Planning 4 Assessment

03_advanced_students_3h_sizedWe did not have the opportunity to address some of the questions asked during the “Classroom Library Coteaching 4 Student Success” Webinar held on October 13th. For the next few BACC posts, I will share my experience and perspective on some of those unanswered and sometimes thorny questions.

Several participants asked questions about assessment. One participant from Virginia asked about informal assessments. Another from Fort Mill noted that she does not “give grades” in “library class.” Other participants who were not school librarians noted that they were pleased to be “reminded” of the benefits of coteaching with their school librarians. I inferred that they were including joint assessment as one of those benefits.

In my experience, sharing responsibility for assessments can be one of a school librarian’s calling cards—a way to introduce a coteaching benefit that many classroom teachers and specialists will respond to positively. Designing, gathering, and analyzing formative assessment data collected before, during, or after a lesson or unit of instruction is an essential activity for all educators.

When educators coplan for assessment, they can practice articulating a rationale for the lesson or unit of instruction. In “Every Lesson Needs a Storyline,” Bradley A. Ermeling and Genevieve Graff-Ermeling suggest that coherent instruction helps educators test and refine hypotheses about effective teaching and learning. In their article, they provide a series of questions that can help educators self-assess their lessons. One example is this: “What evidence did we collect during and after the lesson to help us evaluate student progress and study the relationship between teaching and learning” (26).

One of the critical skills for 21st-century school librarians engaged in collaborative lesson planning is being able to align standards and to codevelop learning experiences with student outcomes in mind. Many school districts across the country have focused professional development on Understanding by Design (UbD) as codified by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. In short: When educators plan, they begin by specifying what they want students to know and to be able to do at the end of the lesson or unit of instruction. Educators also determine how they will measure student learning outcomes at the beginning of the planning process.

Codeveloping anticipation guides, exit slips, graphic organizers, checklists, rubrics, and other assessment and student self-assessment tools is an excellent strategy for creating the context/expectation for shared responsibility for assessment. With this level of collaboration, most educators will feel comfortable with each other’s assessments of student work. However, one excellent strategy to help ensure inter-rater reliability is to coassess a few “anchor papers/products” that demonstrate various levels of mastery. Then both educators will know when they see an exemplary product, an average one, and/or a “needs more work” example. They will also learn when their instruction supported individual student’s learning and when it did not.

When you coplan in the role of a school librarian, keeping the focus on outcomes helps position your collaborative work and the role of the school library program at the center of academic achievement. This is essential to the value others place on your work, especially principals who are charged with the role of instructional leaders. When we plan appropriately for instruction, coteach, and coasssess lessons, we experience job-embedded professional develop and provide the same for our colleagues. We also serve as co-instructional leaders with our principals.

The bottom line: Educators must assess student learning outcomes in order to measure their teaching effectiveness. Let’s keep on improving our instruction by coplanning for assessment and sharing responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of our teaching.

BACC readers can link to the archive on edWeb.net. Resources for the Webinar on my presentations wiki.

Work Cited

Ermeling, Bradley A., and Genevieve Graff-Ermeling. “Every Lesson Needs a Storyline.” Educational Leadership, vol. 74, no. 2, 2016, pp. 22-26.

Image Caption: Fifth-grade students completing a graphic organizer for the Advanced Building Background Knowledge lesson in Coteaching Reading Comprehension Strategies in Elementary School Libraries: Maximizing Your Impact (ALA, 2013).

Educating Preservice Principals and Classroom Teachers

This month the BACC co-bloggers are sharing their thoughts about the “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Teachers” recently released by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

what-every-preservice-teacher-should-know-about-working-with-the-school-librarian-1-638The Educators of School Librarians Section (ESLS) of AASL developed this toolkit to help practicing and preservice school librarians and school librarian educators talk with our constituent groups about how school librarians help library stakeholders reach their goals. The opening line frames the toolkit in terms of the interdependence of all members of the school learning community: “There is no question that the success of school library programs depends upon the support of the principal and the school librarian’s ability to collaborate with teachers” (2).

AASL charges school librarians with serving their schools in five roles: leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, and program administrator. There are many challenges inherent in educating preservice principals and classroom teachers regarding the capacity of state-certified school librarians to serve in these roles and improve teaching and learning in their schools. These challenges include the sad fact that too many schools lack a professional school librarian on the faculty and preservice principals and classroom teachers may not have had first-hand experience of working with a dynamic school librarian.

