Celebrating! The Freedom to Read

Our_Library_Hands_Raised_crop_sizedNext week from September 25 through October 1, the American Library Association (ALA) leads the annual “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” initiative.

Along with a coalition of other organizations that include the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), ALA and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), ALA’s non-profit legal and educational organization, have added a focus on diversity for this year’s campaign.

As the FTRF slogan reads, “free people read freely,” the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment give us the freedom to access ideas and information. For school librarians, the questions and answers surrounding challenged and banned books revolve around how this right applies to students who access resources in our libraries and online.

Since five of the top ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 were written expressly for children or teens, it is important for school librarians to have policies and procedures in place to address students’, parents’, classroom teachers’, or administrators’ concerns regarding the resources available through the library.

“Banned Books Week” gives school librarians the opportunity to discuss ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement and the First Amendment with students, colleagues, administrators, and parents. It also serves as a reminder to examine our own collection development practices.

In August, Maria Cahill published “How Do You Prepare for Challenges to Books and Other Resources” on the School Library Connection blog.  She offers the results of an anonymous survey of 200 school librarians that found 65.67% of the librarians who followed collection development policies did not experience materials challenges; 22.89% did.

Perhaps the most notable result of this survey was that 11.44% reported that they engage in self-censorship in order to avoid challenges to library materials. “Self-censorship is much more prevalent at the elementary level and in schools that have multiple grade configurations such as P-12, middle and high, etc. than at middle or high school levels” (Cahill).

One reflection question for elementary school librarians could be: Are I Am Jazz and Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan in our collection? Why, or why not? A question for secondary librarians could be: Are Looking for Alaska, Beyond Magenta, and Two Boys Kissing in our library collection? Why or why not?

What are you doing this week and next to highlight the right to read with your school library community? Please share in the comments section below.

Note: One easy way for school librarians to participate in this campaign is to display the “I Read Banned Books” Twibbon on their Twitter and Facebook profile photos.

 

Works Cited

Cahill, Maria. “How Do You Prepare for Challenges to Books and Other Resources.” School Library Connection Blog. http://goo.gl/NcrNf6. Accessed 18 Sept. 2016.

Thurston, Baratunde. “I Am a Community Organizer.” Flickr.com. 18 Sept. 2016, https://www.flickr.com/photos/baratunde/2837373493.

STEM, STEAM, and STREAM

This month, the Building a Culture of Collaboration co-bloggers will share how school librarians can be and are being essential team members in STEM, STEAM, and STREAM initiatives. These interdisciplinary efforts offer sky-is-the-limit opportunities for school library leaders.

STEM_TagxedoSTEM, STEAM, and STREAM are hot topics in education. Some would say these are THE 21st-century subjects and the key to students’ futures. With a focus on innovation to solve the world’s persistent problems, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, art, and yes! reading are particular areas of focus in the taught curriculum across the United States.

On February 2nd, I attended Terry Young’s Webinar: “STEM, STEAM, and STREAM… What Do They Have in Common? Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” Hosted by EdWeb.TV, Terry’s presentation was sponsored by Libraries Unlimited. Here’s the link to his Webinar: https://edweb.tv/stem-steam-and-stream/

Terry framed his presentation in terms of the “learn by doing” Next Generation Science Standards. The “quick search” guide on this Web site is a useful tool for any school librarian looking to connect her/his teaching and planning and coteaching with classroom teachers. Knowing these standards are step one in order to be a STEM-ready educator.

Terry’s presentation focused on resources for school librarians to use to increase their own knowledge, build  STEM/STEAM/STREAM library collections, and use resources to reach out to classroom teachers and specialists for interdisciplinary learning and teaching. He recommended resources such as Science Books & Films to help school librarians build their collections. Terry also recommended setting up “search alerts” for magazine tables of contents and following publications by children’s science book authors.

Terry talked about science read-alouds for younger students and recommended the book: Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction and Nonfiction Science Books to Teach Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley. He noted that What Is Science? written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by SachikoYoshikawa should be included in every elementary school library collection.

He noted that STEM/STEAM/STREAM fairs, formerly “science fairs,” should take a problem-solving approach. In this vein, Terry encouraged school librarians to help students answer their “why” questions, especially if classroom teachers shy away from pursuing questions with uncertain answers or outcomes.

