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Teacher Shadows a Student

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shadows in PragueGrant Wiggins, the author of Educative Assessment and President of Authentic Education, recently shared the experience of a veteran high school teacher shadowing a student. “It was so eye-opening,” writes the teacher, “that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!”

Some of the key takeaways from the experience were:

  • Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
  • High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes.
  • You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

The post has been so popular that Wiggins has even done a post-script. In it he summarizes the comments he’s received and makes a call for more teachers to shadow students.

Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/lru6fh6, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Written by John

October 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Recommended App: Historypin

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History Pin iconRecently, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) came out with their 25 Best Apps for Teaching & Learning for 2014.  The apps were chosen because they foster innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration.

The app Historypin made the list. Users can take a picture on their smartphone and put it on the map – creating a modern event. Users can also compare and contrast their images to the past and learn about whatever geographic area they are in! AASL recommends having students “take a photo of a location that interests them and use the app to start a research project into the history of the area.”

This free app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, and is recommended for all grades K-12.  Check out their short introductory video:

Written by Theresa

October 24, 2014 at 10:26 am

DPLA’s public domain GIF contest

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GIF-IT-UP-Banner-3-1The Digital Public Library of America (along with DigitalNZ) recently announced a GIF-IT-UP contest.  Below is an invitation to participate in an international competition to create the best animated GIF, reusing public domain and openly licensed content: http://dp.la/info/gif-it-up

Need inspiration? Check out more examples from Kevin Weir.



Written by John

October 24, 2014 at 7:23 am

Make Noise: School Libraries are Critical

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Last week, I did a blog post about the continued drop in the number of media specialists in Central MN schools. Quite honestly, there is no library issue that bothers me more. I became a librarian because I am passionate about equitable access to information.  I am sick about what I am seeing in our region around school libraries. In school year 2013-2014, 41% of Central MN schools had no licensed media center staff. And, here is a shocker, 69% of secondary schools have no licensed staff! Without well-stocked, well-staffed school libraries, how are the academic needs of students being met? Certainly, we can do better, we must do better!

Part of what bothers me is that I hear no outcry. Are parents, grandparents, and community members aware of this issue? Why do I only hear deafening silence? Every time the cuts happen with no outcry, it becomes more acceptable! I know for a fact that some of the  school media programs that were cut or eliminated, were the very best! So, the cuts did not happen as a result of a weak program. Take note media specialists, your great program could be cut too if you don’t engage in raising awareness of this issue. These cuts happened quietly, and even when a few people figured it out, there was only deafening silence.

A few years back, some districts would employ one media specialist to cover several schools, to at least put a good face on the situation. Not any more! In last week’s blog post, I listed the school districts who have become so bold as to not employ a single media specialist in any of their schools. People, they are counting on your silence. Certainly, in this information age, this is an atrocity. Yet, where is the noise? Public libraries and college libraries should be concerned, as they often have to pick up the work of remediation of students with no school media program.

What can we do?

We can roar, we can make noise, and help others make noise!  Find out how your county or school district fares on this issue (bullet 2 below). Show the research that demonstrates the impact that school libraries have on academic achievement (bullet 3 below). Consider who in your school can work with your PTO, to ask parents and grandparents to write letters to the editor or the school board (bullet 2 below). Worried about your job? Consider writing an anonymous letter to the editor.

Basically, we want kids to be readers. We need to have systems in place to help them find books that help them grow, think, and enjoy reading and learning. Minnesota is dedicated to ensuring that all children be proficient readers by third grade. With 37% of our elementary schools with no licensed staff, are we supporting that statewide goal?  As kids move along, we want them to be competent researchers by sixth grade, and fluent critical thinkers about information sources by high school. And don’t we all want high school graduates to feel equipped to be successful in either their college career or as information-literate, high functioning  members of society?  Effective school libraries are hubs of learning, they include great books but so much more! Now is the time to make noise! Are you with me?

Resources to Help You Take Action!