In my role as a school librarian educator, I have had two exceptional opportunities to speak with preservice principals and classroom teachers. Thanks to Teresa Starrett, my Texas Woman’s University colleague in Educational Leadership, I have had the opportunity to speak with future principals enrolled in a course called Professional Development and Supervision in Education. I have posted resources online for a 60- or 90-minute agenda: “What Every Principal Should Know about Evaluating a School Library Program and a School Librarian.” The resources include a one-page assessment based on the school librarian’s five AASL roles.

In 2013-2014, along with TWU colleague Jennifer Richey and Denton-area educators, I had the opportunity to provide two three-and-half hour workshops for a total of 163 preK-12 preservice teachers. At the time of “What Every Preservice Teacher Candidate Should Know about Working with the School Librarian,” they were conducting their student teaching. This links to a Slideshare of the opening session in which Becky McKee and I demonstrated collaborative planning. I published an article in Teacher Librarian magazine about the research study based on these workshops.

These presentations had two things in common. In both, our goal was to change the preservice principals’ and classroom teachers’ paradigm of teaching as a solo activity. We also included a role play of a classroom teacher and school librarian coplanning a unit of instruction in both. This helped the participants see the benefits of coplanning to students, classroom teachers, school librarians, and to principals, too.

Educators of preservice school librarians and preservice classroom teachers and principals “should make concerted efforts to demonstrate the value of classroom-library collaboration for instruction during preservice teachers’ (and principals’) preparation programs. Still, it is up to practicing school librarians to reach out to student teachers and make sure that mentor teachers are given extra attention while they are guiding the student teaching experience” (16). It is also up to those in the field who are providing exemplary practice to show their principals the school librarian’s capacity to contribute to the school’s academic program.

The “Pre-service Toolkit for Principals and Classroom Teachers” provides multiple resources for thinking, discussing, and presenting the roles of school librarians in student learning: articles, blogs, books, brochures and infographics, posters, reports, research, and videos.

Thank you to the ESLS committee members who curated all of these materials and put them together in one easily accessible place.

Works Cited

Educators of School Librarians Section. “Preservice Toolkit for Principals and Teachers.” ALA.org. Mar. 2016. Web. 5 May. 2016. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/toolkits/PreserviceEducators_Toolkit_FINAL_2016-03-17.pdf>.

Moreillon, Judi. “Making the Classroom-Library Connection.” Teacher Librarian 43.3 (2016): 8-18.

Moreillon, Judi and Becky McKee. “What Every Preservice Teacher Should Know about Working with the School Librarian.” Slideshare.com. 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 5 May 2016. <http://www.slideshare.net/jmoreillon/what-every-preserviceteacher0314>.

Classroom-Library Collaboration for STEM Learning

bulls_eyeOne way that school librarians are responding to STEM/STEAM/STREAM is to house makerspaces in the physical space of the library. Involving students in hands-on opportunities to practice the creativity and critical thinking that can lead to innovation is a timely goal. In fact, and however, school librarians who have been effectively integrating technology tools into teaching and learning have been providing students many of these opportunities for decades.

The difference with today’s makerspace movement seems to be the emphasis on the types of tools students use in their making plus a greater emphasis on experimentation/trial and error rather than on creating final products to demonstrate learning. Some makerspaces operate in isolation from the classroom curriculum and could be described as “free play” centers that are neither constrained nor bounded by curriculum. These spaces may be facilitated by the school librarian working in isolation. Other makerspaces are integrated into the published curriculum and may be facilitated by a team of educators that includes the school librarian.

In Texas, Robin Stout, district-level Media Services and Emerging Technologies Supervisor (@BeanStout), Jody Rentfro, Emerging Technologies Specialist (@J_O_D_Y_R)  and Leah Mann, Library Media Services Instructional Specialist (@LMannTxLib), are spear-heading an initiative in Lewisville Independent School District (#LISDlib). LISD school librarians are piloting a Mobile Transformation Lab that moves beyond traditional “making” to address STEM/STEAM through collaborative lessons based on content area standards and district curriculum.

The team partners with campus librarians, classroom teachers and members of the curriculum department in collaborative planning meetings. The group examines the essential questions for the curriculum topic and decides which technologies from the Mobile Transformation Lab will best support the learning. Jody and Leah bring the agreed-upon resources to campus and co-teach lessons with campus staff for an entire day. They also participate in planning extension or follow-up lessons with the campus group.

You can see this process in action here:
http://goo.gl/znnvyn
http://goo.gl/wtjf8L

The Library Media Services and Emerging Technologies department offers an ever-growing repository of lessons from this project and tools to support librarians as they implement STEAMlabs with their students: http://hs.moodle.lisd.net/course/view.php?id=1010

This initiative has the potential to position school librarians as co-leaders in STEM/STEAM/STREAM learning. With an emphasis on collaborative classroom-library lesson plans, school librarians can achieve the hands-on creativity and critical thinking goals of makerspaces while school library programs remain at the center of their schools’ academic programs.

