A great resource for school (and all) librarians

We Need Diverse Books is an organization that is dedicated to supporting diverse authors and promoting diverse books. The group started with a hashtag and has grown by leaps and bounds to become a force in the publishing and children’s books world. The website includes TONS of resources and links to websites by and about diverse authors, their books, and the world of diversity in schools and school libraries.


Check out the blog, and follow them on Instagram, too.

Finding Your Purpose!

This article is geared towards public libraries, but its principals can be applied to school libraries as well. Find your purpose (different than a mission statement) and use it to make your library incredibly relevant to your community in this time of Amazon, Google, and Netflix.

Huber, J & Potter, S. (2016). The purpose-based library: finding your path to survival, success, and growth. Retrieved from: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2016/07/20/purpose-based-library/

The Power of (in) the (Im)possible

Great article that has influenced my thinking around collaboration and co-teaching, and has especially helped me re-think my perception of myself as a Teacher Librarian–a vital part of a learning community.

Todd, R. (2013). The power of (in) the (Im)possible. Teacher Librarian, (41)2.

Taking Your First Job: Where the Rubber Meets the Road and Starting Off: Where Not to Begin

Brandt, Alisa

Akers, A. (2016, July 14). Taking your First job: Where the rubber meets the
    road [Blog post]. Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:

Akers, A. (2016, August 10). Starting off: Where not to begin [Blog post].
    Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website: http://knowledgequest.aasl.org/


Anne Akers wrote these two blog posts about a month apart this summer and they both offer excellent advice to library students as they land their first school library jobs.
When asked by a former student after being hired for a perfect school library job, Akers is asked where to start? Entering a new library can be overwhelming and full of many projects from weeding to hanging up posters. Aker suggests not making any dramatic changes right away until you have the lay of the land. She recommends starting with small, easily accomplished tasks that give a sense of accomplishment. She also suggests setting the tone and vision of the library by posting the mission statement at the Standards for 21st Century Learners in prominent places in the library. All of her suggestions start with people and relationships.
In her follow up blog post, Aker explains further why she said to NOT start with the collection but instead to prioritize relationships. She says that to start those critical early days establishing yourself by focusing on the collection reinforces a certain stereotype (guardians of books) and does not build relationships. Schools need librarians who will be teachers and part of what takes place in the classrooms.

Evaluation: These two posts are so important for establishing how teacher librarians are perceived at what we can all do to change the stereotypes of libraries and librarians of yore. It means having a vision and confidently displaying it through the library environment and the actions of the librarian. I believe this is useful for librarians starting their first job and seasoned librarians who have been working in the same school for decades. Visions should adapt and while it takes a while to undo old visions, it is nevertheless an important task to take.

Physical Space + Thinking = Cultures of Learning

Brandt, Alisa

Lange, J. (2016, August 9). Physical space + learning = cultures of learning
    [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas website: http://aislnews.org/



This is a very short blog post about how physical spaces in a school (and library) should reflect the kind of learning activity that takes place there. Lange was inspired to write this post after attending a conference in which author Ron Ritchhart presented a session based off of his book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Richhart suggests that the activity in a classroom “shifts” from one in which the teacher presents material to the class to one where students and adults can work collaboratively. Richhart suggests that there are three kinds of learning spaces: “caves” (for individuals); “watering holes” (small groups); and “campfires” (large groups led by a “storyteller”).
The article continues with some suggestions for creating these spaces. Lange recommends displaying student work and surfaces covered in whiteboard paint so students can demonstrate their thinking. She also shares that she created a kind of Harry Potter “house sorting” book display for students to “sort” their summer reading into one of the three houses from the book. This demonstrates peer thinking in an open and shared space. And finally Lange offers another suggestion from Richhart to go on a “ghost walk” through other educators’ classrooms to get a sense of the kind of activities and what types of learning happens there and how that can be enhanced by the library.

Evaluation: I am very interested in reading Mr. Richhart’s book after reading Lange’s post but I have to say that I see some underwhelming examples of how to use the author’s suggestions. I would be curious to know more about Richhart’s thinking about physical spaces and how they create cultures of learning. Certainly displaying student work gives an example of a particular learning culture and it becomes a way to echo and reinforce those cultures. But I would also like to learn how to create those spaces in my library. We have already seen that our group study rooms from individuals or small groups works well in addition to our open group study areas. We also have two classrooms for a “campfire” space. But I think it would be great to be able to learn how to help individuals more.

Ten Things Your Administrator Needs to Know as the School Year Begins

Brandt, Alisa

Ten Things Your Administrator Needs to Know as the School Year Begins


Church, A. (2016, August). Ten things your administrator needs to know as the
    school year begins [Blog post]. Retrieved from Knowledge Quest website:

Church lists all the ways that Teacher Librarians are catalysts for deeper student learning and teacher collaboration. The article could serve as a pocket-sized (or email) advocacy tool by describing all the roles that TL take on from teaching literacies and ethical use of information to being an inspirational instructional partner and program designer.