As an elementary school librarian, one of my favorite and oft-repeated teachable moments was when a small group of children brought in a “wonder” from the playground… an as-yet unidentified insect or other critter or plant they had “discovered” at recess. I relished my responsibility to guide students in asking questions about the “wonder” and to have ready-reference materials on hand for them to find the answers. Classroom teachers often gave students time to conduct these spontaneous learning opportunities and some picked up on these investigations and furthered them with the whole class.

There is much individual school librarians can do to shore up their own knowledge and the library’s resources in order to teach and support classroom teachers, specialists, and students in exploring interdisciplinary STEM, STEAM, and STREAM curriculum. On Thursday, I will share a K-12 district-wide initiative that seeks to support and build classroom-library instructional partnerships for these efforts.

Word cloud by Tagxedo.com

Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature

This month the BACC co-bloggers will share different aspects of diversity and inclusion as applied to and practiced in school librarianship.

WOWLongview“Culturally responsive collection development” is a term and strategy school librarians apply to indicate that we build library collections that reflect and support the cultural backgrounds of our students. To build on this strategy, we must also consider that we are living in a global society that extends beyond our students’ personal and family cultures to a wider and more diverse world.

In order to ensure that multiple voices and perspectives are represented in the resources the library provides for students, classroom teachers, and families, school librarians can develop a collection that includes global literature. Global literature includes books set in non-U.S. cultures, or is written by immigrants about living in the U.S. or in their home countries, or is written by authors who live and work in the U.S. and another country. These resources can help readers connect with others who live within and beyond our country’s borders.

Susan Corapi, Worlds of Words (WOW) board member, and Kathy G. Short WOW director, recently released a downloadable .pdf file booklet, Exploring International and Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature, to help educators understand and learn more about using global literature to explore international and intercultural understanding. In this work, Susan and Kathy provide information about a Longview Foundation for International Affairs grant-funded project called “Global Literacy Communities.” The book includes the experiences of twenty-five pre-kindergarten to high school educator study groups from nineteen U.S. states that met regularly for a period of one to three years to learn through global literature.

In their study groups, educators used global literature to further develop their international understanding and strove for something more—intercultural understanding. As Susan and Kathy note, “Intercultural understanding extends beyond nationality and politics to include informed problem solving and social action activities that necessitate an appreciation of the full range of issues, including the values and beliefs of everyone involved. Intercultural understanding creates the potential to move from curiosity about a culture to a deeper understanding of others that allows us to live and work together as global citizens” (4).

BACC readers can access an article about this publication on the EdWeek blog and can learn more about  the study groups by reading articles published in the online journal WOW Stories.

When we practice culturally responsive collection development, we have the potential to impact curriculum. But we can guarantee that impact by coplanning and coteaching to use those resources for the benefit of all students. When we take students’ heritage languages and home cultures into account and use them as background knowledge in lesson design, we are maximizing opportunities to use resources to impact student learning. In doing so, school librarians combine our skills at collection development with “connection development” (Lankes).

As collaborating school librarians, I believe we cannot overestimate our importance as literacy stewards in our buildings. With our knowledge of literature, technology resources, tools, and devices we can support teachers’ teaching and help motivate students to engage deep and meaningful learning. As the “Global Literacy Communities” study groups attest, we develop our own international and intercultural understanding as we work alongside students and classroom teachers.

How are you using global literature in your library program? Have you cotaught a collaborative lesson or unit or participated in study group to bring a global focus to your teaching?

On Thursday, I will share WOW’s My Take/Your Take Book Dialogues as a model for engaging in virtual discussions with other educators centered on global literature.

Works Cited

Corapi, Susan, and Kathy G. Short. Exploring International and Intercultural Understanding through Global Literature. Longview Foundation: Worlds of Words. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://wowlit.org/Documents/InterculturalUnderstanding.pdf>.

Lankes, R. David. The Atlas of New Librarianship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. Print.

DIY Surveys-Tools for Inquiry

surevy imageAs teacher librarians we eat, live, breathe inquiry.  Inquiry is our bread and butter, and accessing, evaluating, and producing information has been at the core of our teaching and learning. We teach strategies and skills for lifelong inquiry, not just to answer questions on a test. So, how do we use what we know about research and inquiry to solve the issues/dilemmas that we encounter in our professional library lives? How can we enhance our pedagogy and educational goals using inquiry skills?  How can we crowd source our collective knowledge to identify and find solutions to challenges in the field, either locally or globally?  How can we adapt action research and design thinking to solve problems?

How can we incorporate surveys into this process?

