Friday, October 31, 2014

Sound Sites on a Tricky Night

Building your Twitter PLN or seeking new sites around the web? Here are a few sure to delight:

Twitter #:











A few sites:

Nerdy Book Club


Nov/Dec Horn Book Mag Preview

WP Article: Teacher Shadows Student for 2 Days

Fundraising for We Need Diverse Books campaign

October 31 Neil Gaiman at NYPL

Please share your favorite Twitter hashtags and/or favorite library-related sites in the comments section!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Member Spotlight: Susan Harris, The Harvey School

This week, we asked HVLA member Susan Harris to share a little about herself and her program!

1) What is your role at The Harvey School?
 I'm currently the Director if Educational Technology, Teacher, Advisor for Community Service, and Girls Rugby Coach. I was doing all of those things as the sole school librarian (6 - 12)  until we hired Sumana Shankar this year to take over the library and work more with grades 6 - 8.  My home is still in the library, as it should be.  I also develop and organize faculty professional development programs. 

2) With what age range do you primarily work?
9 - 12, although in Edtech I work with MS faculty and students as well. 
3) What is your view on the balance of materials (print, digital, otherwise) available to students for checkout in the library? (both dream and reality!)
We tend heavily towards online resources.  Our students rarely refer to non fiction print, and demand for fiction in print has really dropped off as well.  
4) What are the top three information skills all students should learn and have?
Locating, evaluating, analyzing information
5)  Makerspaces are a hot topic for schools right now. What is the mission of the makerspace at your school?
We've just begun this fall and are still wrestling with a lot of issues, like staffing (in a remote location on campus), faculty buy-in, and dedicating time during the school day for student use.  In my view, the mission is: To provide a space for students and teachers to explore and learn together with no agenda and no right or wrong answers.  
6) What is unique about your makerspace?
I'm not sure anything is really - we've used existing models and drawn on experience of other schools.   

7) What was the best professional development experience you've had in the past two years?
NYSAIS NEIT conferences at Mohonk, for the past two years.  
8) What are two of your favorite digital/book blogs/websites you read regularly?
Freetech4teachers; Mindshift​

9) What is the best book you've read this year?
The Dinner by Herman Koch.  His second, Summer House with Swimming Pool was a disappointment - too formulaic. 
10) If you could turn any book into a movie, which would it be?
Swamplandia - lots of opportunities for crazy scenery and some special effects.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Upcoming Literary Events

There are some great things happening both in the metro NYC area and beyond! Please add any others you would like to share in the comments section below.

1) Saturday October 25: Bank Street BOOKFEST

As of 6:00pm on Tuesday October 14, there were still 10 tickets left for this fantastic event. Matt de la Pena will be the keynote speaker, and many authors and favorite literary figures will be on hand leading inspiring discussions. Small group participation in discussions will also be offered. Books (and signings) will be available for purchase throughout the day.

2) Dreaming of writing that novel? NaNoWriMo is coming November 1!

This month-long online support group encourages writers of all kind to get their words on paper. With badges and goal setting, this program might just be what you need to start that novel!

3) Author/Illustrator Event with Julie Salamon and Jill Weber Sunday November 2, 2pm

Cat in the City is a darling of many readers in the 8 to 12 year-old set. Come meet the author, Julie Salamon, and illustrator, Jill Weber, and hear about their process at BookCourt bookstore in Brooklyn.

4) Darien Public Library presents Dana Cowin, Food & Wine editor-in-chief, November 11, 7pm

For those of you who love to cook - or who wish you were better at it - this is the event for you. The Darien Public Library brings Dana Cowin to share her brand new cookbook Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.

5) November 14, 6:30pm-9:30pm, Bronx Stories

Held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, this spoken word event aims to share the stories of the Bronx. Members of the community will share their stories to build an understanding of the borough as well as encourage "a deeper understanding of the arts."

