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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things 

Are these really my favorite things? No, not really, but coincidently enough, this song was playing while I was doing one of my favorite things—shopping for books with my students! Hearing this got me thinking...what are some of your favorite things? Within our libraries, we all have programs, ideas, lessons, etc that fall into the category “favorite things.” One of my favorites happens to fall right at the holiday season which of course heightens the stress, but I think it makes me appreciate the project all the more. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to hear about one of my favorite things...A few years ago at the NCSLMA conference, someone mentioned taking the students to Barnes and Noble to buy books. A light bulb went off and an idea started brewing. I could take all the freshmen English students to Barnes and Noble, they could pick out books, and I would put them in the library catalog. I would call it the “Fresh Books” program. A week later, I had talked to the English teacher (only one teaches 9th grade), reserved a bus, found some money, and was ready to hit the road. I made a deal with the kids that they would have a $20 limit, could pick out any book that would be appropriate for the library, and I would put it in the library with a book plate with their name on it in the front cover and allow them to check it out first.Was it a success? Just ask the kids. Our first group is this year’s senior class. Just the other day, one of the boys was looking up his book in the catalog to see if it was available because he was telling another boy how great it was. That first year, some of the older students complained because they never got to go on any “cool” trips. Later on, I heard a few of the younger students (I serve grades 6-12) discussing what they were going to buy when they got to go. Each semester, as I catalog the books, I have to fight the kids off from the book cart and tell them that the freshman who chose the book gets to check it out first. And before this last trip, one of the sophomores asked me to make sure to get the latest Ranger’s Apprentice book because he had chosen one in the series as his book, and he wanted to make sure we had the next one.We took our latest group of students to Barnes and Noble on December 3 with a few reservations because they are one of “those classes.” You know what I mean. But, $902 and 50 books later, I was extremely pleased. This trip was also the perfect example of what this can do for my library collection. Before these trips started, recommendations for books really only came from the readers. The non-readers were just that—non-readers. But getting these non-readers into the book store has helped my shelves be populated with books that I never would have thought to buy. I never knew there was a series based on the Halo video game. I definitely never knew there were that many hunting books! And this trip, after two boys approached me with “You ask her.” “No, you ask her.”, I have my first two gaming strategy books on my shelves. During the past two days of cataloging, I’ve had more kids pick up those two books than any others, begging to be allowed to check them out. I think I’ve found something to put in my LSTA grant application! But, my greatest satisfaction came on the day the books were checked out. Seeing the kids’ faces when they opened up their books and saw their names printed on the inside cover reminded me once again why this is one of my favorite things. 

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading! 
Sarah Justice, President Elect 

Posted by mrsjustice at 4:58 PM

Something to Talk About

If you were at the NCSLMA conference last week, you had something to talk about. 

If you weren't there, you missed 2 panel discussions that were frank, forward-focused, ferocious at times, and frightening to some. If you weren't in Winston-Salem, you need to connect with someone who was there* and talk about where our profession is headed.

Whatever your reaction to the panelists' remarks, you have to admit it got us talking about our library lives. It's true that some of the statements were pretty strong, even hard to hear, but I also believe that those assertions were meant to challenge our thinking about our current practice and the future of our profession. 

Book lovers in the audience probably cringed at the pointed remarks about storytime. Hard as it was to hear, there was truth in that statement. Unfortunately, there are some in our field who wield storytime as an easy way to fill the time, simply reading aloud without enriching or connecting the literature to the curriculum beyond the boundaries of the book. Even when our schedules make us feel undervalued and overworked, we HAVE to be promoting reading in all formats, focusing on student learning, and supporting school-wide goals for student achievement. If we're using storytime to merely fill the time, then we're not adding any value with our school library programs. 

If you're like me, books worked their magic and lured me into this profession. But books can no longer be the end-all and be-all of school libraries. If we're too focused on the primacy of the book or if we let our easy love of the book interfere with the teaching of other essential skills and content, then there isn't a very promising future for school libraries. Never mind the future, we're doing today's learners a tremendous disservice. 

So, what should we do about our peers whose best just isn't good enough any more? Does it really matter if the school librarian/teacher librarian/media specialist at another school isn't at the top of their professional game? It matters. I am convinced that we have to elevate the practice of our peers -- their practice shapes the opinions of stakeholders about our profession and more importantly, their students deserve better! Whether we want to believe it or not, we're all in the same boat and we need to start talking and paddling hard in the same direction. 

