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Summer Reading Lists

School’s out (or almost–and at the very least, summer is upon us!)…many of you are gearing up for book orders by planning your summer reading.

For me, I’ve been taking advantage of DailyLit and reading The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence by Tom Peters in which he says
“19. “Failure”—Celebrate It!”

As we’re all–including school libraries, CASL and CAL–trying to make do with very little funding, I find this message heartening and a reminder that we’re all striving to do the best we can with what we have! And I (Heidi posting, this time!) must brag on DailyLit a bit–they email you snippets of books at a time and many are free. It’s just the right amount of info for me during a busy day, and the format works for me since I’m by the computer much of the day.

So, do share—what’s on YOUR summer reading list??


School Libraries: The Center of the Universe: Reflection on #AASL2009

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning – this title came to me – as I brainstormed ideas for this post. It must have been something I was dreaming, or perhaps just my subconscious helping me pull together several ideas that have been lurking in the back of my consciousness.

Some things have come together for me recently – and the sessions I attended  at AASL have really helped bring into focus the task I now have at hand.  You see, recently, I accepted a new position in my district. My new title is 21st Century Learning and Innovation Specialist. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Me, a school librarian! I am tasked with developing and sharing a vision, and designing and delivering a professional development program that will help all teachers to acquire not only the tech skills that they will need, but more importantly, an understanding of how to build a learning environment that will allow students room to develop and practice important 21st century skills, including creativity, team work, critical thinking & problem solving, and technology and information literacy.

At AASL, so many ideas I have had were reinforced for building a 21st century learning environment and integrating 21st century skills. Dr. David Loertscher shared with us more of his vision for the Learning Commons – both a physical and virtual space where learning can happen 24-7, and Valerie Diggs showed us what hers looks like. Christopher Harris, Brian Mayer, and Kelly Czarnecki  wowed us at their preconference with ideas for how to use gaming for increasing  not just motivation, but critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and collaboration skills. Several sessions I attended emphasized the importance of not just collaborating with the classroom teacher – but other specialists in the building, such as literacy, art, special education, and talented and gifted. Revisiting Colorado’s Learner’s Bill of Rights for my own presentation refocused me on the importance of recognizing the needs of the learner, and how careful instructional design can assure students will be engaged and successful in their pursuit of knowledge. And Leslie Maniotes demonstrated in such a crystal clear way how important it is that we connect with student experiences in the “third space” – where real learning takes place.  All of these things, I believe, are excellent strategies to help teachers move toward more constructivist learning environments.

I think my “aha!” was that none of these are new ideas.  Teacher-Librarians  have been doing this for years – with varying degrees of success, depending on many factors, but always dependant on the level of administrative support they receive.  So, of course, my number one strategy for transforming teaching and learning for the 21st century will be to facilitate true collaboration between the teacher librarian and classroom teachers.  I might even have some “pull” with those administrators now!

Could my new job be that simple? Has my job really changed all that much?  I don’t think so. You see, school libraries are really the center of the universe. They open up the doors of learning both knowledge and skills to all students .  Perhaps all school librarians should come to think of themselves as a 21st century learning and innovation specialist.

Nancy White
CASL CO-President Elect

CASL Kick Off To TIE Review

The CASL Kick-off to the Colorado Technology in Education Conference (TIE: http://www.tiecolorado.org) was a huge success, with over 120 librarians and educators in attendance this year.  The day began with special guest presenter, Dr. David Loertscher speaking on the topic of his book The New Learning Commons Where Learners Win! Reinventing School Libraries and Computer Labs. We took a tour through the evolution of school libraries, from facilities that offered scheduled visits, isolated library lessons, emphasized print collections and had little technology to today’s libraries that are centers of inquiry with an emphasis on learning literacies, offer collaborative co-teaching, multimedia collections and abundant technology. In considering the next steps teacher-lbrarians must take to stay relevant in 21st century schools, we explored  the concept of a “Learning Commons” and how to incorporate all of the rich Web 2.0 tools to build a vibrant, student-centered 24-7 center for learning in the physical and virtual world.  Dr. Loertscher’s presentation and links to more ideas and conversations around this topic can be found at http://caslworkshops.pbworks.com.

Following Dr. Loertscher, participants joined in on a Gallery Walk, exploring the Colorado Learner’s Bill of Rights, recently featured in School Library Media Activities Monthly.  Ten groups rotated around the room to consider each of the student rights, posted on giant poster paper hung around the ballroom. The groups discussed and commented on what each one might look like in the classroom and library, and how they relate to and support the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.  To view and comment on the work done by our participants, visit http://colearnersbor.pbworks.com/.

The afternoon allowed participants to choose 2 of 3 breakout sessions.  Dr. Loertscher ‘s session featured his most current work on “The Big Think”  and Collective Synthesis. Workshop participants used an inquiry process in considering a potential disaster scenario, while looking at strategies to transform a more traditional learning experience to one requiring higher order thinking and problem solving.  Colorado High Performance Power Librarian Phil Goerner led a hands-on session featuring the free Web 2.0 tool Voicethread. (http://voicethread.com) . Participants  learned how to use the tool and also saw the many ways this tool might be used with classes.  Phil shared a wealth of resources on the CASL wiki: http://caslworkshops.pbworks.com/VoiceThread.  The third breakout session featured Peggy O’Neil Jones, regional director for the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Western Region program and professor of technical communication and media production at Metro State College. Peggy showed how working with primary sources folds so easily into the inquiry process, demonstrating and giving time to workshop participants to search American Memory and reflect on the steps of the inquiry process as they located resources they might use with students. To see how the inquiry process aligns with AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner, visit this wiki: http://jeffcocolloquium.pbworks.com/Inquiry-Process .  Click on any of the links to a piece of the inquiry cycle to see the alignment with the standards.

