Friday, November 20, 2020

Being supportive and encouraging will lead students to engage.


AASL Shared Foundations Blog Series – Engage

This blog is the fourth in a series of blogs that discuss a variety of the shared foundations that SC librarians find are important in their school libraries.  

This librarian is Kathryn.  She is the librarian at a middle school that serves 800 students.  This school is located in a small town and the majority of the students are from low income households.  Creating programs to promote reading and also provide personal experiences for those student to relate to.

Annually the school promotes the One School, One Book project that strives to engage students to read with peers, family members and staff.  The school strives to choose a book that will appeal to most students.  The book must also be supported by the teaching staff, so that they will support the program and encourage students to participate. 

book cover image

students reading

There is a service project that is related to the book and the students to become engaged in their community.  By engaging students in the community they can learn and share ideas with those around them.  The 2019 book was Restart by Gordon Korman; the 2020 book is the Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty.  The main character in the book was middle school aged became a math genius after being hit by lightning.  She originally was home-schooled but then was made by her grandmother to attend middle school for one year. 

As the students and staff prepared for the community service project they decided to incorporate collecting donations for the local community animal shelter.  Classroom teachers engaged students in projects in their classrooms to promote the book.  The ELA classes researched dog breeds and made a flyer for an imaginary dog that needs to be adopted.  The science and social studies classes learned about lightning.  Math classes created a Fibonacci spiral and learned about the Golden ratio. 

Some challenges that the Kathryn faced while planning and coordinating this project was the impact that could be made on virtual students.  Many teachers were reluctant to add research and collaboration of the book project at this time.  Also, virtual students struggle to complete required assignments and adding a reading project made this effort concerning to teachers.  However, the resolution was to just encourage the participation of all students in this diverse learning community of Camden Middle School.   One Book, One School is designed to encourage all staff, families and students to take time to read together.  Being supportive and encouraging will lead students to engage. 

Creative Collaborations in the Library


AASL Shared Foundations Blog Series – Collaborate

This blog is the third in a series of blogs that discuss a variety of the shared foundations that SC librarians find are important in their school libraries.  

This librarian is Kristi.  She is the librarian at a 600 student elementary school.  Her library is an integral part of her school.  She works diligently to provide opportunities to challenge learners and partner with other educators to scaffold learning.  A few of those lessons are weather with second grade students and a science ecosystem web quest with fifth grade students.

The weather unit combines a read aloud of the book, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, discussion about the types of severe weather, and research using online websites.  The students are given a graphic organizer to provide scaffolding when working in small groups to document their research about a specific severe weather.  The summation of this collaborate lesson is for students to be filmed being a meteorologist and giving a weather report.  They worked in groups to provide peer editing of their weather report according to standards created by Kristi and the classroom teacher. 

This fifth grade web quest collaboration incorporated the librarian’s domains of leading inquiry-based learning opportunities and demonstrating the idea that information is a shared resource.  The use of the SC Discus website to research the information requires students to access the shared resources provided to SC students for research.  This project included 10 tasks for students to complete while working in pairs.  Students were required to use multi-medias to complete the tasks.  The entire activities were standard-based according to SC science standards for fifth grade. 

The challenge Kristi finds in is scheduling time with teachers to collaborate.  The typical librarian’s schedule is based on a related arts schedule for the school.  This leaves very little time for the librarian to meet with teachers to develop and implement a collaborative lesson. Kristi provides opportunities for student collaboration in the library as often possible during lesson time.  This allows learners to work productively and learn to understand diverse perspectives during their own inquiry process.  

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Creating a Global Learning Environment


This blog is the second in a series of blogs that discuss a variety of the shared foundations that SC librarians find are important in their school libraries.  

This librarian is Jennifer.  She is the librarian at a 600 student elementary school.  The school has a very diverse population.  One of those populations is bilingual Spanish students.  The shared foundation of include is very important to her in creating a library collection and environment of diversity and inclusion for all students.  Finding resources for these students are important and constant.  The limited selections of fiction and nonfiction books that would appeal to those ESOL students, but also reflect their culture in the characters is important. 

Some of the resources that she has included in her collection allow for Spanish translation to benefit the students and parents of the students.  Recently the community of Jackson Elementary, Jennifer’s school, and Camden Elementary to meet with ESOL parents.  The event was called Elevate and it provided read a-louds for the students and resources for parents. 