So, let's keep the discussion going. NCSLMA isn't just the conference. NCSLMA is us, a reflection of our daily work life and a vibrant professional community if we make it so. 

Just sayin' . . . North Carolina, let's give 'em something to talk about.

Kelly Brannock
Past President, NCSLMA 2009-10

*check out the Twitter stream from the conference at #ncslma2010. 

Posted by Ms. Brannock at 5:06 PM
2 Comments

Talking about the NCSLMA Conference

What are conference authors, speakers, and attendees saying about this year's NCSLMA conference?

Lisa Yee
Lisa Yee blogs about her experience at NCSLMA in Winston-Salem in her latest entry at her blog: http://lisayee.livejournal.com/149019.html

Check out the photos of Lisa and Peepy, her muse, along with school librarians Becky Palgi, Beth Obenschain, Evelyn Bussell, and Yvette Davis and authors Cynthia Kadohata and Kirby Larson. You might even find yourself in the pictures from the author luncheon with Lisa on Friday!

Doug Johnson
Doug Johnson just blogged about attending the NCSLMA conference -- he looked at attendance at our conference and others, and then wonders if library conferences are fading away? Here's the URL for his blog: http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2010/11/6/library-conferences-fading-away.html

On Twitter
#ncslma2010 @DebLogan we have to stop advocating for #teacherlibrariansand start advocating for students and who else we serve. - @jenniferlagarde

Media centers have been seen as a respite from testing, but this doesn't help w advocacy or relevance #ncslma2010 - @kellybrannock

Home from #ncslma2010 and fired up. Look for something big soon. - pcaggia

What are you talking about? 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 8:28 PM

Conference Update: What Great Sessions You Have!

Okay, folks, if you haven't looked at the conference program online, go look now! I'll wait.

Well? Aren't those some incredibly, fabulous concurrent sessions happening on Thursday and Friday?

Yes! Those are your smart, creative, forward-thinking colleagues presenting some of those sessions. 

And yes, those are some well-known national school librarians presenting some other sessions. 

And yes, those are some incredible children's and YA authors and illustrators presenting those other sessions!

So you're coming to the conference, right? Great! 

But what about you? No, you didn't pre-register. Well, that's okay, you can still come on Thursday morning and register on-site for the two day conference.

So you can only make one day? Then do it! Take Thursday or Friday off and get in your car and head to Winston for some of the best professional development you'll get! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 1:40 PM

Conference Update: Guess Who's Autographing?! (And There's Food!)

Have you seen the list of authors that will be signing their books at Thursday's night's reception and autographing session?! There is an author for everyone!

The All Conference Reception and Author Autographing Session is Thursday, November 4th from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

You definitely do not want to miss the opportunity to meet these authors:
And there's food -- lots of food -- planned for the reception! So much food you could make your own "dinner with an author" session while you graze the buffet, enjoy a drink from the cash bar, and get your favorite author to sign his or her latest book!

See you Thursday night!

Posted by Ms. Dee at 1:15 PM

Conference Update: Get Connected at Lunch!

Get connected at lunch on Thursday, November 4, 2010!

The All Conference "Connections" Luncheon, included in your conference pre-registration, features some of our national leaders in school librarianship, 21st century learning, and leadership and advocacy for school librarians: 
  • Doug Johnson, media and technology director, author of numerous professional books and creative genius behind the blog, Blue Skunk Blog.
  • Cassandra Barnett, immediate past president of American Association of School Librarians
  • Deb Logan, school librarian, member of American Library Association advocacy committee
  • Diane Chen, school librarian, member of American Library Association executive board
The focus of the panel discussion will be the future of school libraries and school librarians.

Be sure to connect with your colleagues and these national leaders at lunch on Thursday!

A limit number of lunches will be available to those who register for the conference on-site; however, all are invited to attend the panel discussion.

Posted by Ms. Dee at 8:02 PM

Fall Forum Scholarship Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Karen Van Vliet, Media Coordinator at Troutman Middle School, in Troutman, NC who has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend the 2010 AASL Fall Forum in Portland, Oregon in November. Karen will be joining other school library professionals from across the U.S. to focus on the essentials of 21st century learning.

We can't wait to hear about her experience! Karen will be sharing what she learns with all of us in this blog, in an upcoming issue of Media Connections, and at next year's NCSLMA conference.

Way to go, Karen . . . congratulations! 

