Monday, December 3, 2012

Assessment of the school library program - considering annual reports

I have thought about how to put together an annual report for the past several years. It seems to me that an annual report for the school library program is an important step to evaluating and promoting the work that school librarians do to further the teaching and learning in a school. My district library supervisor requires all of the school librarians to submit monthly reports and she provides a standard format for us. I like the regular routine; even though I dread the time pulling this together each month, I think it is a helpful document. The question remains: what items to include in an annual report and how to present it.

I particularly liked Jennifer LaGarde's blog posts in Library Girl about preparing an annual report for her middle school library. Her annual reports are concise and focus on the essentials of her program. Her goals for her 2012 annual report were:
  1. "Emphasize information that's important to people OTHER than librarians.
  2. Make it fun, interesting and easy to understand.
  3. Focus on instruction/student impact.
  4. Consider my audience at every turn.
  5. Keep it positive. This has been a tough year for me. My clerk was cut. I have no dedicated budget. I've felt overwhelmed and defeated numerous times. I don't want to sugar coat those things or make it seem as though they haven't had an impact. However, if I refer to goal #4, I know this isn't the place for that conversation."
In her 2011 annual report, Jennifer kept bringing it back to "What's the bottom line." This focus helps her reflect on the meaning of the statistics she shares, what goals she has accomplished and how she wants to improve her program next year. She also made sure the visuals were engaging and easy to read, and kept each reflection short and sweet

Mgms annual report 2010 11 from Jennifer LaGarde

As I reflect on the contents of an annual report, it seems important to focus on more than circulation, collection and library usage statistics. We need to find a way to communicate the value of teaching and learning that goes on at the school. Joyce Valenza reflects on several annual reports in her blog post at The Neverending Search. She writes of Buffy Hamilton's annual report,
"But for me, the most powerful element is the inclusion of faculty quotes that describe the role of this dynamic library program in Creekview’s learning and teaching culture."
While I found Hamilton's report too lengthy, I absolutely agree with Valenza. This sort of testimony from teachers and students is essential. We need to find a way to include narrative of ways the librarian was involved in dynamic teaching. Otherwise, librarians will continue to be seen as book distributors. I like the idea of measuring student attitude toward reading or research, before and after a unit.

I particularly like the idea of organizing the report into the following areas, suggested by Loertscher and  Champlin, as described by Loertscher and Woolls (2002):

  • Information literacy
  • Impact on reading
  • Impact of technology

For each of these categories, Loertscher and Champlin recommend gathering data from rubrics that assess learning outcomes. While I agree that this is the goal we should work toward, I think great strides can be made simply organizing our regular reporting into these sections. The simplicity of these topics would focus our reporting on the key areas that emphasize our teaching and learning. I am afraid that no administrator will read a 12 page annual report. We need to keep our annual reports down to 2-3 pages that really focus on sharing key achievements and key data.

My favorite annual report is from the Durant Road Middle School Media Center in North Carolina. Here's a screenshot of the beginning of their 2009-2010 Annual Report. Notice the first section? "It's all about student learning." That remains the focus throughout. Again, I believe that administrators need this trimmed down (12 pages is just too long). Perhaps monthly reports can be used to highlight individual programs, and the annual report can summarize key achievements. But I really like the focus, the look and the feel throughout.

It's interesting to note that this library team chose to publish their 2011-12 annual report in their blog - I wonder if they have generated a loyal readership in their school community. They divided their report into three sections: library staff - professional development, reading culture and information literacy.

DRMS Library Media Program Annual Report. 2009-2010. Retrieved from

LaGarde, J. (June 19, 2012). A year in the making: My annual report. The Adventures of Library Girl (blog post). Retrieved from

Loertscher, D. and Woolls, B. (2002). Accountability and the school teacher librarian. School Libraries in Canada. 22(2)7-9.

Valenza, J. (June 20, 2011). My report and a couple of (far more) stellar examples. The Neverending Search (blog post). Retrieved from

Sunday, December 2, 2012

An elementary perspective on the Common Core

"I can't imagine what the graduate of 2025 is going to need to do after 13 years of formal education, but I do know that every one of those kindergarteners who come into our schools this year needs to know how to evaluate information, how to work with others, how to find answers, how to express their own beliefs, and how to develop their own wisdom. That is the core of the Common Core, as it has always been of education and learning." (Killeen, 2012)
I really like the way that Erlene Bishop Killeen focuses on the key aspects of teaching and learning in her column, Primary Voices, in the most recent edition of Teacher Librarian. Killeen asks us to think about how we can work with our elementary students to help them deepen their thinking, engage in research, and express their own ideas.

This fall, I have done many of the things Killeen suggested. Here is her checklist - let's see how my activities have matched up:

  1. Read the national document. Common Core State Standards Initiative,; Yes. Our staff began our year by investigating the CCSS at our fall retreat.
  2. Worked with a group of teachers on understanding what the standards mean, examining same test questions, text samples, and grade level competencies. No. Our staff is focusing mainly on the math standards this year. 
  3. Compared CCSS with current curriculum and projects that I am involved with, lead, or would like to be included in as a co-teacher. Informally. I am trying to do advanced work observing our existing (newly adopted) literacy program and noticing where it aligns. I believe that the literacy coaches will take the district lead with this, but I think the library can play an important leadership role.
  4. Reviewed the Library Media Center book collection related to some recommended lists of exemplar texts, fiction titles, and non-fiction topics. This is my next item to do. An important goal for the winter.
  5. Expanded my annual book order to include needed topics, titles, and texts. My book order will focus on nonfiction. I am in the process of analyzing the books I have been collecting on my wish list and seeing the areas of nonfiction that need expanding.
  6. Developed a section in our district website for links to CCSS! Yes!

