6 must-haves in a modern media center

Our county is on track to outpace the nation’s population growth between now and 2024, and is posting 8.7 percent annual growth (compared to 3.9 percent for the U.S. as a whole). With a current population of over 1.4 million, our area is perpetually in need of new or expanded school facilities to accommodate these ongoing increases.

When a new subdivision began welcoming residents to the Sun City Center area in early 2020, we realized that we needed a new elementary school to accommodate those families. With our media specialists at the heart of the decision-making and planning process, our district set out to build a new facility from the ground up.

6 elements of a great media center…Read More

The New Librarian: How I created a makerspace

As an elementary educator for most of my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with a variety of learners—from inner-city students in North Carolina to university-level students in Chicago—but I found my true calling as the librarian at Hubbard Woods Elementary in Winnetka, Illinois. I’ve been called the “Willy Wonka of school librarians” because I transformed our traditional library into what I call an IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering, and Art) Lab complete with flexible furniture, robotics, engineering tools, iPads, laptops, and sewing machines.

To get started, I used my experience as a classroom educator to create a cross-curricular library curriculum that supports classroom teachers’ lessons, marrying the idea of books and bytes. Daily activities include robot bowling, using robots to paint pictures, and filming and producing music videos staring (you guessed it) robots!

For other districts that want to turn their libraries into IDEA labs, here are some insights into how we made it all happen.…Read More

A year in the life of a student-centered library

There’s no “typical” day for a library media specialist. In one school day, we can teach a class about fake news, help one student find the perfect resource for his research project, and guide another toward a “just-right” book series that appeals to her personal interests. For 21st-century media specialists, the idea of the library as a quiet space is out and creating new opportunities for deeper learning with students is in.

Our district, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) is the eighth-largest school district in the nation. We provide a wealth of educational opportunities for students and families that range from Head Start to adult-education programs within our 227 traditional public and magnet schools. We are a melting pot of urban, rural, and suburban areas. The word “diverse” doesn’t begin to describe our wide array of students and schools. It’s our job to make sure that at every school, every student has equitable access to high-quality reading, learning, and technological resources.

As we look back on 2017, we’d like to share the best practices that have worked for us, as well as a few predictions about what 2018 will look like for media specialists.…Read More

The big events, keynotes, and 5 major trends at ISTE 2016

Are you heading to Denver? Here’s a quick look at what you’ll experience

Educators preparing to travel to Denver for ISTE 2016 can expect thought-provoking keynotes, interactive learning opportunities and more than 900 sessions at this year’s conference.

The annual event offers networking and professional development opportunities for educators from every discipline, education leaders, ed-tech coordinators, library and media specialists, and more. And while sessions and events run the full gamut of ed-tech topics, there are a handful of major themes that crop up again and again.

Playgrounds will feature hands-on learning opportunities that let attendees see, touch, hear and feel classroom solutions. Playground themes include Computational Thinking & Computer Science and Maker playgrounds on Sunday afternoon. Creativity, Digital StoryTelling, Early Learning, Ed Tech Coaches, and Games & Virtual Environments.…Read More

This is how librarians can lead the digital transformation

Despite being pressed for time and resources, librarians can serve as change agents in their schools’ digital transformation

librarians-digitalRecently, as I was serving on a panel at the Texas Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference, one attendee explained to us how she is trying to keep up with the new technologies coming into her school. How, she asked, could she implement them successfully while continuing to provide the same services for which her library is known?

It’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s one that the panelpart of Follett’s Project Connect, which is aimed at shedding light on how librarians can be a solution to the many challenges that arise from a digital transformationwas well-poised to answer. Based on my experiences as director of library media services for Nebraska’s Lincoln Public Schools, I was able to come up with two suggestions.

First, pace yourself and determine what is coming off your plate. We need to continually re-think why we are doing what we are doing. Yes, we feel we need superhuman powers because our jobs are getting busier, but in order to sustain ourselves, school librarians really do need to determine which pieces of our work can no longer be priorities, and then let them go.…Read More