This is a makerspace strategy that is a win for students, classroom teachers, and school librarians, too.

Copyright-free Image by pippalou accessed from the Morguefile <http://bit.ly/1ccKDO1>.

Coplanning for Student Success

wordle_lesson_planningWhen classroom teachers and school librarians coplan standards-based lessons and units of instruction, they can experience the two-heads are better than one phenomenon. Each educator brings a unique perspective as well as knowledge, skills, talents, and teaching style to the collaboration table.

Both classroom teachers and school librarians must know the standards. Whether the Common Core or other state standards. Classroom teachers have more familiarity with the background knowledge and skill development of the students in their classrooms. School librarians bring their knowledge of the resources of the library and beyond as well as strategies for integrating technology tools into lessons. Together, these equal educators have the potential to develop more creative, more engaging, and most of all, more effective instruction for students.

Many school librarians and classroom teachers find it helpful to use collaborative planning forms to record their ideas as they brainstorm and plan. Often the school librarian takes responsibility for making notes and/or completing the planning form and using it to rough out a lesson or unit plan, which both partners fine-tune. These are some sample elementary level (Chapter 1) and secondary level planning forms that can be downloaded from the Web.

In the 2014-2015 school year, Kelly Hoppe school librarian at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas, coplanned with 9th-grade pre-AP English language arts teacher Jessica Wilcox for a year-long collaboration. Jessica felt that even though her students were on the pre-AP track, they weren’t skilled library users. She wanted to do something that would immerse students in library skills and critical reading skills using YA and classic literature. Together, Jessica and her school librarian Kelly collaborated to create a year-long program to meet these students’ needs.

Jessica and Kelly began by helping student learn how to use the library more effectively. Along the way, they discovered that students needed more support with how to make sense of difficult texts that were above their proficient reading level. These coteachers will have an article in the August issue of Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA) that describes their collaborative process and the results of their coteaching.

Works Cited

Wilcox, Jessica. “Teacher Librarian Collaboration.” YouTube.com. 2015. Web. 29 May 2015. <https://youtu.be/d9WHb8i8v5I>.

Word cloud created at Wordle.net

Collaborative Teaching

String MachineThank you to the May 19th Texas Library Association Webinar participants for sharing their ideas and experiences in building cultures of collaboration in their schools. If you were unable to attend, please see BACC co-blogger Karla Collins post-Webinar wrap-up.

The BACC co-bloggers gleaned our June topic from that conversation: collaborative teaching. We have divided the topic into four interrelated components: coplanning, coteaching, coassessing student work, and coassessing the effectiveness of the educators’ collaborative work. Each co-blogger will share her perspective on one stage of the coteaching process.

Before delving into coplanning, many Webinar participants shared the importance of building relationships with their classroom teacher and specialist colleagues. Making time to address this prerequisite for collaborative teaching is essential. In the Webinar chat, one participant noted, “Collaboration relies on cultivating relationships. You (school librarians) have to earn their trust.” Another wrote, “Offer to do the ‘little things’ to make friends and build relationships.”

In the above photograph, two teachers from the San Francisco Exploratorium Museum’s Teacher Institute examine the “String Thing” they built. Clearly, these two educators are learning together… and having fun doing it! It stands to reason that educators who enjoy learning together would also enjoy teaching together. In fact, more fun is one of the benefits cited by many coteachers—classroom teachers and school librarians alike.

In 2005, Dr. Keith Curry Lance and his colleagues conducted a study called “Powerful Libraries Make Powerful Learners.” These researchers looked for the activities in which effective school librarians engage. They compared the activities of school librarians serving in low performing schools with those in high achieving schools. They found that in high achieving schools school librarians spent 240% more time planning with teachers.

On Thursday, I will share my perspective on the coplanning process and a just-published testimonial from a high school English language arts teacher who talks about her successful coplanning experience with her school librarian.

Works Cited

Lance, Keith C., Marcia J. Rodney, and Christine Hamilton-Pennell. “Powerful Libraries Make Powerful Learners: The Illinois Study.” Illinois School Library Media Association. 2005. Web. 19 May 2015. <https://www.islma.org/pdf/ILStudy2.pdf>.

Snyder, Amy. “Exploratorium Teachers.” JPG. Wikimedia.org. 2009. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Exploratorium_teachers.jpg>