MSLA President Carrie Tucker is the Librarian at East Bridgewater Jr/Sr High School.
In East Bridgewater this past summer, the common theme for books on the K-12 unified summer reading list was resilience. So it was no surprise for us to return to school in August and hear our principal emphasize resilience as a focus for 2018-2019. Our school has experienced an unfortunate increase in students suffering from anxiety. In preparing for last year’s NEASC visit, I learned that this uptick in anxiety is sadly prevalent throughout New England schools and beyond. Helping students build resilience may help them cope with anxiety.
Kelly Depin is the Head Librarian at Derby Academy in Hingham.
Wordless books can be a librarian’s secret weapon for having a raucous story time! Students vie to give their interpretations to what happened, what IS happening and what is about to happen in the book. Amidst the controlled chaos, wondrous learning is occuring. Students are comprehending the story by inferring from the picture clues. Predictions of what comes next spout as each one defends their choice by citing evidence from the pages. The why’s and where’s spotlight their oral language skills. All from a book with pictures - and no words. Sounds like they have mastered some of the Common Core Standards for ELA, all while having fun with a story.
Jill Leibowitz is the Library Teacher at Cabot Elementary School in Newton
and received a 2018 President's Award.
In my first week as a new library teacher at my elementary school, the literacy coach approached me with a welcome and an invitation to join her in leading a mythology group that she had run in previous years. I of course agreed, not knowing much about mythology and even less about what co-leading the group would involve. Never did I think that three years later I would be leading the extremely popular lunchtime group on my own and that I would find myself standing in front of the Parthenon as part of an educator’s trip to Greece.
Dr. Robin Cicchetti is the Librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.
On Saturday, September 8, 2018, 32 school library advocates met at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School to discuss the MA School Library Study and begin the process of articulating a vision for turning the recommendations into a reality. The focus group included representatives from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Massachusetts Library System, the Massachusetts Library Association, the MSLA Executive Board, and numerous K-12 school librarians.
Susan Harari is the librarian at Boston Latin School
and received a 2018 Super Librarian Award.
As I drove home from my elementary school library at the end of another busy day, traffic began to thicken. All Things Considered droned in the background as I mentally composed a to-do list for an upcoming third grade ELA project. A story about how libraries had moved beyond books caught my attention; a library that checks out fishing poles or tool kits, or ...people? Despite the brief description (and nail-biting road conditions), I caught enough to find the Human Library’s website later that evening, and read about Ronni Abergel and the project’s idealistic origins in Copenhagen. The Human Library describes itself as “a worldwide movement for social change,...designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.” It sounded amazing…and also like something I could never pull off in an elementary school, so I filed it away.
Zoe Keenan is the Library Media Specialist at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield.
My school has struggled with summer reading for many years now. It’s been a pull and push from both the English Department, the Library and the Administration on expectations of what students should read, how they should be assessed on it, and what culminating event should we do to wrap up the program?!?!
When I started at my school three years ago, all three departments had separate ideas about what makes a successful summer reading program. The Administration wanted results and proof of assessment, the English department wanted students to read a wide variety of eclectic books and, as the new Librarian, I wanted students to enjoy reading again. I remember getting to know the students during my first year and asking them how they liked the summer reading book. Many hadn’t read it, since they knew from past years that there was no assessment to be passed in or graded. Of the handful who read it, mistakenly thinking they would be tested on it, only a few enjoyed it. I remember thinking that it was going to take some time and lots of effort to change this program around.
Andrea Zampitella is the Library Media Specialist at Winchester High School and received a 2018 Super Librarian Award.
I started working at Winchester High School right before the school entered a three year renovation project. It was the perfect time for me to start because I was able to contribute my ideas to the design of the new library/media center. One of the rooms in the library was a designated space for a stationary computer lab. Winchester provides access to Chromebooks for student use and the school is moving towards a bring your own device model. The need for a stationary lab is becoming obsolete in my opinion. With help from our Technology Coordinator, Kathleen Grace, and various educational non-profits, such as The Winchester Rotary Club and The Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence, we were able to transform that space into what is now known as the Creative Technology Center, our school’s makerspace.