Killeen, E. (2012). Ready to Learn?. Teacher Librarian, 39(6), 54. Retrieved from

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advocating for the teacher librarian role

I really enjoyed reading Mark Ray's column in Teacher Librarian, "New Year's Resolution: Teach More. Librarian Less." Ray was named the 2012 Washington State Teacher of the Year. He writes of the importance of this achievement, namely that he is valued as a teacher above all else. I was very moved by Ray's statement,
"Before we proceed with the bigger fish In the advocacy pond, we need to get one thing straight, both within our profession and with the other 99%; Teacher librarians are teachers, regardless of what we call ourselves. If our states certify us as educators, then in both word and deed we must first be about student learning. It is not enough to include instruction in abstract library position statements. We need to visibly and effectively teach. We need to be judged and evaluated not as librarians but as teachers."
This is essential work, in my view, especially in California where so many school districts do not have teacher librarians at the elementary level. I bring to my school both a librarian's training and a teacher's training. And yet I need to continually change the perception about what I can and should do with students. I work daily to change this perception with the staff, but I do not often advocate for myself with the principal. Ray's article spurs me to think of ways to show the value I add as a teacher, above all else, to my principal.

So what can we do? Ray suggests two things: First of all, make our teaching role explicit. Use the visibility of the school library to show the excellent teaching that occurs there. Secondly, Ray recommends employing one or more effective instructional strategies in our work, such as learning targets, formative assessments, questioning strategies.

Moreover, we need to be an active part of the professional community in our school, talking about teaching and learning, sharing lessons and units that have gone well, celebrating effective strategies and positive experiences. Ray writes, "As a profession, we need to rise up and define ourselves as the teachers we are."

Ray, M. (2012). New Year's Resolution: Teach More. Librarian Less. Teacher Librarian, 39(3), 52.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Effective presentations

I've been working hard on developing a strong presentation for my Vision Project for a school library. My first step was thinking deeply about how I shape and share my vision. But the next step is about how I present those ideas. I want to make my presentation dynamic and impactful. I know I want to avoid a lengthy Power Point presentation, but what are some key points for an effective presentation?

Gwyneth Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, has a great presentation called "How to be a Presentation Ninja".  I'd like to share the slides here, so I can continue to come back to them.

How to be a Presentation Ninja from gwyneth jones

I also have taken a lot of inspiration from Joyce Valenza, both in terms of the content she shares and the way she puts together effective, clear slides. Here is a recent presentation she shared on SlideShare called "Five Forward."

Fiveforward from joycevalenza

Here's another presentation I love from Joyce Valenza, called New Rules.

Newrules from joycevalenza

Some of my takeaways from these presentations:

  • Use strong visuals. Capture people's attention with pictures.
  • Use Creative Commons images from Flickr and cite your sources.
  • Consider purchasing a dynamic image from iStock Photo.
  • Use words sparingly to focus attention.
  • Use dynamic, bold fonts.
  • Add clear, streamlined text to images.
  • Share your presentations. Spread the word beyond the initial audience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choosing an eBook Platform

We have just begun experimenting with eBooks in our district. It is truly overwhelming, figuring out which platform to try. But the initial response from students and teachers has been enthusiastic. So I was very interested to find Buffy Hamilton's slides from her presentation "Choosing an eBook Platform for your K-12 School Library".

I must say, I'm still flummoxed by all the choices. My biggest takeaway from this presentation is the list of questions that Buffy suggests schools ask before they head down this road.

  • Are you thinking of making ebooks available for pleasure reading, or for nonfiction content reading? 
  • Do you want students to be able to do research and take notes? 
  • Do they need to be able to save those notes after they finish reading?

It's also crucial to think about the value messages we are sending about the purchasing and access decisions we make.

Passion and vision

As I am working on my vision for school libraries, I wanted to share two videos about passion, teaching and learning. I read these on Joyce Valenza's blog, NeverEndingSearch, in her post "What Librarians Make".

Taylor Mali is a slam poet who first wrote this poem, "What Teachers Make", in response to a question posed at a dinner party.

Joyce Valenza was prompted to write "What Librarians Make" in response to a proposal by Dr. Mark Bernstein to make schools more efficient by eliminating teacher librarians. The implication is that school libraries are antiquated and unnecessary in the world of Google-provided information at our fingertips.

Across California, school libraries have been underfunded, understaffed and eliminated completely. Joyce's poem inspires me every time I am feeling stymied by the system. Her vision is dynamic, driving and uplifting.

Head over to her post to see her full vision in writing. You might also enjoy reading her Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thinking about reading and writing - shifts under the Common Core

I've been very interested in learning more about the Common Core and how it will affect teaching and learning. As I learn, I keep thinking about how school librarians can be effective teaching partners as educators try to shift their instructional strategies to meet these new standards.

Tonight I listened to a webinar presented by Robert Rosenfeld and Liz Jameyson called "An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Common Core Style!" presented through WestEd's Schools Moving Up program.

I found this slide very interesting, because it helps me summarize how I am trying to shift my teaching in day to day sharing of resources with teachers and children. For more of the slides and presentations, I highly recommend watching the whole webinar.

As an elementary school librarian, I am consciously bringing nonfiction reading to the forefront, sharing engaging nonfiction that students might be interested in reading for their pleasure reading. I feel we need to both teach specific strategies for reading nonfiction AND encourage pleasure reading of nonfiction for our elementary students. They need more experience reading a wide range of nonfiction before they are thrust into the "read to learn" environment of middle school history/science academic (textbook) reading.

I also strongly believe that elementary school librarians have a vital role in helping students discover reading materials that help them advance up this "staircase of complexity." We need to give students wide range to choose materials that are interesting to them, but we also need to help them discover materials that are just that little bit harder for themselves. It's a tricky balance - you want to encourage kids to read lots of books that are at their comfort level, but you also want to challenge them to grow and develop. Should a library be "leveled"? Absolutely not, in my opinion. But I do think we have a role in supporting our teachers and students in discovering books at different levels.

Finally, I have paid special attention to prompting text-based discussion during library time. As I read picture books, I point out ways children are noticing specific details in the text or illustrations to draw conclusions, make inferences and make connections. Kids love sharing about their own lives and this is important. But I think we need to give them practice in making specific text-based answers to prepare them for the more analytical reading and writing they will be asked to do in middle school.

Rosenfeld and Jameyson specifically focus on Shift 4 and Shift 5, focusing on this challenge to have students focus on using evidence to draw conclusions from their reading and develop their writing. They apply this technique to start diving into the details of the standards.

