Culture and Approachability in the “Heart of the School”

Last week I was preparing for the first meeting of a new book club that had been reading  The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read the whole thing, but I did open up the table of contents a few hours before the meeting to select a chapter or two I could consume before then. Chapter 11 in the section entitled “Share Vulnerability;” is called “How to Create Cooperation with Individuals.” Like I’m sure many of you have found, I find that my best interactions with students engaged in a research process are in one-to-one research meetings, so I opened up this chapter. Either I picked exactly the right one, or I ought to read the whole book.

In this chapter, Coyle meets an IDEO designer named Roshi Givechi, who is prized by her colleagues for her ability to help others solve problems. She is described as a relatively quiet person who puts others at ease with her air of serene competence and approachability. When a design team is facing a sticking point in their process, Givechi is able to help them discover new approaches by “asking the right questions the right way” (151). Coyle is impressed by her term for when this happens – “surfacing.” By making people feel comfortable, listening fully and taking interest in their interests, and asking good questions, Givechi doesn’t offer answers but creates a situation in which the problem solvers can make connections that reveal solutions. In reading about Givechi’s talent, I thought “this is just a super deluxe reference interview!” 

These are some basic elements at the core of our profession that I think we generally internalize, but it doesn’t hurt to give them some extra thought sometimes. Simple but important, “approachability” is listed first among RUSA’s Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers.

Steven Bell at Temple University, who was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Summer Institute, blogged last year about the basic importance of being friendly, approachable and trustworthy in library services ( Our Marsha Hawkins in her great conference presentation last month on the “Boy-Friendly Library” talked about this simple idea too, when she said that she greets every student every day by name. Making ourselves accessible and approachable creates the shared vulnerability that builds trust in a community.

I don’t really have an office; I work at the 105-year-old reference and circulation desk in the middle of the library. From my workstation, this is what I see:

The Front Door

When students come in this door, whether to come to the library or go to class, this is the first thing they see: 

Just imagine the pumpkin is me.

Working at a computer at the desk, it is way too easy for me to, as Steven Bell writes, “fail to quickly and adequately acknowledge another person’s presence.” My monitor and the desk itself are physical and psychological barriers between the students and me, and it’s my job to break them. I want to make eye contact, say hello, “happy birthday” and “good luck at the game today” to students as they walk in the door, giving them the cue that they are welcome and in the right place, and usually/often I do. But sometimes when engrossed in a task, I find that I haven’t looked up in a while. Maybe a student will say hello to me and draw me out of that place, making me feel sheepish for failing to greet her and acknowledge her presence. On the other hand, maybe I’ve greeted her enough times that the relationship is there and her greeting can remind me of why I’m standing in the middle of this room in the first place – to be approached, to be open to what the students need and help their ideas surface, and to be at the heart of a school culture that supports and gently pushes at the same time.   


Bell, S. (2017, August 21). There’s a reason why eye contact and smiling improve the experience [Blog post]. Retrieved from Designing Better Libraries website:

Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: The secrets of highly successful groups. New York: Bantam Books.

“Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers”, American Library Association, September 29, 2008. (Accessed May 15, 2018) Document ID: ce1dea7f-f77b-c194-2967-b53adb4b40ed

Hawkins, M. (Presenter). (2018, April 17). The fundamentals of a boy-friendly library: Practice and research instruction. Presentation given at AISL annual conference, The Lovett School, Atlanta, GA.


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Why We Do What We Do

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an Institute at St. Mark’s School of Texas, a peer institution here in Dallas, Texas. The keynote speaker for the Institute was Jim Burke. Mr. Burke is the author of numerous books on education, specifically books relating to best practices in teaching English class. Before attending the Institute I jumped on Amazon to research Mr. Burke’s titles. As a Librarian, the book that stood out to me was I Hear America Reading: Why We Read What We Read. I ordered a copy and, once I started reading it, the book reminded me why I love my profession so much.

“In an era of decreasing commitment to literacy……it is no surprise that most students, too, are bypassing books.” Mr. Burke, an English teacher, wrote these words in a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. He then encouraged readers to write to the students in his high school English class and tell the students about experiences with books and how books have played an important role in life. Over one thousand pages of letters arrived. I Hear America Reading is a collection of some of these letters.