Surveys are excellent tools to gather evidence for inquiry and professional practice in educational communities. They are also prevalent in our everyday lives, too.   You probably are asked to participate in many marketing and interest surveys, but find them bothersome and annoying. A teacher librarian can develop and use surveys in multiple ways-with students, colleagues, administrators, parents, community members, and so on.  So, when we develop surveys for students or colleagues,  it is important to design and target the survey to a specific topic, and to make it succinct and relevant to avoid the annoyance factor!

Surveys are instruments that can be used with many audiences, and a well designed survey can provide information that can be mined for factual and anecdotal data. It takes time and practice to develop a tool that will be both simple and complex that can tease out responses that will reveal insights into a topic of inquiry. Surveys are easy to create online and when the participants respond,  the results are displayed instantly in several visual formats.   Surveys can be informal or formal, detailed, or open ended for engagement and commentary.  They can be incorporated into academic research, or used as sounding boards for ideas within action research and design thinking. They can be used for pre-assessment for instruction, so that the instruction can be tailored and targeted to individuals. They can be used as part of an evaluation and reflection process, too, or as an end assessment. Altogether, feedback from surveys can help guide your practice as an instructional leader, co-teacher, administrator, and collaborator.

Tips for designing surveys for newbies:

Try out a free online survey service. Look for features that are available that you might want to have as results. Look at the format for developing the survey. There may be templates and sample questions to follow. An important feature is to have a visual representation of the data-usually in a chart or breakdown of percentages, or spreadsheet displays.  Some platforms charge a fee for bells and whistles. Stick with a free one, until you perfect your techniques, and then decide if you want to upgrade, or find a new venue.

Suggested programs:


Keep it simple:

  • Decide on a focus and audience for your survey. What is the purpose? You will want to share this with your participants, so that they will see that it matters, and will want to respond!
  • Brainstorm the key essential ideas for feedback. What outcomes are you looking for?  How will you word your questions so that they are clear and concise?
  • Keep your survey to under ten questions!  That is a challenge for many who want lots of detail.
  • Your first question should give you demographic information about the participants, and contact information so that you can follow up with them, if needed.
  • Draft your remaining questions using several different choices that will present the key ideas you want to ask about. You could use a multiple choice questions with “one” preference, or multiple choices with “more than one” preference.  You can allow for comments for those who want to add additional information.
  • The last question should be open ended to allow for other ideas that you did not anticipate.

Here are a few ideas for effective use of surveys:

In the past few years, I have come to depend on surveys to inform my teaching and professional practice. Some of the surveys have been internal, while others have been an integral part of research and the basis for reports or publication. I really want to know what my students and colleagues are thinking, and I appreciate the time and effort that a person puts into my inquiry.

Blended Learning and Online Instruction;

At the beginning of the semester, I send out a pre-course survey to students to ask about their comfort with technology and to evaluate their skill levels with certain platforms and applications that will be used during the course. I also ask about their familiarity with topics that are covered in the syllabus. I can then see who might need extra assistance and who else might be an “expert” to assist others. I can adjust some assignments and projects.  A final reflection asks them to identify key learning events or challenges, and suggestions for course improvement.

Program Evaluation:

Periodically, a survey is conducted to get feedback on the delivery model and content for the school library media sequence of courses at the University of Vermont.  The feedback is instrumental at looking at changes that will improve the delivery of the program, as we move forward and provide theoretical and practical practice for the 21st Century.

The most recent surveys were analyzed by Linda Brew and Judith Kaplan (2012) in “ A Program-based Approach to Developing and Implementing Blended Instruction: The University of Vermont School Library Media Studies Sequence.”

A new survey will be completed in 2016.

Professional organizations:

The Vermont School Library Association has been focused on advocacy within the state. As a research challenge, the professional concerns committee has been conducting surveys within the membership to determine the “state of school libraries” in 2014 and 2015. Last year the committee conducted a survey that targeted job descriptions and evaluations of teacher librarians (library media specialists), and this year the survey addressed staffing and budgeting issues. In 2015, we added a new incentive to participants-a lottery for a $100 gift certificate for library books. Over 57% of our members participated!  We have reported out the results and implications of the surveys  at our annual conference in May. We are using the survey results as an organization, to look at trends and at establish goals for advocacy statewide.

Do you use surveys in your practice?  Let us know what you recommend!

