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.