Back in August, I shared the app Goose Chase with my faculty. Goose Chase is a scavenger hunt app where you can create a game with missions online and share it out to students through their devices (cell phones or iPads work the best, not so much laptop computers). Students can turn in missions via text answers or photo answers. Each mission is worth points and teams or individual students compete to be the top on the leaderboard. As a teacher, you see the submission feed on your device and can add or subtract points or even delete a submission if students don’t complete it according to your specifications.
After presenting, I had a tremendous increase in teachers wanting to work with me using this app for their classes. I have now worked with Math classes, Guidance Counselors, and English classes. In a school where collaboration doesn’t usually happen, I am super happy that I have found something to share with my colleagues that they want to use for their students. This positive turn helps promote the library and my services to other teachers who haven’t wanted to collaborate in the past.
As I took a step back to think about what would be most important to Nebraska school librarians at this time of year, I eventually landed on the topic of equity. Equity is at the forefront of the work of the Nebraska State Department of Education (https://www.education.ne.gov/ndeday/). Take a look at the Nebraska Department of Education’s definition of educational equity:
Educational equity means all students have meaningful access to the educational resources they need at the right moment, at the right level, and with the right intensity...Educational equity allows students to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of their postsecondary interests. (https://www.education.ne.gov/ndeday/)
Isn’t this what we do as librarians? I bet you’ll run out of fingers counting all the ways you create equity through instruction and library programming. We are all about equity and we always have been, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow and get better at it.
With that said, let’s think about how we as librarians can create equitable opportunities for our students.
Equitable access to resources at the right moment, at the right level, and with the right Intensity
Of course, diverse collections come to mind when we think about equity in the library. We want our libraries to be full of books and resources representing the diversity of experiences in our world. As you start a book order list for the coming school year, make a commitment to take a look at diverse book lists from sources such as We Need Diverse Books and the Lincoln Public School’s MOSAIC. In fact, on the We Need Diverse Books website you’ll find a list of sites you can explore to discover even more diverse books.
We all know that access to books alone will not improve students’ experiences. We need to pair our diverse collections with qualified school librarians who can recommend titles to our students. What can you do this year to promote diverse literature? It can be as easy as creating displays and book talking diverse titles. Perhaps you could select a diverse book and start a One Book One School program.
Allowing students to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of postsecondary interests
When you teach a student to code or engage them in a makerspace activity, you are allowing them to explore their passions and make connections within the context of postsecondary interests. The young student building elaborate structures with K’nex may be exploring an interest that could lead to a career in architecture or engineering. A student who spends his time in the library using your virtual reality set, may be preparing to work in the movie or video game industry. Let’s make sure we tie our makerspaces to real world applications and promote them that way with our administrators.
Three important questions
What else can we do? I think we can ask ourselves some really important questions, research the answers to these questions, and make programming changes that further promote equity. Let’s start with just a few really good questions:
I know we as librarians are champions of equity, and I am so grateful that our spaces are welcoming to all. Let’s keep doing this great work and find even more ways to advance the NDE’s equity goals.
By Joy Harvey
Tonight I was driving home from school and realized this school year is my tenth year as a school librarian. I started thinking about those first few months on the job, ten years ago. How would I know all the kids? Where were the light switches? (The light switch issue seems to be a recurring theme in my career). How many things did I not know that I needed to know? How would I wrap my brain around this massive task which I suddenly had no idea how to do? One student at a time, one light switch at a time, and one task at a time. Eventually, I moved to a place of gratitude. Grateful for all the faces I could put names to, and for those who showed me where things were, and held me up as I learned my profession. As my third year in Papillion La Vista South High School started, I am excited for familiar faces, smiles, and high fives as we open our amazing library to the students.
A few things come to mind as I reflect on my journey. I give great advice, but seldom take my own. Take care of you. As school librarians, we problem solve, share our energy, and take on many tasks in support of our students and learning. Over time, it’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. Find ways to renew your energy and love for what we do. This summer I started each morning with yoga, usually with a cat or dog as a companion. Curl up with an anticipated title and read the whole thing. Stop and grab a favorite coffee or treat, just because. It’s the little things that make a big difference, and they will keep you going.