As I read the letters from librarians, artists, cattle ranchers, elementary school students and retired senior citizens it made me appreciate the joy that my job can bring. So often we lament the changing face and role of libraries. So often we focus on technology and how we have to have the latest, greatest and best in order to remain relevant. So often we feel like we have to justify our role to our administrators, fellow educations and community. It was refreshing to read letters from people that simply enjoy reading, and what a remarkable job we have to help facilitate the love of reading!

From one letter: “When I was twelve years old, I read Theodore Sturgeon’s scary fiction book More Than Human. I liked the part of the psychiatrist so much that I decided to become one. I’ve been a psychiatrist for twenty years now, and I love it.”

From another letter (a second grade student): “I like reading because when you keep growing and you keep on reading when you grow up you may be a famous reader and you may even sit on the stage and read so keep on reading…”

Last one! (from a third grader): “I have a Rocking Book, Godzilla is the title. I can’t wait for you to read it. It is about Godzilla trying to destroy the city. You will think it is cool. You can read it if you want!”

Happy Summer!! 🙂

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on a mid-research pause, reflect, share, and go…

Sometimes, as the saying goes, “It’s better to lucky then good.” This is a story about one of those times–a research and information literacy experience that was totally planned and developed by non-library faculty that further our program’s information instruction goals.

Who Teaches Research? – In a PK-12 school with a rather large student population, I have come to realize that as librarians here, our mission is to be sure that sound research and information literacy skills are being taught in our curriculum, but the librarians cannot, and indeed SHOULD NOT,  solely be the ones delivering all of that instruction. Everyone needs to teach research!

The IB Extended Essay (In my head, also known as #ResearchArmageddon… LOL) –  Students here at Mid-Pacific can elect to earn a full International Baccalaureate Diploma over the course of their junior and senior years. One of the core requirements of the IB Diploma program is that students must complete a 4000 word research paper on a topic of their choice. In the fall of junior year, students are paired with a faculty mentor. Students research and write through the remainder of their junior and into the fall of their senior year. Completed IB Extended Essays are submitted to the IB in the spring of students’ senior years. Faculty mentors guide and coach students through the research and writing process, but the IBEE is largely a student-driven independent study experience.

Bring on the Extended Essay Cafe – Although the Extended Essay is intended to be a student-driven, independent study experience, the IB understands that these are still 16-year old human beings–many who are writing a research paper of this extent for the very first time. The IB, therefore, encourages schools to offer an “Extended Essay Cafe” experience. Coordinated by our school’s awesome overall IB coordinator, Kym Roley, and our amazing Extended Essay Coordinator, Jessica Hanthorn, students gathered in the school seminar room along with a history teacher, the head of our science department, the head of the Mid-Pacific School of the Arts, and me. Each student prepared a 7-slide presentation as a snapshot of the state of their Extended Essay research at this moment in time.

  • Slide 1: Introduction
  • Slide 2: Research Question
  • Slide 3: Background
  • Slide 4: Chapter Headings/Working Outline 
  • Slide 5: Detail 
  • Slide 6: Problems and Solutions 
  • Slide 7: Bibliography

The Experience – Students were each given 10 minutes to introduce us to their topics and walk us through their process. What an amazing process it turned out to be! As I listened to my kids, I literally thought, “I wish every jaded adult who writes about today’s youth and their lack of passion could be here to see what I get to see and to hear what I get to hear because what I see and what I hear is passion!”

G. talked extensively, and with great passion, about the the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

Feedback from our faculty panel was that it was clear to anyone in the room that G. has a deep love for her subject, but that she easily has an 8000+ word essay on her hands–if not the makings of the start of a book. She was directed back to the IB Film: Subject-specific guide, and someone suggested that she might consider a single element of film-making in the 3 Miyazaki films she discussed or that she might consider looking at a single film rather than 3.

Click here to view JKs full IBEE Cafe slideshow

J. shared his interest in the the way that technology has impacted his learning experience as a student at Mid-Pacific. He spent a substantial amount of his time explaining the struggle he has had narrowing his topic. The panel suggested that one possible way to narrow the topic might be to focus on the effect that a particular app or type of app such as an online calendar or a “to do” app like Google Keep has on student learning. Another suggestion was for him to consider focusing on a narrower age group such as early elementary or middle school students. J. also expressed his belief that he was not finding a lot of “statistical” data about technology and learning so the suggestion was made that he seek information about the difference between quantitative and qualitative assessment data as he begins digging more deeply into scholarly sources for his research.