Monday, October 6, 2014

The School Library Space Debate

For many of us, our memories of our school libraries include shelves and shelves of print books, a few computers, a printer perhaps, and a circulation desk with a librarian. Selecting books for pleasure, performing research processes and developing perfunctory tech skills constituted a solid library program and space. Within the last decade, the services school libraries provide has changed dramatically. What does the space look like now?

  • Split of print materials and digital materials with guided instruction on how to use them effectively and safely;
  • Devices and digital material for check-out;
  • Self-checkout stations starting in the Lower School;
  • 3-D Printers, some in staffed spaces, some available for sign-up;
  • Laptops or tablets utilized for creating and/or sharing student work within the school community;
  • Cafe offerings, such as tea or coffee service
  • Experimental or beta-phase tech equipment
  • Online reading or tech communities with virtual meetings or live meetings
  • Maker kits for check-out
  • "Library" changed to “Learning Commons” or “Information Station”
  • Additional makerspace materials including, but not limited to: origami, book making supplies, robotics, magnetic poetry, Legos, other craft or tech centered activities;
  • Gaming materials including, but not limited to: board games, card games, console systems;
  • And more!

What implications and applications do these have for our profession as independent school librarians? Our spaces? This is a relevant issue, and one that marries disciplines and departments as seen in the recent profusion of workshops, seminars and webinars related to the changing face of the library and role in the school. This topic has also been increasingly written about in scholarly research and professional journals.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) states in the introduction of Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action (2009):
In recognition of these demands, the American Association if School Librarians
(AASL) has developed learning standards that expand the definition of information literacy to include multiple literacies, including digital, visual, textual and technological. (p. 5)

Our role as librarians is no longer offering finite experiences with reader’s advisory, navigating print materials or a handful of online databases and websites for research. Our responsibility is to offer fluid learning experiences and exposures that evolve on a schedule that moves at the speed of our technological lives and those of our students. But more so, it is providing mindful, just-in-time learning opportunities students will apply in both their educational and personal lives. This may require shifting departmental roles and labels. It may require a serious, informed review of curricula. It may require a shift in teacher and administrator perception of library class or library time. And offering a space that resonates and accommodates these shifts in use and role will dramatically figure in our daily work today and for days and years to come.


American Association of School Librarians. (2009). Standards for the 21st century learner in
action. Chcago, IL: American Library Association.

Please add to the conversation in the comments section! Share your makerspace components, current research you’ve read, or recent changes you’ve made to your space to accommodate the variety of literacies libraries serve to meet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Member Spotlight: Maria Falgoust

Longtime HVLA member, Maria Falgoust, has spent the past two years working overseas. She is now back in New York serving as the Manager of Libraries and Services for the Ascend Learning charters schools in Brooklyn. Maria took some time this week to share about her experience. 

How did you find out about your position in Rome? What was the process of getting it like?

I registered with the education job agency, Carney Sandoe and Associates, based in Boston. First I submitted an application, which involves creating a profile, answering questions, writing an essay, providing a resume and asking my references to mail letters of recommendation. Next I spoke on the phone with my placement counselor. Carney Sandoe matches refers schools to educators. My experience was very unusual, because I got hired by the first school I interviewed with, The American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR). First I had a phone interview with the Elementary principal, followed by a Skype interview with the headmaster.

Had you ever been to Rome before? How did you choose it?

Yes, I spent my last quarter of college living in Rome studying Fine Arts with the University of Washington. My first time living in Rome was magical and eye-opening but I had not been back since. While most of my colleagues at AOSR had attended International School Services fairs and often had particular continents or countries in mind, I just checked off a box for Europe as well as a variety of US cities, including NYC, where I was living at the time.

Were there major differences between being a librarian in New York vs Rome?

In NYC, I was privileged enough to be able to order books throughout the school year. In Rome, the majority of the books I could order had to be placed in February through ISS and would arrive in the summer. Italian public schools do not have librarians or libraries. I really missed all of my librarian friends and colleagues. 

What were some of the most popular books your students were reading?

My students loved the Mercy Watson series, Mo Willems' books, The Goddess Girls series, The Roman Mysteries series, the LEGO Ideas Book, Little Pea, The Dot, and Obert Skye's The Creature From My Closet series.