Challenges in the library program are establish opportunities for students to excel while learning a new language.  As this group of our community continues to grow, so should this part of the library collection.  Online resources have also been chosen so that they can have translation options.  The Google technology platform used by the school district allows for translation of documents by teachers and students. 

The library is committed to sharing resources with teachers.  Grade levels that collaborate on a regular basis is first and fourth grades.  Weekly, Jennifer will curate resources designed around themes being covered in the classrooms.  Teachers will use these print resources and website recommendations in the classroom.  The use of the library is still limited due to social distancing restrictions, but Jennifer coordinated these requests whenever the need arises.  By understanding and empathizing with the needs of the classroom teacher and students, Jennifer creates the environment of a global learning community in the school.   


Curated Resources a Win-Win for everyone


AASL Shared Foundations Blog Series – Curate

This blog is the first in a series of blogs that discuss a variety of the shared foundations that SC librarians find are important in their school libraries.  

This first librarian is Bambi Ferrer.  Her school is located in rural Kershaw County.  This high school is currently in under construction due to a tornado destroying the school in February, 2020.   One of her roles as librarian of the school is to curate a new collection physically and virtually.   With the loss of the physical library, it became important to Bambi to have resources digitally for students and teachers.  She curated sites that they both could use that were available by way of the school website. 

This platform was created using Google Sites and were very easy to navigate and visually appealing. 

During her process of curating these resources she wanted to provide ways to challenge her learners, provide appropriate resources and tools for them to use, and reach a variety of audiences.  These audiences included students, parents, and teachers.  Some of the sites include, SC Discus resources, SORA eBooks, virtual field trips all over the world, and games to enjoy. 

These resources were created so that she could collaborate with teachers, while not having a physical library.  The virtual resources were utilized by students for class research projects.  Courses that she assisted were science, history and English classes.  Recently she created a choice board for a history teacher.  It allowed the students to digitally navigate some topics for an American Revolution project. 

Challenges in her curation efforts are finding time to curate and update the selections on a regular basis; vet the resources to be appropriate for student use; and planning time with teachers.  Kershaw County has a very progressive technology plan to provide hardware and software for students and staff of the high quality.  They have a strict district procedure for software approval and teacher are to have any new resources approved by the district technology department.  This can slow down the process of providing new resources to staff and students.  The final challenge is getting teachers to take time to collaborate.  Teaching time is critical these days.  Having teachers give up critical time in their schedule to utilize the curated resources is a struggle but in the end will be a win-win for the teachers and the students.  

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Keep the Technology moving!!

computer and books image

Biggest takeaway from this semester…to keep moving.  This class has allowed me time to study the new stuff.  New technology, new digital apps and websites, new communications (like podcasts and Marco Polo), and just staying up to date.  I feel that any professional can get complacent and comfortable.  We can get comfortable in what worked in the past and stay the course.  This course allowed us students/librarians time to see what is new.  Then figure out how to use if for the advantage of our patrons. 

Don’t even get me started on looking at other ways librarians or schools are doing things. Wow!!! Some of the libraries and librarians out in the world are killing it.  We get to learn all kinds of new technology from others, but if we don’t use it what is the purpose of learning?  You must learn and pass it along to others.  The course requirements through the assignments and blogging have given us (the students) confidence to pass things along.  We are now official bloggers.  We have been on other websites and know what good looks like and how to make that happen in our libraries, physically and virtually. 

I hope not to ever get complacent.  Even once we don’t have to take classes, we must keep reading School Library Journal and other websites.  Stay aware of the important librarians of the day by following social media and award winners.  Take more classes at USC.  This semester has been full of webinars and zoom sessions with professionals across the world.  I am grateful that we had the time to watch and listen.  We must always try to be a student of our profession and make sure to continue to search for the new stuff.  

But I guess since this class was called “Information Technology in the School Library Program” then goal attained.  I am so amazed that this is the last blog for the class.  It has gone by way too quickly.  I know it will not be my last blog.  New goals to make and classes to take. 

Thanks Dr. Green and your assistants (if any) for the great semester.  Thanks to all the students in the class for fabulous comments and insights.  I look to see you again in another SLIS class.  


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Is that real or Virtual Reality?

Currently one of the middle school standards is to study World War II.  Therefore, the Diary of Anne Frank is often read and studied in seventh or eighth grade.  When I worked at a local middle school, the eighth grade ELA teacher had the students read the book.  They were immersed in the world of Anne Frank.  That included learning about the Holocaust, concentration camps, and the Nazi’s.  The library carried many non-fiction books that would supplement their research and described the Annex in detail with many photos.  This unit was usually something that the students always remembered during their time in middle school.