It was wonderful to see that our students were willing to be open minded to the panel’s suggestions, but that they also felt comfortable pushing back on suggestions as well! What could be better than students feeling ownership about how THEY want to shape their work? Almost across the board, when students pulled up their in-progress works consulted lists, they did not yet have many scholarly works in place so that was a frequent refrain. Given that their research is just now coming together lack of scholarly sources was not a surprise at all, but it was a nice opportunity to remind students that, that was what IB readers would expect to see.

The Benefits – To my mind, having students create and share an artifact that reflected their research accomplished a number of things:

  • Because they had to have something to present to an audience, some of the kids who have been frozen by indecision were forced to make some tough decisions and start moving forward.
  • Students who were frozen in place by the evils of learned-procrastination were forced to develop a plan of action that got them off the starting line.
  • Presenting to a live audience helped students come to the their own realization that their topics were too big for 4000 words.
  • Students who got overly enthused about the experimental design aspect of their science topics received guidance that refocused their work around that fact that they are, indeed, writing an ESSAY–the experimental design, while appropriate for an internal assessment is not the goal here.
  • Students who had DEEPLY back burnered the Extended Essay got to see how much progress some of their peers had made.
  • Students who had made progress, but who were feeling anxiety about being “in the weeds” learned that they were doing fine.

The Steal-worthiness and Making It Scale – I think we all understand how important reflection is to the learning experience. Too often in our instructional design, however, we ask students to reflect on their process and their learning at the END of a project. I love the fact that our Extended Essay Cafe allowed students to pause and reflect mid-way through their project which allows them to make changes that will improve the experience RIGHT NOW on THIS PROJECT rather than making adjustments to their research process on a hypothetical project sometime in the future. This kind of mid-research / mid-project reflection would have served 16-year old me far better than a reflection that came at the end.

While I do not think that it is realistic for us to replicate the Extended Essay Cafe experience fully for all of our projects, as a school that has invested heavily in the project-based learning process I see many opportunities for us to build smaller scale mid-research “pause and reflect” opportunities into our project design for students.

I’m looking forward to seeing if we can make this a reality in our students’ project experiences going forward.

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Curation and Curiosity

Cabinet of Curiosities

The librarian’s role as curator was the topic of a TxLA conference session by Joyce Valenza. For anyone who has attended one of Joyce’s high-energy presentations, you know that you leave with your brain whirling with new ideas. This session on curation was timely because the new AASL standards feature curation:

Curate: Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources of personal relevance.

Here are four curation tools that I plan to explore this summer. My goal is to curate resources for students and also guide students as curators:

Google Custom Search
Combine the power of a Google Search with the expertise of a librarian assembling the websites for students to search. The Google Custom Search box can be embedded on your library resource page.  I plan to explore further the option to register as an educational nonprofit to turn off ads on the Google Search boxes.

Symbaloo Gallery
Here is a Symbaloo that I created to begin curating resources for Copyright and Fair Use, Digital Citizenship, and Media and News Literacy.

Visually organize content in grids.  Here is an example of Joyce Valenza’s Pearltree and a blog by Richard Byrne about Pearltrees (FreeTech4Teachers).

TES Teach with Blendspace
Bring together videos, photos, and documents into a visual grid that encourages exploring resources.

I have also assembled a list of suggested books that can be used to introduce our students to the idea of curation and promote its value in the research process.

Young Readers
The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell by Candace Fleming (picture book biography)
Author Fleming dramatizes a true moment in the life of artist Joseph Cornell: as a young boy, Joey was fascinated by collecting things and he organized a special ticketed event for friends and family to view his collections.

Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner (picture book biography)
This is my favorite version of Potter’s young life because it shows her fascination with exploring nature and desire to be a scientist. Unable to pursue this scientific field because she was a woman in the Victorian Period, she turned her love of nature to creating delightful drawings for the Peter Rabbit tales.

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman (picture book)
A grandfather shares his special matchboxes with his granddaughter. Each matchbox contains a small object that marks a moment in his immigrant story.

Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis (fiction)
A young child explores a grandmother’s collection of pennies; the year on each penny designates significant events in the grandmother’s life.

Middle School Readers
What Darwin Saw: The Journey that Changed the World by Rosalyn Schanzer (Biography) . Darwin’s natural collections and observations in his notebooks fueled his scientific theories.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Darlene R. Stille This historical look at the expedition of Lewis and Clark includes primary source drawings and diary entries from Lewis and Clark’s journal.