Rosenfeld, R. and Jameyson, L. (2012). PDF of presentation, "An Introduction to Reading and Writing, Common Core Style!" Retrieved from

Using digital tools while reading - some research findings

Digital books provide many tools for readers, such as note-taking, pronunciation guides, online dictionaries and highlighting. Several researchers have examined students’ use of digital reading tools in traditional ebooks. These digital books are not multimedia books, but rather flat text such as that accessed through a Kindle, computer or other basic e-reader. Larson (2009) explored how a small group of 5th graders responded to literature using a variety of annotation tools available through using computer-based e-books. All of the students used a variety of e-book tools to respond to the text, such as the highlighter and note tools. Their responses ranged from tracking characters names to noting passages to discuss with the class to asking questions about a character’s motivations. All of the students reported preferring reading e-books over traditional books by the end of the study. These results are consistent with other studies, such as Massey, Weeks and Druin (2005), that have found that children use digital tools to respond to text when asked by a teacher or researcher. Larson (2010) confirmed these results with a small-scale qualitative study of two second graders reading on Kindles. Both students regularly used the note-taking features available on the Kindle, adjusted the font size, accessed the built-in dictionary, and activated the built-in text-to-speech feature to listen to challenging words or passages.

It is clear that students are interested in reading digital texts and can use many of the features included. An essential question for educators must be whether these digital texts help students understand what they read. More specifically, how does the inclusion of multimedia elements impact reading comprehension?

Here's a brief video presentation from Lotta Larson about digital reading and the electronic reading workshop. It is very nice to hear the author talking about this research in person. This is part of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacies (JAAL), and I'm assuming it's posted for a conference session held by the International Reading Association's 54th Annual Convention.

Lotta Larson: JAAL Digital Literacies Chat from Cyndi Danner-Kuhn on Vimeo.

Larson, L.C. (2009). e-Reading and e-responding: New tools for the next generation of readers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Larson, L.C. (2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. The Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22.

Considering the essential differences of print vs. digital reading

I've been fascinated watching the development of digital reading habits among adults and children. Anecdotally I've noticed that adults have been much more likely to switch their regular pleasure reading of print books to pleasure reading of digital books. Children, on the other hand, seem to be less likely to make this switch. I believe there are many factors at play with this. But one aspect I'd like to consider a little more closely is the essential differences of reading print vs. reading digitally. I was fascinated to read Anne Mangen's theoretical reflections on this very topic.

The essential experience of reading digital texts differs from reading print texts, but it is often hard to describe. For many digital texts, the content is the same and yet the format and device do affect the reading experience. For other digital texts, especially those such as the multimedia book apps, the additional multimedia content itself can change the reading experience. Mangen (2008) developed an intensive theoretical examination of the difference between reading digital texts and print texts, considering the impact of the physical aspect of reading electronic books.

Unlike print texts, digital texts are physically intangible as we read them; the digital text itself is detached from the physical device. As the reader holds the physical device in his or her hands, the electronic text changes but the device remains physically the same. This detachment has implications for the reading experience. Another way to consider the impact of the physicality of our text is the memory cues the physical layout of a print book can support. Readers can often recall the physical position of a favorite passage in a book, whether it was on the top right of the page or bottom left. They can envision its physical location. This is much more difficult to do with a digital book because the text is detached from the physical device. As Mangen (2008) writes,
The digital text has no material substance ... By definition, the digital erases all traces of tangibility, and, hence, invisibility. The constancy, the temporal and spatial permanence, of a tactile object – say, a print text – has distinctively different sensory–motor affordances, then, than something intangible. (p. 408)
These theoretical aspects are important to consider when investigating the impact of digital reading on students’ actual reading comprehension. Do these differences in tangibility affect reading comprehension for the majority of readers, or perhaps especially certain visually or physically attuned individuals?

Mangen (2008) develops her theories further by considering the impact of visual links and hidden hotspots in digital texts on the reading experience, features that are absent in print books. We have psychobiologically hardwired dispositions to seek external visual stimuli, and we need continued input from this stimuli or we will become bored. Print books encourage deeper, more reflective thinking because they focus our input to one controlled text; on the other hand, many digital books offer hyperlinks and hotspots that offer the “thrill of the unknown” (Mangen, 2008, p. 412) while reading. This might heighten interest in reading, but it can also lead to increased distraction as the reader searches impatiently for these hotspots.
As Mangen writes, “The mere possibility of the click bringing about some degree and kind of visual change impacts our phenomenological immersion in a narrative fiction in a way that is simply not possible when reading print narratives.” (p. 412) 
As educators and researchers consider multimedia iPad book apps, it is essential that they consider not only the overall nature of reading digital texts, but the specific impact that interactive features have on the way readers can build meaning from the texts. Do the multimedia features help provide richer context and visual support, or do they distract readers? Are some design features more helpful to children in building their reading comprehension, while other features may delight readers but essentially entertain them without adding to their understanding of the story?

For more, take a look at this interview with Dr. Anne Mangen about reading on paper and reading on screens

Mangen, A. (2008). Hypertext fiction reading: haptics and immersion. Journal of Research in Reading, 31(4), 404-419. Abstract available at:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Exploring multimodal learning

I have long been interested in the way educators can use a variety of learning styles to augment their teaching and promote students' learning. In particular, I have advocated using audiobooks since my early teaching days. Recently, I have started exploring using iPad book apps as an integrated multimedia reading experience. So I was particularly interested in reading a research report published by Cisco, done by the Metiri Group:
Metiri Group (2008). Multimodal learning through media: What the research says. Retrieved from
As cognitive neuroscientists and education researchers have come to understand the way that the human brain processes information, it has become clear that we process visual information using different channels in the brain than linguistic information. In their review of the research on multimodal learning, the Metiri Group (2008) notes,
Recent technological advances through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans confirm a dual coding system through which visuals and text/auditory input are processed in separate channels, presenting the potential for simultaneous augmentation of learning. The bottom line is that students using well-designed combinations of visuals and text learn more than students who only use text. (p. 3)
This combination of inputs through multimodal learning can be achieved in many ways. A lecture augmented by clear visuals and printed notes helps students see and hear the information. Likewise, a well-designed book app or CD-ROM storybook makes clear use of this type of multimodal input. Multimedia books like book apps can combine bright illustrations and appealing animation, narration both of the text and of the character’s dialog, written text for this narrative and dialog, and interactive features that bring the reader to touching the screen to activate dialog and movement.

