AASL Grant Recipients

July 20th, 2014

Awards & Grants | American Association of School Librarians (AASL) via kwout

As part of my trip to the 2014 ALA Annual Conference, I attended the ceremony recognizing this year’s American Association of School Librarians award and grant recipients. This annual program (free to attend!) celebrates innovative and dedicated individuals and teams of educators, library advocates, and school librarians.

I mentioned one of the recipients to a student today, and in searching for a link to the awards for the person’s name, I found that the entire program is online at AASL’s website! It’s a keeper, a collection of programs and people who work to make school libraries the best they can be for students and for learning. Take a look!

Here is the link to the awards program: http://www.ala.org/aasl/awards

At the same website, you can read about the individual awards. Nominate someone or apply for next year’s awards yourself!

–Rebecca Morris

More on Inquiry Summit II: Links to CCSS

July 5th, 2014

This is the second in a series of posts about the 2014 Inquiry Summit II, held on June 27 in Las Vegas, prior to the ALA Annual Conference.

In my first post about the Summit, I wrote about the discussion that opened our session: participants’ responses to the question: “why are you here?” One of the reasons that we were all at the Summit (sponsored by ABC-CLIO and facilitated by Libraries Unlimited Senior Acquisitions Editor, Sharon Coatney) was to discuss and reflect on inquiry in today’s schools.

Following the period of sharing and introductions, we spent time in small groups moving around the room and answering three thought questions about inquiry. I’ll share some of the highlights of our discussions in my next posts!

With the exception of states which have not adopted the Common Core State Standards, the CCSS are an ongoing focus for schools and stakeholders. This was the direction of our team’s first question:

How are the Common Core State Standards changing the need/interest for inquiry learning?

The participants at my table concluded that the CCSS provides the impetus for classroom teachers to pursue inquiry with their students, and that this presents a timely opening for librarians to seize. As part of this collaboration and professional development process, librarians can remind teachers what inquiry is, and identify aspects of inquiry that they (the teachers) are doing already.

We talked a lot about this separation between librarians’ interests in inquiry and teachers’ commitment to their subject areas. There is a perceived lack of connection between the CCSS and inquiry activities, and this troubled us. There are links to be maximized.

Perhaps (we thought) some of the challenge may come in the appearance that inquiry activities are something extra, and that in the current climate, there isn’t time for anything extra. Really, though, as we talked about, teachers may well already be doing aspects of inquiry in their classrooms and possibly bypassing the library. For example, with the emphasis on constructing text-based evidence from primary sources in the ELA Standards for Social Studies, teachers might rely solely on materials suggested by textbooks or identified in the standards. The Emancipation Proclamation was an example that came up a few times as a go-to, but as we wondered: what OTHER primary sources and databases might librarians offer as part of this instruction? What connections might librarians build between their information expertise and the content-area expertise of the classroom teachers?

What do you think about this focus question about the changing needs and interest in inquiry because of the CCSS? What can librarians do when teachers bypass the library?

Share your responses in the comments, and check back for the next posts about Inquiry Summit II.

–Rebecca Morris


Inquiry Summit II at ALA Annual

July 3rd, 2014

I spent the Friday afternoon of my ALA Annual trip to Las Vegas last weekend at Inquiry Summit II, an event hosted by ABC-CLIO and facilitated by Senior Acquisitions Editor at Libraries Unlimited, Sharon Coatney. This was an afternoon of questions, discussions, and careful thinking about inquiry in libraries and school communities.

The first Inquiry Summit was held two years ago prior to ALA Annual in Anaheim in June of 2012. As Sharon Coatney wrote of the first Summit,

“The importance of inquiry in education cannot be emphasized too much. With the push for 21st-century learning skills and the advent of the Commons Core State Standards (CCSS), students must know how to learn and how to think. And, teachers and school librarians are being asked to integrate an inquiry approach into their teaching, which has not always been included in educational training or previous teaching experience. Because of this, school librarians have a unique opportunity to become the ‘go to’ person in the school and help educators learn how to integrate instruction and change the culture of the school.”

(In “Zeroing in on Inquiry” by Sharon Coatney, School Library Monthly 29, no. 4, 2012, page 6)

The Summit, like a good inquiry experience, offered not only new information but new questions. This is the first of a few blog posts that I’m happy to share about the Summit.

This year’s Summit began with the question, “why are you here?” — a question that I thought might frame an information search in the library, too! (Can you envision some questions along this line of thinking? Maybe– why am I here, sitting in front of this library computer/search engine/database/iPad/bookcase? What am I looking for? What am I trying to accomplish in this moment, and how does it fit into my bigger inquiry process?)

Many of the participants’ responses about why they were there shared a theme of lifelong learning and a desire to know inquiry more deeply. This was my reason: I teach inquiry to graduate students and pre-service librarians, and I need to (and want to) build my understanding of the complexities of facilitating inquiry.

One attendee’s especially memorable reason for attending was to keep working on ways to “be a part of kids’ heads when they are not with us.” I liked this phrase. I’d say that instilling inquiry habits and dispositions that students call upon regularly, beyond a particular research task or experience, is a competency of the most effective school librarians. The opportunities for information decisions happen all the time when they’re not with us, across nearly countless spaces and formats.

Our next task at the Summit was to rotate around three question tables with a small group of colleagues. I’ll share our questions and discussions that I shared with colleagues at the Summit in my next post!

The attendees included school librarians and former school librarians, university faculty, school library supervisors, and ABC-CLIO/Libraries Unlimited staff. Please see the full list of attendees and read more about the Inquiry Summit at the Building a Culture of Collaboration blog, pictured below.