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge
Dorothea Lange’s documentation of social issues through her photos is a great example of sharing important ideas with an audience.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
This fiction story is loosely based on an Outsider artist whose cast-off sculpture assemblages were exhibited at the Smithsonian. A young boy is assigned community service with this “junk man,” and the boy begins to find personal healing as he assists in gathering the pieces for the sculpture.

High School Readers
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
In this historical fiction novel, a teenage girl is assigned to community service, assisting an elderly woman in cleaning out her attic. What they discover together is a treasure trove of memories of the elderly woman’s experience as an orphan train child.

The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom
by John F. Baker, Jr. As a seventh grader, Baker discovered a photo in his history textbook
that depicted slaves on the Wessyngton Plantation. The people in the photo were his
grandmother’s grandparents, and it prompted Baker to begin a life-long project of collecting oral history interviews and photographs that were later assembled as part of a special exhibit at the Tennessee History Museum.

Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo del Toro
Director Guillermo del Toro surrounds himself with curiosities and collections that help to inspire him in his movie projects. This book is filled with his sketches, journal entries, and collections from his estate that inspire his imaginative works.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas on how librarians can engage students’ curiosity and encourage their desire to become curators of knowledge.

Bibliography for Image
Georg Hainz Cabinet of Curiosities. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
Accessed 5 May 2018.

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Watermelon Rhymes

Plant a watermelon vine upon my grave

And let the juice, slurp slurp, seep through.

Growing up, my family maintained a huge garden in our backyard and watermelons were one of our best and favorite crops.  My mom would sing this old song to us whenever we had a watermelon feast. I’m not certain we understood the meaning of the words (!), but we sang it, loud and proud, to express our love for watermelon.

When I was searching for new ideas to share with third graders this year during National Poetry Month and stumbled upon a lesson plan called the Poetry Pizzazz  (gotta love Teachers Pay Teachers!), and for a very reasonable price I received six different lessons and activities to celebrate poetry writing with my students. One of the six, Watermelon Rhymes, seemed just right for our third graders because it provided a writing activity that would allow students at every level to succeed.  That’s when that old watermelon song jingled my memories of watermelon summers. 

We began a month long process, with one library lesson per week, of reading poems, brainstorming lists of rhyming words, using our rhyming words to write poems, and then creating watermelon slices of our own to illustrate our poems.  To celebrate our poetry writing journey, we projected student poems on the whiteboard and had each third grade poet read aloud their poems to the class.  This crop of watermelon poems was silly, fun, and full of creative juices that seeped into each of our students for poetry fun!

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A-musing on magazines

I’ve read the recent email thread on print magazine subscriptions with interest; like many of you, I waffle between wanting to honour this format while aiming to ensure budget dollars are well spent.

I’ve felt particularly guilty as we ordered not 1 but 2 magazine cabinets for our renovated library in 2015 (prognostication not on point). Moving them has helped, but we really need to see more traffic to justify renewing subscriptions.

And then we had a thought. The kids always seem shocked to realize that they can lift the lids to find issues – what if we just left the lids open?  So we did. And they’ve attracted more attention so far this week than they have all year. 

Go figure. Shame it took us so long to figure it out…..

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Curiosity killed the… wait, what?


The Curious Classroom by Harvey Daniels (2017), aptly subtitled 10 Structures for Teaching with Student-Directed Inquiry, is one of those professional books you can read on the beach, in a busy airport, on the train, or anywhere else, really. It’s practical and conversational, with plenty of real-life examples, photographs of classrooms, and handy sketchnotes at the end of each chapter.

Read this book: If you are a lower or middle school librarian looking to boost curiosity and wonder at your school, wanting to let students take control and run with their own interests and ideas rather than focusing on the same old research project (is it birds this year? or animals in general?), grab a friendly and collaborative teacher partner and read this book together! This study guide will be gold as you’re reading together. 

Having read this book recently for our Board Book discussion at the AISL conference last week, I’m left with so many nuggets of wisdom and little ideas to embrace students’ curiosity. Here are a few that I’d like to implement ASAP:

Idea: Why don’t I have a Wonder Wall in the library (Google it with a -oasis unless you’d rather listen to the song…)?! The setup is easy — a blank bulletin board with the words “Wonder Wall” and sticky notes or slips of paper for students to tack on. That’s such a simple way to validate and explore students’ questions!