Nancy Snow is the librarian at Bancroft Elementary School in Andover
and is a recipient of a 2018 Super Librarian Award
It is that time of year again. Fall, the beginning of a new school year. You can feel the excitement in the air, but in my library something is missing. Oh, yes. My fabulous fifth grade library assistants have moved on to Middle School and I have a serious lack of help. What to do? It’s time to start recruiting again.
Margaret Kane Schoen is a Library Teacher at Newton South High School.
Welcome back to a new school year! Lately my Instagram feed has been filled with “life-hacks” - little tips and tricks to help you complete tasks more easily. That got me thinking about my daily computer life - what are the tools I rely on? In this column, I’ll share with you some of my favorite Chrome extensions - small plug-in applications that you install into your Chrome browser to do one or two small -- but powerful -- tasks. Whether it’s something I use every day, or every once in a while, there are a few that I just can’t do without.
Wendy Garland is the School Librarian at Avery School in Dedham.
Back to school - I have always loved this time of year with it’s fresh starts and dreams of possibility. I loved this time of year as a child and continue to relish the excitement. This is our library’s back-to-school story, where I confronted the challenges of years past, asked hard questions, and framed our year of learning around the concept of “welcoming” all students in and “inviting” them into our space and our books. Do I have big hopes and expectations? Absolutely. Big changes? Not really. This is about the small, subtle ways I am choosing to build a positive library culture and grow learners. I consider this just the beginning of our journey.
The inspiration for change came from two books I read over the summer - one being a powerful picture book, and the other being a dynamic professional book about reading. There is something beautiful about summer reading, soaking in the sun and ideas without the pressure of lesson planning and deadlines looming. I read, wrote and thought about Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst well beyond the time it took me to “read” the book. It planted seeds and I spent much of my summer cultivating them. What surprised me was I “thought” I was reading about reading. What I ended up thinking about was change.
Colleen Simpson is the library media specialist at the Lester J. Gates Middle School in Scituate
and a 2018 President’s Award winner.
The question of what the space of the library means for learners is something that is often posed to librarians and certainly we can come up with a lot of answers. Maybe you built a makerspace and now you are maximizing a portion of your library for hands-on student activities. Perhaps you’ve added flexible seating and movable furniture where students are working in both high and low spaces, standing, sitting, even cycling while they read. One of the elements of our job is to take the space we have, and see every inch to its ultimate utilization.
Jennifer Kelley Reed is the Library Teacher at Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton
and received a 2018 Service Award from MSLA.
It was my honor to receive the Massachusetts School Library Association Service Award this past spring. I’ve been thinking about this award that recognizes school librarian dedication and leadership at the state and national level and why I received it. I can sum up my thoughts in four words: because I said, “Yes.”
Because I said, “Yes,” I have had fabulous opportunities and experiences.
My “yeses” have taken me on some fabulous state and national leadership journeys: serving on the MSLA Executive Board; being an representative to the AASL Affiliate Assembly; presenting at local, state, regional and national conferences; writing articles for journals and publications; and, serving on the Schneider Family Book Award Jury.
Mary Gaeta is the librarian at Our Lady of the Assumption School in Lynnfield,
and received a 2018 Super Librarian Award
Transformation achieved! I glance around the library and watch inquiry unfold. Some students, with their headphones on, are watching YouTube videos while others are reading. Two students are discussing our subject, Malala Yousafzai. There is learning buzz in all corners of the library. Students are actively pursuing information. This is our goal with HyperDocs - students taking charge of their learning and working at their own pace.
A HyperDoc is a document with links to articles, videos, images, podcasts, and more. It is a place to craft a research unit with students in mind. The term HyperDoc was created by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis. It is an interactive document crafted for student learning. It is not a static document like an online worksheet (Highfill 68). For me, the benefits of a HyperDoc are that it is student-directed with choice and it is self-paced.
Morgan VanClief is the Library Media Specialist at P.A. Shaw Elementary School in Dorchester
and the recipient of a 2018 President's Award.
