School Library Journal Leadership Summit

It’s time to get back on the blogging track. I’m spending a couple of days in Washington DC at the School Library Journal Leadership Summit. The event is full of school librarians as well as some authors and illustrators. The main discussions will center around reading and ebooks. I’m not exactly sure what to expect from the event, but I’m excited to be surrounded by some familiar faces, meet a few more, and learn.

The first evening included a social event sponsored by Capstone. Author Michael Dahl was there signing copies of his books. He signed a couple of books I can’t wait to share with the students at school.

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Let’s Play The Feud!

I was extremely fortunate to be asked to participate in an incredibly fun event at ISTE in Philadelphia.  The ISTE Conference has been one of the highlights of my summer for the past few years and something I begin looking forward to way before the school year ends.  This year, I was part of a session that was more fun that I could have imagined.  My friends and colleagues Dr. Joyce Valenza – Teacher Librarian, NeverEndingSearch Blog, Gwyneth Jones – The Daring Librarian, Shannon McClintock Miller – Van Meter Library VOICE, Matthew Winner – The Busy Librarian, Nicholas Provenzano – The Nerdy TeacherSteve Dembo and I participated in a wildly entertaining Family Feud style game show.  We wanted to share a variety of tools educators are using with those in attendance.  Prior to the event, we crowdsourced the answers to a list of questions we came up with.  A couple of excellent secret keepers, Paul Wood and Diane Cordell, tallied the survey results and along with Steve’s excellence, put together a slideshow of the answers – complete with Family Feud graphics and sounds.  We thought it would be an interesting twist to the event if we all dressed in 70’s style clothing.  I’m not sure if this turned out to be a good idea or not.  The session was a complete blast with Team MacGUYver winning, at least that’s the way I saw it.  If you’d like to watch the recording of the session, please do it.  I think you’ll learn something and certainly be entertained.

Here’s the link to the video.

Here’s a link to the wiki with even more information.

Note: I am more than honored to be mentioned in the same breath as those mentioned above.  They are not only incredible educators, but wonderful people as well.  I’m learned so much from them over the years and was thrilled to be on stage with them!  I hope they ask me back.

No Flexible Schedule Next Year

(Note: I wrote this post originally using Dragon Dictation.  I had to go back and do quite of a bit of editing.  The writing isn’t the greatest, sorry.  No more blog posts using Dragon Dictation).

Excitement has turned into disappointment for me over the past several months.  Many of the school librarians in my district have been working together to formulate a new plan to continue providing quality library services to our students.  The plan that we developed would move us from a fixed schedule to a flexible schedule.  My department spent a lot of time reading articles about flexible schedules and the benefits for students.  We worked with the Director of Curriculum Instruction in our district, who is the head of our department, for quite some time developing a plan to make the transition.  We met with the Superintendent two weeks before school got out and presented the plan to him.  He was supportive of the idea but was a little hesitant making the move district wide, which was understandable.  He suggested that anywhere from 3 to 5 of our 11 elementary schools participate in a pilot project moving to a flexible schedule next year.  For classroom teachers, this would mean a reduction in prep time of one hour per week.  He asked if we had some ideas on schools that would be interested in being part of the pilot.  I thought my school would be one for sure.

This was something I’ve been working on for long time and felt pretty strongly about.  I think the flexible schedule meets the needs of students and teachers a lot better than a regular fixed schedule.  I know there were still a lot of questions that we had about moving to a flexible schedule.  The superintendent suggested we touch base with classroom teachers to find out what they thought and then have a meeting with the staff.  Discussions with the principal we’re going to take place first.  The principal was completely on board with this transition.  When I talked with each of the classroom teachers for a few minutes the days following the meeting with the superintendent, everyone seemed pretty positive.  I didn’t have anybody who was feeling really negative about it but didn’t want to do it. There were a few questions here and there but nothing that seemed to be raising any red flags.  We held a staff meeting on the Tuesday before school got out with the idea of making the move to a flexible schedule.  We had more discussions about this idea of moving to a flexible schedule at a staff meeting and more and more questions came out.  I felt a little blindsided by this because the discussions that I had earlier with people seemed as though everyone was on board.  Now, however, it seemed sort of the opposite.  There were more and more questions, but ran out of time at the faculty meeting discussing the idea.  We decided to continue the discussion two days later.  The second meeting was productive but a little bit heated at times.  Reluctantly, the group came to the conclusion that the staff was not ready to move to a flexible schedule.

I was really disappointed.  I really felt that this was the best move for the school.  Unfortunately, there were so many questions that the teachers still had that we didn’t have answers for.  They wanted to have a little bit more certainty moving forward so we scrapped the plan and are going to work on some things next year that will help us transition to a flexible schedule.  The district will most likely be moving in this direction the following school year.  Teachers felt as though the year to plan and prepare will help us do a better job of moving to a flexible schedule. I don’t disagree with some of the things that concern the teachers, but overall I do think we could’ve pulled off.  Oh well.