Idea: I feel similarly about Genius Hour — this seems like old news, but I’ve finally found a way to make it work in our lower school library. We have scheduled time throughout the year for Friday afternoon classes that generally last three weeks called Interest Groups. I’ve led Library Helpers, Finger Knitting, Book Budgets, and a variety of other crafty and library-related groups, but I’ve never tried a Genius Hour. And this would be PERFECT for this structured time because students can choose to be in the group and spend their afternoons exploring and researching anything they wanted to! I love having small group research help time and feel like this would be such a natural way to support students.

Nugget: This tip (followed by an example) really made me reflect on my own practice:

With inquiry projects we sometimes spend too much time setting things up. And if we slow down too much, kids can lose energy and start complaining.

Though the example in the book seemed entirely too-smooth-to-be-true (in less than 5 minutes, students wrote down what they already know about the topic and questions they have), I know that one of my growing edges is to let go of some control and let kids start the work without so much frontloading. They’re going to stumble and make mistakes and get frustrated, and that’s okay! That’s real life!

The real struggle that I have been having with this kind of open, student-directed inquiry, especially for my young students, is that their interests are SO MUCH more complex than the texts written for them. Their questions are just not easily answered in a book at their reading level. So, we talk a lot about the research process, about the kinds of sources we have available to us and about which one would give us the best answer. We document our research process, noting the hard parts, and work towards making meaning of the information we find. This book validated that process for me, assuring me that it is, in fact, messy work, and if it’s not, then we’re not doing it right!

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AISL Day 1!

As Day 1 of the AISLATL conference winds down, I want to share with you some highlights, but I don’t want to limit it to just my voice. I will share with you some moments that stick out to me, but even better, I want you to hear the voice of other Board members.

Living in Upstate New York, I honestly haven’t seen the sun in weeks. Landing in Atlanta, I laughed as I heard other ride share passengers complaining about how cold they were. It was mid 60’s and sunny. It has only gotten more beautiful from there. We spent the first half of the day today at the lovely Marist school. In a true moment of serendipity, I sat next to a new person on the bus, the lovely Lia Carruthers, who ended up being a mentor I had been matched with. Lia is the library whisperer. She has energy to spare and has set up two libraries, one in Utah and her current library in New Jersey. My notes are copious.

At Marist, I attended a great session on creating an interactive research tutorial using tech to flip information literacy lessons and then finally, I got to attend a Dave Wee session. We want more Dave Wee! Dave introduced a fantastic worksheet to guide our thinking when setting goals and approaching colleagues, anticipating challenges, and planning our elevator pitch. My bus buddy to the Coca Cola museum was another new friend, Lisa from Toronto, who inspired me with talk of her school’s service trip to Tanzania and filled my notebook with ideas on how to create a boy friendly library (has anyone heard of botcubes?) I need fidget cubes, play doh, and legos people, STAT! I could go on. Today was awesome. I can hardly wait for tomorrow.

Now, some thoughts from other Board members on their Day 1:

Each year as the time for our annual conference approaches, I am excited but I also generally wonder if this is really the best time to be away. There is always so much to do and many items to cross off the to-do list before I can leave Dallas. This year was no exception, in fact the last couple of weeks have felt especially busy and full. At the start of each conference however, I am always reminded why I continue to venture to the host city and engage in this exceptional opportunity for professional development. I am so grateful that I can identify AISL as my community—I also feel so honored to be a part of this talented, fun, and intelligent group. I learn something from each session and every encounter. Yesterday, after I had gathered my luggage and made my way out to the curb to get a cab, I immediately spied a few familiar faces and was welcomed in to share a ride to the hotel. I think this was my defining moment and explains our group’s appeal—I had found my people! Thank you Atlanta for organizing this family reunion! I look forward to two more days jam packed with experiences and know that I will take so much with me back to Ursuline.
-Renee Chevallier

I am loving this conference and the hospitality of our hosts! Marist has a beautiful campus.
I thought the board books discussion was a highlight. I appreciated the option of moving between the book choices and how quickly we were able to shift from critical analysis and pedagogy to getting to know each other. I left looking forward to continuing several discussions in the morning.
Outside of the library world, watching the whale shark feeding was amazing.
-Christina Pommer

I got a charge out of the interactive research tutorial session this morning. I am not a particularly engaging speaker, and I always have more to say than a middle schooler’s attention span would allow. So this was a great idea to get the point across without causing my audience to fall asleep!

-Kate Patin

It has been an exceptional day of meetings. My big take-away was the concept of the “No paper research paper project.”  I took copious notes on the concept and execution. The ‘aha’ moments for me were faculty collaboration, teaching research skills to freshmen, and “good quality source material is NOT FREE!”

