendors that provide a wide array of library products and services. Another listing of vendors may be found at http://www.libraryspot.com/libshelf/. Professional library associations may also maintain vendor contacts, largely garnered from their conference exhibitor lists. Calendars of free webinars are also found online, such as https://www.webjunction.org/find-training.html
Remember that you do not have to buy from these vendors. They budget for such services, knowing that good training and documentation can lead to sales and loyal customers. However, it is polite to thank them for sharing their expertise. Such considerations may also lead to beneficial professional relationships.

CDE: Opportunities for Input

Welcome back! Opportunities abound to provide input on a variety of projects for the CDE. Read on for the latest updates from the CDE and opportunities to participate on committees. People notice when library folks express an interest to serve and participate.

          History-Social Science (HSS) Framework 

     On July 14, 2016 the SBE voted unanimously to approve the History-Social Science            Framework. This endeavor began back in 2009 and work was suspended by SB 1540         (Hancock) and resumed in 2014 after completion of the mathematics and ELA/ELD              frameworks. 
          New features of the History-Social Science Framework:
          • Highlighted Features
     o Diversity is an asset
     o Inquiry based approach
     o Access & Equity 
     o Professional learning
     o Updated course descriptions 
         • New appendices on civic education and service learning, with examples of student          activities throughout the course descriptions
         • Information on financial literacy and voter education
         • Environmental focus, including integration of the Education and the Environment          Initiative 
         • Updating to include references to Common Core for ELA/Literacy,                                    CA ELD Standards, C3Framework
         • Links between HSS and other subject areas, suggestions for teachers to work across         disciplines
         • More than twenty classroom examples, with alignment to HSS, CCSS, ELD

Next steps for History-Social Science Framework:
     • Development of prepublication draft
     • Professional editing by CDE Press
     • Roll out plan and statewide launch events
     • Implementation milestone: K–8 instructional materials adoption

Get Involved…Become a Reviewer of the 2017 California History-Social Science Instructional Materials Adoption (Kindergarten through Grade Eight):

Information about this review and the online application process is available on the CDE HSS Instructional Materials Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/imThe deadline for submission of applications is October 19, 2016. 

For more information, contact: 
Kenneth McDonald, Lead Consultant, at 916-319-0447 or kmcdonal@cde.ca.gov.

2019 Revision of the Health Education Framework

The CDE, Instructional Quality Commission, and SBE are commencing the revision process for the Health Education Framework. Information and updates concerning the revision of the Health Education Framework will be posted here http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/he/cf/
Apply for appointment to a Focus Group to provide input regarding what guidance and information should be included in the revised framework. 
Completed applications are due September 15, 2016. 
All meetings are scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and are open to the public. 
• November 1, 2016 Tulare County Office of Education 
• November 7, 2016 Sacramento County Office of Education (via videoconference at the following county offices of education: Butte and Siskiyou)
• November 15, 2016 Alameda County Office of Education 
• November 29, 2016 Long Beach Unified School District

For more information, contact: 
Deborah Franklin, Lead Consultant, at 916-319-0442 or dfrankli@cde.ca.gov.   

Computer Science Standards

The CDE reviewed and submitted comments in the third review period for the K-12 Computer Science Framework Review that ended in June. The projected release date of the framework is September 2016. For more information go to https://k12cs.org/.

On a related note the first meeting regarding developing computer science standards for California met August 8. I am part of that standards development team and the first opportunity for you to participate will be with Focus Groups gathering to provide input regarding the essential knowledge and skills that should be included in the California Computer Science Standards for kindergarten and grades 1-12.

Apply for appointment to a Focus Group or register to attend a public comment session. Sessions are scheduled for mid to late November.

 *Completed applications are due October 14, 2016. Application forms are available at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/computerscicontentstds.asp .
*This link will go live on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

California Science Framework

There will be a presentation to the State Board of Education (SBE) at its meeting on September 8-9, 2016. This presentation will give great insight on the process and content of the CA Science Framework.

The SBE is scheduled to take action on the CA Science Framework at its November 2-3 meeting. Framework implementation activities are being planned and will launch following approval of the framework.

