Monday, March 10, 2014

Connecting struggling readers with accessible resources

One in 10 students has a recognized disability under Americans with Disabilities Act--physical, emotional, reading,etc.  This is 2 kids per class in most schools.

How do you keep these kids up to grade level with reading.

Resources available for struggling readers

  • large print books are very useful (also can be great for struggling readers as they look easier)
  • not as many for teens because they are not published in quantity
  • e-readers can blow up fonts --make these available for kids to read; ipods and phones can also be made available
  • audios with books
  • databases--blow up page using CTRL+  many of the state databases have a text to speech icon and you can click that to have article read to you
Perkins focuses on general reading; Learning Ally focuses mostly on textbooks, but also has a collection of novels need to log in as a teacher and you can set up pages for your students--
Librarians can set up accounts for teachers and they can add students, indicate their students' disabilities and then see what is available for students

Kids with print disabilities can get accounts to download books

In Learning Ally:
  • Classic audio is what you'd think
  • audio with H shows text with audio
  • can work in ios and droid devices or you can download software on to a PC or mac; there is a free app in the itunes store; NOT compatible with kindle, nook or chrome books
Perkins School for Blind--you don't have to be legally blind to use their materials and services--just people who have any issues with seeing print (even if they can see) and people with learning disabilities, and people who have trouble physically holding a book
You can download applications for your organization
You receive books with an audioplayer in the mail
NO cost--including no postage
They have a ton of books, magazines, 

Perkins Newsline--accesses today's newspaper by telephone or computer; there are over 300 newspapers and 25 magazines.  To get into this 888-882-1629  you need an access code that you get through the Perkins Library

Lots of books for children and teens can be downloaded from a website--there is an app for this BARD mobile

Reading device from Perkins will allow you to change speed and tone of the reader (and app replicates this)

On a school account you can have up to 5 devices linked to Perkins that you can use to download

SMART Goals and Elementary Students

Elementary school librarians in the elementary Newton Public Schools presented on how they crafted and rolled out a group goal to set a uniform standard for their students and program.

Newton Director Chris Swerling said that power in SMART goals comes from collaboration with other teachers, using observable evidence and data to show that you are focused on something that matters, and it can help to align your goal with the school improvement plan or the Common Core Standards.

Librarians Rachel Lundquist, Patti Karem and Heather Leoleis described how the group goal was developed. The librarians had developed a 50 question survey for their grade 5 students to assess if they had mastered the skills that the librarians believed students should know before heading to middle school.  The survey was delivered to students in a google doc and the information was collected in a way to see if there were areas that needed attention.

The librarians reviewed the data from this survey and discovered that having students locate materials in the library after finding a call number in the computer catalog was a weakness in their district.  Based on this evidence, they decided that this was a skill they wanted to work on through their SMART goal.  The librarians decided to target grade 4 and decided to set it as a two-year goal, and developed 4 pre-assessments.  Their pre-assessment indicated that students did understand how to read the library records (students knew what the call number meant), but they could not located the book in the library once they had the record.

What surprised you about the data
What are the next steps

The librarians then developed a number of action steps--some were common among all the librarians, others were used used by specific librarians tweaked to meet the needs of specific schools and collections.  Students were asked for input in how to solve the problem--for example, they asked to have some of the signage changed to help them find books more easily.

The data informed instruction, and this process with preassessing students and seeing the results at the end really does help to ensure that you are making progress with your students.  Some real benefits of this process helps to show your administrators the teaching and learning happening in the school learning.

All teachers were required to do the work for the goal--but librarians were given leeway to accomplish the goal in different ways.  For instance, meetings were held for those librarians who wanted to discuss action steps in detail after school, but librarians who felt confident about how they were moving forward were not required to attend these.

Jarrett Krosozcka

Jarrett Krosozcka, creator of the Lunch Lady series, described a childhood where he was constantly reading comic books, but sure that this was not really reading.  Yet, he pointed out that he walked a three mile  round trip to buy comic books each week.  He pointed out that this commitment does indicate that he probably was  reader.  He told us that he values that librarians because they have championed the graphic novel.  He also said he does not like the idea of promoting comic books and graphic novels as "gateway books" that kids will eventually give up as they discover "real books."  He, instead, sees these as a parallel universe where something such as Art Spiegelman's Maus is the pinnacle you want kids to reach.

