October Connections…


Segueing from Melissa’s recent post about tips for becoming a connected teacher librarian, I have a few examples of collaboration that demonstrate a shift from the individual (library) classroom to the global stage.  This shift is possible due to the willingness for educators to share best practices for effective teaching and learning through social media, as we have continued to highlight in this blog.

According to Tom Whitby, in a post on Edutopia in early October 2014, connectedness begins with collaboration. “The idea of collaboration requires a mindset of believing there is room to learn and grow. It is also a belief that we are smarter collectively than individually.”  Technology has made collaboration much easier than in the past, and “a teacher who benefits from collaboration tends to appreciate its effect, and will use it in his or her own methodology.”

One of the core beliefs that Whitby uses to describe the connected educator, really resonates with me.  “A relevant educator is willing to explore, question, elaborate, and advance ideas through connections with other educators.”  Every day, when I check my Twitter, Feedly, or Google+ feeds, I am amazed at the exchange of ideas in the global and local school library network.  It is like a fire hose, so I have to sort through and choose that which I need, and save others for future reference in my Diigo files-with just a click of the mouse, or a tap on the smartphone or tablet.

Here are just a few of the many “relevant” opportunities to explore, question,and elaborate ideas that I have appreciated in October through my social media/real world:

  • Connected Librarian Day, October 7: Hosted by the Library 2.0 website, an international gathering of librarians, educators, and library supporters took place in a virtual environment.  If you did not have time to tune in, not to fear, recordings of all the sessions are available, along with links to other resources.  Many speakers are shining stars in the school library field, so have a listen, learn, and leave a comment.
  • AASL Fall Forum Oct. 17-18:  School Librarians in the Anywhere, Anytime Landscape. To get an idea of how ideas were explored, take a look at the AASL Blog and the SLM Blog for several posts from different points of view.  It was an ambitious task to collaborate via teleconferencing between sites around the United States. Lots of great reviews for Best Websites 2014. Read the blogs and follow the links to see some of the unique ways ideas were shared, both face to face and virtually.  Twitter Hashtag #aasl14.
  • Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian, has been sharing her collaborative journey with a co-teacher in her blog.   Throughout the month of October, she has been posting the step by step lessons that she and her colleague are using with high school students to introduce them to the inquiry and research process. Photos, videos, and sample strategies for self selecting and narrowing topics are explored. Buffy’s honest reflection of the successes and challenges of  each day’s tasks are well developed and we can all learn from their collaborative expertise.  Each time she posts, I am excited to see what happens next-sort of like being a fly on the wall!

I know that there have been many other events that get the brain juices flowing in October, and I’d like to hear from you about an event or a learning opportunity that you have enjoyed recently-in any dimension.  How about sharing some ideas here?  Leave a comment, I‘d love to learn more!


AASL Fall Forum, American Library Association, Oct 17, 2014.  (Website) http://www.ala.org/aasl/conferences/fall-forum (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014.” American Association of School Librarians. (Website) http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards-guidelines/best-websites/2014#media (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Brennan, Lindsay. “AASL Fall Forum-First-time Attendee Reports,” AASL Blog. (Web log) October 17, 2014.  http://www.aasl.ala.org/aaslblog/?p=5114 (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“Connected Librarian Day, Oct. 7, 2014.” Library 2.0 (Website) http://www.library20.com/page/connected-librarian-day (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Diaz, Shelley. Scenes and Resources From the Summit,” School Library Journal. (Website) http://www.slj.com/2014/10/resources/scenes-and-resources-from-the-summit-slj-summit-2014/  (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Hamilton, Buffy. “Inquiring with Students: What Do or Can ‘Good’ Research Projects Look Like?” Unquiet Librarian. (Weblog) Sept. 29, 2014. http://theunquietlibrarian.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/inquiring-with-students-what-do-or-can-good-research-projects-look-like/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Morris, Rebecca. “AASL Fall Forum,” School Library Monthly Blog. (Web log) Oct. 18, 2014. http://blog.schoollibrarymedia.com/index.php/2014/10/18/aasl-fall-forum/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

