Publishing Options for Creative Projects

This past month, teachers at SHS brought their classes to the Apollo Press Student Publishing Center in the library to have their students see what tools are available to assist them with creative projects. Both IB History SL and Astronomy students were creating projects to demonstrate their understanding of concepts learned in class.

I love that several students used a variety of tools for their history and astronomy projects:

  • The 3D printer was used to design and print game pieces and artifacts
  • The 3D doodler pen was used to design objects and artifacts
  • One group made an original BreakoutEdu game with puzzles, clues, and locks
  • The Cricut cutting machine was used for cutting out letters and images
  • The color printer was used for posters and signs
  • Several students created a stop-motion animation movie
  • A few students filmed against the green screen using the TouchCast studio app

I created this HyperDoc of Publishing Options so students would have some directions or links to inspire ideas.

My goal of creating the publishing center was to have a design lab where students could hang out and meet other creative students and to support the teachers with their curriculum projects.

Every Monday, the library hosts #MakerMonday as a way for students to learn how to use the tools of the publishing center and to have fun and explore! A regular group of students stop by and play with the Spheros, make original buttons, or experiment with the 3D Doodler pen.

I am hoping more and more students will feel free to drop by the publishing center and continue to create impressive projects for class.

TLchat: new faces and new voices

Last December, fellow Librarian Tiffany Whitehead put out an all call for some Teacher Librarians to step up and help bring some new blood to the TL Virtual Cafe — which had been on hiatus.  I said I would help out and two months ago we launched the updated TL Virtual Cafe & #TLchat Twitter Chat.

In February, I called upon a few Library Instructional Technology Teachers from Beaverton School District to help talk about Passion in Your Future Ready Library (webinar archive available).  We had a few technology glitches in Blackboard during the webinar but the Twitter chat was going strong!  Thanks for helping:  Benjamin Lloyd, Highland Park Middle School, @SenorLloyd – Virtual Reality Projects; Rosa Rothenberg – Whitford Middle School @rosarothenb; and Jason Hohnbaum – McKary Elementary School @mrhohnbaum.

In March, Stony Evans had some of his students present for the webinar and it was FANTASTIC!!!  Wow — we need more student voices in our teacher professional development. Check out the webinar here!

The April webinar will be Monday, April 3rd and the topic is eBooks. Here is the Blackboard Participant link and the webinar will be archived here.

Join us if you can!

What can a LITT do for you?

Every so often I will send out an email to my faculty with helpful tips and resources.  All information will be archived on my resource site:

9/8/15   What Can A LITT Do For You?
LITT stands for “Library Instructional Technology Teacher” and my role is to be an embedded resource at Sunset High School to help us move forward with the Future Ready initiative.  I am a certified School Librarian and technology evangelist!  I love to work with teachers in designing unit plans, locating print and digital resources for students to use and offering suggestion of how technology might engage students to impact and deepen their learning.  So what can a LITT do for you?  Here are a few ideas …


  1. Invite me to a Learning Team meeting — especially when you are planning out an instructional unit. I might be able to suggest electronic database resources or offer to help co-teach a technology lesson.
  2. I can locate and evaluate print and electronic resources to support your curriculum.  Give me a heads up and the Media Center staff can pull books onto a cart for you or I can peruse websites or our database collections and narrow down resources to match your curriculum.
  3. Struggling with a tech issues like building a Google Site or setting up a course in Canvas and you need someone to help you out?  Invite me to sit with you 1:1 and we will work on it together.
  4. Invite me into your classroom to promote the #SunsetReads program.  I can booktalk my favorite YA books, bring along interesting non-fiction titles to match your curriculum or take a #SunsetReads photo for the display.

Cross posted: 

Library in Your Pocket

The school year has begun and I started a program in my Library called “Library in Your Pocket”.  I was inspired by Shannon McClintock Miller and created small signcards and placed them around the Library encouraging students to download these apps on their mobile devices.  I also embedded the following screencasts on our school Library page.


Library in PocketHelpful video links:




Gone Mobile?  Download these apps on your mobile device and have informational resources at your fingertips all the time.  Get access to Schoology, Destiny Quest – Library Catalog, AML Gale Databases, Google Drive, EasyBib, eBooks or general helpful educational apps.  Click here for the full listing – or – click here to see a Listly list with links to the iTunes App store.