I have always found the library to be a place of comfort, safety, and inclusivity for students. I have witnessed students that feel left out or are disengaged from the traditional curriculum find themselves in the library. It is a place they can come to and escape the challenges of daily life. The library is a place they gain support and are allowed to be themselves. Edith Ackermann says, “in a playful environment you feel safe enough to explore ideas that would otherwise be risky” (1:54). Having a makerspace in the library has given ALL of my students a chance to create and take charge of their own learning, equipping them with the social-emotional and problem solving skills to thrive in the future.
Kathy Lowe is the Executive Director of MSLA
and a 2018 recipient of the Peggy Hallisey Lifetime Achievement award.
My association with our professional organization goes back to my early years as a school library media specialist in the 1980s, when I joined MAEM* for the same reason that colleagues join MSLA today – to connect with others doing the same job for ideas, support, and professional growth. Many things have changed in our profession since then and continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate, but this is one of the things that has remained constant since the inception of this organization – whatever its name over the years and whatever we’ve called ourselves at the time. And our core belief – that all students deserve equal access to a strong school library program overseen by a professional school librarian – continues to be the foundation of our mission and vision for school library programs in Massachusetts. As we start this important year of advocacy for our students and their libraries, I thought it might be helpful to share the history of our organization.
MSLA President Carrie Tucker is the Librarian at East Bridgewater Jr/Sr High School
This spring, as the inevitable senioritis infection takes hold, I’m tempted to join in. The year has been an extraordinary one. My school survived its NEASC decennial accreditation visit last month, and I am ready for kayak time.
Those of us in elementary schools or non-member secondary schools may appreciate a brief background. Every ten years a 16-person team of educators recruited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) descends upon each member school for an intense four-day visit. The team observes instruction; meets with parents, teachers, students, and administrators; reviews curriculum; examines student work; assesses core values; and more. It’s akin to being formally observed as a first-year teacher--for four days straight.
Laura Luker is the Library Teacher at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley
and is the MSLA Executive Board Member responsible for Professional Learning.
Every year, I look forward the the MSLA conference as a time to network with colleagues, hear speakers and attend workshops, see the newest and best items that vendors have to offer, and head back to school with batteries recharged and new ideas in mind. This year was no exception. If you weren’t able to attend the conference, you can read about the highlights below and see photos from the event here! (Also, remember if you took photos at the conference, you can feel free to add them to the album above. We love crowdsourced photos!)
We kicked off the conference Sunday morning by continuing last year’s tradition of Ignite Talks. These short, pithy, talks are meant to ignite a spark in the mind of the audience, and this year’s presenters did just that. All three talks shared a common theme: the ways that librarians can lead the culture shift in their schools. Kate Powers talked about the power of apps used as tools and not just toys. Linda St. Laurent talked about leading the shift toward using technology in powerful ways. Finally, Emily Bredburg shared her knowledge of the Constructivist educational philosophy and student-centered learning.
How a Meaningful and Personalized Mission Statement and Inquiry Skills Framework Can Breathe New Life Into Your School Library Program
Emily Houston and Kendall Boninti are the librarians at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, MA and they received a 2018 Web Seal of Excellence Award.
In the year and a half we have been working together in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Library, the two of us have sought to create a more equitable, accessible, and joyful experience for our students by making big changes to the physical space, programming, and the way we teach and collaborate with colleagues. After weeding and moving our print collection and revamping our website in the fall, we decided our next step was to formalize our mission and create a library learner competencies framework. We’ve already seen the impact that they have had on our program and we want to share our process with school library community.
Wendy Garland is the Librarian at Avery Elementary School, in Dedham.
As librarians many of us find ourselves operating in a vacuum. I am the sole librarian in my building. Our teacher colleagues have each other for support, but my colleagues are across town. Twitter has granted me the opportunity to connect with others, observe what they are doing, ask questions to the larger school librarian community, and grow as a professional. I attribute the growth in my teaching in large part to Twitter and the innumerable individuals that have influenced my journey.