“SLJ Leadership Summit Fire it Up: Sparking Creativity and Motivating Students, Oct. 25 & 26,  2014.“ School Library Journal. (Website)  http://www.slj.com/leadership-summit/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Valenza, Joyce. “Live From the Summit,” The Neverending Search. (Web log) Oct. 25, 2014. http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2014/10/25/live-from-the-summit/ (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Whitby, Tom.  “The Connected Educator: It Begins with Collaboration,” Edutopia. (Weblog) October 1, 2014. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/connected-educator-begins-with-collaboration-tom-whitby (Accessed Oct. 27, 2014)

Image: Judith Kaplan Collection

Building a National Culture of Collaboration

Social_Media_MarketingThank you to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) blog for putting the Building a Culture of Collaboration blog (BaCoC) in the spotlight last week.  All of the BaCoC co-bloggers are card-carrying active AASL members who promote and model getting involved in our national association for school librarians. As evidenced in Melissa Johnston’s recent post about AASL’s new mission statement and leading through technology, we also promote the work of the association. This is one way to promote a national culture of collaboration.

AASL’s new mission statement is: The American Association of School Librarians empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.

Yes! To the importance of keeping our focus on teaching and learning! One way to do that is for school librarians to engage in collaborative planning and coteaching with classroom teachers and specialists. Since the publication of Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (1998), AASL has promoted the school librarian’s role as an instructional partner: “The school library media specialist can provide strong and creative leadership in building and nurturing this culture of learning, both as a teacher and as an instructional partner… As an instructional partner, the school library media specialist offers a unique expertise in learning theory, information literacy, and information technology to promote learning” (60).

AASL recently released the executive summary from the Senior/Capstone Project’s Task Force.  The task force surveyed high school librarians about their involvement in students’ senior/capstone projects. The graphs provided in the summary show areas of potential growth in terms of school librarians’ involvement in guiding, teaching, and assessing these projects. The task force identified six exemplars from high schools of varying sizes and geographic locations across the U.S. to serve as models for best practices. The report includes at table with contact information and links to four of the six schools’ projects.

Check it out!

Works Cited

American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998. Print.

AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force. Executive Summary. American Association of School Librarians. May 2014. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslissues/advocacy/AASL_ExecSummary_SeniorCapstoneProjectTF_2014.pdf>.

Peralta, Paola. Social Media Marketing. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Web. 28 Jul. 2014. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Social_Media_Marketing.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Social_Media_Marketing.jpg>.

Collaboration and Mentoring-Take 2

Be the change you wish to see in the world…

Mohandas Gandhi

Barbara Stripling, President Elect of ALA, was the keynote speaker at a recent Massachusetts School Library Association Conference (March 2- 4, 2013). As a mentor, she encouraged those attending to “be the change,”  to make a difference by changing  one life at a time, and helping students raise their own dreams, skills, and dispositions of inquiry. Weaving the themes of collaborative relationships, decision making, and problem solving, she shared a vision of a vibrant model for student centered learning in 21st Century schools.  Her passion and commitment to the field of librarianship and education is both inspirational and challenging. How can we live up to this ideal?  I guess we just have to work harder at what we do best, so that we can be the change, too.

Two colleagues and I traveled from Vermont to Sturbridge, Massachusetts to participate in a three day event that allowed us to rub shoulders with Barbara Stripling, Richard Byrne, Pam Berger, and a host of authors, including Jack Gantos.  We were excited to meet and talk to our compatriots from another New England state to compare notes about school library issues.  We were also meeting some of our Twitter friends for the first time face to face.  Sitting in a large conference room, it was amusing to overhear people saying, “So there you are!  It’s so wonderful to meet you in person after getting to know you through your blog or Twitter.”  Having a chance to sit down and chat with the presenters between sessions, or during lunch and dinner provided a personal experience that you don’t have every day.