For the past three years the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) Collaborative has hosted CA NGSS rollouts to help teachers and administrators see the standards in action and how they would look in their classrooms. The California NGSS Collaborative is currently planning for the next phase of the CA Science framework, scheduled to begin in spring 2017

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

PD:  Summer Conferences

By Rosan Cable, VP Communications

Summer is soon approaching and school may be over for you or soon will be.  Just as teachers are continually thinking about lessons and how to better help students learn, Teacher Librarians and Paraprofessionals do the same.  Whether it be by reading new books, learning about new tech gadgets or apps, or by attending professional development seminars; when summer comes, the opportunities to keep learning abound.  ALA and ISTE are two great choices to attend to help you learn and grow in the library and tech fields. 
There is still time to register for either ISTE or ALA. If the costs seem prohibitive, ask administrators for funding out of this or next year's budget, find other people to room with via Twitter, Facebook, or your own network of friends, and  registering early helps defray costs as well as being a member of the associations.
If these conferences are of interest to you but you cannot attend this year, you can apply for first-timer grants; however, this must be done ahead of time, usually starting in the fall.  Funding help ideas for ISTE seem to change annually while ALA’s grants remain consistent.  There are many to choose from at the ALA Grant page.  Start planning NOW for next year’s conference.  Meanwhile, listen to the Twitter chatter, Facebook posts, and Snapchat stories.  Even not being there, you can learn a great deal from those who share ideas on social media.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Count On Teacher Librarians To Support New Math Standards

By Dr. Lesley Farmer, CSI Committee Chair

Mathematics might not be the first subject that comes to mind when thinking about ways that Teacher Librarians (TLs) and other library staff can support Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, many of the new math standards are mirrored in the California Model School Library Standards and ICT (information and communication technology) literacy. CSLA’s Curriculum and Standards Integration Committee’s May webinar explained these issues (the recorded webinar will be available on the CSLA website at some point). Here are some of the issues covered online.

       As you know the library standards state that students should be able to access, evaluate and use information, ans well as integrate information literacy skills into all areas of learning. Numeracy is part of information literacy so libraries do need to offer a range of materials in different formats that can inform students about math: from math-oriented picture books (e.g., concept books, visuals,biographies, embedded math in stories) to online math tutorials (e.g., www.math.com, www.khanacademy.org, www.mathplanet.com). Titles can vary from Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse to Danica McKellar’s Math Doesn’t Suck, and Edwin Abbott’s Flatland. Recreational math books can pique  student interest in math, such as The Mathematics of Oz, Golden Meaning, The Grapes of Math. But, wait, there’s more. Librarians can also provide links to repositories of resources that include math (e.g., http://www.merlot.org , http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Content_Directories, https://nsdl.oercommons.org/).
                The new math standards differ from proscriptive specific objectives such as “Solve quadratic equations” in that they focus on mathematical reasoning more than rote skills. When teachers ask a student to express as a function, they also want students to explain their problem-solving process and thinking. Let’s take a look at each math practice, and how they align with ICT literacy and library standards.
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Extracting meaning is a core information literacy skills, and perseverence is critical for inquiry.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Research skills involve inferential thinking. Being able to represent information numerically is an important literacy skill as well.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Critical thinking and comparing conflicting information are key skills for both research processing and communication. Critiquing can lead to the deepr concept of peer review.
  4. Model with mathematics. As with #2, understanding and being able to represent information in different ways helps extract key features.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically. Matching the resource to the task, and using that tool effectively, are core literacy practices.
  6. Attend to precision. Anyone who knows what happens if cataloging or shelving is incorrect appreciates this practice.
  7. Look for and make use of structure. Information structure, such as the DDC and databases, are central functions of information organizatoin and retrieval.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. Building on prior knowledge, such as citation styles and searching strategies, accelerates learning.
Furthermore, math includes several aspects of reading literacy:
       Focusing on discipline-specific vocabulary
       Noting unique text structures found in informational text
       Developing informational and technical writing skills
       Focusing on critical analysis and evidence.
Here are some of the associated specific math standard indicators:
       Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grade-level texts and topics. (6-12.RST.4)
       Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of math and other technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions. (6-8.ST.1)
       Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words. (9-10.ST.7)
       Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content (6-12.WHST.1)
       Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of math/technical processes (6-12.WHST.2)
       Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed. (6-8.WHST.5)
Digital literacy is also found in the math standards, as follows:
       Practice reading screen-based texts
       Practice in digital writing (including math symbols)
       Practice in collaborative writing
       Practice in working with informational texts (e.g., links)
       Practice in using math-based simulations.
So how do TLs get started in collaborating with math teachers? The most obvious first step is to jointly look at the math standards and the state math framework  and align them with the model school library standards. Together identify the prerequisite information and digital literacy skills needed for students to be successful mathematically. Librarians should give a tour of the library’s resources that support math (don’t forget math-related materials such as almanacs and spreadsheet applications); library collections, especially in primary grades, should also include math manipulatives. Together, TLs and math techers can develop information-rich learning activities that meld math and ICT literacy.  Here are some math-related learning activity idea starters:
       Compare numerical systems around the world
       Locate newspaper stories that involve math
       Research how sports uses math
       Research the impact of technology on math – and impact of math on technology
       Locate and conduct statistics on data sets
       Capture photos of geometry in nature
       Create a math-based infographic
       Create a graphic novel about a math concept
       Use drawing software to make tessellations
       Explore math-related careers.

More Resources:

In sum, TLs  + math teachers = student success!