References:

Brew, Linda and Judith Kaplan. (2012) “A Program-based Approach to Developing and Implementing Blended Instruction: The University of Vermont School Library Media Studies Sequence.” Chapter 9 in Blended Learning Environments for Adults: Evaluations and Frameworks, by Panagiotes Anastasiades, Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2012. N. pag. Print

Image:

Collection of Judith Kaplan

 

The Marvels – A Preview

marvelsA room bursting with librarians waited with baited breath for the appearance of an amazing children’s literature hero—Brian Selznick. When he flew up the center aisle, arrived at the podium, and faced the screen, the live (!) piano music began, the curtain went up, and all eyes turned to the images from Brian’s forthcoming book The Marvels. Readers who have come to expect great works of art from Mr. Selznick will not be disappointed. (There are no spoilers in this post.)

The Marvels begins in 1766 with more than two hundred images that tell the mysterious story of a theatrical family. Spanning several generations, Brian’s drawings portray the ships and their rigging, theater stages and scenery, and tell of  sea-going adventures and land-based dramas. (Did you know that theater terms such as “crew” and “boards” were derived from sailing terminology? I didn’t. Brian taught me that during his presentation.)

When the images end, readers find themselves in 1990 reading a story based in print only. A boy named Joseph has run away from boarding school and is searching for the address of an uncle he has never met. When he arrives at his uncle’s home at 18 Folgate Street, Joseph learns family secrets and more. Finally, an illustrated-only conclusion brings the first two parts of the book together in a satisfying present-day conclusion.

During this Scholastic-sponsored book launch at the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco (June, 2015), Brian shared his finely drawn art, read from the print in the book, and shared bits of his writing and illustrating process. We were privileged to peek inside his studio to see hundreds of thumbnail sketches and then more than two hundred final illustrations displayed in sequence on his studio wall. We also had the opportunity to travel to London where Brian researched and worked on the book. He shared photographs of his apartment in Piccadilly and the marvelous home of Dennis Severs at 18 Folgate Street.

We who serve the literature needs of young people (and feed our own imaginations and love of story with children’s books) are once again thankful for the wonder that is Brian Selznick. Pre-order a copy today and kick off your fall reading with an awe-inspiring book.

Image courtesy of Scholastic Books, Inc.

Resources to Support All Learners

sign_tagxedoThis month the BACC co-bloggers will share thoughts and examples of the school librarian’s role in differentiating instruction so that all learners have opportunities to succeed.

This word cloud image encapsulates many keywords associated with learning through the school library program. The work that school librarians do in their schools is always interdisciplinary and supports students in making connections to crystallize their learning.

English language arts learning objectives related to reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking are part of every lesson we coteach. We collaborate with educators teaching various grade levels and all content areas. The learners we work with have a wide range of background knowledge and are at various measures of proficiency for any skill or strategy we set out to coteach.

How does the library environment support the differentiation that students need to succeed?

Due to ubiquitous access to the library’s electronic resources and the Internet, some classroom teachers and students may think that involvement with the library’s print collection is unnecessary. For those who take that view, I highly recommend reading “Why digital natives prefer reading in print: yes, you read that right,” an article that appeared in the Washington Post on February 22, 2015. The article notes: “Readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers.”

I have had this experience more times than I can count. After introducing an online pathfinder of electronic resources, high school students quietly call me over to whisper in my ear, “Isn’t there a book about this?” Classroom teachers are often surprised by such student requests; I am not.

With the print and electronic resources of the library and the Internet, school librarians develop expertise at integrating resources in multiple genres and formats into students’ learning opportunities. Of course, classroom book collections offer some range of resources, but the library collection’s range is far wider. School librarians develop print collections at the widest possible range of reading proficiencies on topics that cover all areas of the curriculum.

School librarians’ ability to connect the “just right” resources to meet each learner’s needs is one of the strengths, in terms of differentiation, that we bring to the classroom-library instructional partnerships.

Works Cited

Rosenwald, Michael S. “Why digital natives prefer reading in print: yes, you read that right.” Washington Post.com. 22 Feb. 2015. Web. 02 Mar. 2015 >http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html>.

Word cloud created at Tagxedo.com

School Libraries – Reinvented?

shooting_starThe BACC bloggers are experimenting with exploring a shared topic each month. We will share various perspectives and points of view.

This month we are looking at school libraries as compared with classroom libraries and book rooms and the impact of leveled reading on library resources. Overarching question: If a school librarian’s goal is to strengthen her/his relationships with classroom-bound teachers, what roles might the library collection play in supporting teachers’ teaching and students’ learning?