Posted by Ms. Brannock at 1:53 PM

Taking Control of Your Professional Development

With staff development funding cut in many districts, there may be fewer opportunities to attend workshops and conferences. There may be fewer chances that your district or school can cover the costs of registration, travel and lodging, or substitutes. 

But even if your district cannot cover the costs associated with participating in workshops and conferences, it is more important than ever that you take control of your professional growth so that you can be aware of the trends, best practices, and educational policy affecting school libraries.

Attend Our Fall Conference

With the theme of this year's conference -- 2020 Vision: Connect, Lead, Learn -- you as a cutting edge school library professional have the chance to network with some of the national and state leaders in our field: Doug Johnson, Diane Chen, Cassandra Barnett, Deb Logan, Neill Kimrey, Kelly Brannock, Sandra Hughes-Hassell. You have the opportunity to attend over 100 concurrent sessions focused on literacy and reading, technology, advocacy and leadership, and information skills. You have the chance to gather information about purchasing the latest eBooks, equipment, and software from over 50 vendors.

Attend an Online Conference or Webinar

Online conferences and webinar offer a virtual opportunity for you to attend some great professional development without leaving your home or school. Sometimes these opportunities are free, like Learn NC 's fall interactive conference. You can participate in the online version from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 14th. Just be sure to register before October 7th.

If you haven't tried the Teacher Librarian Virtual Cafe, well, this Monday, October 4th is your chance! Doug Johnson will lead the discussion, Changed But Still Critical, about the role of brick and mortar libraries in the digital age. Just visit the TL Virtual Cafe for details about logging on to this webinar.

Read Professional Journals and Blogs

Another free opportunity -- it only costs you a little of your time -- is reading online professional articles and blogs. By following some of the leaders in our profession, you can keep up with the latest trends, best practices, and educational policies affecting school libraries. See our blog roll at the right for some of our favorites!

We hope to see you in Winston-Salem in November, as you take control of your professional growth! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 4:37 AM

21st Century Learning Anyone?

NCSLMA is offering a $1,000 scholarship to one NCSLMA member to attend the upcoming AASL Fall Forum, "In Focus: The Essentials for 21st Century Learning", in Portland, Oregon on November 5-6, 2010.   Forum attendees will "connect school library programs to current educational concepts now at the core of curriculum, and leave with new insight to encourage, elevate and evaluate information literacy in their programs.

"Only NCSLMA members are eligible to apply for this special scholarship.  Since the Fall Forum coincides with NCSLMA's fall conference, the recipient of this scholarship agrees to attend all sessions at the Fall Forum; this may necessitate leaving the NCSLMA annual conference before our state conference concludes on the afternoon of November 5th. 

The Fall Forum scholarship covers the cost of registration, travel, hotel, and meals.  Approved travel expenses will be paid through reimbursement according to the travel guidelines on the NCSLMA website.  In exchange for this sponsorship, the attendee agrees to share his/her learning with other NCSLMA members by completing the following tasks: 

1.) present a conference session at the 2011 NCSLMA annual conference
2.) submit an article to Media Connections
3.) write 1 post for NCSLMA's blog. 

The article and blog post must be completed by September 2011.  We are eager to hear about your experience and to have you share your learning with other NCSLMA members!

To be considered for this opportunity, please complete the online application & submit it no later than September 29, 2010.  A committee will review all applications, make a selection, and notify the recipient no later than October 1, 2010.  Once notified, the recipient is expected to register for the Fall Forum before the deadline for advance registration ends on October 4, 2010.   If you have questions or need more information, please contact Kelly Brannock at ncslma.kelly@gmail.com.

Good luck to all the applicants! 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 5:15 PM

Why You Should Be Interested In The New Teacher Evaluation Process

An Opinion Piece by Dr. Robin Boltz, NCSLMA Secretary

Last year my district was abuzz about the new teacher evaluation process from DPI. There was extensive professional development on the instrument and an equal amount of uncertainty. When the doors opened this year, the uncertainty was still there. For some of us in districts where library positions are being cut, welcome to our world!

Okay--be honest: raise your hand if you have read (or browsed through) the new teacher evaluation process handbook from DPI. Just how familiar are you with the new criteria that administrators will use to gauge the efficacy of classroom instruction? Yes, I know the PDF is over fifty pages long and we’re all busy. But I’m also of the opinion that DPI has handed those of us in the library a present that should have been delivered with virtual wrapping paper and bow.