LibGuides & the new tools guide

Joyce Valenza's New Tools LibGuide

I have always been a fan of Joyce Valenza’s new tool workshop wiki.  She does a great job of organizing resources in one place that I often send students to her site to find sites for “copy friendly” images and audio or spend some time browsing through her eBook pathfinder.

Today on Twitter, I saw an announcement that she is moving all of the information on her new tool workshop wiki to LibGuides The new tool LibGuide looks great – my only suggestion is to have the tabs in alphabetical order – or group by theme somehow.

I have been previewing LibGuides this past month and trying to determine what additional values I would receive if I went with this site compared to the cost of the yearly service.  Our school currently does not have an effective repository of information literacy and technology resources for students or staff – except our old Library website – which I have been asked to either remove or integrate with our new school website.

My tech director and I have discussed several times about creating a school tech resources guide either through Moodle or Google Sites.  So, my dilemma now is to rely on others who do a wonderful job of cataloging resources on the web or do I create my own pathfinder.

For now I am happy to use the resources of a lot of smart people like Joyce or Richard Byrne … but I’m kinda itching to do my own … stay tuned!

Role of Teacher Librarian and literacy

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Literacies as defined by Loertscher (2008), are the skills necessary to function successfully in school and the world at large as a “literate” citizen.  Literacy skills are lifelong learning skills that include reading, writing, listening, communicating, media literacy, visual literacy, information literacy, ICT literacy, and emerging literacies (124).

The primary role of the teacher librarian in a school’s literacy program is one of advocate and collaborator.  First and foremost, the teacher librarian must know their library collection and understand how it supports the school’s curriculum.  The print and electronic resources in a library are dynamic – always changing and growing to support the learning of the student community.  The teacher librarian is not only passionate about reading and writing, but involving students in all kinds of activities, such as listening to novels on CD, using collaborative technology tools to support group work, and using databases for research and evaluation.  They must be knowledgeable about all types of resources and be the “go to” person in the school who keeps up on current research, who takes the time to learn about and practice emerging technologies, and who collaborates and encourages teachers to try new strategies – especially when it comes to information literacy.

The teacher librarian should be part of curriculum teams.  Because they work with a variety of classroom teachers and with a variety of subject areas, they are in a good position to share best practices and strategies that have been proven effective.  They are they to support, offer advice, and be positive and encouraging of those who are trying new strategies.  They should always been on the lookout for new resources and take time to share what they’ve discovered with their community.  Teacher librarians are the ultimate coach – co-teaching the necessary skills to be successful – and directing and encouraging from the sidelines.

The teacher librarian can have a significant role in content reading skills.  Especially at the higher grade levels, content reading can be quite challenging for some students.  There is a huge jump in the readability of the material and it may contain a lot of technical and unfamiliar terminology.  A teacher librarian who is familiar with content reading strategies can assist classroom teachers in suggesting effective strategies so students have better comprehension of both print and electronic resources.

Image source:

When planning a collaborative Social Studies assignment, the teacher librarian can suggest note taking strategies.  The Cornell note taking system encourages students to take notes while reading a selection from text sources or listening to a lecture and or watching a historical movie.  Students take notes on one side of the paper.  On one side of the page, the student writes “cues” – which are questions which the notes answer.  The page summary at the bottom of the notes provides a concise review of the important material on the page.  This activity reinforces many informational literacy skills and assists the students in understanding the “bigger picture” that is being presented.

Too often in Social Studies, students don’t see the connections from one event to another or they get confused by all the names and dates that are presented.  Encouraging use of a concept map or graphic organizer allows students to “show” the connections and gives them a visual representation of events, people and dates.  The teacher librarian can also provide background reading material that helps make sense of the social studies content.  They can suggest fiction books about the time period being studied.  They can provide access to multimedia collections in databases.  They can encourage individual exploration of interesting websites or DVDs.  Surrounding the students will all types of resources makes understanding social studies content reading much more manageable.