While I was pleased that the eSchool News noted their #1 Top Story of 2014 was “Libraries, reinvented,” I must take exception with the reasons they cited in this article. According to eSchool News: “With libraries serving as many schools’ central hubs, it’s only natural that they would intersect with many of the other top trends on our list—by setting up maker spaces, letting students explore coding, and helping to increase student access to the internet after school hours.”

Providing students with “trending extras” such as makerspace and coding opportunities does not capture the most meaningful contributions school libraries make to learning and teaching. These two examples should not be restricted to the library environment and would be most effective if integrated into a total-school program. School libraries that are open for after school hours have always provided students with access to whatever resources they need; this is not new and should not be news.

In my opinion, school libraries first and foremost contribute resources and the expertise of the school librarian (not necessarily in that order). While library resources and school librarians’ skills have changed, these contributions have been consistent — at least for the quarter of a century I have been involved in school librarianship.

According to literacy educator Frank Serafini, at least 100 books per child should be the goal for a well-stocked classroom library and recommends that classroom libraries contain 2,500 – 3,000 books in all genres and at all reading levels (37). While I applaud classroom teachers that write grants, raise funds, and use their own financial resources to provide students with classroom libraries, my experience tells me that a classroom collection cannot compare with a well-developed and managed library collection.

A school librarian who aligns the library collection with the curriculum and provides independent reading selections for students can provide a wider selection of books and resources in all genres and more support for readers at all reading levels. Involving classroom teachers in reviewing, recommending, and purchasing resources for the library is one way for the school librarian to strengthen her/his relationships with classroom teachers. This can be done formally with a Library Advisory Committee or informally with individual teachers and grade-level teams.

Reference

Serafini, Frank. Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days: A Month-by-Month Guide to Effective Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006.

Word cloud created at Tagxedo.com

Collaboration:Build a Plan for Advocacy

In last week’s blog post, I outlined the scenario that has been unfolding in Vermont concerning proposed changes in the state statutes that describe school quality standards.  In the draft document, language about school libraries and staffing was eliminated, and a group of volunteers from the Vermont School Library Association (VSLA) has been collaborating to make sure that the language is reinserted.  So far, the action plan that was developed through the collective capacity of the group has been well received, and we are quite confident that our advocacy is on a successful track.

Here are a few ideas about collaborating for advocacy based on our experience:

  • Set group communication and actions-meetings face to face and virtual-Google docs, presentations, Skype, email, listserv.

Our group began meeting in late August, just as the school year was underway. Certainly, it was not a time for leisurely study of the issues, and we were aware that the Vermont Board of Education would be scheduling public hearings on the proposed changes in October. Our window of opportunity would be short.   Since we represented schools in both urban and rural areas from far corners of the state, we set up Google docs and used Skype when someone could not meet face to face.  TGFG-Thank goodness for Google!  After brainstorming a “to do” list, each person took responsibility for a piece of the action, and shared through our Google documents, presentations, and email.

  • Understand the issues, and the process, develop talking points.

Fortunately, the State Librarian was part of the group, and her contacts at the state level allowed us to move forward quickly.  The person who was the project coordinator for the revised document was very helpful in explaining the process so far, and also for helping us to understand that we still had an opportunity to suggest changes.  As a talking point, we developed a chart that compared the previous document to the proposed one. It clearly showed that all references to school libraries and library staffing had been eliminated. It included our suggested language to be reinserted, as well as, a rationale for school library programs, regionally and nationally.

  • Create a list of possible contacts, and supporters.

Brainstorming our own contacts, we came up with a list of possible people who might be in a position to help in advocacy planning.  We knew that we would need to alert our membership, but we wanted to have a clear message before we “called in the troops.”  We knew that we wanted the message to focus on the impact on students, not on our jobs.  We wanted to show what would happen if school library programs were not available for children all over the state.  Lots to think about!

  • Create a timeline of events, actions.

Through the State Librarian, we were able to schedule a meeting with the Secretary of Education, so that we could advocate for restoring language about school libraries and school library staffing to the Education Quality Standards.  After that meeting, we were assured that he would support our request with the State Board of Education during the review process.

On September 17, the president of VSLA, Denise Wentz, and I made a presentation at the monthly meeting of the State Board of Education.  Our focus was on the positive impact of school library programs in our state. See slide 22  for our concise talking points, “Why a School Library Program?”  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RAY0bX0RwK1Ets1ky80DWH9KxftZADVcCZ7Ft8ZdTbc/edit#slide=id.g11a3c625c_2_42

Three public hearings will be held in October, and we are encouraging or members to bring supporters who will tell why school library programs are important to them.  Alternately, we are asking supporters to send letters or email to the Board during the public comment period.