For those of you not familiar with the new standards, here are the five main strands (if you are familiar, bear with me for the next couple of paragraphs): 1) Teachers demonstrate leadership; 2) Teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students; 3) Teachers know the content they teach; 4) Teachers facilitate learning for their students; 5) Teachers reflect on their practice. If you are National Board Certified, or have looked into Board certification, then you’ve been down this road before.

The following quotes directly from the teacher evaluation handbook: “According to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission, the different demands on 21st century education dictate new roles for teachers in their classrooms and schools. The following define what teachers need to know and do to teach students in the 21st century.

1) Leadership among the staff and with the administration is shared in order to bring consensus and common, shared ownership of the vision and purpose of the work of the school. Teachers are valued for the contributions they make to their classrooms and the school.

2) Teachers make the content they teach engaging, relevant, and meaningful to students’ lives.

3) Teachers can no longer cover material; they, along with their students, uncover solutions. They teach existing core content that is revised to include skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and information and communications technology literacy.

4) In their classrooms, teachers facilitate instruction encouraging all student to use 21st century skills so they discover how to learn, innovate, collaborate, and communicate their ideas.

5) Subjects and related projects are integrated among disciplines and involve relationships with the home and community.

6) Teachers are reflective about their practice and include assessments that are authentic and structured and demonstrate student understanding.

7) Teachers demonstrate the value of lifelong learning and encourage their students to learn and grow.”

Let’s pick out some core concepts here: leadership, relevance, critical thinking, problem solving, information and communications technology literacy, innovate, collaborate, communicate, reflection, authentic assessment, lifelong learning. Is it just me or does this language seem remarkably similar to IMPACT and our own MCPAI? My somewhat belabored point here is that many of the skills that teachers are being asked to embrace and demonstrate, and those they will now be critically evaluated on, are those that we are already doing and facilitating.

For those of us in districts where library positions are being cut, the new teacher evaluation is a marvelous advocacy tool. It’s our chance to stand up and say, “ As the nature of information and the tools for its retrieval change, so the position of the librarian has also changed. We are no longer ‘keepers of the books.’ Our role is as positive change agent for 21st century information literacy skills.” In other words, to stand up and say, “This is why you need us now more than ever!”

Kelly Brannock, our NCSLMA President and I will be presenting a session on this topic at the upcoming conference in November. It’s tentatively titled either“10 Reasons Why You Should Be Interested In The New Teacher Process” or “Ways to Leverage the New Teacher Evaluation Instrument to Advocate for Your Library.” If you are interested in the topic, please join us. If you are already doing this, please come to share your specifics with others; we’re planning a very collaborative and interactive session! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 8:47 AM

Racing to the Top: Will You Be in the Clouds?

With the announcement that NC has just received a federal grant for school reform in the amount of $400 million, it's important to understand what this means for North Carolina, our students, and our teachers.

You can wade through the 271 pages of the narrative application, June 2010, if you want to get the whole feel for the proposal: the standards, assessments, data systems, professional development, closing the achievement gap.

But the pages that caught my eye and made me think about my role in this race were pages 27 - 29 of the document. This is where the NC PK-12 Education Technology Cloud is visually represented and outlined. (If you're not familiar with cloud computing, read more from Wes Fryar or David Warlick.)

The K-12 Education Cloud "will be used to deliver statewide access to the major digital resources and tools necessary to support RttT initiatives." (p. 28) According to the plan, this means online resources and tools to insure EQUITABLE ACCESS. It means professional development. It means SHARING of resources across classrooms, schools, and districts. It means Web 2.0 tools. It means digital learning and video streaming. It means CONNECTING.

All of this improved technology supports the four main initiatives of the RttT: 1) standards and assessments; 2) data systems to support instruction; 3) great teachers and leaders; and 4) turning around the lowest achieving schools.

When referring to the lowest performing schools, it was noted: "In addition, it is essential that students in these schools have equitable access to technology and to teachers with the expertise to use it well, to guarantee that they experience the full range of technology uses that their peers in high-achieving schools receive." (p. 29)

Teachers with the EXPERTISE to use it WELL. Are you prepared to be the teacher with the expertise? Are you prepared to work with your fellow teachers to insure that they are experts as well? What do you see as your role in your classroom and in your school in the race to the top?

Will you have your head in the CLOUDS or will it be stuck in the SAND? 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 4:54 PM

Let's Get Visible, Visible!