Krosozcka described the path that led to his success as a children's book author and illustrator.  He showed us that from an early age, he'd been an artist and an illustrator--producing books and comic strips throughout out elementary school and high school.  He received support and encouragement throughout, and it led him to RSDI, where he concentrated on developing picture books.  He told us how an author visit from Jack Gantos encouraged him, how his grandparents saved his work, and how a teacher led him to become a reader through (of all things) Anne of Green Gables.

Korsozcka described how he creates the Lunch Lady books.  We saw the genesis of this series, the process he uses to create the page, and described what happens when you create a series.  His newest series Platypus Police Squad, he describes as a cross between Frog and Toad are Friends and Lethal Weapon.  He told us that he does his research by visiting cafeterias, watching platypus videos and riding in police cars.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Olga Nesi--Transformative Power of Care

Applying painstaking attention to an issue can really transform a program in your school.  Olga Nesi described how using incredible care helped her transform the reading culture in her school.

Nesi described her school's well-intentioned reading program as a "dead horse" and described the process she used to carefully, slowly and intentionally to shift the culture so that the entire school bought in to transforming her middle school to become a school where reading is valued, participation is increased, and EVERYONE participates in a culture of reading.

Nesi's step (which she describes as useful for any big library shift) include:

Form allies--who can you approach to help you?  look for natural allies (e.g., new teachers, reading staff, parents); think about THEIR goals for the shift--what concerns do they have, what outcome do they want to see

Prepare for change--bring a team together and discuss HOW this will happen; use great care in explaining why the change needs to happen (what is the dead horse?) and talk about how you can carefully and intentionally change the culture--get buy-in

Step 3:  Roll out--Olga described a new reading program that her team developed that got rid of many of the elements that were not working (book reports, summer reading assignments, etc).  Some of the components of her program included:

  • book hooks--instead of book reports, students used short forms to keep track of what they read and these were stored in ELA classrooms; included short "what is the hook?" and 3 words/phrases that described the book
  • language to describe books--Nesi used a list of adjectives that she overtly taught to kids through ELA classes to help them acquire a vocabulary they could use to discuss the book's pacing, tone, characters.  Her book "Getting Beyond Interesting" discusses how this works.
  • reading bulletin boards--as school began EVERY bulletin board in the building had a message that the school was a READING school; Olga provided classes with book hook forms to post on the boards as students reported on what they were reading at the beginning of the school year (no more summer book reports)
  • stress free books--in a school with many SPED students, Olga encouraged the kids to also include "stress free" books on book hooks--those considered below grade level, such as picture books and a list of stress-free book hooks is available to everyone
  • book pamphlets and reading lists--at different points during the year, pamphlets and online promotions are created using students' book hooks and these are shared widely
  • All school read--Principal purchased Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for everyone in the middle school--teachers and kids
  • teachers as readers--Olga encourages all teachers (apart from reading with students) to read current YA books to introduce great new literature to faculty
  • promoting the program to feeder schools--Olga goes out to the elementary schools in the spring before kids come to her school to promote reading and the library

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Melissa Stewart

Melissa Stewart has written has written more than 200 nonfiction books for children.  She presented on the evolution of the nonfiction book, and described some of the more interesting types of nonfiction books currently available for children.  These include:

Traditional narrative--take a topic and tell what you know; the True book series follows this model

Creative narrative--takes a nonfiction topic and tells it from a particular point of view, follows a chronological order, or imposes some other structure on the information

  • layered texts are now often employed in some texts, in which basic facts are presented in large type and more detailed information is also provided using a smaller font for more sophisticated readers

Compare and contrast--just what it says

List --a general concept or category is presented and then examples are provided on each page

Question and answer books--some are especially well done, such as Steve Jenkins "What Do You Do With a Tail Like This"

Stewart's website includes lots of ideas for how teachers and librarians can use nonfiction texts, and she has a great example of how she revised a book that could be used when working with students on their writing.

Paige Jaeger: Nonfiction and the Common Core

Paige Jaeger is leading a group of NESLA pre-conference folks through a discussion of the role of
Nonfiction and Common Core.

Pay attention to assessment so you can show your own efficacy!  Assessment is turning from a way we determine if students know something to a way to show we are doing our work effectively.  A good instructor DOES assess learning.  We need excellent rubrics.