  • Gather resources to support talking points.

Have your ducks lined up in one place that can be shared with all stakeholders. There are many resources available from a variety of organizations, experts, and bloggers.  In order to share the best of the best with our membership, we have gathered recommended “go to” sites, infographics, and documents that can be used to support school library advocacy.  We are happy to share them with everyone through this livebinders link: Advocacy for School Libraries  http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1014077&backurl=/shelf/my

  •  Communicate with membership and other stakeholders.

Advocacy is an ongoing and organic process.  In VSLA, we will continue to focus on advocacy at all levels. It is not done by presenting at one meeting to administrators or school board members.  It is accomplished day to day with intentional purpose for making sure that the school library program is visible and essential for all learners.  Blogs, photos, newsletters, and websites are great vehicles for continuing to put a face on our programs.  Have a brand, have a mission, and don’t be afraid to shine.

 

 

 

 

Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships

Best_of_KQ_IPsAlong with AASL President Susan Ballard, I co-edited the just-released Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway to Leadership. Susan and I had the opportunity to select outstanding articles written by scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the field. Gleaned from more than a decade of issues of Knowledge Quest, the journal of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), this book attests to the fact that the call to serve in the instructional partner role is not new AND it is timely!

Check out the press release on the ALA Web site.

In the changing landscape of 21st-century education, this role may be more imperative than ever. Whether your school is in the process of “reforming” or “transforming” the academic program (see Judy Kaplan’s May 28th post), it is essential that school librarians are fully engaged and yes, lead, in these efforts. The Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships is organized in three categories: instructional partnerships in the broad context, research related to instructional partnerships, and classroom-library instructional partnership in action. The authors of the articles in the book provide a framework, research evidence, and examples from their own practice to help school library colleagues take the lead. Kudos to all of you!

Implementing instructional partnerships is not easy. It requires many of the “habits of mind” (Costa and Kallick) expected of 21st-century learners including flexibility, persistence, practicing critical thinking, reflection, and metacognition, and above all, continuous learning. If educators expect P-12 students to achieve these dispositions and practice these behaviors, then it behooves us to model these for them. Creating, developing, and sustaining instructional partnerships with colleagues is one way to do just that.

AASL has made the “Coteaching” Webinar that Susan and I hosted in March 2012 freely available on the Web for thirty days. Several authors from the KQ 40.4 “Coteaching” issue shared their experiences during the Webinar; some of their articles were reproduced in this Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships monograph.

Works Cited

Costa, Arthur L. and Kallick, Bena. (Eds). Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008. Print.

Moreillon, Judi, and Susan Ballard. (Eds.) The Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway to Leadership. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2013. Print.

Little Red Wagon

Who doesn’t love a red wagon?  I guess I just wanted one for my library, but it became an important collaborative tool.  Along with the red wagon, I created a “Red Wagon Request Form” copied on bright red paper.  Forms were kept at the circulation desk and near teacher’s mailboxes.  The form included a line for teachers to share the unit they were planning and a check list of possible resources they needed including fiction, poetry, informational, but also websites, videos, and “other.”   There was also a place to check “I would like to plan a collaborative lesson related to this topic.”   This was one, but certainly not the only way, that teachers alerted me to upcoming units of study. For some teachers it was a comfortable and convenient way to initiate collaboration.

The form was often re-purposed by teachers.  If a team planned without me, they would collaboratively fill out the form to let me know what they were thinking about.  One teacher used the form monthly to re-fill the book baskets in her classroom.  The list would include a selection of genres, a balance of reading levels, and often a variety of formats (e.g. magazines or graphic novels).  This teacher promoted a community of reading in her classroom and was likely to booktalk and promote the titles that filled the wagon. Classrooms also had an “author of the month” and this would be a reminder to update those selections.

Someone observed that it didn’t matter what they asked for on the form, I always managed to fill the wagon.  The red wagon was a vehicle for flooding classrooms with library books and materials, pushing the collection out the door and closer to students, and providing a range of materials related to curriculum goals.

The bright red form could not be overlooked in my mailbox or on my desk.  The form got my attention and was generally filled within a day.  Completed forms served as one type of documentation for the services provided by the library.  The fat file of completed forms provided evidence of the integration of library materials and library services with classroom instruction.

The red wagon always seems to garner attention whenever I share it.  Thanks to Amy Sweetapple for her comment on my earlier post.  Maybe there will be other red wagons rolling around out there!