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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CSLA’s Information Literacy Summit at CUE Conference

CSLA was pleased to partner with CUE at the recent CUE Annual Conference on a full-day summit within the conference. The March 21 summit focused on the theme of Information Literacy. Speakers included guest keynoter Kathy Schrock, and three CSLA members, Deborah Stanley, Janice Gilmore-See, and Glen Warren.

This was the second year that CSLA presented a summit during the CUE Conference. In 2014, CSLA’s summit theme was digital citizenship. Both years, the summits offered conference attendees the opportunity to learn about important topics on themes that are key areas of expertise of teacher librarians. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s summit:

Kathy Schrock on Information Literacy as The Common Thread
Kathy Schrock began her professional career as a school librarian before moving to the field of educational technology. She is nationally-recognized expert on educational technology and a popular speaker at national conferences. Her keynote for the CSLA Summit was on the topic, “The Common Thread: Weaving Information Literacy Skills to Engage Learners.”

Kathy Schrock opened her presentation with an excellent video from Semole State Library defining information literacy as the ability to identify, find, evaluate, apply, and acknowledge information, both in the academic setting and the real world. She then built her presentation around an image from the SHIFT Disruptive eLearning blog that highlights 10 things learners pay attention to: questions, contrast, problem-solving, comparisons, brevity, emotions, stories, lists, visuals, and controversy. For each of these attention-getting devices, she shared several examples of how they can be used to weave information literacy into content-area instruction in a way that will engage students, help them retain information, and process it into personal knowledge.

For example, as part of her discussion of problem-solving, she shared the importance of teaching students why catchy titles are important and how to problem-solve creating such titles. In another example, under brevity, she shared the value of having students develop infographics to demonstrate understanding in visually appealing and concise ways. Along with infographics, students need visuals, and she shared what Creative Commons licensing is and why we should be using Creative Commons-licensed materials. During her discussion of stories as a device, she shared that storytelling activates parts of the brain that cause students to retain content and make personal connections, so creating stories is valuable tool for student engagement and retention.

To access all the resources she shared beyond these few examples, visit her resource page.

Kathy Schrock’s session made it clear that teaching information literacy skills is vital for our students, and that librarians and classroom teachers can work together to weave them into content areas.

Deborah Stanley on Research Teaching
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The second session of the day was Deborah Stanley’s on “The Importance of Research Teaching in a Common Core Digital World.” Deborah, a Past CSLA VP of Organization, is the author of three books on research, Practical Steps to the Research Process for High School, Practical Steps to the Research Process for Middle School, and Practical Steps to the Research Process for Elementary School, and through her books and presentations over the years, she has guided many teacher librarians in their teaching of the research process. For the summit presentation, she created a brand new website, The Research Process in a Digital World, which brings the research teaching process up to date with the availability of digital tools for each of the research steps, which include defining the topic; defining subtopics; selecting and using sources; reading, thinking, and selecting information; note taking; sorting notes; and writing. For each step, she shared techniques and digital tools. Her site provides a gold mine of information and tools for teaching research. As a bonus, the site has links to digital tools to help with writing, creating presentations, and more, which could be used as part of research or other project-based learning activities.

Some of the important messages from Deborah Stanley’s session were that research, like writing, is a process. It takes time to teach and learn. It is also a process that must be scaffolded from grade to grade. Deborah urged us to build choices into the research process, which allows for differentiation and accessibility for all students. She also emphasized that students need to understand why they are doing the research. Unless they buy into the why, they have no purpose for learning. We need to make sure they buy into the why. Another take away was the value of good note taking: when information changes forms - from reading, to notes, to the students’ paper -, learning occurs. When students simply cut and paste, they learn nothing because the material never changes form or gets processed in their brains.

Janice Gilmore-See on Depth of Knowledge
Our next presenter was Janice Gilmore-See, CSLA’s Immediate Past President and author of the book Simply Indispensable. In her presentation on “Getting to DOK 4: Depth of Knowledge and Information Literacy,” she shared how Depth of Knowledge (DOK), in conjunction with information literacy, can serve to raise and promote rigor in our curriculum and classrooms. Greater rigor, she explained, is important to better prepare students to be college and career ready.

Here is the visual Janice used to explain levels of depth of knowledge:
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Here is one of a number of examples she gave of how activities can be moved to higher DOK levels:
  • DOK1: Identify the Democratic and Republican party platforms by searching their official websites.
  • DOK2: Explain four issues where the Democratic and Republican candidates disagreed identified by viewing a series of debates.
  • DOK3: Verify that candidates espoused the same views as the official Democratic and/or Republican platforms expressed in a series of debates.
  • DOK4: Create your own party and party platform. Include three to five issues and be prepared to present and debate those issues.