In the fall of 1981, I was an avid reader, taking eighth grade by storm, on a mission toward my goal in life: becoming a school librarian. I just didn't know it then.

I could be seen in our small school library, thumbing through that wonderful card catalog. Remember back in the day when they still taught the card catalog -- subject, author, title cards -- and the oh so many skills-in-isolation lessons. I was brilliant at using an index in any reference book. I was a mighty fine almanac user. I was the best map reader in my class, loving the atlas the best. (Look at all the great places you could imagine yourself to visit!) I always had a book, fiction or nonfiction, possibly a volume of the encyclopedia, with me. (Okay, I was a geek!) I was always seen trying to get more information, out of my teachers or out of some book. I was a highly visible student motivated by the quest for information!

I really have absolutely no idea what my middle school librarian did, though. I remember she was nice. I remember she said my name sort of fancy like: Dee-onna. I remember her sitting at a classroom-type desk in our library. Honestly, though, I don't even remember the lessons she taught us, and I definitely never remember seeing her outside the school library.

As a school librarian now, I wonder if this teacher of thirty plus years ago was visible to her colleagues at all. Was she big in her professional association? Was she part of her school's leadership team, budget team, school improvement team, or the equivalent at the time?

Did she move beyond the walls of the media center, do poetry breaks in the hallways, collaborate and team teach in core classrooms? Was she visible in the cafeteria or in the carpool line booktalking with students? Could she be seen at PTA meetings, department/grade level meetings, or athletic events? Did she plan, instruct and access students? Did she facilitate workshops for colleagues, present at district and state meetings, or provide parent resource workshops?

Was she visible to her students, teachers, parents, business community? Was she VISIBLE to her PRINCIPAL?

In her August 6th post, Kelly Brannock quoted Gary Hartzell -- success flows to the visible -- and offered a challenge for us all to SHOW how the school library is essential. If you're not up to the challenge, if you choose to remain incognito in the shadows of school libraries past, then you'll have to accept the consequences of remaining in the dark (job cuts, devalued library programs, lower student achievement).

But if you choose to be VISIBLE, to step up to the challenge, to make the hard decisions and the big changes that will impact your teaching and student learning, then go boldly, go brightly, go BIG and be VISIBLE! 

We're right there with you! 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 12:54 PM

Listserv Problems

The NCSLMA listserv will be down for 4-6 hours today while we transition to a new web hosting provider. We apologize for any inconvenience! 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 9:24 AM

NCSLMA Website Newsflash

On behalf of our webmaster, Deb Christensen, here's an important message about our NCSLMA website:

NCSLMA is transferring our site to a new host server. There may be a short interruption in service in the next week. Our domain (ncslma.org) will remain the same and you should not notice any changes at this time with this switch. Thanks for your patience as we attempt to improve our services. Please pass the word to your colleagues who may not be subscribed to our listserv. 
If all goes as planned the switch will be barely noticeable. Also, if any members have scripting experience and would like to help with the website, please contact me. Good luck with the new school year!

Thanks!

Deb
NCSLMA Past President and Webmaster
Director-Elect Region IV AASL Affiliate Assembly
debjcnc@earthlink.net

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 3:15 PM

Smart and Helpful!

The countdown is on for the start of a shiny new school year! Are you ready for an exciting year of teaching and learning in a 21st century learning environment?

As I've mentioned before, I subscribe to the NC Teachers Message, a bi-weekly update of news and highlights from the State Superintendent's office. Over the years I've found this to be a very useful source of information. It often gives a heads-up on new programs and issues that would otherwise take time to trickle down to the faculty meeting level -- plus it gives me a great way to "be in the know". It's easy to look smart and helpful with a resource like this in your back pocket! If you don't already, I encourage you to subscribe to this important bi-weekly listserv.

In case you've missed it, here are some important snippets from the latest issue of the NC Teachers Message concerning assessment, Race to the Top, poetry events, advocacy, blended learning, and the upcoming Elementary School conference:

Computerized Adaptive Testing - In the last year, the use of Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT), a testing system that provides a customized assessment for each student based upon his/her level of knowledge and skills, has become a subject of many state and national conversations. As states seek to provide more and better data to enhance classroom instruction, the CAT seems to be a compelling tool. Data from CAT could provide more precise information than traditional tests about which concepts a student has mastered versus those for which the student needs additional instruction. 