Several principles of multimedia learning and design can be applied to the understanding of effective book apps. The Metiri Group (2008) summarizes several principles of multimedia design that affect learning. Students learn better when words and pictures are combined near each other and simultaneously - not several pages later. They learn better when content is focused and concise; input from different channels should be related but not redundant or duplicated. Individuals will benefit from design effects in different ways, with particular effect being noticed by low-knowledge or high-spatial learners. And finally, narration combined with animation supports understanding better than animation and text only, without narration.

It is of particular interest that much of the research examined by the Metiri Group (2008) focused on older students and higher order thinking, but it applies equally well to multimedia digital books for beginning readers. These readers need multiple inputs to support their efforts at making meaning from books. As Grimshaw, Dungworth and McKnight (2007) note, multimodal features such as narration, word pronunciation, sound effects and animation can help remove the effort from decoding individual words and help children focus on making meaning from texts. The question at hand is whether these these multimedia elements can really enhance understanding of stories or nonfiction, or whether they are essentially entertainment. How does reading these multimedia texts differ at its essence from reading traditional print books?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Leveling books in the library

Last week a librarian at another elementary school sent the following message to the list serve for the Bay Area Independent School Librarians (BAISL):
Hi all,
I am new to Baisl. What a great resource!
Was wondering if anyone has leveled their library using Fountas and Pinnell? If so, is there an efficient way to level our library?
Looking for strategies other librarians have used - purchased a program to help put the information into our catalog system? Parent volunteers to relabel the books? An ideas would be helpful.
Debbie Hughes
This is an area that I've spent a lot of time thinking about, and so I wanted to make sure to reply. Here's what I sent to the BAISL list serve:
Hi Debbie,
Our school also uses Fountas and Pinnell leveling, and we added this to Destiny. The F&P level shows up on the first search results screen, which teachers and students appreciate - otherwise, the information is buried quite deep in the individual title record. (come visit our library site)
In terms of arranging the physical layout of the library, I have used the F&P levels to create more clearly defined groups or sections in my fiction collection. The beginning readers now covers the band I - L. The chapter book section covers books M - Q. Fiction covers R and above. This means that if a student or teacher is looking for a level, I can direct them to the appropriate section, but they have a larger band to look in.

I believe quite strongly that books should not carry the level on their spine in the library. The levels are not precise and not available for many books. More importantly, students need the practice of judging for themselves if a book is "just right" for their reading level. In the library, we want to support students' right to choose books, but we also need to balance this with our educational mandate supporting classroom instruction. By focusing on a band (a group of F&P levels), we can support the students by narrowing their choices. This really helps a student who's supposed to be choosing an "O" book (mid-3rd grade, for us), but who always chooses books much too hard (R, S from the fiction section). I can ask them to choose one of their books from the chapter book section.

I still find that I need to make individual adjustments, based on watching students. The levels are not precise. For example, Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon is leveled at R, so I originally put it in my fiction section. But I noticed that many 3rd graders and lower 4th graders were checking it out - kids who also read the Time Warp Trio. So I moved this collection to the chapter book section. I've also noticed that this rearranging helps lost books get noticed. Bunnicula and Spiderwick Chronicles weren't circulating in the fiction section - these small books get overlooked. When I moved them to the chapter book section, they started getting noticed by kids who wanted shorter, easier books and their circulation jumped.

Best of luck,
Mary Ann Scheuer
Librarian, Emerson School
I feel very strongly that libraries should not place a book's level on the spine. While this is common practice in classroom libraries, I firmly believe that students need guided practice on choosing "just right" books for themselves.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Teens Research in the Digital Age - results from recent Pew research study

The Pew Research Center supports a strand of research investigating the impact that the Internet has on American families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. Their most recent study investigated high school teachers’ views on the impact that Internet and digital devices have had on teens’ research skills. My biggest takeaway from this is the critical importance of continuing to teach digital and information literacy skills to all children.
“Three-quarters of Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers say that the internet and digital search tools have had a "mostly positive" impact on their students' research habits, but 87% say these technologies are creating an ‘easily distracted generation with short attention spans’ and 64% say today's digital technologies ‘do more to distract students than to help them academically.’” (Purcell, et al., 2012)
The survey of 2,000 middle and high school teachers found that while the Internet has made information readily accessible to students, most students have come to expect easy, quick answers and are not prepared to dig deeply and think about information critically. Teachers recognize that the amount of information available to students is overwhelming to most students. There is strong support amongst teacher for including content focusing on digital literacy in every school’s curriculum.

It is interesting to dig into the meat of the study itself, beyond the front page headlines. Most notably, the study found that the Internet has changed the very nature of research itself and what it means for students to “do research.”
 “Teachers and students alike report that for today’s students, ‘research’ means ‘Googling.’  As a result, some teachers report that for their students ‘doing research’ has shifted from a relatively slow process of intellectual curiosity and discovery to a fast-paced, short-term exercise aimed at locating just enough information to complete an assignment.” (Purcell, et al., 2012) 
 It would be very interesting to take some of the survey questions that Purcell and her colleagues developed and administer a local survey of teachers’ opinions of students research skills. It seems that this would bolster the role for the library and the virtual learning center in being an integral part of students’ information seeking practices.

Purcell, K., Rainie, L., Heaps, A., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L., Jacklin, A., ... Zickuhr, K. (2012). How Teens Do Research in a Digital World. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SLJ Summit 2012 - resources to follow

This past weekend the School Library Journal held its 5th annual SLJ Summit. This year's theme was Advocacy and the e-volution: Creating stronger schools through stronger libraries. I followed the conversation through Twitter posts and was very happy that SLJ has already started posting resources to share with the broader world.

I am particularly interested in how librarians can be at the forefront of the Common Core conversation. My own elementary school is very interested in how the CCSS will be adopted locally, particularly in math. Our district recently adopted the TCRWP curriculum for reading at the elementary schools, and so there is a general feeling that the CCSS does not add much new. But I think that it will ask elementary students to continue focusing specifically on the text as they draw conclusions about their reading. There will certainly be continued focus on increasing our students' nonfiction reading at the elementary level, preparing them for moving into strong nonfiction reading at the upper levels.

The SLJ Summit had a special focus on Saturday, the "summit within the summit" on librarians at the center of the Common Core. On the resource page, SLJ includes an interesting handout from Dr. Mary Ann Capiello on Nonfiction at the Fore of the Common Core. Dr. Capiello is a professor at the Graduate School of Education, Lesley University and she is one of the authors of the Classroom Bookshelf Blog. She is also part of the blogging team at The Uncommon Core, another blog I am adding to my blog reader. This resource is an excellent snapshot of ways we can get the word out to teachers and our learning communities about using high-quality nonfiction trade books to support Common Core State Standards.