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

Changes in education have influenced library media programs

Blanche Woolls describes in The School Media Manager (2008) how changes in education have influenced and affected library media programs over the years.  Due to economic difficulties or teacher shortages, libraries were staffed by untrained professionals and plagued by loss of funds (Woolls, p. 5).  That was my experience back in the 1990’s when I took on the role of the first paid librarian at a small private Catholic elementary school in Portland.  I was the classroom teacher with the reading endorsement and good technology skills- wouldn’t that be a good fit for a Librarian?  I learned by trial-and-error, lots of research, helpful mentors and was assisted by enthusiastic parent volunteers.  I remember reading Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning (1998) in those early days.  It gave me guidelines and directed me towards helpful resources.

Progress in school library media programs is reflected in the development of the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007). These standards are based on the idea that learners use skills, resources and tools and having an effective library program is essential to the development of informational literacy skills of students (Woolls, p. 7). Today, librarians are encouraged to take a stronger leadership role in their schools by collaborating with classroom teachers and placing the resources of the media center into the curriculum (Woolls, p. 11).  I believe this is a critical aspect of our job – to support student learning – otherwise librarians are left with the role of becoming “glorified babysitters” whose primary objective is to manage and check out materials from a “archival museum.”

Today, school library media specialists are also responsible for information literacy.  With constant technological advances, librarians are challenged to help students access, select and evaluate the vast amounts of resources student’s have at their fingertips. Information literacy is defined as the ability to find and use information and is “the keystone of lifelong learning” (Woolls, p. 23). Librarians collaborate with classroom teachers to make sure information literacy skills are taught within the context of the curriculum and not as isolated library lessons.

This is a crucial role of mine at my current school.  Luckily, I teach at the school that values the collaborative relationship between librarian and classroom teacher.  Our school already has developed a scope and sequence of information literacy skills and has identified specific classes where the instruction is integrated within the curriculum for each grade level.  These research projects give students opportunities to practice skills in a variety of subject areas.  Students do not see these skills only belonging to English class because other curriculum areas also require MLA citations/Works Cited, reference databases and consistent use of note-taking among all 9th grade teachers.

Woolls (2008)  describes the development of technology/digital literacy.  I do not distinguish the difference between information literacy and technology/digital literacy. I believe they are one in the same.  Accessing and evaluating information is the same whether you are using a print or electronic platform.  This notion is the same for plagiarism and copyright infringement.  Plagiarism is plagiarism.  The difference today is the ability to access so many more resources and the ease of copying and pasting and declaring it as your own.  What this means for librarians, though, is that they must have and use effective technological skills themselves.  It is no longer acceptable to be digitally illiterate if your primary responsibility is to assist students in accessing information.

Having the school library specialist involved in the development of the school technology plan is essential in order to maintain a technology-rich environment in the library (Woolls, p. 27).  Focusing on curricular outcomes and student learning is the determining factor whether this plan includes online databases, a library catalog, communication links, a library web page, Internet filtering, LAN/WAN or wireless networks, and/or teleconferencing (Woolls, p. 29-31).  There are so many factors to consider and though the librarian doesn’t have to be an expert in all of them, they should be aware of their uses and implications in the library or classroom. This is one aspect of library media specialist where my technology background gives me an edge.

The list of qualities for an effective school library media specialist is quite comprehensive:  outstanding teaching skills, enthusiasm for learning, service orientation, creativity, and leadership (Woolls, p. 39).  Its an exciting role.  I love being a part of all aspects of the school curriculum and become excited when I work with enthusiastic teachers who love what they do and their students love to learn.

I read with interest the AASL position statement of the Role of the School Library Program (1990).  Even though it was written two decades ago I believe it still holds true today.  One aspect that was mentioned in this article was that school libraries  “provides a mechanism for choice and exploration beyond the prescribed course of study”.  Yes, our job is to support the school curriculum but also to foster the love of reading and life-long skills that students will use everyday.  The statement goes on to remind us that books and other materials need to be selected to meet the wide range of students individual learning styles and of interest to ALL members of the community.   This is an important aspect of collection development and that’s why we include graphic novels, ebooks, books on tape, etc, in the library.  I love the idea that the library is the symbol of freedom: “the freedom to speak our minds and hear what others have to say”.  Having just celebrated Banned Books Week, this idea is even more important than ever!