She explained that DOK3 and 4 activities usually take more time and it is not necessary to teach everything at these levels. However, all students need some DOK3 and 4 activities, not just the high end students. Janice shared a wide range of ideas for higher level activities. These are available in her presentation slides.

Glen Warren on the Uncommon Core
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The final Information Literacy Summit session of the day was Glen Warren’s on “The Uncommon Core: Advancing Student Centered Learning through Gaming and Information Literacy.” Glen is current CSLA VP of Government Relations. He was Orange County Teacher of the Year and a California Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist in 2014.

Glen shared that way too much time in school is devoted to content-driven teaching, in which we  send students the message that learning is all about required content and that their personal interests don’t matter. We need, he explained, to begin adopting a process-driven model, which allows students to explore their personal interests and to ask, and answer, their own questions. “When we connect kids with what they love,” he shared, “they become better learners.” In fact, the Model School Libraries for California Public Schools, which serve as a “how to” for implementing Common Core, highlight personal interest as part of integrating information, as he showed in this visual:
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Information literacy serves as a cross-curricular anchor that ties together all the different disciplines as well as personal interest:
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Glen had two of his students with him who shared how they were able to the work on their personal interest - using Minecraft to design a computer - by asking their own questions, doing research, and finding the solutions they needed.

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Glen’s slides are available at this link.

For links to all the Information Literacy Summit materials, visit the CSLA website summit page: csla.net/ils

Jane Lofton and Pam Oehlman, both CSLA Past Presidents, served as coordinators for the summit.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

CSLA is now on Pinterest!

by Sharlene Paxton

In an effort to extend our social media presence and engage with our members and the school library world in another way, we are now pinning school library related content. Pinterest is a visual curation tool that allows users to curate web resources by pinning content, which is arranged by boards. We're pinning information about makerspaces, student-created book trailers, library programming, fun library display ideas, school library advocacy, information literacy, technology, and digital citizenship. We have over 60 boards in the works and more on the way. Make sure you follow CSLA on Pinterest to find ideas for promoting the great work happening in your school library, advocating for California's school libraries, and gathering ideas that you can implement in your school library.

You can find us on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/4CSLA/. Make sure to follow us before our annual conference to find conference resources as well.

Free CUE Conference Registration

Attend CUE for FREE!!
CSLA is seeking six members to attend the March CUE conference in Palm Springs at no cost. Yes, there is a catch. In exchange for your admittance ticket, valued at $280, you will volunteer to staff the CSLA booth for a five-hour shift on one day, Thursday, Friday or Saturday, March 19 – 21. You do not need to be a CUE member to take advantage of this offer but you will be responsible for your own transportation, meals and accommodations.

What is CUE?
CUE is an extraordinary conference that brings together technology and teaching. The full conference registration includes the Kickoff Session, General Session and Closing Session Keynotes, over 300 speaker presentations, CUE Tips, Poster Sessions, the Diverse Learners Symposium and 100,000 square feet of vendor displays with the latest in educational technology on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 19-21, 2015. For additional fees, you can attend one or more Seminars and Hands-on Workshops. Visit the CUE website for further information. 

Contact Silvia Gutierrez at joeeg@earthlink.net if you are interested in this offer!

Ideas on How to Secure Library Funding

by RenĂ©e Ousley-Swank 

As I travel around the state in my capacity as the School Library Technology Consultant, I am frequently asked 1) What library funding is available? And, 2) How do I get library funding? My response is always the same, “While there are no targeted library funds, you should be able to ask for and receive funds through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).” The following is a recap of a newsletter item I wrote last year on changes in school funding.

The LCFF and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) provide opportunities for school libraries to secure funding. The clear need for strong library programs, as evidenced throughout the CCSS, along with funding targeted at improving services to unduplicated students (number of students receiving free & reduced lunch, English Language Learners [ELL], and foster youth) provides a unique opportunity for school libraries to receive funding for both library staffing and collection development. This is a matter of equity, and expansion of school library services is a justifiable expenditure under LCAP. More than 60 studies have shown that reading scores, writing scores, and standardized test scores all improve when students of greatest need have access to a quality library program. See Mansfield University’s, School Library Research Summarized for a summary of school library impact studies from the past 10 years.

In response to the second question, how, let me share some ideas others have successfully used to secure funding. The common strand in those successful endeavors was the development of a clear plan that was shared with administration.
Steps to developing a successful plan:
  • Communicate with your teachers to discover units of study and/or special requests.
  • Use the data you collected in the Annual School Library Survey to provide a longitudinal view of your library program.
  • Run a Collection Analysis – many of the library automation systems have the capability to provide a collection analysis report. Also, remember many of the book vendors such as Capstone, Follett, Mackin, Perma-Bound etc. all offer free collection analysis and provide you a detailed report including stunning visuals (graphs and charts).
  • Develop your plan – armed with the feedback from your teachers, the longitudinal view of your library program, and the graphics from the collection analysis, target your funding request so you can clearly demonstrate why you need the money and how it will be used. As you are developing your plan make sure to consider electronic resources as well as print resources.

