Access to the Library at Fall Forum

October 30th, 2014

I’m starting to revisit and reflect on the learning at this year’s AASL Fall Forum, now that a couple weeks have passed since we joined together in St. Louis and satellite sites around the country.  I’m looking over my notes and tweets, and with a topic as timely as blended, digital, and online learning, I can’t help but feel motivated to share what I learned and observed!

A key component of “anytime, anywhere learning” (the event theme, described above) is access, which itself has numerous dimensions. Library hours and schedules determine access to the brick and mortar library space. Materials across a range of formats, topics, and reading levels allow access to information, and the professional librarian’s role in selecting these materials presents yet another angle on access. Virtual access at school is critical, both within the library (access to wifi, online catalog, databases, and Internet) and in classrooms (to extend and embed library resources into the content).

Who can access sites at school was another topic of discussion at Fall Forum, whether that access is at the level of teachers and librarians being able to unblock filtered sites, or reading and following Acceptable Use Policies to provide appropriate access to children, especially those under 13.

Home access is a most challenging and layered piece of the access topic, and presenters and participants alike offered suggestions for supporting student access to library resources outside of school. I’ve often thought of the public library as the main go-to for Internet when it’s not available at home, but the school district panel discussants offered other viable suggestions: Grandma’s house (or other neighbor or relative). Churches. Community centers, like Boys and Girls Clubs. These people, organizations, and spaces should be part of our access conversation.

Facilitating successful experiences in the virtual space is another task of anywhere, anytime learning. This video of the Athenian Middle School Library website, their Virtual Learning Commons, offers a look at how online resources blend with face-to-face experiences at school:

What are your questions and ideas relating to student access to library resources and information? What does your school do well, at this point in time? What are your goals for building better access for your students?

–Rebecca Morris

Writing a Perfect Opportunity

October 25th, 2014

Timothy Horan’s September/October School Library Monthly article, “How to Start Your School Library Writing Center” presents a compelling and accessible plan for beginning a process-based, zero-budget, student-staffed writing center within your school library. (Note that this article is available full-text online!)

In the first of six articles about school library writing centers, this article traces the beginning steps of the author’s experience developing a writing center: proposing the center and receiving permission, asking teachers to recommend students as tutors, and recruiting the kids.

This article is rich in practical strategies for making the writing center possible! My favorite might be the “payment” for the student tutors: community service hours, reference letters (as appropriate), and the development of marketable skills for possible jobs in college writing centers.

In the next article in the series (in the November 2014 issue of SLM) Horan describes the process of training the tutors.

Do you have a writing center at your school? Is the library involved? Share your stories in the comments, and we’ll follow this series through this volume of SLM!

Article Citation: Horan. Timothy. How to Start Your School Library Writing Center. School Library Monthly 31, no. 1 (September/October 2014): 8-10.

Image: Second grade writing class by woodleywonderworks on Flickr. Used with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

–Rebecca Morris

AASL Fall Forum

October 18th, 2014 

AASL Fall Forum | American Association of School Librarians (AASL) via kwout

We’re about to begin Day 2 of the 2014 AASL Fall Forum in St. Louis and 8 satellite sites from around the country! I’m participating from the Greensboro, North Carolina site, where we have a great group of librarians (both K-12 school and academic) and educators.

We are gaining a unique perspective on the conference theme from our satellite site vantage point. We are learning about the “Anytime Anywhere Learning Landscape” WHILE learning anytime, anywhere!

I think the “anytime” piece will really come into play later on, when we reconnect with people and ideas after the conference through digital tools and spaces. But the “anywhere” piece is especially pertinent right now, as we participate in this blended experience. Here’s how it’s working.

At our site in North Carolina and the seven other satellites (Norfolk, Atlanta, Mercedes, Richardson, Johnston, Vancouver, and Houston) view a live broadcast of the main Fall Forum site in St. Louis. As pictured here, we view the speaker and media from St. Louis.

Throughout the sessions, the speakers designate time for breakouts. In small groups, pairs, and whole group discussions at the site, we talk about the content. We began with the keynote by David Warlick, and responded to questions about exchanging knowledge, building value in learning, and setting up a learning environment that “talks back” to learners and allows for mistakes. (I’ll follow up on the dialog in another post!)

Then each satellite site called in to a conference line in St. Louis to report out to the attendees across the country. (To help make a clear call-in connection with no feedback, we used a tricky work-around at our site: Google Voice at our presentation computer.) We shared feedback with colleagues in this way, plus we utilized Twitter (#AASL14) and Today’s Meet to share information.

Our second session was led by Ann Martin and Kathleen Roberts, who presented the topic of Librarian as Leader. We reported out twice in this session, once here in our room (in a Think-Pair-Share) and later across the sites. Our participants especially liked this session’s use of a Single Point Rubric, which reflected our knowledge of “key ideas for leading in an anytime, anywhere landscape” prior to the Fall Forum and after attending the session, as well as ideas for applying the information in our respective workplaces. (Again, I’ll share more details in a follow-up blog.)

Today we’ll focus on School Librarian as Innovator and School Librarian as Partner. For now– it’s time for breakfast and conversation. Check back for more posts on the AASL Forum, and share your experiences about the event in the comments!

–Rebecca Morris