Faye Pharr, Principal  from Lakeside Academy of Math, Science, and Technology describes how their school transformed their media center with the Library Power initiative in the article, Reflections of an Empowered Library (n.d.). The goal of the Library Power initiative was to enhance student learning by  improving library services.  They moved to flexible scheduling and the library became a center of instruction, exploration and learning.  Pharr reported that the key to change was the collaborative planning between the library media specialist and the classroom teachers.

I find this as the most rewarding as well as as the most challenging aspect of my new role.  It takes a concerted effort on my part to connect with classroom teachers.  I find that I need to seek them out and ask them how I can support the student learning that is happening in the classroom.  Just because you want it to happen … doesn’t mean it will happen.  I think that it is great that Lakeside Academy reported that “there was a direct link between library usage and test scores in the reference study and reading comprehension” and that circulation of non-fiction books doubled in the last two years.  Results like this should motivate librarians everywhere to evaluate their current library program.


Information power:  Building partnerships for learning. (1998).  Chicago, IL:  American Library Association.

Pharr, F. (n.d.). Reflections of an empowered library. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from

Position statement on the role of the school library media program.(1980).  Retrieved October 3, 2010, from American Association of School Libraries:

Standards for the 21st century learner. (2007).  Chicago, IL: American Association of School Librarians.  Retrieved October 3, 2010 from

Woolls, B. (2008). The school library media manager. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

OASL reflections

I attended the OASL 2010 conference in Bend, Oregon on October 8th and 9th.  I attended the afternoon pre-conference and several sessions on Saturday that have impacted my understanding and teaching as a teacher librarian.

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure to hear Jerene Battisti and Angelina Benedetti share newly published books at their session titled:  You’re Invited: A Feast of New Literature for Teens. These two women are extremely knowledgeable about Young Adult novels /non-fiction and shared a huge variety of books centered around the following themes:  Fantasy, Old Stories Made New, History in Fact & Fiction, Science Fiction, Lighter Fare, Nail biters, Poetry, Girls In Trouble, War Stories and Boys Boys Boys.  Their session reminded me how important it is for a librarian to stay on top of what has been newly published –which can be very challenging!  Luckily Battisti and Bernedetti review hundreds of books each year and provide attendees with a comprehensive list that will be of great assistance when purchasing new books for the library.  Not only did I receive a list of recommendations but they discussed the authors, previous works they had written, indicated whether the books were award winners and offered related works. Even though I may prefer a particular genre, it is essential as a librarian to read a variety of genres – including graphic novels – so you can recommend books to your students or suggest familiar authors or similar themes.  Attending this session was extremely helpful and I plan to attend future workshops they give.

I was quite impressive with Kristin Fontichiaro who was the Saturday morning keynote speaker.  Her talk, Extreme Makeover: Library Edition, gave practical examples of how a librarian in the 21st Century should adapt and modify their program and become more like a Cultural Anthropologist, Peace Corps Worker, Strategic Technologist, and Community Builder.

As a Cultural Anthropologist, Fontichiaro suggested that we should be “embedded” in the classroom – always be watching and observing the students.  We need to connect to our local needs.  Fontichiaro explained that if students aren’t coming to the library – then the library should come to them.  She reminded us that libraries are not museums and we need to move away from the idea that the entire collection needs to be housed in one area.  I really like the idea of creating classroom libraries to match the curriculum.  I’ve already discussed creating a mobile science library on a cart that could be wheeled between each of our science labs.  We subscribe to several science magazines and this would be a great way to increase circulation among those items. Coming into the classroom with the mobile library cart is another opportunity to book talk!  Fontichiaro also discussed creating a library webpage that provides students with information 24/7.  One way to meet the diversity of learning styles is to have pathfinders that include multimedia – not just text.  By adding YouTube videos, Google Books, links to audio files and International resources we can reach all of our students while providing a valuable service.

As a Peace Corp Worker, our goal is to make the staff independent users of information.  Success in our position is defined by what the staff can do without our mediation.  Getting the staff to this point may take some professional development and coaching along the way but empowering the staff makes a sustainable community.  Once again, having a webpage that patrons can easily access is essential –something I am currently working on!

