Libguide Love

libguideicon

If you are already using Libguides (per Springshare, pronouned lib (as in bib)-guides), then you know how helpful they are in streamlining the research process and integrating information literacy instruction. I find them particularly helpful in shepherding students towards the most appropriate databases, web resources, weaving in source evaluation checklists/instruction, embedding videos, promoting print and ebook collections…I could go on and on. I’m not ashamed, I’ll just say it:

I heart Libguides.

For those of you considering purchase, check out the features. They are reasonably priced and worth every dollar you spend, in my opinion, for the platform they provide for library instruction and integration into existing curriculum. Many university libraries are using them as well, so if you’re a college prep school, exposing your upper school students to them becomes an even more valuable experience.

One of my favorite attributes is the community directory, searchable by keyword, institution type, or my favorite, best of . Inspiration overload!!! In true librarian fashion, you can ask permission, then borrow parts or entire guides that make sense for your school, attributing where the information came from.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a Libguide expert. In my first 12 month position, I plan to become much more savvy this summer and I also plan to build up a good repository from which to draw next year (hopefully creating them poolside with WiFi…hey, it’s work, right?!). So, not an expert, but having started the program from scratch at two schools now, I would share the following advice:

Spend more time on the front end designing a consistent look/feel/flow of your guides so that your students are trained in how to read them. Customize your color scheme/logo to fit with your school’s site. I design my tabs to go left to right through the research process, from assignment home page to book tab, databases, web resource/evaluation, and then citation (or perhaps an avoiding plagiarism tab for good measure?). These things are not just useful for research, though! When my last school announced that they were instituting an iPad program in the middle school, I shared Berkeley Prep’s awesome iPad Initiative guide, tweaking it to fit our school/program. My colleagues were appropriately wowed (thanks CD!). Other schools, like The Overlake School have used a Libguide as their  homepage. I like this too!

I will say that when I start with Libguides, I spend days setting up a good admin guide that goes unpublished. In it, I create as many boxes as possible that I think I might link to later: a Destiny catalog search box, Gale Virtual Reference Library ebook search widget, research tips, citation information and online style guides, that sort of thing. Once this is in place, you can take an assignment and just whip up a guide, linking to those boxes without having to recreate the wheel. Need to make a change? Just do it within the admin guide and the change will be reflected in every guide you’ve linked to that particular box. I have stopped creating database widgets, honestly, because it is typically a basic search and I am trying to train my girls to choose the advanced search option every time to build in Boolean, look for full text, document type, pub date, and just basically create the most sophisticated search that they can do right off the bat.

So now I ask you seasoned Libguide creators: Can you share any lessons learned OR give us the link to some of your guides that you’re particularly proud of?

Newbies: have any questions that others might answer in the comments below?

The Libguides 2.0 platform is being launched now. Here are my notes from the Hot Topics session in Dallas. Have you had any experience with the new version? What do you like/not like?

Come on guys, light this comment area up! I know it’s a crazy busy time of year, but show me some LIBGUIDE LOVE!

 

Independent School Librarians and Common Core: What Are We Doing?

Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standard Banner (from government source)

Common Core State Standard Banner (from government source)

Happy Holidays!  I don’t imagine anyone will look at this today,  but perhaps sometime this week…I decided to take a look at Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for today’s post and see how it was being used in the independent school library.

Independent Schools and CCSS

There are several librarians like Marianna McKim, Head Librarian at Kimball Union Academy, who said, “We are not officially using common core, but I am incorporating some of the ideas into our curriculum planning.”  And that seems to be a common theme in the independent school milieu in general: look at what’s going on, evaluate it, and then take what is good and use just what you need.  There is an abhorrence in the independence school world for being forced into a particular lock-step program. Hence the name independent!

Flowcharts and Brochures and CCSS

Joan Tukey, librarian at Notre Dame Academy, recently updated school brochures to reflect where Common Core skills were being used. You can see her work at the following link: Joan Tukey’s work on Common Core in her school

Webinars and CCSS

Margaret P. Simmons, Library Media Specialist at the June Shelton School, offered the advice to independent school librarians who are seeking to know more about Common Core that they listen to the Common Core and Text Types: What Should Students Be Reading? Webinar edWeb.net.