Judi Paradis is the Library Teacher at the Plympton School in Waltham
and a recipient of a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Special Legislative Commission on School Libraries in Massachusetts wrapped up four years of work this winter. A report was submitted to the Legislature, and recommendations were approved by the Commissioners. Good news, right?
And it is! For the first time, we have:
Liz Percy is the Librarian at Westwood High School
and received a 2018 Web Seal of Excellence Award.
Yearly, as high school librarians we assess our 9th grade students’ entry level research skills, and focus on advancing their competencies through their four years with us. Yet, after our students leave us they go on to the world of college research. What skills should we emphasize to get them ready for life after graduation?
In 2010, having always had an interest in the research continuum, I posted a message to the Infolit listserv, asking college librarians, “What do you see as your college freshmen’s strengths & weaknesses? How can I better prepare my high school students for college research?” Apparently, this struck a chord, and I got a barrage of replies.
Margaret Kane Schoen is a Library Teacher at Newton South High School.
A Reading Challenge can be a great way to encourage independent or free reading in your school. At our school, we often tie our challenges to our House Cup contest, where homerooms compete to win points for one of the four houses in our school. We’ve tried several versions at our school: March Madness tournament of books, and a “shelfie” challenge where students submitted photos of themselves reading.
These contests have all been great ways to encourage reading and boost school spirit. When meeting with the House Cup team, I always try to see how we can use technology to spice up the contest (and make it easier to track and total our entries!).
This year, we wanted to encourage students to stretch their reading to new genres. We also wanted a way for the faculty to compete. We ended up with a category challenge: the library staff came up with 23 different categories of books (books set in the past, short story collections, memoirs, etc), and challenged the homerooms to see who could check off the most categories.
Karen Sekiguchi is the Library Media Specialist at the Winthrop School in Ipswich
and received a 2018 Super Librarian Award.
For the first part of my career as an educator, I taught English as a Second Language in a variety of school and community settings. Now, as a school librarian, I have brought my interest in world cultures with me into my new role. Since becoming a librarian, I have looked for ways to connect students and teachers with peers in other locales, both near and far. Technology has made global connections possible in a way that did not exist when I started teaching. While my goal of reaching out to the world and connecting classrooms has remained the same over time, tech tools and social media have made finding and building those relationships possible in ways that were not available before.
For librarians interested in connecting their schools globally, many programs and resources are available, including both free offerings and those with a fee. Not only do these programs support and enrich the curriculum, but they also provide excellent opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers. Currently, our third grade is participating in the ArtLink program run by Creative Connections, an organization in Connecticut. Our students have exchanged their art with schools in Uganda and Russia, and we have participated in three live video conferences with students in those countries. This opportunity was funded by a grant that I wrote with our art teacher, and it has been a true collaboration with the three classroom teachers, the art teacher, and the library. A similar program to ArtLink is Level Up Village, but the focus is STEAM instead of art. We are considering this exchange for next year.
Dr. Robin Cicchetti is the Librarian at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.
One of my big takeaways from the MSLA 2018 Conference came from the session with Jennifer Jones (St. John’s Preparatory School, Danvers) titled "Strategies and Tools for future ready researchers". In this session the one idea that really caught my attention was utilizing teacher absences as an opportunity to teach information literacy skills.
In my school we have kept library statistics for the past ten years and there has definitely been a decline in classes visits. With the annual calendar increasingly squeezed by testing, the addition of an advisory program, and other activities that chip away at instructional time, research has taken a hit.
Rachael Keller Bouhanda is the Library Media Specialist at Billerica Memorial High School
and received the 2018 Ellen Berne Pathfinder Award
Many of us are solo-librarians and perhaps have felt alone being in a unique position in the building. Personally as a mother of young children I have also felt alone and quietly suffered from postpartum depression off and on for the last five years. I have gratefully had many professional successes over the last few years, despite my personal obstacles. This topic tends to be taboo but, maybe you have also gone through the same situation or something similar; Know that you are not alone even though you may often feel that way. Realize that we are human and our physical and mental health are so important, remember to take time for self-care.