Two other resources I want to mark to follow up at a further point in time are:

Considering my own perspective

I so appreciate the chance to connect with classmates and hear their own perspectives on the reading and learning we are doing. We are starting to converse more fluidly about our reading in our small group. But I am also reading other classmates' blogs. I particularly appreciated the perspective shared by Allyson B. in her blog post on MLIS Musings.

My class on research methods is challenging me quite a lot right now, with a heavy dose of social science research outside of my comfort zone. I am so rooted in my own particular perspective as a school teacher and school librarian, that I find it very difficult to imagine doing sociological or ethnographical research of the sort described in our reading. One researcher pretended to be a kindergartner for an extended period to try to understand the social dynamics of these young children. Another researcher is trying to understand the ways teens interact on internet chat sites, and so is lurking on sites, trying to be accepted as a teen.

Allyson talked about how researchers bring their own perspectives to research, and this can influence the way we see data around us. For example, Allyson is very excited about the prospect of convincing school leaders that students should be able to use their own personal devices to further their learning. But this enthusiasm might influence the way she goes about her research. As she notes, a thorough, well-balanced literature review can help the researcher approach the subject more neutrally. She was interested in an article that noted that increased expenditures in technology have not necessarily meant increased student performance, if they were also combined with decreased staffing or poor teaching.

I also am prone to suffering from similar enthusiasm with technology. I'm very excited by the opportunities for reading iPad book apps that combine many types of learning: print, audio, video, and interactive features. I love watching students explore these different types of book apps. But I need to think critically about what they bring to students' learning, and not just embrace them as a new shiny toy. I am hoping that my literature review will encompass studies of CD-ROMS and older forms of multimedia learning.

Bogie, A. (2012). "Research journal - reflecting on personal bias." MLIS Musings. Blog post on October 20, 2012. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thinking about my research question

I am wrestling with my research topic for my literature review and research proposal for my Research Methodologies class at SJSU. I'm fascinated by the way that iPad book apps combine many types of reading and learning. I would like to delve into understanding how children respond to digital reading, especially multimedia, multimodal types of reading. But this research is just beginning to emerge. So for my initial literature review, I've had to broaden the scope of my topic to investigating digital reading more broadly.

I'd like to keep in mind the key questions that Dr. Josepch Stetar (2009), of Seton Hall University, posed in his Slideshare "Developing Research Questions".

Criteria for identifying research problem:

  1. Must be interesting enough to hold my interest 
  2. Must be within my range of competence. 
  3. Must be a manageable size 
  4. Must have some basis in theory—ie, topics found in the lit review 
  5. Must have the potential to make an original contribution—can’t be a duplicate of something that’s already been done. 
  6. Must be based on obtainable data—research plan must be viable and practical. 
  7. Must permit me to demonstrate my independent mastery of both subject and research method

Clearly, I have a long way to go. At the moment, I am interested in seeing how I would extend on the research started by the Cooney Foundation (Chiong, et al., 2012), but extending it to school-aged children. The Cooney Foundation research focuses on children ages 3-6 and how they read book apps with their parents. I'm interested in how children ages 6-10 read book apps, the ways that they absorb information, interact with the digital elements, and comprehend the story/information. I really want to know whether book apps appeal to children because they seem so much like games and movies, or if they are drawing children into a book-like experience.

I wonder if Slater would argue that my topic is still too broad, that I need to focus it down more to just one or two variables. I suppose the Cooney research from 2012 (Chiong, et al., 2012) did this by comparing comprehension from a print, ebook and enhanced book app for similar books. I can see doing this with the Magic School Bus: Oceans book, which has a print and excellent iPad book app - perfect for a 6 to 9 year old.

The dilemma that I'm facing is that there is very little research out there right now on this specific topic. So to meet the literature review element of my assignment (15 or more scholarly articles), I need to look more broadly at digital reading. One of the aspects I will examine is how other researchers have structured their investigations into students digital reading, say with Kindles.

I'm curious if theoretical articles that define and identify issues within this area are a part of the literature survey. They are not other studies, per se, but they lay an important foundation, especially in this developing field.

Ahh, much to ponder. But it's certainly holding my interest!

Chiong, C., Ree, J., Takeuchi, L. and Erickson, I. (2012). Comparing parent-child co-reading on print, basic and enhanced e-book platforms. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Spring 2012. Retrieved from

Stetar, J. (2009). Developing Research Questions. Slideshare. Retrieved from

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Toontastic: a pilot study examining creative play with an iPad app

My kids have loved playing with Toontastic, an iPad app that kids use to create their own animated stories. We only played with it in the early days of the app, and it's grown by leaps and bounds. I was very interested to read a new pilot study by Launchpad Learning, the company behind Toontastic. Andy Russell, one of the co-founders of Launchpad, and Alicia Chang, a Cognitive and Developmental Psychologist working with Launchpad Toys to research how kids are learning through cartoon creation, wrote about their study on the Joan Gantz Cooney Center Blog.

It's interesting to see the nonprofit Cooney Research Center is writing about a company's research, but I think it shows how seriously Launchpad Learning takes its focus on educational creative play in the digital age. Launchpad Learning developed a two-pronged study, both examining over two million cartoon created on Toontastic by over 600,000 kids, and examining semi-structured play sessions in a fourth grade classroom.

In the semi-structured play session, the fourth graders were divided into small groups of two or three students and asked to create a story about peer relationships over the course of one week. The study resulted in several observations, notably:

  • Students used recurring characters more as the week progressed, suggesting that they developed a sense of cohesive story arcs and character development over time.
  • As the students spent more time on their stories, they explored more emotional highs and lows, adding more depth and color to their stories.
  • Students used more descriptive language and distinct character voices as time progressed.

All of these results reflect what I've observed with this app. It is not a quick and dirty app, but one that works best if kids have more time to develop their stories. If kids just have 30 or 40 minutes to work with it, they'll certainly have fun manipulating the puppets and recording their voices. But it's hard work making a cohesive story! It takes time, experimenting, and creative thinking.