Our role as a Strategic Technologist suggests that we carefully evaluate technology and be strategic with planning.  Fontichiaro recommended that we get over “toolishness” and focus on effective ways to integrate technology.  I was please that Fontichiaro discussed technology as part of her extreme makeover.  I think the message that librarians today need to see themselves as instructional technologists is essential and I’m not sure many really know what that actually looks like.  Especially at the high school level, a good portion of my time working with students involves accessing electronic databases, recommending eBooks, teaching effective search strategies, assisting with MLA formatting – but at the same time being able to recommend a new novel for a patron.  We must be users and creators of technology ourselves so we can work with faculty and students when the opportunity arises.

Finally, Fontichiaro recommends that teacher librarians become Community Builders.  She suggests that we should build our learning networks online and at our school.  We need to feed ourselves so we stay current and know what others are reading and discussing.  This can happen through sites like Ning, Facebook, and Twitter but it’s not meant to replace the community you are working with – just enhance it. Participating in these networks is like a daily dose of professional development.  As a Community Builder we can encourage meaningful work such as a book study with the faculty or comment on articles from educational leadership magazines.  We can share instructional strategies with our staff and share resources we learn from our network.

Fontichiaro asked, “What kind of leader will you be?” and encouraged us to stay current on educational research, inform ourselves on current practices and participate in networks with other librarians who are emerging as leaders. Her message reinforced the path that I have taken and inspired me to reach out and invite others to join my journey.

Another influential session I attended at OASL was given by Cassandra Barnett, Past-President of AASL.  Her session, Empowering Your Learners – Implementing the AASL National Standards for the 21st Century Learning helped me to understand how each of the four standards are organized the difference between each of the strands:  skills, dispositions, responsibilities and self-assessment strategies.  The standards provide a framework for academic and personal learning.  Students have an unque opportunity in a library media center to develop their skills, hone their attitudes, independently practice their responsibilities and further their own learning.  Additional Indicators provide action items of what this might look like and finally Benchmarks offer specific skills that students can be expected to achieve by different grade levels.

Barnett provided us with a handout that we could use with our faculty about identifying partners among the faculty who can provide evidence of commons beliefs.  The goal of this activity is document what is happening in your school in a variety of classes or departments related to these beliefs: Reading is a window to the world, Inquiry provides a framework for learning, Ethical behavior in the use of information must be taught, Technology skills are crucial for future employment needs, Equitable access is a key component of education, The definition of information literacy has become more complex as resources and technologies have changes, The continuing expansion of information demands all individuals acquire the thinking skills that will enable them to learn on their own, Learning has a social context, and School libraries are essential to the development of learning skills.  Once the documentation is complete, you can determine areas that need attention and define action items and make plans for successful implementation.  I think that its essential to get the faculty working towards a common vision any time your planning a new initiative or curriculum implementation.  All teachers want their students to be informational literate and if we can find commonalities between our goals, we will have a greater chance at success. Additional Resources:   AASL, NETS & Partnership for 21st Century Comparision Resources for Librarians

These and the other workshops I attended at OASL gave me much to think about.  The time and opportunity to network with other teacher librarians was so beneficial to my growth as a newly returning librarian.  I am a true believer in professional development and am glad that my school library association does a good job of filling that role.

Using QR codes in the classroom

Tom Barrett has another “Interesting Ways” collaborative presentation in the works.  This one is about using QR codes in the classroom.  Mine is tip is #5:  Using QR codes to promote school events.  View the presentation at: or help out and add your own idea.

1.  Create QR code ( that will go to a URL promoting a school event.

2.  Create a simple web page (ie, Google Sites) to promote that event.  I made one for my high school book club to promote good book recommendations for Teen Read Week.

3.  Print small notes with the title: What’s happening in school this week??? Scan this code with your mobile device to find out! and tape them in the bathroom stalls, mirrors, or areas where mobile devices are allowed at your school.

4.  Trust me, your tech savvy kids will know what to do — and it will peek the interest of other students too!

Submitted by Colette Cassinelli