We Have a Winner

Well, the contest is over and a winner has been randomly chosen.  Thank you to “bigvincec” for contributing this picture for the Lenovo M90z library photo contest.  I left a comment on the photo in Flickr.  I’ll give him a few days to get me his information – either by a comment here or in the comment section of the picture.  If I don’t get it, I’ll randomly select a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos.  Here’s a link to all of the pictures.

Game On!

The M90z contest is now open!  If you want to read in more about the contest or the reasoning behind me choosing this as the contest, you can do so here or here.

Here’s the contest in a nutshell: 

To enter, you must submit a picture of any school or public library that you think is fantastic.  The photo could be of the entire library, a small corner, a new book display, signage, reading area or whatever you think shows off a neat library space.  The main idea is to share pictures of great library spaces with others to help everyone create wonderful library environments.  Here are a few requirements that must be followed:

  • All photos must be uploaded to Flickr and tagged “librarym90z”
  • In the description of the photo, please include the name of the library and the location.
  • State what you think is so special about the photo.
  • To be eligible for the computer, photos must be posted between May 11 and May 15.

That’s it, it’s pretty simple.  Are you in?

The Contest…Are You In?

I’m not talking about That Contest, I’m talking about the Lenovo M90z Contest that’s starting here on May 11th and wrapping up on May 15th.  Over the past several weeks, many bloggers have been writing about and giving away a Lenovo M90z All-in-One desktop computer as part of a promotional arrangement.  Some of these bloggers have ties to the educational blogosphere while others do not.  The contests have been pretty interesting, all lasting 5 days each.  Here’s a neat example of the contest my friend Lee Kolbert ran on her blog.  My contest, is the last of the bunch and one that I think a lot of educators, especially school librarians, can benefit from.

I wrote a previous post that prompted my idea for the contest.  I’m interested in creating fantastic library spaces in my school library, but often struggle with ideas on what I could do.  Seeing other school libraries could give me ideas on displays, signage, or furniture arrangements to improve the atmosphere of the library.  However, actually visiting a lot of libraries isn’t the easiest thing to do.  This is where the contest comes in.  To enter the contest, you must submit a picture of any school or public library that you think is fantastic.  The photo could be of the entire library, a small corner, a display, signage, reading area or whatever you want.  The main idea is to share pictures of great library spaces with others to help everyone create wonderful library environments.  Here are a few requirements that must be followed:

  • All photos must be uploaded to Flickr and tagged “librarym90z”
  • In the description of the photo, please include the name of the library and the location.
  • State what you think is so special about the photo.
  • To be eligible for the computer, photos must be posted between May 11 and May 15.

That’s it, it’s pretty simple.  Are you in?

Soon after May 15th, one winner will be selected among the hundreds (hopefully) of photos submitted and that person will receive a Lenovo M90z computer all for themselves.

Spaces in the Library

Schools and classrooms can be exciting places of learning. Like our homes, we invest a lot of time in our workplaces and we want them to be comfortable. The more we feel comfortable in our space, the more productive it can be. This comfort translates to the students as well. If they are in an environment that is conducive to learning, the will be more productive as well. The physical layout of not just our classrooms, but our school libraries as well, should create these positive climates.

To some extent, the layout and furniture in our classrooms and libraries is not in our control. We walk into our rooms when we first get the job and take a look around. The desks and tables that are already in a the room are probably the only options. School budgets can often limit new purchases of desks, tables, and chairs. It’s not reasonable to expect walls to be knocked down to expand a classroom or to have additional lighting, electrical, or data ports installed. We usually have work with what we’re given. Regardless, we do what we can to create a positive learning environment that meets everyone’s needs

A recent school library journal article got me thinking about the space of my library. I think there could be a lot of improvements, but I’m limited, in much the same way as other teachers. I’d love to rearrange books shelves or move the circulation desk, but I can’t. All of my bookshelves, with the exception of one, are built into the outer walls of the library. There isn’t a data drop where I’d like to put the circulation desk. My hands are tied. Somewhat. Over the past couple of years, I’ve added some color to the walls and added a couple of book racks. I had a couch in the library to create a comfy reading areas. Unfortunately, I had to get rid of it for a couple of reasons, one being the constant fighting among students wanting to sit there. Perhaps other comfy furniture will return someday, but for now, it’s just wooden tables and wooden chairs.

The article in SLJ led me to an idea after looking at some of the pictures of incredible schools libraries. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place where librarians and teachers can post and share pictures of their favorite school libraries? This depository would be a place school librarians could go for ideas when rearranging or creating their library space. I’m going to set one up very soon, but there will be a catch. A catch that will be an added bonus to those who submit photos.

Check back soon to find out more.