The multi-state SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium - of which North Carolina is a governing state - has placed Computerized Adaptive Testing as a central component of its proposed assessment system for the Race to the Top Assessment Grant. If the grant proposal is accepted, member states will have the option to implement the CAT system fully online in the 2014-15 school year or use a comparable paper and pencil assessment. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, all member states will have to use the fully online system. The NCDPI released a report to the Board that discusses the benefits and challenges related to implementing a Computerized Adaptive Testing system in North Carolina. It can be found on the ACRE website under Resources and Publications at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/resources/.

Visit NC FALCON – What better time to visit NC FALCON then the beginning of a brand new school year? The North Carolina Formative Assessment Learning Community's Online Network (NC FALCON), available online athttp://center.ncsu.edu/falcon/ , contains online modules focused on helping teachers learn how to effectively implement formative assessment to enhance student learning. Formative assessment provides the base or foundation for instruction and learning and should occur more often than any other type of assessment. If you haven’t heard how your school will implement NC FALCON, ask your principal for information regarding your district’s and school’s implementation plans.

America's Legislators Back to School Program - America's Legislators Back to School Program, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, will be held Sept. 20-24. Teachers are encouraged to extend invitations to their local representatives to visit and talk with students about the legislative process and what it's like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate – the negotiation and compromise that are the fabric of representative democracy.

Elementary School Conference Scheduled - The Seventh Annual Elementary School Conference, “Tools for Building a Better Tomorrow,” will be held Oct. 24-26 at the Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh. Conference strands include quality teaching across the curriculum, responsive teaching and promoting global understanding. The registration fee is $150 for NCAEE members and $175 for non-members. There is an additional charge for pre-conference sessions. There will be no onsite registration. For a complete agenda and registration information, please visit www.ncelementary.org.

Blended Learning - Learn NC has just published an article about blended learning in its education reference. It explains the characteristics, history, features, and benefits of this teaching and learning method. At the bottom of the article are links to LEARN NC's other blended learning resources, including a guide to implementing blended learning in the classroom, and online courses that teach various blended learning principles.

Poetry Out Loud - The North Carolina Arts Council is inviting high school teachers to become a part of Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation competition for high school students. For the sixth great year, North Carolina high school students will be memorizing poetry to recite in front of friends, family, teachers and total strangers—and teachers are an important part of the program. Students can choose from an amazing selection of poems that can be found online at http://www.ncarts.org/poetryoutloud, along with lots of other information about the project. Teachers who would like to participate in Poetry Out Loud should review the information and fill out the registration form at by Friday, Sept. 17. 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 6:18 AM

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

It’s tax-free weekend in North Carolina and kids, anxious parents, and teachers are hitting the stores to stock up on binders, bookbags, and back-to-school clothes. The lines are long at the Apple Store this weekend, the malls are jammed, and the newspaper is full of sales circulars. For most of us, school is only a few weeks away. What an exciting time!

On the other hand, if you read the newspaper, The Friday Report, or the State Board of Education blog you learn that North Carolina is among the states facing the worst budget shortfalls next year – a projected shortfall of over $3 billion, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only California and Texas are in worse financial shape. We lost school library positions this year in my district. I hate, in fact I avoid, thinking about what next year will bring. I hear the words, "falling off the cliff" applied to next year's budget scenario and I worry about what this will mean for our profession and the impact it will have on our students.

Now add to this strange mix: a new Teacher Evaluation instrument that emphasizes 21st century skills & knowledge, the introduction of new Essential Standards replacing the familiar Standard Course of Study in every curriculum area (including the integration of information and technology skills), and the possibility of Race To the Top funding with all the strings attached.

What’s your take on this challenging, confusing convergence of circumstances? In my mind it means no more status quo. I’m thinking hard about what it means to model 21st century skills and knowledge. I’m drawing on my PLN to develop resources for 21st century learning. I’m making plans to use technology in new ways to promote collaboration, new communication models, and critical thinking. Most of all, I’m keenly aware that I have to: 1) be on top of my game, and 2) make others aware of my efforts, especially when it comes to my impact on student learning. It’s not enough to do good work behind the scenes. I can no longer acquiesce to the stereotypes about librarians, the warm fuzzy library memories that so many share, and the outdated ideas that the library is just for quiet reading and checking out books. I'm not your mother's school librarian -- why, I'm not even my adult son's school librarian. No more status quo.

