Sunday, June 30, 2013

Retired (not)

The AASL Retiree Special Interest Group (SIG) is a group of former school librarians who have remained actively involved in our profession and are seeking to formalize their role within AASL. Ann Marie Pipkin from Alabama has chaired the SIG this past year. This was AASL's first SIG; a new Student SIG has since been formed as well.

The group met at ALA Annual this week to review progress made so far and to make plans for the future. Kathy Lowe and Linda Friel from MSLA were among the participants.

Hilda Weisburg (NJ) reported on the New Jersey Association of School Librarians' (NJASL) mentoring program, which is made up of volunteer retired members. Her recommendation is to start letting other states know how retirees can participate in their state organizations and encourage states to get their retirees involved.

AASL Hartford program - Mentoring: A Win Win Proposition
A proposal from the Retiree SIG for a panel of retirees to speak on mentoring opportunities available within ALA has been accepted by the AASL Conference Committee. The NJASL program will be cited as an example of how to implement a mentoring program at the state level. SIG members were asked to volunteer to facilitate breakout discussions.  Fran Roscello (NY) asked for ideas for an activity for retirees at the AASL conference in Hartford, CT in November. Dinner (or breakfast) with Your Local Retired Librarian was one suggestion.

The Membership Committee has started calling retired librarians to see if they want to remain active in AASL. Ann Marie Pipkin asked for volunteers to continue calling others. Allison Cline (the SIG's AASL staff liaison) has written a script of talking points. Also, a point person is needed to connect with the Student SIG group.

Ann Marie asked if anyone is interested in chairing this SIG next year and Irene Kwidzinski (CT) volunteered to take the position.

ALA has a Retired Members Round Table that Ann Marie encouraged all to join and attend its meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia next January.

After the meeting, several SIG members adjourned to Emilio's Tapas restaurant for some informal networking. See the photo here: 

No matter where you are on your professional trajectory, there are always ways to stay involved and continue to contribute to the profession - and keep on going to national conferences!

NCLE --great opportunity for librarians

The National Center for Literacy Education is a great opportunity for school librarians to shine in front of our colleagues in education.  NCLE is a coalition of over 2 dozen educational organizations with an interest in promoting literacy.  NCLE offers grants, promotes best practice, and shares ideas among its stakeholders.  I first heard about NCLE at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Seattle and joined its listserv.  I have been very impressed with the quality of resources about literacy initiatives and best practices that appear weekly in my email, and have put many into practice and shared many more with my principal and teachers.  This afternoon, Cara Calvin, an AASL volunteer who acts as a liaison to NCLE described how librarians could ask NCLE for small grants to support projects in schools and districts to pilot projects and get materials.  She also urged us to join the site and post projects to showcase best practices.  It is clear that this is a strong opportunity for librarians to demonstrate their skills as teachers and to show colleagues and administrators how we add value to student learning.  I hope to promote this initiative when I return to Massachusetts!

What happens at Affiliate Assembly?

AASL Affiliate Assembly met this morning.  We were represented by Amy Short and Sharon Hamer, and I went along too.  This group is where representatives from school library organizations throughout the country come to share ideas and concerns and to recognize good things that are happening in the field. Over the years, we’ve gotten some terrific ideas here from other state initiatives.  For instance, check out what Colorado is up to!
MSLA sends two representatives to the assembly as voting members.  We are then grouped by region, and we belong to the New England region, called Region 1 here.  We sit with our region and share.  Ours is the only region that has formed a professional organization (NESLA), and our affiliate assembly representatives are also our representatives to NESLA.  Within our region, we elect a director, who sits on the board of the AASL Executive Board and helps shape their policies.  The regional directors spend an enormous amount of time meeting while we are at ALA to plan and organize for AASL.  As of this weekend, Valerie Diggs from MSLA stepped down after four years in this position, and turned the responsibility over to Michelle Luhtala of Connecticut.  This morning we discussed how Region 1 states select their delegates and got some good ideas for refining our own selection process. Sharon Hamer was nominated as our regional representative alternate to work with Michelle at our meetings.   Sharon and Amy will be sharing information about the specific work of this affiliate assembly with MSLA through our next issue of the MSLA Forum. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

On the level

Elementary librarians (like me) and maybe even the middle school practioners spend lots of time tryin to decipher what the reading people are up to--and one of the trickiest bits involves book leveling.  Kate Todd presented a librarians guide to leveled reading and explained the difference between quantative leveling (such as lexile levels) that use a formula based on word length, sentence length to determine reading difficulty, and qualitative leveling (such as Fuontas and Pinnell) that use additional features of the book to determine reading difficulty.  Notes for this are here.

Todd then presented some potential benefits of leveling books--helping students to find books they can read independently, providing the motivation of a successful reading experience.  However, she pointed out that librarians, appropriately, have some concerns about using book leveling in the library.  In fact ALA and AASL have issued statements cautioning librarians about some issues with book leveling, such as revealing confidential information about students (telling students they can only take a book at their reading levels shows each student who can and cannot read well), having children limited in their book selection and censoring what they select, and skewing the reasons for reading to be about rewards (e.g., Accelerated Reader) and not about the intrinsic value of reading.  LOTS of discussion ensued with many concerns raised about leveling in the interesting topic to pursue in our own practice with our own reading teachers.

Loving kids, having fun, using digital resources

 Mark Edwards, Superintendent of Mooresville Managed School District in North Carolina presented at the AASL President's Program this morning.  We heard about his district's astonishing results in education using well-thought through shifts to digital learning (every student has a laptop) and project-based learning.  He told us that librarians are part of the shared leadership in the district, where when they have to lay off staff, they NEVER lay off librarians!  Edwards embraces an "All in!" approach where every child and every adult matters and every child and every adult is responsible for adults.  Students track their own learning and from young age have an awareness and a responsibility for their "trajectory of learning."  Edwards prizes professional development and created a summer institute for teachers and 12 early release days each year to have teachers think deeply and reflectively about practice. Edwards recommends all staff read specific books in unison to discuss common strong ideas to lead to an ongoing and evolving teaching culture:
·         All Systems Go by Michael Fullton
·         Building Leadership Capacity in Schools
·         Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
·         Brain Rules:  John Medina
·         Drive:  Daniel Pink

·         A New Culture of Learning:  Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown

Hello From Chicago with great websites

Massachusetts is well represented at ALA Chicago this summer.  Here on official ALA business are Valerie Diggs, Kathy Lowe, Judi Paradis and our representatives to the AASL Affiliate Assembly Sharon Hamer and Amy Short.  In addition, we have been running into many friends from home--members of the MSLA Board, and friends from the Massachusetts Library System.

I am starting the day at the roll out of AASL's Best Websites for Teaching and Learning--my pinterest boards are growing by the minute.  The best website list is not up on the AASL website just yet, but some of the sites rolling out that look good include Wonderopolis, Marqueed, icivics, Seriously Amazing, Edudemic, and Science NetLinks.