As in other sections of the country, in New England and the Northeast, there are opportunities within reasonable driving distances for collaboration and mentoring at regional/state school library conferences and meetings.  Many teacher librarians can’t afford to go to national conferences very often, or at all.  Some have no financial support from their districts for professional development other that what is provided at the local level.  State professional organizations play an important role in bringing national speakers and showcasing best practices within the field to a gathering of folks who come to share ideas, connections, and to make or renew friendships.   PLNs now put practitioners in touch with others throughout the nation, and also provide connections within a geographical area, too.  Social media and Twitter feeds allow everyone to communicate and collaborate across time and space.  There are so many different ways to mentor and be mentored, in our fast paced world, but face to face collaboration is still a very powerful way to connect the dots.

Having returned from the conference with many new ideas and new relationships, I am already putting plans into action that will affect my teaching and learning.  Coincidentally, once again, the current issue of Knowledge Quest : Mentoring Through Partnerships continues to look at collaboration, and the role of professional organizations is seen as a venue for mentoring.   Melissa Johnston shares her conclusions from some research about technology leadership in Knowledge Quest  (2013, 38), “Not only do professional organizations provide support for school librarians through relationships with other school librarians, but this research finds that professional growth opportunities from  professional organization activities such as conferences and publications serve as enablers as well.”  From my own experience, I can’t agree more!  And as a final note, when I was doing a school visit last week, I went into the school library, and there  inscribed on the wall was a familiar message: Be the change you wish to see in the world.  I felt as if I had come full circle.


Barbara Stripling elected ALA president (2011). School Library Journal (May 4, 2012) http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/894466-312/barbara_stripling_elected_ala_president.html.csp

Johnston, M.P. (2013). The importance of professional organizations and mentoring for leadership. Knowledge Quest 41(4). http://www.ala.org/aasl/knowledgequest

Massachusetts School Library Association Conference: Lead & Learn (2013).  http://maschoolibraries.org/content/view/1046/704/

PLNs=Connections=Collaboration=Happy Teacher Librarians

Once again, I am always amazed at coincidences that happen from day to day.  In the final module for the professional development course I am facilitating this semester at UVM, we are focusing on literacy leadership and advocacy.  Part of the required reading and discussion has centered on developing PLNs for professional practice.  For teacher librarians in the field, PLNs are critical for keeping current and for communication and collaboration, and they also provide opportunities for advocacy.

Personal Learning Networks are lifelines for staying connected in this wild Web 2.0 world.  Establishing a PLN enhances professional development, lifelong learning, and opportunities for collaboration, locally, nationally, and globally.  It’s especially important for those of us in the profession who are sole practitioners in a building, or even serving multiple schools in a whole district. A PLN has potential as a support system for anyone who wants to reach out and converse and collaborate with other folks who have similar interests and challenges, and may have different views to share.

Getting back to the coincidence I mentioned, as I was polishing off the module and preparing to post it to the Blackboard site, the mailman delivered the November/December 2012 issue of Knowledge Quest. To my very pleasant surprise, the theme for the issue was “Personal Learning Networks.”  I quickly added it as a resource for the module, and what a resource it is!

Not only does the print issue offer a range of articles that cover a variety of possible advantages of using PLNs in professional practice, but the links on the AASL website provide lots of other resources to explore.  If you are a member of AASL (another reason to join), you have access to the print and online editions of the publication, support materials, webinars, and social networking sites.  If you don’t belong, you can still have access to many of the resources online.

To get started here are some recommended highlights from the Knowledge Quest website: http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/archive/v41no2

  • Table of Contents: Check out the awesome articles in the print edition. There is a direct link for AASL members for the online edition, or if you have access to online databases through your school or public library, you can find KQ articles indexed in several of them.  They are a gold mine.
  • KQ Webinar-coming soon: “Making the Most of Professional Learning Communities” Tuesday December 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM EST.
  • 30 Second Thought Leadership: Jennifer LaGarde and Liza Perez. “What makes personal learning networks critical for professional development?”

And coincidentally, if you have not jumped in and set up a site for curating your favorite websites, blogs, nings, twitter and rss feeds, and so on, as Jennifer LaGarde says, “What are you waiting for?”



“Personal Learning Networks”, American Library Association, November 14, 2012. http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/archive/v41no2 (Accessed November 25, 2012)

“30 Second Thought Leadership”, American Library Association, February 21, 2012. http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second (Accessed November 25, 2012)