“I just listened to this webinar. It is so powerful! ” Simmons said in an email.

Libguides and CCSS

Joan Lange, librarian at Pope John Paul II High School, has done quite a bit of work on Common Core State Standards.  She has created some very good libguides, complete with powerpoints and links to other materials of note and is now working on another related project.  Her first libguide is general dealing with the standards in an overview way. You can find the libguide here: LibGuide:  Common Core State Standards (General Resources).  This libguide also includes a powerpoint by Lange’s  Science Dept. Chair illustrating how Common Core relates to Next Generation Science Standards. Her second libguide is history related and deals with teaching primary sources: LibGuide: Teaching with Primary Sources (History).  This libguide includes a powerpoint that she created illustrating the research process with primary sources as the starting point.  It is brilliant! I highly recommend that you take a look at it.

Lange’s next project is creating a Common Core bookcase of literary nonfiction works, across all disciplines.  This bookcase will be in her Professional Development and Audiovisual area.  She is hoping that prominent display will encourage conversations with teachers on how some of these short excerpts can be incorporated in their curriculum and connect with CCSS.

Technology,  Apps and CCSS

At the Berkeley Preparatory School we have started looking at CCSS in our Lower Division, where they are currently going grade by grade and looking at the Common Core skills and then comparing them to our Berkeley Identified Skills (BIS).  In the library in particular, we are looking at the American Association of School Librarians Learning Standards and Common Core Crosswalk and then adding our BIS skills in a third column.  Kathleen Edwards, our lower division librarian, is leading the charge on this effort.  We have taken the crosswalk and eliminated all the other skills except for the library related ones, making it a little easier to use.  We’ve broken the files down by grade level (k-12).  I will be posting those files in the AISL wiki.  If you are an AISL member, please go to AISL WIKI.  If you aren’t a member and are an independent school librarian, membership is only $25/year.  Or if you are a librarian who would just like the files,  comment below and if I receive enough requests, I will post all the documents here! (You could also link to us, as we would love to continue the conversation with you! 😎

Last year, Christina Arcuri, our collection development and upper/middle librarian, went to a YALSA conference where she learned about an app called Subtext. We talked about it and how cool it was, as it could allow a whole class to annotate a book together and share those annotations with each other.  And, it does much more than that:

  • You can create documents and convert them to an ePub format and then review them all together as a class for peer editing and review.
  • You can leave your own notes in the class text for students.
  • You have access to books and articles in Google play (free and pay), over 3 million and they do volume discounting.

However, at the time she saw it, our school was not doing iPads and I promptly forgot it.  But now, we have implemented iPads, albeit in a slow manner. Since one of the core items about CCSS is its inclusion of technology, this app seems like the perfect tool for how librarians can help faculty include instructional technology into the classroom.

This holiday break, Christina and I will be testing it out with a group of English faculty to see if we can use it even though we do not have a classroom set of iPads for upper division.  We are hoping that the browser version they are beta testing is robust enough. There is not a mobile app at this time. We might be able to borrow the middle division iPad classroom set in a pinch!  Or request a set of iPads for upper next year. If you are considering CCSS, I recommend that you check out Subtext, especially as they are exploring a browser version. Go to web.subtext.com if you want to try it.

Conclusion

This is just a taste of what is going on in the independent school library with CCSSs. Please follow the blog and comment if you want to be a part of the conversation.  Let us know what you are doing and what you have found to be successful.  If you have found a great app, please share it.

If you want to get started, here are some articles I found useful.  Paige’s article had some great links. And I hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing holiday break!

