In an uncertain fall, remote assessments and focus skills offer clarity

Teachers around the country have a lot of questions this fall. How will the lack of summative assessment data from last spring impact the school year? How quickly can I determine what students may have missed in the chaotic close of the 2019–2020 school year? Are remote assessments accurate? How can I parse the interim and formative assessment data of incoming students and focus on the areas that will provide the greatest return?

The answers will vary from school to school, but across the board, assessment is going to be critical in getting students back on track.

Missing and Remote Assessments: Do We Have the Data We Need?…Read More

Leading eLearning: A Future Ready Library opportunity

One of my colleagues is known for regularly reminding us that a crisis is a terrible opportunity to waste. The COVID-19 crisis has forced districts to redefine the manner in which they are delivering education.

In the best-case scenario, district leaders had a week to develop and roll out an eLearning strategy to students. Most teachers had a weekend to prep, and sent their students home without a defined plan or resources to help parents who became teachers overnight.

Related content: 10 reasons school librarians are more important than ever…Read More

5 tips to avoid the summer slide

Research shows that reading at least 20 minutes a day, every day, all year long, can make a world of difference for students at all levels. We know that daily reading practice helps students avoid the dreaded summer slide that can rob them of gains they’ve made during the school year.

The challenge is how to get and keep students engaged in reading over the summer months, without regular contact with teachers, school librarians, and others who provide that reading message during the school year. The solution is a summer literacy initiative that motivates students with the support of both families and community partners.

A successful summer initiative should mirror the school culture and serve as a connector between the prior school year and the upcoming school year. Well-executed summer initiatives that become part of the fabric of a school community result in an expectation that “Of course our students will continue reading over the summer months. Why wouldn’t they?”…Read More

Are you a Future Ready Librarian?

For 20 years, I was a teacher librarian and worked in elementary, middle, and high school libraries. In 2012, I was selected as Washington State Teacher of the Year. And for the last five years, I’ve been a district administrator, including almost two years as chief digital officer overseeing IT and educational technology operations for a district of nearly 24,000 students. To some, I represent the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse—a librarian in charge of IT.

In 2013, I was asked to be part of Project Connect, a Follett School Solutions initiative exploring the role of school libraries and librarians in 21st-century schools. That pioneering work led to Future Ready Librarians, an extension of the national Future Ready Schools initiative at the Alliance for Excellent Education. In my 2016 TEDx talk, I explore both the past and future of school librarianship, challenging educators to see librarians as innovative leaders in 21st-century schools.

Despite seeing glasses as half-full, I will acknowledge that not all school librarians are Future Ready. And yet Future Ready Librarians are essential leaders and educators in 21st-century schools. They offer students, teachers, and administrators an inimitable combination of skills and abilities. In Vancouver (WA) Public Schools (VPS), we enable and empower Future Ready Librarians. Speaking both as a librarian and a district leader, here are a few lessons learned along the way.…Read More

Digital divide, lack of certified librarians ‘a national crisis’

Educators, librarians discuss how schools and libraries can respond to the ‘second wave of the digital divide’

librarians-AASLWashington, D.C. — Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association, said students, teachers, and librarians are facing “a silent dilemma.”

Imagine, she said, you’re one of two students sitting next to each other in the same classroom, receiving the same assignment. The homework requires some online research. One student, who has had a computer as long as she can remember, goes home that night and gets to work.

You, the other student, are from a lower-income family and have never had access to a computer. You eventually are able to sneak in an hour or two at the public library, but as you stare at the empty web browser, you don’t even know where to begin.…Read More

TCEA: Do your libraries need a change?

School libraries should be centers of digital instruction and learning

school-librariesSeeking to ensure school librarians’ roles reflect the changing nature of education, one Texas school district changed its librarians’ positions to better support digital learning.

Library and IT specialists in the Willis Independent School District knew they needed to transform school librarians into vital educational leaders who instruct and engage students with innovative resources and opportunities, and who are actively involved in helping students learn about and evaluate digital resources and information.

During a session at TCEA 2014, Willis ISD Director of Technology Deborah Menefee said the district wanted to support modern library practices that would engage students with opportunities to use digital learning, research, and collaboration tools.…Read More

How 3 districts leverage librarians’ digital knowledge

School librarians are critical to schools’ digital success

librarians-digitalLibrarians and libraries are in a unique position to help schools and districts prepare for and progress through the digital transition, according to a just-released Alliance for Excellent Education report.

Librarians and school leaders can partner to create strategic technology purchasing and implementation plans, and librarians and educators are able to work together on technology integration when it comes to teaching and learning. School libraries, then, become critical to digital learning experiences.

The American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians has adopted the term “school librarian” to include library media specialists, teacher librarians, and media coordinators.…Read More

Why school librarians are critical to digital learning

A new Follett-sponsored initiative aims to raise awareness of how important school librarians are to ed-tech success

librarians
‘It makes sense that, in this Age of Information, we’d want to align our information specialists with the digital conversion taking place in schools,’ Edwards said.

School librarians are critical to the success of digital learning initiatives, and they deserve a place at the table in discussions about digital learning: That’s the message behind a new awareness campaign that targets K-12 superintendents and other senior school district leaders.

“Too many people still see school library programs in kind of a stodgy way. They need to change that mindset and think of a school library almost as the ‘research and development’ center in a school,” said Susan Ballard, a former librarian for the Londonderry, N.H., schools.

Ballard now teaches in an online library science program at Simmons College, and she is the immediate past president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). While she was the organization’s president, she collaborated on an initiative called Project Connect, which aims to give school librarians a stronger voice in the planning and implementation of digital learning programs.…Read More

School librarians are rising school leaders

Librarians play an important role as schools make the digital transition

librarians-leadersSchool librarians are shaking off the decades-old stereotype that they are isolated from a school’s teachers, students, and classrooms. Today’s school librarians, according to a panel discussion that took place during Connected Educator Month and on Connected Librarians Day, are being tapped as influential school leaders with the power to help support the digital transition.

“I see school librarians as school leaders, and I think it’s time for us to step up and be counted,” said Susan Ballard, former president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

This offers great potential for interconnected partnerships.…Read More

Survey: School web filtering can impede learning

Many survey respondents said web filtering can curb learning’s social potential.

More and more students are bringing personal mobile devices to school, but a new survey from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) finds that internet filtering often prevents students from taking advantage of learning’s social potential.

School librarians report that web filtering programs have had varied effects in their schools and on school library programs. Fifty-two percent said internet filters have impeded student research when topics or keyword searches are filtered. Half said web filtering has decreased the number of potential distractions, while 42 percent said it discounts social aspects of learning.

Roughly one-third said internet filtering has decreased the need for direct supervision, 25 percent said it has prevented continued collaboration outside of face-to-face opportunities, and 23 percent said web filtering allows research curriculum to yield more relevant results.…Read More