This year, a year of profound change and challenge, things will be different. I’m taking some advice from the comments of Gary Hartzell on the Blue Skunk Blog post “Wisdom from Hartzell and Professional Death Wishes”. Hartzell says that success flows to the visible. It’s up to me to show that the school library is essential – to teachers, as a partner in data-driven instruction, to administrators as a supportive model for 21st century teaching and learning at every level, to students as THE place to engage in exciting learning activities, and to parents and the community as the 21st century learning environment their children deserve. Big ideas, big plans, and let's face it -- a big challenge.

Chances are I may not have a adequate budget or an assistant to share the day-to-day work load this year. In fact, I’ll probably be doing more with fewer resources, just like every other teacher at my school. What I DO have, however, are personal resources -- the vision for what I need to accomplish, a commitment to 21st century teaching and learning, the technology skills to support my goals, a great PLN to propel me forward, and the ingenuity to embrace a new kind of practice. 

The new school year is almost here. It’s exciting and scary. The stakes have never been higher, but I’m staring straight into the future. No more status quo. What will you be doing differently this school year? 

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 7:37 PM

Everyday Advocacy: Making a Case for Libraries is Easy with Web Tools

Carolyn Foote has a great article in the latest SLJ on how you can use your web 2.0 savvy as a very effective advocacy tool. Check it out!

Conference Update

PRESENT AT THE NCSLMA CONFERENCE:
The Call to Present form is still available. Please fill out the form on Google docs. The deadline for completing the form is August 1, 2010. Presenters will receive their conference registration FREE (maximum of 2 presenters per session) but must register and pay for pre-conference sessions and other conference meal functions.

VOLUNTEER AT THE NCSLMA CONFERENCE:
If you are interested in assisting with NCSLMA conference planning and preparations before, during and/or after the fall conference either as a coordinator of volunteers or a volunteer in a specific area, please complete the volunteer form.

REGISTER FOR THE NCSLMA CONFERENCE:
NCSLMA 2010 Conference Registration Form registration due by 10/15/10
Preliminary Conference Program

Visit the NCSLMA Conference Website for hotel registration and additional information. 

Posted by Ms. Dee at 10:22 AM

Arne Duncan holds dialogue with AASL leaders - American Libraries Magazine


Posted by Ms. Brannock at 5:00 PM

NC-to-DC Adventure: Day 4

It's day 4 on my great NC-to-DC adventure and it's been non-stop meetings, sessions, and chances to network with some great school librarians from around the US and the world.

Yesterday was a morning-long meeting at AASL's Affiliate Assembly where we discussed concerns and commendations from across the U.S. This morning I had the special opportunity to attend a meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan talked about the dire economic decisions facing school districts now and said it was imperative that we make our voices heard and tell our stories loudly and clearly. I'll post more about this meeting later when I have time to collect my thoughts and decipher my quickly typed notes! The meeting ended on a perfect note with AASL President-Elect Nancy Everhart telling Secretary Duncan about the showcase of exemplary school libraries on her Vision Tour website of Outstanding School Libraries. (Check for our Gina Webster, of Walkertown Middle School in Walkertown, NC on that site!)

This morning I also attended a session on Collaborative Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension: Maximizing Your Impact led by Gail Bush, Liz Deskins, and Judi Moreillon. I was surprised and glad to learn that there is a toolkit of fabulous free resources available on the AASL website on how to collaborate in reading instruction. I'll post some of those links in a later post when I re-cap ALA10. I've been tweeting as time permits -- you can search for me on Twitter as kellybrannock or under the name of ncslma. Or, just search for the Twitter hashtag #ala10 to find all kinds of tweets on lots of activities here in DC.

Kudos are in order to our own Deb Christensen, past-president of NCSLMA, who has been appointed Director-Elect of Region 4 in AASL's Affiliate Assembly. I also have to give a shout-out to Evelyn Bussell, from Wake County Schools, who has been using her Flip camera to capture comments and reactions from school librarians about their experience here at ALA. I can't wait to see her finished product!

Tomorrow is Library Advocacy Day on Capital Hill and hopefully there will be thousands of us rallying at the Upper Senate Park, dressed in our bright red t-shirts and making lots of noise about the importance of libraries. If you can't be here in person to join the chorus, won't you add your voice by sending a message to your representative and Senators tomorrow? It only takes 5 minutes to email a message and ALA makes it easy for you by supplying talking points. Please check out the ALA site, put together a brief message, and email your message tomorrow. We're all in this together!

Kelly Brannock
NCSLMA President
connecting -- learning -- leading

Posted by Kelly Brannock at 9:55 AM