Russell and Chang conclude by connecting the key components they've studied to the standards set out in the Common Core State Standards Initiative. I completely agree with that. I'd love to figure out a way to have our students be able to use this app. But a huge barrier in my experience is having the time for students to plan their stories, experiment with the app, and then craft their final products. Time is precious in a classroom, and there is never enough of it.

Russell, A. and Chang, A. (October 4, 2012). "Pilot study: Creative play with Toontastic." The Joan Gantz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Blog. Retrieved from

For more information, see:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Action research - using a wiki to collaborate and gather information

I do find the idea of action research the most intriguing and appealing of the different approaches to research I've studied so far. I know that other qualitative and quantitative approaches are important, but I cannot imagine going down those routes myself.

Shannon Burger and Mary Ann McFarland, from Southwest Middle School,Parkway School District in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, had very interesting comments on their approach to action research. As Burger and McFarland (2009) write, "Action research can be used for the analysis and reflection of everyday problems in the practitioners specific situation versus traditional research, which aims to formulate general statements that are broadly applicable." As a teacher librarian, I think action research is part of my daily life on an informal basis. I'm always trying to put together my thoughts on what works and what doesn't. The problem is that I don't often have - or take - the time to write down my observations and solidify or extend my thinking on them. So these in-the-moment observations can get lost in the hustle-bustle of daily life.

Burger and McFarland describe the way they used their wiki to collaborate on their action research. The wiki gave them a shared space to record their observations, gather linked resources, and comment on each other's work. As they note, by sharing information on the wiki, they were then able to use their time in face-to-face meetings much more effectively to problem solve and brainstorm.

I have used PBworks, the wiki that Burger and McFarland used, for several projects both for work and for SJSU classes. But I had not thought of these wikis quite so formally as a way to gather and share data on an action research. This is a very interesting suggestion to keep in mind.

Burger, S. and McFarland, M.A. (2009). "Action research and wikis: an effective collaboration." Library Media Connection. 28(2): 38-40. Retrieved from

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Scholastic's David Levithan on digital reading and transmedia

Librarian, book sellers and publishers are all wondering how children will take to digital reading. It's clear that children are not taking to ereaders in the same way that adults are. In part, children still get the majority of their books from libraries that are invested in print books. Public libraries are expanding their digital collections, but are putting the vast majority of their digital resources in adult books. In my area, public libraries have quite small digital ebook collections for children. But I think there's more to it than that.

Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director of the Digital Book World, recently interviewed Scholastic's David Levithan about digital reading and transliteracy. Levithan is the editor at Scholastic who helped develop the concept for the 39 Clues and the new Infinity Ring, two series that spur children to move between print books, websites and online games. But Levithan is also a best-selling YA author, of such hits as Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Every Day.

Here are some highlights I want to take away from this interview:
  • Publishers are seeing significant digital sales for their YA ebooks, but children's digital sales are still in their infancy. Publishers are particularly interested in the adult-YA crossover for digital books.
  • Scholastic broke ground with its 39 Clues multiplatform transliteracy experience, building and developing this in-house.
  • They are seeing that kids who are hooked on playing digital games with multi-platform series are also hooked on reading the print series. They are growing readers as part of this experience.
  • "It's about finding as many canvasses for storytelling as possible."
Greenfield, J. (2012). "Scholastic's hit-maker on Hunger Games, digital reading and transmedia." Digital Book World, August 24, 2012. Retrieved from

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Using Twitter to build a professional learning network - a report from #KidLitCon12

I have been astounded by the connections I've made through social media, connecting to authors, teachers, librarians and others who are passionate about helping children find books that speak to them.

This past weekend, I attended KidLitCon in New York City - it's an annual conference for bloggers who write about children's literature. It was a weekend of goodness, and one highlight was listening to Teri Lesesne (rhymes with "insane") talk about using Twitter to build a professional learning network. Teri pulled together so much of what I've experienced over the past year with Twitter.

Teri Lesesne (@ProfessorNana on Twitter),  often known as "the Goddess of YA", is a professor of children’s and YA literature at Sam Houston University.  Teri was inspiring, informative and funny as she shared how social media, and Twitter in particular, has enriched her professional life. At its essence, Twitter is about connecting people who share common interests and enabling quick, meaningful conversations. Through her extensive network, Lesesne is able to reach out to teachers, school librarians, authors, publishers, editors and more to learn about children’s books. These are educated stakeholders who share information, experience and advice on an informal, collegial manner.
Twitter continues to grow at astounding rates, attracting its largest demographic from women and from people ages 22-55 years old. Its usage has doubled within the last twelve months.

With more limits on professional development funds, it is essential that we invest time and effort in developing our professional network in ways that don’t rely on attending conferences.

Lesesne recommends finding a few trusted voices, following their conversations and exploring who they’re talking with. John Schumacher (@MrSchuReads), Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks), Paul Hankins (@PaulWHankins) and Katherine Sokolowski (@katsok) all are excellent choices. Start by listening to their conversations and exploring links they share, but then try jumping in and adding your perspective.

Finally, Lesesne recommended checking out a regular Twitter chat such as #titletalk. Titletalk is a monthly chat hosted by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp, held on the last Sunday of every month at 8pm Eastern time. Each month, teachers and librarians from across the US (and beyond) gather on Twitter to share their favorite children's books. Just last weekend, the Titletalk focused on book talking as a way to recommend books (archive available here). One great way to follow a Twitter chat such as this is using the website TweetChat.

Check out more of Lesesne's excellent points through her SlideShare presentation. Follow her on Twitter (@ProfessorNana) - she shares a wealth of information. And stop by her blog (Professor Nana) to get great reading recommendations.

I really enjoy using Twitter to connect with librarians, teachers and children's book lovers. It's a wonderful resource for when I'm trying to think of new titles to share with kids. And the best is connecting with others who are just as excited about sharing books. Come say hi to me on Twitter if you get a chance - I'm @MaryAnnScheuer.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Using iPads in a Primary Classroom

Last year I wrote a grant for one iPad in our elementary school library, and was able to generate additional donations of 3 more iPads from parents. It was fascinating to see how elementary students used these iPads. I was able to share them with students (grades 2-5) during recess, watching what they were drawn to on their own time. I loved the excitement and collaboration that I witnessed. I worked with a kindergarten teacher as she hosted a "Tech Friday" - introducing her students to iPads, MP3 players with audiobooks, and LeapFrog games. We ran small groups through each station for about 10 - 15 minutes.