Do not travel this journey alone. A network of professionals who speak your language and walk in your shoes is key. One of the most meaningful conversations I had as new school librarian was with another librarian during my practicum. I learned so much from watching another professional. I also learned that the things I worried about were shared by someone else. If you are new to the library profession, seek out a mentor to guide and support you. One of the action items for NSLA is to support our membership with a mentor network. Contact us if you would like to be paired with a mentor as you transition into a new position or profession. We have a few different opportunities available to fit your individual needs.
Connect with other librarians and take care of yourself by participating in professional learning. For the first time, NSLA will be holding a Fall Spectacular on Saturday, October 5th at Papillion La Vista South High School. It will be a day packed with great learning, amazing presenters, and wonderful people. Registration is open! We know from membership feedback, conference attendance is difficult to negotiate so we’ve put together a great Saturday of fun and networking.
Finally, advocating for what you are passionate about is another great way to re-new your enthusiasm. Currently, two bills have been introduced as federal legislation regarding K-12 education. The two bills, HR.3667 (Morelle) and S.2070 (Merkley) were introduced in July. Both would create federal grants to keep school libraries open during the summer in conjunction with free lunch programs. What a great way to keep students engaged with the library while receiving a healthy meal during the summer months. Keep an eye on these two bills. Also, Nebraska Rule 10 is under revision. Keep an eye out for updates!
Best wishes for a super school year, and reach out to us for support! We are here for you!
By Cynthia Stogdill
Happy Summer Librarians! As we get ready to begin the school year I wanted to share some ideas I use to tie in research to our sections of the library. As we meet each week it’s also important to build a connection with students and build relationships.
1st Grade - Each week we learn a letter in sign language. I use that letter to choose my books to read to the students while also teaching Fiction and Non-Fiction choices. Using the Non-Fiction book, we then do some research about the topic. We use maps and websites to find our more information. Sometimes the students have a template to fill out or other times they do an art project related to the topic. Some of the websites we love to use are: National Geographic for kids, Pebblego, and San Diego Zoo Kids. These websites have terrific facts and videos to go with our topics. At the end of all the letters we then learn a few songs in sign language to help the students see how sign language helps people communicate if they can’t hear or talk.
2nd - 5th Grade - The Golden Sower book choices give many opportunities to find out facts share information about the authors and the topics of the stories. This last year with “The Water Princess” and the “Boston Marathon” we were able to research about villages that don’t have fresh water and how women couldn’t participate in running races. Students then either do some writing, create posters, word collages, slide shows, or an art project to share what they learned.
3rd Grade - As we learned about the different genres and sections of the Dewey Decimal System, the students researched states and practiced taking notes from a website. We research planets, animal groups, and body systems also when I teach those Non-Fiction sections. Pinterest has great graphic organizers for students to fill in as they use books or the internet to find out more.
4th Grade - Our favorite research unit was about the weather. We tied it into the Non-Fiction section reading about different kinds of storms that affect our country. Students were able to use books and the internet to make a poster about their storm. They also had to include safety tips.
5th Grade - We use our Google accounts each week, so we have had fun doing many projects this year! Our favorite right now is finding out about inventions and inventors. They are researching an important invention they use in their home or at school that they couldn’t live without. The students are being very creative as they prepare their Google Slide and it gives them the opportunity to share their creation with whoever they want.
During all these activities it’s important to build relationships with the students. Students need to feel welcome in the library anytime. I have students coming in already at 7:30 to find books or just to visit. Students come in during their lunch recess to volunteer to help or see what I’m teaching the other grades. Then after school is a great time to send students off with books for the night or weekend. Even though we get busy and have lots to do, it’s important to take time to listen and give students the message that the library is a safe place they can come when they need to talk, get a hug, or find more books!
Have a great school year! Thanks for all you do to help our students love books, collaborate with others, and problem solve for our future!
By Laurie Schlautman
On March 29 and 30, I attended the Nebraska Educational Technology Association conference for the first time. The opening session of NETA was with Kayla Delzer, 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year. Ms. Delzer gave an inspiring and motivational presentation that was just what I needed. Motivational talks for teachers are often heard at the beginning of the school year. However, at this time of the school year when testing mode is in high gear, my teaching excitement and enthusiasm run a little low! Ms. Delzer talked about building relationships with the students from the moment they walk in the door on the first day of school. A quote from Ms. Delzer is one to remember, “Relationships between students and passionate teachers will always be the foundation for successful classrooms!” What a great reminder for this time of year when patience is running thin and stress is high!