If you do or create anything--make sure you indicate that it comes from the library!  Get credit for what you're doing!

The big picture--where does nonfiction fit in to the Common Core:

SHIFT 1 & 2:

  • Close reading and text-based answers
  • writing from sources
SHIFT 3 & 4:
  • spotlight on vocabulary
  • literacy is not just ELA
SHIFT 5 &6:
  • building knowledge
  • 50% - 50%--reading fiction/nonfiction
GOAL:  College and Career readiness--reading, writing and information literacy is needed

Sleeping kids in your class with no engagement is a waste of tax payer money :)
We need to engage kids in a deep learning experience
New challenges for us:
  • how kids search--quick, bouncy, look at a site for a total of 2 minutes to evaluate if it is good/useful
  • 3 dimensional reading--reading a screen is not a left-right/up-down experience
  • expect high level of excitement to stay engaged
  • if you don't give a student a question, they don't know when to stop a search
  • good questions mean you need to craft questions that cannot easily be "googled"
  • "selfie generation"--needs to be all about them

Half of the Common Core is content and half is delivery
  • the delivery change is where the library comes in!!-
  • IFORMATION is mentioned 10 times more than TECHNOLOGY in the standards
  • Teachers should move from a "covering" content mode to an "uncover and discover" mode:  nonfiction should be at the heart of information delivery
  • Research is one of the only types of learning that embraces every shift of the CCSS; lots of short research is useful--research is an ANCHOR STANDARD
Book recommendations:  Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov -- will help you address this as you talk to your teachers about bumping things up
Prescription for the Common Core by Paige Jaeger--organized essential questions

  • The fastest way to improve vocabulary is READING (Marilyn Jager Rand) and nonfiction has higher level vocabulary
  • Librarians who can get students to do more independent reading will prove their worth
  • Develop an academic vocabulary -- over a 4th grade level (BIG issue for ELL kids and kids coming from poverty)
  • Paige Jaeger has Vocabulary bulletin board ideas on her website
  • You cannot JUST read a book--the book and reading must serve a purpose--have a question where kids are using evidence from the book to support a claim
  • Think about how to draw attention to high-level vocabulary during library read-alouds  (e.g., read Dav Pilkey's Kat Kong and tell kids that there will be 15 amazing new words in this book--create a bookmark list of the words.  Have the kids notice when these words appear in the text and help figure out what they mean)
  • As you read a nonfiction text to students, talk about what the key words you could pull out to do further research on that topic
  • Help kids practice fluency and use a technology such as audacity to record kids reading with tone and voice; select a book with the right lexile level and one that has content that ties into curriculum (e.g., So You Want to Be President for grade 5 civics)
  • Wordless picture books--what is the main idea?  Put it into words.  Have kids write dialog and use great words.
Essential Questions

  • Give kids an essential question and then an article that contains information that will help them determine an opinion;  Tell kids that we are going to have an "evidence-based" discussion
  • Important role for library is to provide multiple perspectives and help students see multiple points of view--more than one source matters
  • Creating an essential question--you want to create an enduring understanding
  • A good essential question can help save a lame research question--look at your "find the answer" types of research and think about how you can improve it with a targeted question:
    • what can you ask that will compel the students to find an answer
    • can you embed a pronoun (we, I, us, you)
    • What is the moral of the story/
  • If your assignment can be answered on Google, then it is void of higher level thought.
Look at Intel Teach Program for ideas for "country reports" that matter--looking at real world problems--nice website

Up and at 'em with NESLA

Our annual conference is underway!  This morning we are kicking things off with a preconference event sponsored by NESLA.  NESLA decided that it would make sense to offer some preconference days for its members tied to state conferences, and MSLA was the first to take them up on this exciting offer.

Today, we arrived early on Cape Cod (where it promises to be above freezing!) to gather as NESLA President Irene Kwidinski gave the annual awards out for NESLA, to announce NESLA's new ability to offer webinars, and to hold a brief annual meeting.

The highlight of our day is a presentation on Nonfiction and the Common Core.  We are waiting to hear from Paige Jaeger and author Melissa Stewart about how to effectively use excellent nonfiction books in engaging students and teachers in this new focus of the Common Core standards.

Throughout the weekend, we look forward to having librarians with us from around the state and around New England.  Please check in here for updates throughout the weekend as we gather and learn.