School Library Funding

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Do they or don't they have teacher librarians in YOUR county?

CSLA is hoping that CTA and CFT (letters going out to them soon with this request) will join us in asking the state to take a new look at whether or not counties/ districts really do have teacher librarians in place to serve their students, as they are supposed to have. There is some data available but it may be outdated or inaccurate. An equity issue? Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

An interview with Karen Morgenstern, producer of the new CSLA advocacy video

The new CSLA video “Does Your School Have a Teacher Librarian?” has garnered state and national interest (over 3,000 hits in the first two weeks). What’s the backstory behind the video?

Dr. Lesley Farmer, who suggested to CSLA that they should involve Karen Morgenstern in this advocacy video initiative, interviewed this teacher librarian, who works at an independent K-6 school library. Karen had eleven years of film industry experience before starting her school librarianship preparation at CSULB where Dr. Farmer coordinates the program.

When asked how she felt about the video, Karen replied, “It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. It’s so satisfying to show what I know, to create something to advocate to get more teacher librarians in California.”

Karen continued, “Probably the most startling statistics are the comparisons between California and Texas.” Karen remembers her research days at CSULB. “Information science has certain sets of facts based on research, but in the education world, that data hasn’t hit teacher preparation programs.” She continued, “I remember saying in my class that there needs to be a documentary about what kids are doing with information.” As a teacher librarian in an independent K-6 school, Karen was startled by the difference between the openness of Internet access for her students compared to a CSULB peer’s “closed universe” public high school. “Access to the Internet is not enough; kids need access to teacher librarians.”  

Karen recounts the many connections in the process of making the video. “I heard that several CSLA members were going to do a presentation about the value of teacher librarians at the California School Board Association’s conference in San Diego last December. When I found out that no one was taping the session, I thought that the presentation should be documented for CSLA. I went to the high school Media Academy where my sons learned film making, and I borrowed a high-quality video camera from their former film teacher James Gleason.” Karen’s son videotaped the presentation, which she edited—her first foray into editing.
Karen explained to Gleason that documenting this panel presentation was part of a larger process of producing a CSLA advocacy video, and Gleason said he would be interested in shooting and editing it with his former student TerryKhai Ngo. James is very active in an ongoing nonprofit international student film festival always in need of support. The California School Library Foundation approved the funding, using Follett’s donation. “James really believed in the project, even if he didn’t know much about teacher librarians.”

Karen didn’t write a script, but organized the video’s content around interviews she conducted with James and TerryKhai of a variety of teacher librarians and other experts in the field during a CSLA conference. “The narrative would come out of the stories people told.” In one day James and TerryKhai filmed at three school libraries, which showcased the experts’ messages.
Karen said that every interview was valuable. “I have enough raw footage to create several topical videos.” Karen transcribed every interview, and boldfaced important sound bites for James to include in his draft video. Karen also interviewed her own students, prompting them: “Just talk about what I have taught you.” The results were authentic and compelling. “I’d like to compare the statements of legislators’ and superintendents’ own children about school libraries and information literacy with the statements of students who have had school librarians. It would confirm the difference that a teacher librarian makes.”

Then James handed off the video to Terry, who was a wonderful young collaborator. “He anticipated every change I thought should be made, and every problem.” Karen also connected with her school’s music teacher, Lilly Aycud, who is also a composer and performer. She and her husband, Marc Stuart, composed the score for the video, which was their first such effort. “I learned how much music can contribute to the film’s effectiveness. The film and the music came together beautifully.”

When asked what was the most challenging part of making the video, Karen answered: “Confining what we did to ten minutes without having just talking heads. The kids needed to be seen. The school settings needed to be seen. I had to strip the video down to the bare essentials.”  Karen continues, “I would like to include footage showing teacher librarians in action—actually teaching a lesson.”

Karen continues, “I would like to interview college professors and have them talk about the contrast between their students who have had access to teacher librarians with those that haven’t. I would like parents to see that difference. What I see is a disconnect all along the way. Classroom teachers don’t know how to teach information literacy and many don’t know the value of teacher librarians. It’s such a waste of time and energy when students are not using reliable and accurate information. It makes so much sense for all students, including elementary school students, to have teacher librarians.”

Karen concludes, “My message is for California administrators: hire more teacher librarians. And make sure they are full time, utilized to their fullest, and let them provide professional development to other teachers. Karen also says, “I learned so much in making this video—it was a librarian’s dream.”