  1. Where have the Media Specialists Gone in 2014? (current staffing data for Central MN)
  2. Want help writing your letter or fact sheet? Contact CMLE if you want a specific data set for your district or county to beef up your communications on this issue. We are ready to help!
  3. School Library Impact Studies (the research to support the need for licensed media staff)
  4. School Libraries Transform Learning (The American Library Association’s advocacy doc with different ideas for action)
  5. Los Angeles students need better libraries, not iPads (Read about how after a 19-month investigation, LA believes this school library situation is actually a violation of the educational civil rights of students!)

Send comments, ideas, or solutions to me, Patricia Post, Director of CMLE, at papost@stcloudstate.edu

Note: The CMLE region includes Aitkin, Benton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright counties in Minnesota

Written by Patricia Post

October 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

Booklist: 2014 Teens’ Top Ten Titles

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Top 10 YALSATeen Read Week has come and gone, and that means another booklist – YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Association) Teen’s Top Ten!  Teens from all over the country voted on these books between August 15th and October 18th this year.  Here’s what they loved:

  1. Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park
  2. A.G. Howard’s Splintered
  3. Brandon Sanderson’s The Rithmatist
  4. Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave
  5. Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14: Sky on Fire
  6. Janet Edwards’ Earth Girl
  7. Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing
  8. Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart
  9. Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm
  10. James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds

Check out the Teen’s Top Ten website, where you can watch a video countdown of the list (featuring Willow Shields of ‘The Hunger Games’ movies), book trailers, and other videos.  You can also see previous winners and check out their toolkit to help you show off these books to your young readers!

Written by Theresa

October 22, 2014 at 2:45 pm

MLA Conference Recap

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better_together_-_smallAs the legion of librarians descended on Mankato, MN for the 2014 MLA conference, there was excitement in the air. Several commented on how they couldn’t quite believe that they had physically disengaged from their workplace, but having done so, felt excited about two days of learning.

The event began with keynote speakers Tiffany Eatman Allen and Susanne Markgren. They focused on simple and painless steps to add professional development into (and change up) library careers. They engaged the audience in live polling, and offered a rich resource list too.

  • Their presentation includes ten professional development action steps along with the results of the live polls.
  • While the presentation is good, they also shared a wonderful pdf authored by Educause titled, Creating a Professional Development Plan, which is enormously helpful in many ways. It includes skills and values assessment check lists, which can help you focus on the type of job you may thrive in! It also includes helpful exercises in forming an action plan for further developing yourself.
  • Got a question you want to ask about your library career? Tiffany and Susanne are part of the Library Career People team, so use their web form to get their advice!
  • Follow them on Twitter: @LibCareerPeople

Other Helpful Conference Links  and Takeaways:


Session participants were asked to sum up the 23 Mobile Things program in one word or phrase.

  • “Refreshing, invigorating!”
  • “Much better than a poke in the eye” (spoken by a possible luddite!)
  • “23 Mobile Things keep you 23 steps ahead of your patrons.” That’s the idea folks….

Are you sad that you were unable to register for, or finish the 23 Mobile Things program last year? No worries, due to popular demand, we will be doing a second round of the program beginning in mid-January 2015. Now is a great time to get a strategy for securing  a mobile device so you can easily do the program. Put that smart phone or tablet on your Christmas list soon!

Written by Patricia Post

October 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

Youth librarians get together virtually on Storytime Underground

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ExclamationLooking for a way to interact with your peers, other than attending conferences?  Storytime Underground might be worth a look!  In a post on American Libraries Magazine’s website, Abby Johnson of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library explains how Storytime Underground began: with a gathering of children’s librarians at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.  The librarians were “sharing ideas, brainstorming, and troubleshooting issues related to early childhood librarianship.”  Since that first meeting in 2013, Guerrilla Storytime has been held at conferences across North America.  Storytime Underground is the virtual version of Guerrilla Storytime, “an informal idea-sharing website where youth librarians can learn from each other,” as Johnson describes.  Now you can be a part of this group that is formed by librarians from all over the country.

Image credit: http://tinyurl.com/mfbbv7p, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0



Written by Theresa

October 22, 2014 at 8:26 am


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