Evaluation: The timing of this article is excellent. As we are wrapping up this summer semester learning all about the ways that Teacher Librarians can contribute to the success of our students and the strengthening of our programs and the new school year beginning soon, this piece is inspirational. We know the value of our skills and contributions as well as some of our classroom teacher friends and a few of us are lucky enough to have administrators who champion our cause as well but it is always good to have a reminder of what we do and why we are important to our school community. Personally, I find having an example of what to say when asked about what we do is helpful and this article gives a little boost of confidence as I enter another school year.

Teaching Social Studies with Video Games
Maguth, B. M., List, J. S., Wunderle, M. (2015). Teaching social studies with video games. The Social Studies, 106(1), 32-36. doi: 10.1080/00377996.2014.961996
This article highlights the use of interactive video games as instructional tools in the classroom.  Students used the game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings to build up a civilization.  This game was chosen because it could be aligned with state standards, had an easy to use interface, and good enough graphics to keep students engaged.  The teacher assessed student learning by having students write reflections related to academic content standards such as geography, trade, economics, etc.  Students were required to make connections between class discussions and the video game.  Teacher and student found the game to be a success in allowing students to practice academic content in “real world” scenario that was engaging.  The article even attributes this teaching strategy as an example of learning through play—a theory of Vygotsky and Piaget.

This article highlights the importance of information and technology literacy in our classrooms.  While this article did not highlight the role of a teacher librarian, I can only imagine how much more beneficial the outcome would have been if teacher and teacher librarian had co-taught this assignment.
Leadership: School Librarian Evaluation
Moreillon, J. (2013). Leadership: school librarian evaluation. School Library Monthly, 30(2), 24-25, 59. Retrieved from: http://www.abc-clio.com/Portals/0/PDF/FeaturedArticles/LU/SLMFreeArticles/1113_v30n2p24_Leadership_Moreillon.pdf
The implementation of Common Core influenced a review of teacher evaluations.  Teachers are evaluated on many aspects of their teaching including student achievement on standardized tests.  While school librarians are not specifically evaluated based on student assessment, they should be concerned about student success and how it can be achieved.  This article suggests that with the use of formal and informal assessments, such as pre- and post-tests, reflections, graphic organizers, and checklists, school librarians can accurately assess student learning and achievement.  It is also important for school librarians to practice self-assessment.  Some suggestions in the article for self-assessment include reflection on teaching, collaboration with teachers, professional development, outreach, collection access, leadership, and planning and evaluation.  The article even provides an example of a self-assessment, “School Librarian Self-Assessment: Five Roles of the School Librarian” as a resource for teacher librarians and school administrators.

This article provides a guide to school librarians with specific standards that should be met based on the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 21st-Century Approach to School Librarian Evaluation. An emphasis in the standards is placed on the collaboration and co-teachingof school librarians with other teachers and faculty members.  Self-assessment and self-evaluation are important tools for any person to reflect upon if they want to become better.  The resource provided at the end of this article is a great tool to help school librarians initially self-assess themselves so that they can set goals for future improvement.

TED Talks Education

Karen Rogers


TED. (2013, May 11). TED Talks Education. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from

Summary:  This video has a plethora of educators, Bill Gates, psychologists, and students who talk about educational theory, new ways of looking at curriculum and assessment, and how to improve our teaching.  The speakers talk about the importance of relationships, inquiry, perseverance, how to motivate students, and ways to help teachers improve.

Review:  The video is incredibly empowering and inspiring.  It encourages teachers to change their traditional mindset and take some risks in education.  It talks about the problems faced in education and ways to improve them.  It talks about the importance of building up student confidence and passion for knowledge being even more important than talent.  I think it is something all people in education should watch before starting the school year.

Project-Based Learning: Success Start to Finish

Karen Rogers

CA = Curriculum Assessment
CO = Collaboration

 Edutopia. (2012, May 23). Project-Based Learning: Success Start to Finish. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OWX6KZQDoE 
Summary:  This is a great video about Manor New Technology High School where they have a completely project-based learning program.  The video demonstrates how teachers implement and create the projects for the classroom.  It gives a great amount of information about why you should choose project-based learning and how to assess the projects.
Reflection:  This video was very useful and I think it would be a great video to show staff who have doubts about delving into project-based learning because it actually shows the planning process and thought process behind teaching in this way.  A lot of the fear around this type of learning deals with teachers not having the knowledge on how to start planning or implementing these types of lessons.  Most educators agree that this type of learning is best for helping students to engage and learn in the classroom, but they don’t know how.