Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reading and the Common Core

AASL=seeing your favorite people in the world in person. I subscribe to Library Sparks mostly for Tony Buzzeo's monthly column on lessons aligned to the Common Core.  So, of course, I went to see
Tony Buzzeo's presentation on Reading and the Common Core.  Tony pointed out at the beginning of her talk that we have a HUGE opportunity with the ELA Common Core.  Using EBSCO and other databases has great links to periodical articles and the lexile level for the articles is given for each article.  Teachers will love this.  We also talked about some great informational text authors--Steve Jenkins

She showed us reading standards that we can cite--and many of these are activities that most good school librarians are already modeling all them:
  • Pulling out evidence from a text to answer a question
  • Comparing 2 texts on a similar topic to show how they are alike and different
  • Selecting and sharing books with appropriate complexity for the intended grade level
  • Quoting accurately from text (great place to use document cameras/ebooks) to answer a question--and describe what you can infer (start with -- what is a character like?  then show us in the book where it says that)
  • Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak knowledgeably about the subject (great opportunity to use a combination of books and periodical articles)
ALWAYS document what you do--attach the ELA standard to what you are doing and make sure classroom teachers and your administrators know that you are doing this. 

Join forces with colleagues--choose topics and divide the work to develop curriculum.  She also recommended Novelist Plus, which has many common core lesson plans.  Massachusetts databases do not include Novelist Plus (just Novelist) and she suggested school librarians request this upgrade to help them with common core.

A couple of books new to me that I will definitely be purchasing:
Do you know which ones will grow? by Susan A. Shea
A wizard from the start by Don Brown
The boy who harnessed the wind by William Kankwambe
Farmer Will Allen and the growing table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
When the Beat was Born:  DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill
My First Day by THE AMAZING Steve Jenkins
Lifetime: the Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer
Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (pair it with Mo Willem's Naked Mole Rat)
Pedal It! by Michelle Mulder
Locomotive by Brian Floca

Great handouts here

Friday, November 15, 2013

PBS Learning Media

I have long been a fan of Teachers' Domain, so was eager to go see its new incarnation as PBS learning media

You need to set up free account with email and PW; there is an email account you can use (they will help you set it up) so you can set up an account for students to use

34,000 digital resources, includes:

  • Short clips from longer PBS national programs and local productions, some are from high-quality partners (e.g, NASA, Smithsonian), and some are produced specifically for the site
  • all clips are selected to be tied to particular curriculum and all are tied to standards
  • many clips are associated with a lesson plan that indicates how to use the clip appropriately
All clips are searchable by keywords, grade level, subject area, and by CCSS standards and some national stantdards
  • Clips can be saved using favorite buttons and saved to folders; folders can be shared
  • There are also clips organized by public media series, state and local collections, curriculum topics and theme
  • There is a whole collected of "characteristics of highly effective teaching and learning" that could be used for PD within your school--short videos showing many best practices for teaching and classroom management
Themed-content in middle school literacy practicing reading and writing in the content area (pbslearningmedia/collections/midlit), including science (energy, plate tectonics, health), ELA (character development, personification), social studies, mathematics--most populated at science and social studies
  • Lesson plans go with all topics and have been created and vetted with and by experts/teachers
  • Includes a number of literacy strategies--categorize, compare/contrast, find evidence, etc etc
We looked at 2 excellent lessons -- one on cowbirds and one on Pocahontus.  The workshop participants all agreed that the lessons were engaging (actually fun and very interesting), and there were some excellent student activities and assignments embedded into each one.    These would make excellent assignments for supplementation, homework, self-paced work in a topic area.

Many, many middle school math lessons and activities will be added soon

Thursday, November 14, 2013


When I had the privilege of attending AASL11 two years ago in Minneapolis, one of my favorite parts was IDEAxCHANGE, also known as the Exploratorium.  It's a chance to talk to librarians from across the country and find out what neat, innovative, groundbreaking things they're doing in their libraries, learn from them, get ideas, get inspired, and go home ready to try something new. 

This year was no different.  There were 36 tables, and I stopped by at least 5 that had a MSLA member, so go us! We are out there on the forefront doing amazing things and teaching others, and I think we should be really proud of what we're accomplishing in the field.   Just to give you a small taste of the presentations I walked by: library centers, featuring Newton library teacher Jessica Lodge and her partners, Cari Young from San Antonio and Carolyn Vibbert from Dumfries, Virginia, Library Pals, an online, virtual penpal partnership between Newton library teacher Jennifer Reed and a librarian in Minnesota, Boston Arts Academy/Fenway High School Library Director Deborah Lang Froggatt's presentation on using iPads to enable free agent learning, tables covering how to teach copyright, responsible digital citizenship, writing mentor programs in the library, Common Core connections, using picture books to teach civics and current events, a new filing system that combines non-fiction and fiction together using new subject headings, and so much more.  

It can be almost overwhelming at times, but it's also an energizing, exciting moment because you walk away buzzing with ideas. I've already jotted down at least ten things I want to try when I get back to school on Monday - even though I know some of them will take a lot of time! The IDEAxCHANGE was phenomenal, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow and Saturday's concurrent sessions bring.  Best of all, I don't have to agonize as much as I did last time about which sessions to attend, because 70 of them will be recorded and hosted on eCOLLAB by AASL (all handouts and materials distributed at the IDEAxCHANGE are also available there), which is free for all AASL members.  

Welcome to AASL 13

It's a beautiful morning in Hartford CT and we're getting ready for AASL 13.  There are lots of MSLA members and we'd love to have you blogging with us.  If you're interested, let us know!

It's preconference day here and I'm presenting with Judi Moriellen and teams of librarians and teachers from around the country to show that teacher-librarian collaboration is a terrific way to boost the efficacy of both teaching partners.  My favorite first grade teacher, Marianne Duffy, and I are showing off some of the terrific research we do together with her ELL class.  I am guessing that if you can do research with grade 1 ELL kids, you can do research with anybody!

This afternoon's Idea Exchange is another opportunity to get some great ideas.  I'm working with the Essential Links group there to show off the resources AASL has cached for members. Please come over and say "hi" and find out what we've been collecting to help school librarians.