Would you recommend teaching overseas to others? Any tips?

Yes! There are countless reasons why it is a good move. It's challenging, exciting, and invigorating. When living overseas, it forces you to consider what it means to be American and realize what an enormous impact your culture has on you. Gaining perspective and empathy is always good! Since many international schools only have one or two librarians, there are very few openings so be open minded about your location.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

High School Research

Shortly after arriving at Professional Children's School, I was told that my predecessor had, years earlier, proposed a research class in the high school and that the administration would like me to see it through. I know many of us are constantly struggling to get more class time and having my administration ask for an additional research class to be part of a curriculum was very exciting and affirming for me. And so, I spent a year researching, meeting with departments, and figuring out how best to teach such a class. Research and Information Literacy is now a required course that I've taught three times's entirely online.

I teach middle school research classes twice a week and having that experience was definitely a good jumping off point for figuring out what to include. As those course are scaffolded, I planned to build upon them for this one. In the high school, there are some teachers who bring their classes into the library at the beginning of a research paper to have me do an overview of the library, plus how to use databases, plus how to write a bibliography, plus how to write a research paper…in 20 minutes. This gave me an idea of what teachers expected, as did helping kids throughout the year. After I had spent some time researching literacy standards and coming up with a framework, I spoke with each department and asked what they were looking for in a class such as this. Their answers affirmed what I had already found and also helped to bring them into the process. Due to scheduling, as well as giving students a unique opportunity, the decision was made early to build this as an online course.

So how do you create an online class? Several years ago, I took an online course from Bank Street (Beyond Google and Wikipedia) and two summers ago I took the Google MOOC (Power Searching with Google), but those had been my only experiences. I’ve  been using Moodle for all of my middle school classes, so was experienced with putting my classroom content online. Additionally, I regularly use forums, Socrativementormob, and blogs in my face to face teaching. However, just to be on the safe side (and to be super meta), I took an online course about online courses from the Online School for Girls. It was a great experience and definitely gave me a lot to think about. I would highly recommend consciously being a student in an online course before teaching online.
I have pulled from all of these places and have created a course in which each weekly lesson has a reading of some sort, a video of myself briefly teaching a concept, and collaborative work. I'm using the text Writing a Research Paper as well as our school’s own research guide. Each time I teach this, I've changed it up a bit to make sure that it's relevant to the students. In addition to research, this course is also teaching them skills related to independent study, time management, digital citizenship, and collaboration.
During the spring semester, one of my 10th graders used a paper that he had received a B- on to work from. With feedback from his peers, myself, and going through the process from the beginning, he was able to re-submit his paper and receive an A. His teacher sent him an email saying "What a difference! This is a much better paper, especially in its technical formatting - it looks professional, very much like a paper written by a (soon to be!) junior in a high school with high standards. Bravo. Thank you for your hard work, and I thank Ms. Roeder for her guidance. I am delighted!" This was a very exciting email to receive, but it also sparked a partnership with this history teacher going forward and we are going to make sure our courses dovetail each other. I think partnering with teachers is essential and it's easier once you can show them proof that what you're doing works.
Below is the slideshow from a presentation I did this year at Teaching With Technology. It shares some of my challenges, as well as the tools that I'm using. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome Back!

School has started and we're off to another busy and exciting year. Here is a selection of events happening in New York City this fall. Feel free to post additional events that you know about in the comments.

Lit Crawl Manhattan - September 13

KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction - September 14

Literary Death Match - September 18

How to Write a Book - September 20

Brooklyn Book Festival - September 21

MakerFaire - September 20-21

The Moth Story Slam - September 22

Gotham Writers' Workshop: Fiction - September 28

HVLA Middle Grade/YA Book Club - September 30

HS to College Transition SIG Meeting - October 1

Comic Con NYC 2014 - October 9-12

Educators Symposium: Learn Out Loud - October 10-12

The New Yorker Festival - October 10-12

HVLA Fall Meeting - October 15

BookFest - October 25