We encourage you to explore the resource links posted here – especially if you were unable to attend this special event. Many thanks to CLiC for their support, all of the CASL Board members who put this event together and the TIE Board for partnering with us and helping us to make this happen.

-Nancy White, CASL Co-President Elect

Lots of Tweeps!

by Heidi Baker
Who knew all these librarians, school librarians and others were tweeting?!

Thanks to Michelle Gebhart (that’s @CSLMichelle for you tweeters), there’s now a list! There are twitterers from Colorado cities, public libraries, schools, and museums, as well as other State Libraries, national organizations, local, state and federal government, and more. If you would like to be added or removed from this list, please email gebhart_m@cde.state.co.us.

List in Excel
List in PDF

Check out these posts from a budding tweeter (that’s me!) if you’re interested in learning more about Twitter, some guidance, or how to use tools with your new Twitter account.

Sign up for your own Twitter account in 30 seconds.


I’ve been hearing about a fascinating new book by Kelly Gallagher titled “Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.” Gallagher defines readicide as: “The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.” He outlines four factors that are primarily responsible for readicide:
* schools value the development of test takers more than the development of readers
* schools limit authentic reading experiences
* teachers are overteaching books
* teachers are underteaching books

According to book reviews, Gallaher’s assertions are grounded in research studies that point to giving our kids more authentic reading experiences and providing time for their own personal reading. I’m looking forward to following the Readicide “blog tour” (http://www.stenhouse.com/html/readicide.htm), and to reading the book.

With administrators who are enamored with data and uniform curriculum to improve reading scores, we as librarians continue to champion free recreational reading, changing the world one kid at a time…one book at a time. There is no “One Thing” that makes kids love to read, improve at reading, and want to read more. We have to pull together our own personal toolkit to try out on our students. What’s in your bag of tricks — reading aloud, acting out stories, comparing books to movies, telling stories, getting kids writing and drawing and talking about books, book clubs?

Professional Bibliography

Works cited in Allison Zmuda’s 2007 CASL preconference presentation:

Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do.

Barth, Roland S. (2001). Teacher Leader. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(6), 443.

Bransford, John D., Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking (eds). 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School.

Burney, Deanna. 2004. “Craft Knowledge: The Road to Transforming Schools.” Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 85.

Collins, Jim. 2005. “Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great.”

Darling-Hammond, Linda D. and John Bransford, (eds.). 2005. Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do.

Elmore, Richard F. (2004). School Reform from the Inside Out: Policy, Practice and Performance.

Fox, Jeffrey J. (2000). How to Become a Rainmaker

Fullan, Michael, Peter Hill and Carmel Crévola. (2006). Breakthrough

Marzano, Robert. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction.

Marzano, Robert J., Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 2004. Framework for 21st Century Learning.

Reeves, Doug. (2004). Accountability for Learning: How Teachers and School Leaders Can Take Charge.

Reeves, Doug. (2006). The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results.

Wagner, Tony. (1997). Making the Grade: Reinventing America’s Schools.

Welch, Jack and Suzy Welch. (2005). Winning.

Wiggins, Grant and Jay McTighe. (2007). Schooling by Design

Zmuda, Allison, Robert Kuklis, and Everett Kline. (2004). Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement.

Books Aren’t Dead . . . Yet, by Becky Russell

Originally, I had planned on writing a book review, until I read an article in the cover story of this past week’s edition of Newsweek, entitled “The Future of Reading” by Steven Levy (http://www.newsweek.com/id/70983). 

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is getting ready to release its newest version of electronic readers, the Kindle.  While a skeptic going into the article, I quickly realized that this may indeed, be the true beginning of the actual replacement, or rather, the enhancement of the printed book.  Why?  Because in Levy’s review of the product at the end of the article, he commented on something that I felt could never happen.  When using the Kindle, he felt the true test was whether or not he could get “lost” in his reading, or as he says, “ . . . that trancelike zone where the world falls away.”  And, he did.  There are other plusses as well:  the reader can enlarge the font, the text is searchable, the books one wants download instantly from Amazon for just $9.99, the device is light-weight and is shaped like a book, and its wireless connection to the internet works from just about anywhere.   The hugest drawback is its cost–$399, but, in all likelihood, this will go down over time.  There is another drawback that is not discussed in the article but, from my perspective, I am wondering if the public wants yet another device that has to be charged in order to be used.  (Is anyone else out there as sick of cords and chargers lying all over the house like I am?) 

 Cynics will argue that printed books will likely not go by the wayside anytime soon, and they are correct in some respects, because the baby-boomer generation loves print.  But, the upcoming generation is more inclined to want to view things digitally, given that they have been surrounded by gadgets their entire lives.  I think this could be the beginning of the transition from the book as we know it.  It’s easy to deny that change can happen, but as we all learned about fifteen years ago with the internet, it does.   All librarians should read this article to see whether or not they agree with this prediction about electronic readers.