My oldest son had an internship at The Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam.  His office was across from the back of the Annex.  He looked at that building every day.  The museum, which encompasses most of the city block of buildings includes the original Anne Frank office/annex.  Millions of people from all over the world visit this museum.  

(Video of the visitors to the Anne Frank Museum)

In 2018, Oculus Quest came up with a Virtual Reality (VR)  tour of the Anne Frank Annex.  The museum loaned one to my son to try and see if it was realistic enough.   So of course, he brought it home for me to try.    In the article by Bruce Massis, Using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in the Library, states that these technologies strive to completely simulate an immersive sensory experience using sight and hearing that is indistinguishable from real (Massis, 2016).  That is absolutely how I felt when experiencing the Anne Frank VR Tour. This is the video from the team that made the VR version for the Oculus Quest, but the older version is the Oculus Rift.  Both items can be purchased through or  The cost for Oculus Quest and accessories on is $602.00.  

(VR Experience team making the Anne Frank video)

This VR experience is so realistic that I could see dust floating the air of the attic, and hear sounds of the house creaking.  I was amazed.  It brought tears to my eyes and a smile on my face.  This would have been so impactful for students to see.  Not everyone can go to Amsterdam, but how can we bring these to our students. 
Currently, the largest hurdle for public school students to have access to these tools is cost.  Budgets don’t allow for equipment for a class of students to each have a $300.00 – $400.00 headset.   However, the most closely related technology that is available is the Google App called Google Expedition.  This app allows students to experience virtual field trips from around the world by using cellphones or Apple devices from the school.  Our school district has a traveling box of Cellphones that are charged and used just for this activity.  You just need to go to the App store and download the app of your phone to try this out for yourself.  


(Google Expedition App Virtual Reality Trailer)

(Google Expedition App Augmented Reality Trailer)

Even as exciting as the many Virtual Reality (VR) options on the App, there is also Augmented Reality (AR) choices.  Being about to teach and then show a student a 3-D model of DNA, the heart, or a coral reef, is something they will always remember.   I felt like a kid watching these items myself.  Technology tools only continue to improve and having the AR and VR options make it a “reality”. 


Massis, B. (2016). Using virtual and augmented reality in the library. New Library World, Vol. 16(11/12), 796-799.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

What are we making today?

This is the best question to ask students when they enter your library.  Many libraries today make many things including items for the community, projects for class, creative thinkers projects and readers of tomorrow.  We really can do it all in a library, you just have to think outside of the box.  When students are checking out a book, they are making their own choices.  We, the librarians, don't pick their book for them.  In a makerspace this is the same concept.  This "lets them know that they are their own agents, responsible for determining for themselves the path of their own making and learning" (Angevine & Weisgrau, 2015).

There are so many great libraries that have created wonderful makerspaces.  Her are a few that I find inspiring.  

Gina Seymour of Islip High School, NY, created a makerspace that allowed students to help the community.  They created dog toys, items for the homeless shelter and dresses for girls in Uganda.  Seymour recently inspired many librarians in South Carolina when she was the Keynote Speaker at the 2020 SC Association of School Librarians (SCASL) Conference this past March.  

Action and Compassion text image

The University of South Carolina, Rhodos Fellows program at the South Quad Residence Hall created an amazing “garage” out of an old dark study space.  This took over 2 years to develop by researching many other university makerspaces and training the students to help others.  This residence hall is primarily for freshman at USC and is a special place to develop our creative thinkers of the future.

Picture of the makerspace at Rhodos Dorm

Jackson Elementary School, Camden, SC is located in Kershaw County.  They have around 600 students in this school from K-Fifth grade.  I really like how the librarian designed and organized the makerspace.  Every space is designed to challenge the student and includes ideas and directions for a student to work independently.  To me this is a great place to start for any small library with a small budget.   

student desks

student desks

So how do we begin?

There are some great tools that I have included to get your started. 

But the best thing is to just get started.  We can make students a place that doesn’t judge or grade them. We just want to “encourage hands-on, collaborative learning, sharing and creating” (Jones, 2016).

So I ask you again…What are we making today?

Angevine, C., & Weisgrau, J. (2015, September 24). Situating makerspaces in schools. Retrieved from

Jones, K. (2016, March 21). Digital curation: A makerspace guide. Retrieved from Evernote :