As a first time attendee of NETA, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the session choices. Since I am planning for a school librarian position, I looked for sessions that would be relevant to a school librarian. Makerspaces are a hot topic now in the education field and one that interests me. After attending some sessions on this topic, I learned a few starter tips: 1. Start small and simple; 2. Ask for donations through school newsletter and social media; 3. Get organized; 4. Establish routines and expectations.
In other sessions, I was able to take away various ideas for both the classroom and the library. I learned about free websites and applications that I could use to teach the National School Library Standards: Inquire, Collaborate, Explore, Include, Curate, Engage. One document that has an incredible listing of tech tools and resources is: bit.ly/AASLTechTools. Last but not least, it was encouraging to know that school librarians like to collaborate and share. In the near future, I may need all the resources I can find for assistance in the school librarian position.
By Susan Becker
July 1 is always a big day for the NSLA. We say goodbye to some of our distinguished board members, officers, and liaisons and the incoming replacements officially begin their duties. It's a beginning of our fiscal year: a new budget determined by the NSLA's action plan that the board examines annually at the July retreat.
As of today, these are the amazing people representing you and our profession throughout the state. Thank you to each and every one of them for the time, effort, and dedication they are committing to as they serve NSLA's membership and all Nebraska school librarians for the next year.
If you're interested in serving, keep an eye out on our blog, website, listserv, and social media for announcements of upcoming elections and open positions. We'd love to have you aboard!
NSLA Committee Chairs
First, I would like to thank the NSLA for awarding me the National Conference First Time Attendee Scholarship this year. I attended ALA Midwinter Conference in Seattle, Washington this past January.
The opportunity to attend a national library conference is something I have been wanting to do these first years as a school librarian. I never thought I would be a school librarian so early in my teaching career, but the opportunity came in a good district so I took a chance. Being a school librarian has been such a rewarding experience in a K-12 building. I have been lucky to meet other school librarians and mentors who encouraged me to apply for conferences and grants to further my knowledge & experience as a librarian.
After I was accepted for this scholarship, I twisted my husband’s arm (not very hard) to take work off and join me on my journey to the Emerald City. I remember flying into Seattle (in January) and all I could say was, “Everything is so GREEN”! The Wizard of Oz kept popping into my mind with all the eclectic people we would see on the streets, in the restaurants, and of course the diverse librarians at the conference that had traveled from all over the United States.
The one thing I did not realize when I was researching this conference was that the Midwinter conference is more of a meetings & exhibits conference than filled with sessions that I typically am used to experiencing. I still very much enjoyed this conference.
There were three major things that I took from this conference. First, the exhibit hall was like nothing I have ever seen before. Two large ballrooms filled with vendors. I saw companies selling book vending machines! What I enjoyed most about this area was all the free books and the chance to look at different vendors. I have been in my position for two years and have been doing what the previous librarian did before me when it came to the media center budget. I was excited to talk with and see what was really out there in the world of library sales. I feel I have a better idea, this second year, of what we really need and how to get the best bang for my buck.
Secondly, although it was more of a meetings conference, I did find some useful sessions. DEMCO had a great session on sprucing up your library on a very small budget. I thought they might really push you to buy from them, but they encouraged you to brighten up your space with little to no money. My favorite session I attended was more of a round table discussion of how libraries are getting more girls in for the coding camps. It was great to share ideas with librarians from New York and Florida. I talked about Code Crush that is sponsored through UNO and ASWIT grants that one of my students received to host an all girls coding camp at our school. I learned some new unplugged activities that I could utilize with my media classes in the elementary and my coding class in the high school.
