Common Core Take-aways

Over the Thanksgiving break I finally got caught up on a couple of issues of School Library Journal.  In them I noticed ads for a series of webcasts they’re doing about the Common Core specifically for librarians.  Two of the three have already gone by, but I decided to register for the third in January and view the archived ones I missed.  (The link below will get you there.  You have to register in order to view the archived sessions.  Once you register you’ll get an email with the webcast link.)

I especially enjoyed the first one with Marc Aronson and Sue Bartle.  Called Getting Real it focused especially on the shift in the CCSS to more informational text.  The second dealt with how librarians can take the CCSS and use them as a way to start conversations and collaborative efforts.  Here are my takeaways from both of the sessions:

How you read shapes how you will write

The third “C” in CCSS needs to be collaboration

We need to be talking to each other (teachers and librarians) to assure that major shifts are happening

Librarians are well poised for helping kids to be active questioners

How well do I know my non-fiction collection?

The issue for kids (in reading a text) is “Do I care?”

I need to approach non-fiction in new ways–aim, approach, point of view, voice/style

Spend more time with non-fiction elements and structures

Do the “heavy lifting” for teachers–unpack the standards and show how I can help

Less content, but more meaningful learning

Process is the emphasis;  content will be learned as a result

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Why I’m Excited about the Common Core

The more I delve into the Common Core State Standards the more I’m excited about the prospect for librarians.  Close reading of quality texts, the 4th R-research, reading across multiple texts, writing about what you read, etc. are areas where I know we can shine!  The timing for conversations around complex texts and  informational texts is perfect, too, with Candlewick’s “We Believe in Picture Books” campaign. I maintain that picture books are often the perfect choice for direct instruction of lots of literacy concepts, right up through middle school.  So if CCSS gives me more ammunition to “sell” picture books to my teachers I’m all over it!

(I have a feeling the CCSS will provide me with blogging ideas as well, and that’s another good thing!)  Please leave a comment and tell me how these new standards are impacting you.

What to do about Dewey?

Yesterday’s post by Van Meter super-librarian Shannon Miller has me thinking.  She’s not the first to blog about making the switch from the DDC system to more of a bookstore model of organization.  But what I appreciate about Shannon’s post is that she not only made a case for the why, but actually walked us through the how.  She made it seem….well….do-able.  There’s no question that it’s a lot of work (much of it  happened in the summer) but now I think I can be more open to the possibility because Shannon laid out what it entails.

I’m in a pre-K to 3 building and I can definitely see the positives;  naturally this would have to be a district librarian decision.  We would want all the kiddos that feed into the 4-5 building and middle school to have a similar experience.  Food for thought, maybe for some of this year’s meetings!

In the meantime, if (like me) you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and want to support your students within the Dewey system, Sonya over at the Library Patch has recently done six great posts  called “Deweying it My Way.”  She has found ways to tweak the system and make improvements which help kids find books more independently . Sonya also shares the how-tos for more attractive and effective signage, etc.  (Everything Sonya does is top-notch quality and she generously shares her templates and sources.)

Wherever you are in this debate, both of these ladies can help.  I highly recommend you check out their posts!

Summer PD: Join Google’s MOOC!

Google recently announced an opportunity you may be interested in.  Become your school’s expert on Power Searching in Google by joining their MOOC (massive, open, online course).  The class will consist of six 50 minute sessions, some of which are interactive. The  course is free and if you complete it all Google will issue you a certificate.

Registration is open now, and the first class will be rolled out on July 10.

Monday PD: Two Libraries, One Voice!

Join SLJ Mover and Shaker John Schumacher and librarian extraordinaire Shannon M. Miller this Monday night at 8 p.m. EST for the Teacher Librarian Virtual Cafe.  They’ll be sharing their collaborative efforts around “Two Libraries, One Voice.”  Register here and you’ll get information about how to tune in to the live webinar.  Check out the other resources at TLNing while you’re there!

Working with Student Writers

 

Last week I had the honor and privilege to serve as a judge of student writing at our local PBS affiliate.  Each year PBS sponsors a contest for writers in grades K-3.  (It used to be the Reading Rainbow Writing contest.)  Kids create illustrated stories either at school or at home and a winner and runners-up are chosen for each grade level.  Every other year there is a national contest and local winners are sent to the national competition.

I was part of the team that judged the second grade entries.  We were the busiest by far, with probably close to 100 submissions.  I worked with a couple of veteran judges and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  It made me realize how much I miss working with student writers on a consistent basis.

Add to that experience a website someone shared with me a few days ago and my wheels are turning for next year. Studentpublishing.com allows teachers to manage and monitor student writing projects which eventually get published and bound (softcover) for free.  (You must agree to send home order forms for parents who might want to purchase an additional copy, but there is no obligation.)

Here’s a blurb from their site:

Make every student feel like a published author with FREE books! Each student will receive a free paperback of their own story and illustrations. Books include 12, 16, 24 or 32 story pages, plus title, dedication and “About the Author” biography pages featuring the author’s photo.

Use StudentPublishing®.com’s fun and easy web based book-making tool which is specially designed for schools (No software download or installation required) or use our new PDF upload tool to easily import work students may have already completed. The advanced administrative features generate unique usernames and passwords for each one of your students who log-in directly to their stories while you can edit and monitor progress from your Teacher account. The online illustration tool includes hundreds of paintable backgrounds and stickers which can be used with free-hand drawing tools, or uploaded photographs and scanned in hand drawings. If your students already have written work, use our new “PDF Upload” function to bring their text directly into his or her book.

A testimonial by the colleague who shared it with me convinced me to take a look.  I’m sold on giving it a go with some students– maybe in a recess writing club?

Another thing…turns out this site is a sponsor of the PBS writing contest.  Proceeds from books that do get purchased help support that program.  Serendipity at work!

If you have used this site with kids, please share your experience in the comments!

Nuts about a Sqworl

Today I thought I’d share a bit about a web 2.0 tool I’ve been using lately that’s been quite useful.  It’s called sqworl and it allows you to organize multiple webpage URL’s on  a topic in one handy place.

It’s quick and easy to create a free account, name your “group” and then cut and paste the urls you want to feature.  Sqworl displays a thumbnail view of all of your selected pages with any note or description you might have added.

The site saves each group (or sqworl) that  you create and you can go back and edit at any time.  One link is created for your entire group which you can then share with others.

How have I been using this?  In just the past two weeks I’ve created sqworls for my first grade teachers for animal research, for my third graders on mythology, for a presentation I’m preparing for a conference, and for a Mem Fox author study.  When students come into the library, I have the sqworl already loaded on computers for their use.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think or how you’re using it.

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