I was fascinated to read Kathy Cassidy's action research reflections about her experience with a 1-to-1 iPad program in a 1st grade classroom. Cassidy is part of the Powerful Learning Practices Network - an fantastic action research professional development group. Much of what she writes about confirms what I witnessed in our school on a smaller scale.

from Kathy Cassidy, Flickr stream
Cassidy reports that students were instantly engaged in learning with the iPads. While these young students are excited about any new project they undertake with their teacher, I love how she writes, "Having said that, the opportunity to use a technology that is as intuitive to them as playing in the sand has captivated my students." She goes on to report how students collaborated with each other, helping each other learn how to use an app, showing off their work to one another, asking for help if they were stuck. Even though they often worked with headphones, students were interactive with peers as well as with the technology.

In my library, I found that students were especially drawn to math games. They loved the interactive nature, quick responses and fun game qualities of these apps. Cassidy reports that she noticed her students liked using apps that gave immediate feedback, whether it's spelling or math they are immediately rewarded for correct answers or prompted to try again until they get the right answer.

Cassidy's students have also explored creating projects and documenting their learning through the iPads. They've used screencasting tools to draw as they talk - something very intuitive and natural for young six year olds. And they've loved taking pictures with the iPads.

Cassidy concludes noting that:
"Truthfully, management of these devices has proven to be more of a hassle than I had anticipated, but it is clear to me that these devices ARE making a difference. When I see the students’ engagement, their learning, their sharing and their pursuit of their passions, I can’t help but be convinced that these devices have the potential to transform my classroom."
I'm looking forward to following more of Cassidy's action research and reflections on her classroom blog: Ms. Cassidy's Classroom. Even on the first day of school, she had her students from last year (now big 2nd graders) introducing this year's class to using the iPads. Talk about empowering young learners!

Cassidy, K. (2012) iPads in Primary: Does 1-to-1 Make a Difference?, Powerful Learning Practice Network. July 2, 2012. Retrieved from

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Learning Commons - trying to keep positive

As I read The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! by Loertscher, Koechlin and Zwaan (2008), I kept finding myself having to fight my negative side - the curmudgeon who's always frustrated with our situation here in California. This resource is full of great ideas, but I struggle to see how we can make them a reality in my cash-strapped California elementary school.

I see my mission as an elementary school librarian first and foremost to get kids excited about reading. Our biggest mission is to turn kids onto reading, help kids see how reading empowers them, enriches their lives. Our school is fantastic at focusing teaching time toward authentic, clear reading instruction using the reading-workshop model. Kids read fiction and nonfiction, choosing books both at their level and above/below their level when the mood strikes them. 

I know our district values the elementary school libraries - we are lucky to have open, operating libraries in each elementary school. And yet, we do not have the funds to hire teacher librarians at any of the elementary schools, and we do not have the budget to purchase materials to adequately support our students. I struggle each day to get new books to hook our kids on reading - they want new books, popular books. Over half of our student body receives free and reduced lunch, so they depend on the school library to feed their reading appetite. Our school is one of the smallest in the district, so we receive the smallest materials allotment in the district. It just isn't enough to purchase books for readers from kindergarten through above 5th grade reading/interest levels, let alone enough to purchase the nonfiction for all of their information needs.

So when Loertscher et al. write that the learning commons is staffed by "multiple professionals, support personnel and volunteers, vs. a single adult consultant" (Loertscher et al., 2008, p. 65), it really jars with  my experience of reality in a California public elementary school. Later, Loertscher and his colleagues acknowledge the realities of the learning commons staffing problems. The lack of staffing and materials in our school libraries is a serious problem. As they write,
"The result has been little impact for dollars expended with the conclusion being that neither the library or computer labs earn their keep. It is as if the school was to buy a school bus without wheels and then wonder why kids are not getting to school" (p. 73).
But I must be frank - Loertscher and his colleagues do not provide adequate suggestions of how to work within this existing system, how to create meaningful incremental change.

I took the most significant suggestion from the teacher librarian forced to split her time between two schools. Each site had a full time support person staffing the library, but she now had to divide her time between two sites, supporting learners and teachers at each location. As she wrestled with this difficult situation, she "asked herself, 'What is it that I do that makes the most impact on teaching and learning?' She decided that it was not the day to day operation of the facility, but the planning, co-teaching, and assessment of learning activities" (p. 74).  This question hits the nail on the head for me.

As I evaluate how I contribute to the teaching and learning in my school, I want to continually ask myself, "Of the things I do on a daily and weekly basis, what makes the most impact on students' learning?" How do I focus my day, juggle my priorities so that I can make the most impact on teaching and learning? That's the key. Then, how do I show this impact to administrators who control budgets, scheduling and space allotment?

Loertscher, D., Koechlin, C., and Zwaan, S. (2008). The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research and Publishing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Print books vs. e-books - a look at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center research

I'm fascinated by the developing research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center on the way children interact with digital reading. The Cooney Center has been a leader in the field examining digital literacy, and so I was very excited that they've started to investigate the impact of enhanced e-books on children's reading experiences.

The released the results of their first QuickStudy in May, 2012 and got a lot of press covering their findings. Below I've summarized their study:

Chiong, C., Ree, J., Takeuchi, L. and Erickson, I. Comparing parent-child co-reading on print, basic and enhanced e-book platforms. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Spring 2012.

This report summarizes the findings of a QuickStudy examining the nature of parent-child and child-book interactions reading print, basic e-books and enhanced ebooks with young children (ages 3-6). The study specifically sought to understand how parent-child co-reading, overall engagement and children’s comprehension were affected by digital formats, specifically examining the difference between basic and enhanced e-books. Basic e-books are simple digitized versions of print books, while enhanced e-books include highly interactive, multimedia features, such as those on iPad book apps. The study employed a within- and between-subject design, asking 32 parent-child pairs to read an e-book and a print book together. The designers chose two books that were available in both print and digital formats, and randomly varied the order of reading, to offset possible order effects. The study found that the enhanced e-book on the iPad drew fewer content related actions from parents and children than the print version of the same story, while the basic e-books led to very similar content-related actions. The enhanced e-books led to much higher levels of non-content related actions, such as behavior or device-focused talk, from both parents and children. In addition, children recalled fewer narrative details after reading the enhanced e-books than after reading the print books. Researchers conclude that the parents and children focused their attention more on the non-content related issues when reading enhanced e-books. On the other hand, researchers did find that children were more engaged reading the enhanced e-books, physically interacting with the books more. The researchers recommend several next steps, including running this study with a larger and more representative sample, examining what types of e-book features affect engagement and comprehension, and how different populations use these different e-books.