Finally, the best experience I had at the conference was listening to the Auditorium Speakers of Melinda Gates, Sylvia Acevedo, and Rick Steves. Each were promoting a recent book that they had published. Melinda Gates opened the conference and with her popularity I was stuck on the back wall. She was promoting her book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Flatiron Books, 2019). What I took most from her was when she stated that librarians are the guardians of our stories. They protect, cherish and pass along our stories to others. Our stories are what bind us together, help us reach out and connect with others, and how we learn and grow. She stated that everyone’s dream is to have the very best for our children regardless of our race or culture. She promoted advocacy for women and people of color calling out the social injustices. One of my personal favorites was Sylvia Acevedo. She is the current CEO of Girl Scouts of American and has worked for NASA. Sylvia said that it was head start, Girl Scouts, and a love of the library that helped her get to where she is today. I stood in line to have her sign her book, Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) for our Elementary Library. We have a lot of Girl Scouts at Logan View and the book flew off the shelf once I introduced it to my media classes. She stated that Girl Scouts created opportunity for her through cookie sales; she was taught never to leave the site of a sell until you have heard “No” three times. It is a very inspiring book about perseverance despite family loss and setbacks. Rick Steves was also a great presented and promoted his book, Travel as a Political Act (Hachette Book Group, 2018). He is overseas at least 4 months out of the year and has been doing this since his late teens. He stated, that as librarians we are travelers with each book we read. My husband and I do a lot of traveling and try to do it fairly cheaply and in ways that allow us to experience the culture. Rick stated that Americans are fearful of leaving the United States, but we should travel to gain a better understanding of the world around us and I couldn’t agree more.
As I returned home from the Emerald City it was a whirlwind of adventures. My husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, our elementary had planned another successful spring book fair, and then the flood waters came.
The flooding that came at the beginning of March was a natural disaster I had never experienced before. One of our towns, Winslow, is completely gone. We were barely in school the month of March and when everyone returned, we tried to help our kids out the best we could. Any books that were damaged in the flood we noted for reorder but did not charge anyone money. My junior and senior high students were waived of any fines and had a full week to return any overdue books. For my elementary students it was much harder. My elementary students were so upset that they lost their library books in the flood (since we hit them hard with book care at the beginning of the year). We comforted them and reminded them that this was a different situation and we were just happy that they were ok and that we had money to replace books in that type of situation.
As we end this school year, I feel like I have grown so much as a school librarian and can’t wait to continue my career at Logan View Public Schools promoting reading and literacy. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without the help of the NSLA. Again, thank you for this opportunity and I would encourage other NSLA members to apply for scholarships during the next school year.
You can find all NSLA scholarships in our "Awards and Scholarships" tab above or click here. Scholarship applications are due on July 1, 2019.
It’s nearing the end of the year and where did the time go? The end of the school year also brings probably the largest book return you see all year. Here are some ideas for book displays and book return incentives! I hope they give you a boost for your 4th quarter!
Book Return Bulletin Boards
Book Return Incentives
Makerspaces have been the talk of the town in libraries all over the land. Matter of fact, I knew when I started my journey as a librarian two school years ago that I needed to have one of these magical places in my library. I started with some research then scoured the internet for innovative ideas for STEM challenges and other items to put in my makerspace. I had yet to meet my students, and since we were a brand new middle school, the entire staff was in the same boat! We were ecstatically planning for a school full of students we didn’t know. I started out with some low-tech, low-cost STEM challenges such as the army person launcher challenge, the airplane cargo challenge, and the newspaper tower challenge.
I was able to collect many items from around my own house, and I reached out to staff members for items they no longer needed and were willing to donate as well. This enabled me to get started without any huge expense, and since the school year’s budget was not yet available, that was a good thing. I also learned that the district office had makerspace items for checkout. I was able to schedule many items that rotate from building to building such as a giant chess set, Littlebits, Bloxels, K’Nex, and many other more expensive high-tech and low-tech options. This also allowed me to see if my students were interested in the items so I could decide if an investment was warranted. Some of the funding since my startup has come from my annual library budget, but the majority of funding for larger purchases such as our own K’Nex set, VR goggles with an iPod, and our BB8 Droid has come from book fair profits. Scholastic actually has some of these items in their catalog. If you have the book fair dollars, it’s a great place to spend those funds.
An important issue that came up in my planning was when the students would be able to use the makerspace. I decided at that moment that our library should be open at lunch as an alternative to recess. Students would sign up on a Google form the day before and then sign in as they entered. The response was awesome. Kids wanted to do the STEM challenges, they used the books on drawing I pulled from our collection, they made duct tape everything (and the tape was gone in a flash). They hammered away on nail art and loved it (yikes! I knew this could not continue into year two if I wanted to stay sane).