  1. Cravey, Nancy. “Finding Inspiration in the Common Core.” Knowledge Quest. 42.1 2013 18-22 Advanced Placement Source. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/90230622/finding-inspiration-common-core
  2. Jaeger, Paige. “We Don’t Live in  a Multiple-Choice World: Inquiry and the Common Core.” Library Media Connection. Jan/Feb 2012 10-12. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ960050 [Note: Paige has some really good resources!]
  3. Fontichiaro, Kristin. “When Research Is Part of the Test.” School Library Monthly. 30.3 2013  53.
  4. Morris, Rebecca. “Find Where You Fit in the Common Core, or the Time I Forgot about Librarians and Reading.” Teacher Librarian. 39.5 2012 Advanced Placement Source. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/77053481/find-where-you-fit-common-core-time-forgot-about-librarians-reading

 

 

Why I’m drinking the “Google Drive” Kool Aid

Our school went 1:1 iPad this year in grades 6-12. How many times in the past week have I heard the following statement from teachers?

 “One of the advantages of the iPads is that we no longer have to gather our belongings and go to the library anymore.”

The answer is two this past week, and they’re not the first.

And yes, part of me cries each time even as I cheerfully nod my response. In the library I still rotate seasonal displays, showcase student work, offer a wide variety of fun fiction reads, and have many nonfiction materials that support the curriculum. However, the ironic part is that the people saying this are using library resources more than ever before and see the concept of the library evolving beyond the physical space. They are teachers who have always supported the library and who are continuing to request my services in their classrooms. Students are accessing JSTOR through the app, filling out web evaluation forms for History class, and checking out books on Overdrive. Other classes are coming to the library for new projects, and I’m as busy as ever!

Docs

Where does Google Drive come in? I work very closely with the 9th grade Western Civilizations teacher, and she teaches all the freshmen. Our big research project occurs in January, and we have been teaching isolated research tasks in conjunction with units of study all fall so the full process won’t be as daunting this winter. Earlier this year, in about 15 minutes, we taught her students how to set up Google Drive research folders with selected (and at this point, empty) files. We were uniform in our naming conventions, and we asked all students to give us editing privileges in their folders.

If you haven’t used Google Drive before, here are some main differences from other word processing programs:

  • It’s cloud-based, and thus accessible anywhere with Internet connectivity.
  • Files and folders can be private or shared with others. Sharing can involve viewing or editing privileges.
  • It’s easy to collaborate via comment or chat features, and thus it facilitates revision.
  • Viewers can check the revision history to compare various versions of a document, as well as who made each change and when they did so.

It was surprising to me tFile Folderhat none of the students even mentioned privacy concerns, and all happily shared. The day that we did this, they were practicing web evaluation and note-taking. Multiple users can work in a document simultaneously, so I was able to watch exactly what students typed in real-time and assess their speed and skills in paraphrasing. I was also able to jump in immediately and stop them when they listed a url that didn’t meet our criteria for websites. Students quickly got used to seeing the pink bar highlighting that I was “in” their notes, and the quieter students didn’t hide and work under our radar the way they have in the past.

When working with a classroom teacher, it’s important to make sure you’re backing each other up and offering the same advice. Since we can both see the comments we have written on students’ documents and the direction given to them, it’s made us more supportive of each other and a more effective team.

If this isn’t enough, I spent two weeks this fall subbing for a teacher on paternity leave. I taught Cannery Row, a book I’ve always wanted to teach. I didn’t want to overstep my place and grade his students’ work, and he didn’t want to fall behind while he was out. The students all shared their class folders with me, and I could see how their work for me compared to their work for their regular teacher. Also, when I had a question about an individual student, the teacher was able to pull up their work from home and comment online.

Cannery-Row

 Finally, I’m asked to proofread a lot of papers. As more students share their work with me on Google Drive, I’m better able to keep tabs on their progress as they’re writing their papers. I now step in before the final day when they are panicking. I love that they are comfortable sharing works in progress and asking questions throughout the research process. I also love that there is no more concern about losing notecards or leaving a first draft at home. And I absolutely love that a byproduct is that I spend less time adding paper to the printer!

What do you think? Other techniques for making Google Drive work for you and your students?