School Libraries

Book Reviews, Research, Issues

Concerned about Collaboration?

How to coach teachers who don’t think like you : using literacy strategies to coach across content areas by Bonnie M. Davis (Corwin Press, 2008, 214 pp., ISBN: 9781412949095)
Instructional coaches, specialists within the school, and teacher librarians all have something in common as they attempt to collaborate with classroom teachers – locked doors. Davis is not thinking about teacher librarians, but writes eleven chapters that can be read/used as professional development conversations in any sequence. Her topics overlap teacher librarians concerns: moving from teaching students to coaching teachers; organizing to save stress, time, and mistakes; coaching teachers who don’t think like you; scheduling time for coaching; and, coaching teams of teachers to improve instruction. Davis assumes that a coach does not have a warehouse to tend as teacher librarians do, however, there are enough good ideas here to consider for collaborative strategies not already in the literature of teacher librarians. The idea occurs to us that if there are other specialists in the school who are having the same problem we are, then why not ban together as a professional learning community of specialists with concerned administrators and get a focused program of coaching going throughout the school that has a better chance for real change and impact on achievement. For this reason, we recommend the Davis book for ideas not only for ourselves but for other struggling professionals like ourselves.


March 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Wondering About Collaboration

75 outrageous ideas for librarians to impact student achievement : fun ideas to motivate students and inspire collaboration by Laurie Noble Thelen (Linworth Publishing, 2008, 89 pp., ISBN: 1586832328)
Of the many definitions of the word outrageous, we suppose that our author means: highly unusual or unconventional; extravagant; or remarkable. Thus, sone approaches this thin book with high anticipation. As we read the various activities, we applied the question: “Are two heads better than one?” That is, would the combined efforts of teacher and teacher librarian be better using these activities than if either of the partners tried to do them alone? We also looked at the process of collaboration, asking: Does the information literacy goal for the lesson support the learning of the content objective? Does the assessment actually measure both the content and the information literacy skill to be taught? Does the learning activity actually match the objectives stated? Are the learning activities “outrageous?” Was there a “so what” activity at the end of the learning activity to stimulate higher-level thinking? And, finally, How likely would the activities contribute to achievement as stated? We think such questions should be emblazoned on planning sheets, posters, and into the minds and hearts of every teacher librarian. When given the great gift of collaboration, how do we actually perform? We did find a few activities here that were mildly interesting, but not enough to justify the purchase of this book. However, the purchase might be justified for a professional development session with teacher librarians at a district level. Take a copy of the book, cut it up and distribute pages to teams of teacher librarians. Using the rubric questions above, have the group critique and reinvent the activity they are to critique. Perhaps we could all gain better ideas of actually how we could contribute to teaching and learning. So, in a strange way, buy this book and then be outrageous enough to move beyond it as you test your own creativity and skill.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Book on Differentiation

Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice: Training, Implementation, and Supervision, 2nd ed  by Gayle H. Gregory (Corwin Press, 2008, 150 pp., ISBN: 1412936527)

This handbook is a companion volume to Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All written by the same author and published in 2007. The two books together provide a recommended and very practical plan for instituting differentiation in an entire school. The handbook provides many many handoust, planning sheets and flow charts for each stage of planning, developing, teaching, and assessing the work of both the adults and the students involved. A CD contains all the forms in the books so that they are reproducible.  Like many other professionals books in education, there is no reference to the one vast store of information, materials, and knowledgeable  partners who would and could be the key to differentiating for a

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Syracuse researchers link higher test scores with certified librarians in schools

Quoted from: February 29, 2008

Preliminary findings of research conducted by iSchool professor Ruth Small and graduate students in the Center for Digital Literacy (CDL) show a statistically significant increase in the ELA test scores—almost a 10 point difference—among fourth-grade students whose schools had certified librarians over students in schools without certified librarians.

“We believe these findings are important to consider, not only because of the higher ELA test scores. These certified librarians are having a larger impact on students’ overall learning as well,” says Small, who directs the school library media program at the iSchool and was recently appointed to the Governor’s New York State Council for Universal Broadband’s Digital Literacy Committee. “Although we’re still analyzing the data, our preliminary results show that certified librarians are also more likely to provide students with materials that present more diverse points of view and that better support the curriculum than non-certified librarians.”

Certified librarians are currently not mandated at the elementary level in New York state, but they are at the secondary level.

“This preliminary report reaffirms what 19 other state studies have shown, that school libraries staffed by certified librarians and equipped with current books and technology can have a positive impact on student academic achievement,” says Michael J. Borges, executive director of the New York Library Association.

The research, which is being funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Studies, included survey responses from 1,612 schools, proportionately representing New York City; large upstate cities such as Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester; other high-needs schools from urban and rural districts; average-need schools; and low-need schools. Even when the need levels of schools were taken into consideration, there was still a 2.2 point difference in average test scores.

“These initial findings support our efforts to require school library media specialists in grades K-6, especially in those school districts that are not meeting state and federal standards,” says Alan Lubin, executive vice president of New York State United Teachers.

The researchers are now currently analyzing more in-depth information gathered from surveys and focus groups involving school library media specialists, students, principals, teachers and parents from 48 elementary, middle and high schools across New York state. They will analyze these various groups’ perceptions of school library specialists and their effect on education.

“The New York State Assembly values libraries and believes they are an important part of our educational system. This preliminary report reinforces the need to continue to invest in our schools, especially those lacking a quality school library program,” says Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, chair of the Assembly Libraries and Educational Technology Committee.

Small hopes to better understand the impact these trained library media specialists have on motivating students to learn, influencing the adoption and use of technology and servicing students with disabilities and special needs.

“Our preliminary results support what school librarians already knew,” says Small. “Best intentions only go so far. We need people educated in school librarianship and dedicated to motivating students to read and learn in our schools.”

The New York Library Association is supporting an increase in library materials aid from $6.25 per pupil to $10 per pupil as recommended by the New York State Board of Regents. Library materials aid is used by schools to purchase books and other reading materials for their libraries. NYLA is also asking the governor and the legislature to amend the Contracts for Excellence initiative to allow the extra funds that high-need school districts receive to be spent on hiring school library media specialists and equipping libraries with up-to-date books and technology.

“This study confirms the direct impact of certified school librarians on the educational success of our children,” says state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Libraries. “That is why I am sponsoring legislation (S.1686) to ensure that every school in the state has a library and a school librarian. In recent years, the Senate has successfully proposed record increases in state aid to public libraries, and I will continue to promote support for school libraries. The New York State Senate has successfully proposed increases for libraries over the past two years, and we will continue to make library funding a priority.”

February 28, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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