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Is “All the World a Stage?”

As I see many of you at AISL this week, you may notice two things about me. First, I take a lot of notes. I’m someone for whom the process of learning is greatly assisted by the practice of writing things down, even if I never return to the specific notes again. Though AISL conferences are so full of information that is relevant to me, I keep my AISL notebook in the drawer to the immediate left of my chair. So even if a presenter says the entire presentation will be online, I’ll probably still have my pencil in hand. Second, I’m generally pretty quiet in group situations. Like many introverts I’m listening and I may seek you out to continue a conversation on the bus but I would literally hide behind a pole rather than belly dance in an airport. (Just a little reminder of what a multi-talented group we librarians are.)

So it came as a surprise to me this spring when my advisees, who know me pretty well as far as students go, asked why I hadn’t yet given a chapel speech.

Me-“Guys, I hate speaking in public. There’s no way…”
First student-“What are you talking about? You love it. Pause. Right?”
Second student-“Right! You talk like all the time.”
First student-“Yeah in our classes. You talk a lot.”
(Cue sad face for student-centered classroom failure…)

And so that brings me to my main thought of today, particularly for those of you with flexible scheduling who depend on teachers to invite you into their classes for co-taught units. Many people harbor a stereotype of a silent librarian, but are we all, secretly, theatre people? At least in one way, my answer is assuredly yes. I follow improv’s “rule of yes” whenever I can. With both students and teachers, I think it’s important to think about why you’re saying no.

 “Oh, interesting that you can’t write 1750 words on Nazi propaganda because there’s not enough out there? NO, here’s a 257 page book entirely on your topic.”

But for many questions, consciously thinking about learning goals rather than tradition might move a no to a yes or at least a let’s think about how this could work.

 “I know it’s not really history, but I don’t understand Brexit, and I want to know if it’s really about refugees. Can I research it?” YES.

“I know you want us to have a website, but I found this really interesting podcast and it’s led by doctors. Can I use it? YES.

“I have to read a fantasy book and this one takes place in the real world except that ghosts are real. My friend recommended it, and I want to know if it can count for the assignment.” YES.

“I want to include an appendix with a picture of “Guernica” so my readers can see it for themselves.” WHY NOT?

Formal research is a tough process for our kids in today’s “infobese” culture. This is especially true for perfectionists who want to get everything right the first time. Keeping foremost the learning goals for an assignment, why not challenge yourself to say yes when there isn’t a contradicting reason to say no? As my mom says…

Along with this idea, when I’m collaborating I try to focus on the things within my control. This includes my interactions with my school community and my management of my library. For many of us, we can’t control our colleagues, their assignments, the work ethic of the students, or delays due to weather, illness or alternate schedules that pop up out of nowhere. I attend classes at the invitation of the teacher. They know their class dynamics and they are the ones creating and grading assignments. Since I ultimately want to provide support to the teacher, I try to think carefully before “correcting” a teacher, particularly in front of students. Not every project is going to meet both my research goals and the classroom teacher’s subject-specific goals. That said, it’s often possible to start tweaking a project to improve it for next year even as you’re assisting with the current version. I’ve found a variety of ideas can help as I try to link these projects to the learning goals I’d like the students to attain. Take the long view and suggest some “adaptations” for next time. Or ask if a project can be used to help you “test a database’s effectiveness.” Offer to grade the annotated bibliographies you fought so hard to include. I’ve found this comes easier the longer one’s tenure at a school. So breathe easy, continually do your best in promoting your library’s resources and leave your feedback below.


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Author Visit: Tricia Springstubb

This National Library Week we were lucky enough to host two authors! Janet Stevens and Tricia Springstubb shared their talents with our Prime and Middle schools.

I really enjoy coordinating programs that bring in people passionate about reading and creating reading materials. Our Prime librarian Kristen organized programs for the Prime with Janet, author and illustrator, where each group created their own characters. Tricia, author and reviewer, shared her passion and talents for linking the written word with the Middle School.

Our MS students were a buzz with ideas; wanting to write about what they knew and what they connected with in the world. As Tricia said in her workshops, the best ideas hatch like baby chicks- pecking from both the inside and outside.

Tricia also joined our book club students for a lunch filled with book recommendations, writing advice, and of course, signed bookmarks!

I love connecting with students after they meet authors to hear their ideas bloom. What great author visits have you had?

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