Some lessons were learned that first year. 1) If I could get one student to try a new activity or challenge, others would follow. 2) Things can quickly become old news. Put them in the cupboard for a couple months, then pull them back out and they’re brand new again. 3) Low tech is just as popular as high tech. 4) Loud is okay, but too loud is not. 5) They will take the stuff and make stuff you didn’t plan or intend (this is good, this is one actual purpose of a makerspace, and when it happens, it is a beautiful mess). 6) Kids can learn how to pick up after themselves and take ownership of a space if you are consistent and follow through with expectations. 7) Ask students what they’d like to see in their makerspace. They will tell you. 8) Watch how students use the spaces in the room and move the furniture around.
I’m now in the middle of year two of my makerspace journey, and I continue to watch the students create and use their space. I think by far, the most important lesson of all is to observe closely and feel this living, breathing makerspace take shape--Not the shape you see in all of the pretty catalogs, but the shape of your students and their interests and their imaginations.
Sara Meier, Moore Middle School Teacher Librarian
Hello, dear Nebraska librarians! We’re preparing for the holidays by offering you some Stocking Stuffers - effective ideas for your school library all packaged up and ready to go. I “Grinch-who-stole-Christmas-ed” these goodies from the NLA/NSLA 2018 Fall Conference and am looking forward to incorporating them into my own school library. Most of the images are respectfully pilfered from their slide presentations.
Stocking Stuffer #1 : Take-away advertising
Number 1 on my “to steal” list is from Alexandra A. Ball’s “Promoting Literacy to Teachers and Staff” and Amy Taisch’s section of the #mwlibchat IGNITE. You take a small item, such as Extra gum (“Let the library make 4th quarter EXTRA awesome”) or a sharpie (“The library has what you need to stay SHARP in 2019”), and attach it to a brightly colored note. What a great way to promote the library and add some fun into your days! The back of the card can include your name, contact information, and library social media.
Stocking Stuffer #2 : The GIANT LOOM
Cheryl Wilkins of Lincoln Public Schools presented this in an IGNITE session, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. She created a huge loom in her library and put out the call for leftover yarn, resulting in this gorgeousness: a no-tech maker space that her students can get enough of. I’m ready to do this for the winter months.
(Check out their IGNITE slides here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byg0fBGq8544SHVuVDRlYUpiM0gtc0FDQmpqanNMTzRfMXk4/view)
Stocking Stuffer #3 : Library Cake Boss
Pilfered from Jenna Krambeck-Reeh’s section of the #mwlibchat IGNITE, I love the creativity behind a cake decorating contest centered around books. In my mind, this would make a powerful Golden Sower nominee activity. It would take a significant amount of planning and preparation with cake groups. Luckily, collaboration is a good thing! The library can keep the pieces on display all day, take votes from students and staff (drive traffic), and hold a cake eating party too!
(#mwlibchat IGNITE slides found here: bit.ly/NSLA18mwlibchat)
Stocking Stuffer #4 : Staff Book Bags
Amy Taisch makes her second appearance on my list with her staff book bags program. She talks with staff members and creates summer reading book bags for them based on their interests and professional goals. What a great way to re-connect with staff before and after summer break and promote your library materials! I’ll be trying this out at my school this summer.
Stocking Stuffer #5: Guessing Games
Alexandra A. Ball’s “Promoting Literacy to Teachers and Staff” had one more gem I just have to share with you! Don’t underestimate the power of guessing games to bring patrons into the library. She specifically mentioned one we are doing right now (it’s October as I write this) “Guess how many candy corns are in the container”. Also from her presentation, cover most of a book cover and have patrons guess the book title. Here are some other ideas I had: guessing the source of a quotation, how many feet of shelving there are in the library, how many items are in the collection, etc. I advertise on social media, email teachers, and always have a prize! In fact, I offer a prize for the student with the winning guess AND their Focus (like homeroom) teacher.
Well, there you are, Nebraska school librarian! I hope you found something inspiring to steal and make your own. Make sure to let us know if you do use one of these ideas by posting to social media and tagging the Nebraska School Librarians Association on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
This blog is a joint effort by members of the NSLA Executive Board. We hope to provide relevant information, tips and tools to help you in your journey.