My concerns are that it is difficult for me, as a practitioner in the field, to know exactly what type of enhanced e-book they used in the study. I have found in my work with book apps that there is an enormous variety in levels of interactive experiences. Their study has raised a number of questions for me:

My biggest question is whether older readers, who have more self-control, will be able to navigate the intersection between content and interactive material. Will a 7 year old be able to derive more content comprehension from the interactive dialog bubbles in Nosy Crow's Cinderella than a 4 year old? I would posit that an older child would be able to handle the multiple functions better.

I am curious how children's comprehension with book apps is affected by multiple readings. As the Cooney Center noted, children's engagement with book apps is much higher than with the similar print books. I find that children are drawn to book apps for repeated viewings. I would posit that a young child would focus at first on the interactive experiences - especially if they are new to that child - and more on the narrative content with repeated readings.

Finally, I wonder about the coding the study used. For example, the study noted that children and parents talking about book features was markedly increased with enhanced book apps. The researchers coded this as non-content related. And yet, this type of conversation is actually very important to understanding the broader reading process, for both child and parent. Were these conversations productive, exploring what features were in the book? Or were they distracting conversations?

I am certainly looking forward to more studies like this one. I do hope that the Cooney Center extends its analysis to include older children. I firmly believe that children ages 6-9 find enormous pleasure and fulfillment in reading enhanced e-books.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Google Apps for Education

I'm interested in thinking about how we can use Google Apps for Education in the elementary setting. It's an interesting dilemma, working in a public school with limited funding, limited infrastructure and even more limited time. Teachers are pressed to cover substantial curriculum and are measured by student achievement. It is hard to carve out of the day time for students to explore options for creating their own computer projects.

I'm most interested in starting by seeing how I can support teachers creating Google forms to quickly survey students. It would be fascinating to be able to survey all of our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to see which genre of literature they prefer. We could extend this to asking students to select their favorite place and time of day to read. Part of this would be helping students see the value of data, introducing them to the idea that they can collect their own data. It would also generate a sense of our reading community - seeing the variety in all that we read.

I believe in leading by example. As an elementary librarian working within a fixed schedule where the teachers join the students during library time, I actually have the opportunity to survey all of the students on campus. 

However, I need to keep in mind the ultimate advice my master teacher told me long ago: Keep It Simple. Young children cannot type quickly. Watching students navigate Google forms a little bit, it is crucial to keep the questions simple, clear and multiple choice or yes/no. Our 4th/5th graders might be able to move into short answer questions with a little experience, but still they receive no formal typing instruction until middle school.

Here is an interesting tutorial I found for creating Google forms.

One of the points that Nevin, Melton and Loertscher (2011) suggest is to start from a spreadsheet before you create the form. This sets the framework for the data you'll collect. I'm not sure if it's easier for teachers to think of the spreadsheet first, or the questionnaire first.

Nevin, R., Melton, M., and Loertscher, D.V. (2011). Google Apps for Education: Building Knowledge In a Save and Free Environment. Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research and Publishing.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Common Core State Standards - video introduction series

The message is out in California: get ready for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). They're coming our way. At our staff development meeting this August, our literacy coach (the amazing Jamie Carlson) shared with us a video series from EngageNY introducing the CCSS and it was a very helpful.

New York Education Commissioner John King, David Coleman (one of the authors and vocal proponents of the CCSS) and Kate Gerson (a Senior Fellow with the Regents Research Fund) explain the key aspects of the Common Core standards in depth. Here's the introduction to the Language Arts series:

THE COMMON CORE IN LITERACY: Overview from EngageNY on Vimeo.

I am particularly interested in how our school library programs can support teachers as they engage in shifting their curriculum to meet these new standards and our administrators as they think about steering the whole school in these shifts. Here's a summary of the six main shifts that Coleman outlines:

  1. Reading more informational texts, of increasing complexity K-5
  2. Building subject-specific knowledge through reading and writing 6-12
  3. Staircase of complexity - increasing the level of text difficulty grade-to-grade
  4. Focus on text-based answers - carefully reading the text and drawing on it to support answers
  5. Writing from sources - increasing informational and persuasive writing
  6. Academic vocabulary - not necessarily domain-specific terms, but academic words like subsequent or hypothesis

Coleman sums them up as "reading like a detective, writing like an investigative reporter." I found his description of the balance and transitions between narrative and informational writing very interesting. He did not dismiss the importance of narrative writing for young children - it's crucial that they write about their own experiences. This teaches them to be able to write clearly, develop a strong voice, and understand sequencing of events. But we need to create opportunities for our elementary students to write more informational texts that are persuasive and based on their investigations.

Our library plays a key role in supporting teachers as they help create curriculum to address these new shifts. We are in a position to recommend and find compelling, accessible nonfiction text. One of my biggest concerns is how we help our students move from "browsing" nonfiction to reading longer, more complex narrative or descriptive nonfiction. How can we support our teachers as they explicitly focus on the text features of nonfiction? But more than that, how can we support students wanting to find engaging nonfiction.

I strongly believe that we need to encourage students to choose their own nonfiction to read. We will get more "buy in" if they are able to choose nonfiction on topics they've already developed an interest in. By reading in a comfort area, I hope that students will be able to develop more stamina for reading longer, more complex nonfiction.

Research and reflections - charting my journey

Up until now, I have not created a place to track my professional growth and learning. I have incorporated some into my main blog Great Kid Books, but that is mainly a way to help parents find books for their children. Here at Research and Reflections, I will pull together much of my own growth and learning as I develop my skills as a school librarian.

Some posts will be brief links to articles and websites I've found interesting. Other posts will be longer reflections on scholarly articles. And still others will be reactions to issues I'm encountering in my practice.

I will develop a tagging system so that I can track my posts by interest and type of reflection. I really enjoy Blogger's abilities to search and categories posts. Welcome and browse around a bit, as I continue on my professional journey.