Advocate Today!

April 9th, 2015

It’s School Library Month, and what better moment to advocate for school libraries than now? This message has been shared today (April 9, 2015) on several library and school library listservs. Check to see if your Senator is among the senators listed below, and call today! I did.


URGENT: If you support school libraries, NOW is the time (not later, not tomorrow, but RIGHT NOW) to contact your Senator to help save them.  We won’t have a better chance than this for years.

The Senate HELP Committee will begin voting on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on Tuesday, April 14 at 10 am.  School libraries are NOT already included in that bill, so we need to pass an amendment to fix that.  Even our paltry Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) funding has been cut.  Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) has agreed to offer an amendment calling for an effective school library program to be part of the bill…..but he needs at least 13 votes to prevail in the Committee. Your Senator is on that Committee and we badly need them to be one of those 13.  Unless you ask Your Senator for their vote, we won’t get it and NOW is the time….

Call your Senator right now.  Ask whoever answers for the “education staffer.”  Tell them, or their voice mail if necessary, how important school librarians are to students’ education and that the Senator needs to tell Senator Whitehouse NOW that they will support his “school library amendment” to ESEA.

PLEASE CALL NOW and get anybody else who cares about school libraries or education in your state to call as well.

If you are from the following states, you need to call this Senator NOW

Tennessee call Senator Alexander at 202-224-4944

Wyoming call Senator Enzi at 202-224-3432

North Carolina call Senator Burr at 202-224-3154

Georgia call Senator Isakson at 202-224-3643

Kentucky call Senator Paul at 202-224-4343

Maine call Senator Collins at 202-224-2523

Alaska call Senator Murkowski at 202-244-6665

Illinois call Senator Kirk at 202-224-2854

South Carolina call Senator Scott at 202-224-6121

Utah call Senator Hatch at 202-224-5251

Kansas call Senator Roberts at 202-224-4774

Louisiana call Senator Cassidy at 202-224-5824

Washington call Senator Murray at 202-224-2621

Maryland call Senator Mikulski at 202-224-4654

Vermont call Senator Sanders at 202-224-5141

Pennsylvania call Senator Casey at 202-224-6324

Minnesota call Senator Franken at 202-224-5641

Colorado call Senator Bennet at 202-224-5852

Rhode Island call Senator Whitehouse at 202-224-2921

Wisconsin call Senator Baldwin at 202-224-5653

Connecticut call Senator Murphy at 202-244-4041

Massachusetts call Senator Warren at 202-224-4543


Talking Points:

Point 1: While reading and books are mainstays of the school library program, today’s effective school library programs are also sophisticated learning environments that provide the education and necessary skills to succeed in college and the workplace.

Point 2: Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests than their peers in schools without such resources.

Point 3: NCES data reveals that approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library and for those schools that do have a library, nearly 17,000 schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff.

Point 4: Effective school libraries:

1. Are staffed by a state-certified school librarian;

2. Have up-to-date books, materials, equipment and technology;

3. Include regular collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to assist with development and implementation of the curriculum; and

4. Support the development of digital literacy skills.


–Rebecca Morris


Collaboration Refresher

April 8th, 2015


The school librarians, teachers, and pre-service library candidates in my school library curriculum course this semester have been examining forms of collaboration. In their questions and discussions, I sense that they are as mindful of the relationships that collaborating requires as much as the teaching and lesson planning. As adults, especially when librarians are new members of school communities, relationships can be very complicated to observe, enter, and understand.

As a class community, my students constructed this go-to list for fostering positive collaborations between librarians and teachers. It serves as a useful primer, or even a refresher, for the relationship building among adults in a collaborative teaching process.


- Start small.

- Aim high.

- Ask questions.

- Share good news and examples.

- Don’t be discouraged.

- Be persistent.

- Be contagious.

- Have a hook.

- Use small talk.

- Know what’s coming up.

- Provide training or PD.

- Design a flipped segment for teachers to use when they are ready.

- Follow up.

- Share your calendar.

- Be a creative scheduler.

- Have limits.

- Be realistic.

- Be positive.

Students of LIS 654, Spring Term, University of North Carolina at Greensboro


I’ll admit– I think this is an outstanding and insightful list. What do you think? (No pressure!) What might you add or change?


Image: Sharing #2 by Duncan Harris on Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

–Rebecca Morris


Draw My Life

April 2nd, 2015


Last week, I presented a “Session for Interaction and Engagement” at the iConference, the annual conference of the iSchools. (See here for more information about iSchools, and this link for the conference details:

My session was entitled, Draw My Life: Creative Reflection through Stick Figure Storytelling. I discovered “Draw My Life” from a grad student in my digital storytelling seminar last fall, during a part of the course in which we explored and discussed the proliferating formats of today’s digital storytelling. As a person interested in digital storytelling, especially as used by young people, I have been viewing and learning about these videos as an example of the online communities, play, and sharing of “digital youth.”

Garnering millions of Youtube views, Draw My Life is a storytelling concept centered on stick figure sketching of important life moments. With seemingly simple drawings, individuals use this forum to explore meaningful events, turning points, and lessons learned, in compelling, insightful, and sometimes very personal digital stories. Draw My Life stories are even posted by teachers, like this example:

They’re also the format for exploring lives of famous individuals, like this one of scientist John Snow (likely a school assignment):

and this one (in a very professionally edited story) about Harry Potter:

The possibilities for Draw My Life in K-12 learning are great, I think, so long as the iteration retains the creativity, humor, and insight of the originals. In my iConference session, we used Draw My Life as a construct for developing professional reflections, and many of the participants drew their career paths or aspects of their research work.

If you’d like to learn more about my talk or Draw My Life, here are my slides—

And some additional resources here:

Or tweet me @rebeccajm87 to share what you think about Draw My Life, or how you might use it with your students!

–Rebecca Morris