I created this Pecha Kucha for a class in my doctoral program. My problem statement is the title. I’m thinking of changing my research focus from that exactly, because as I say below, the research has been done. This is a settled question. The problem now becomes how to get that message to stakeholders? That feels a little squishy to me to be my research because I’m so close to it, as IASL Past President and Advocacy Chair, and the chair of ILA’s Governmental Affairs Committee. So who knows. But here it is, and at the bottom as a video:
This work, “School bus” is a derivative of “2007 International Corbeil School Bus” by dflirecop, licensed under CC BY 2.0.
People have argued for centuries about the purpose of school. Is it to guide students to be good citizens and future leaders? Or to help them gain job skills so they can support a family? Is it to give students a true liberal arts education?
This work,“MNW Elementary Library,”is by Christine Sturgeon and is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Whatever the case, it seems the central role of school is to educate young minds. So it’s only fitting that the school library – a repository of information, after all – should be the metaphorical if not physical center of the school.
“Day 174: Amazing Push-Button Shushing Action!” by Laura Taylor, used under CC BY 2.0.
Now, when I say “school library” you may have an outdated vision in your mind. Let me assure you, today’s school libraries – and the teacher librarians who lead them – belie that stereotype. School libraries can, should, and must be “safe, vibrant, energized information-rich environments” (Lewis & Loertscher, 2014, p. 48), led by professionals specially trained in information literacy.
This work,“IASL Vision Postcard” created by Chelsea Sims, is used with permission.
And the state Department of Education knows it. Their Vision for Iowa’s School Libraries reads, “Iowa’s best schools have library programs that engage the entire school community to elevate the learning experience for all.” It describes how teacher librarians teach students critical thinking and research skills, and how they “nurture curiosity to develop in students a passion for learning for life (Iowa DE, 2013, para. 8).
States with impact studies, 2000 – 2009, even more since This map was made at amcharts.com
In order to have that sort of impact, school library programs must be lead by full time certified teacher librarians. Impact studies in many states, including Iowa, have demonstrated an increase in students’ standardized test scores and pleasure found in reading when a school has a full time teacher librarian (Lance, Schwartz, & Rodney, 2014; Lance & Hofschire, 2012; Lance & Hofschire, 2011; Lance, Rodney & Schwartz, 2010; Lance & Schwarz, 2012; Rodney, Lance, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2002). Many of these studies show these increases cannot be explained away by other school or community conditions.
Many of these impact studies were conducted by library consultant Keith Lance. In 2009 he looked at data from the National Center for Education Statistics, “to document the impact of librarian layoffs on fourth-grade reading scores between 2004 to 2009 . . . Fewer librarians translated to lower performance – or a slower rise in scores – on standardized tests” (Lance & Hofschire, 2011, p. 29).
This work,“MNW Elementary Makerspace Marble Challenge”was created by Justin Daggett and used with permission.
Denice Adkins from the University of Missouri combed through PISA data and found that school libraries can positively impact poor students at such as degree as to help level the playing field. But she states, “Merely having a dedicated library space is insufficient to serve the needs of students. What is more important, especially for low performers, is having resources available and staff who can provide support” (Adkins, 2014, p. 17).
“Chained” by Kool Cats Photography, used under CC BY 2.0.
One review of the literature stated, “The existence of a positive link between school library services and academic achievement is a practically inescapable conclusion” (Chan, 2008, p. 7).
Feuerbach, S. (2014). TL building staffing in districts in Iowa. Des Moines, IA: Iowa Association of School Librarians.
In a study commissioned by the Iowa Association of School Librarians, only 8 of the 331 responding districts – 2% – had at least one full-time teacher librarian per attendance center, which is considered best practice. Five percent of the respondents – 158 schools – had no teacher librarian whatsoever (Feuerbach, 2014).
Vital Imagery Limited. (2015). Stressed schoolgirl studying in classroom [stock photo]. Retrieved from iClipart for Schools. Used with permission.
This is a problem for Iowa’s schools, teachers, and most importantly, Iowa’s students. Academic achievement is harmed when school libraries are inadequately staffed.
Adkins, D. (2014). U.S. students, poverty, and school libraries: What results of the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment tell us. School Library Research. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EJ1043360)
Chan, C. (2008). The impact of school library services on student achievement and the implications for advocacy: A review of the literature. Access 22(4): 15-20.
Feuerbach, S. (2014). Ratio of teacher librarians to school buildings in Iowa. Des Moines, IA: Iowa Association of School Librarians.
Lance, K.C., Schwartz, B., & Rodney, M.J. (2014). How libraries transform schools by contributing to student success: evidence linking South Carolina school libraries and PASS & HSAP results. Retrieved from http://www.scasl.net/assets/phase%20i.pdf
Lance, K.C., & Hofschire, L. (2012). School librarian staffing linked with gains in student achievement, 2005 to 2011. Teacher Librarian, 39(6), 15-19.
Lance, K.C., & Hofschire, L. (2011). Something to shout about: new research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores. School Library Journal, 57(9), 28-33.
Lance, K.C., & Schwartz, B. (2012). How Pennsylvania school libraries pay off: Investments in student achievements and academic standards. Pennsylvania School Library Project. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED543418)
Lewis, K. R., & Loertscher, D. V. (2014). The Possible Is Now. Teacher Librarian, 41(3), 48.
I’ve been meaning to read Mindset by Carol Dweck for a long time, but finally am forced to because it’s the first reading for my first class in my (first?) doctoral program. (Okay, okay, this better be my only doctoral program.)
Anyway, I’m only on page 8 but something hit me so profoundly that I needed to blog about it.
To give you a better sense of how the two mindsets work, imagine – as vividly as you can – that you are a young adult having a really bad day: One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class. You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket. Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off.
Then she talks about those with a growth mindset vs. those with a . . . set? . . . mindset (I’m not far enough to know what the opposite of growth mindset is called. [Edit: Set mindset, ha ha. I think it’s fixed mindset.]
But I don’t have to imagine her scenario because I have my own:
I was really excited, eager to start the program for my BA in elementary education, which would allow me to eventually become a librarian. I worked as a secretary and had a great boss, who allowed me to work over lunch or later on some days so I could go to class on others. Classes started in the city, about 45 minutes away, at 4:30. These were definitely designed for people already working in a school, rather than a secretary like me! But I forgot something at home, so I had to go twenty minutes the other way first. I was scooting along at a clip so I wouldn’t be late, and I got a speeding ticket. After dealing with that, I sat in my car and cried, and I had to make a decision: Was I going to go to this first class late, or just forget about the whole thing? I didn’t have the money for the program and would rely on student loans. I worked a full-time job and had five kids at home. Was this smart? Maybe I should just go home and crawl into bed.
I didn’t. And I can honestly count that decision as the one that made it so here I sit, reading this book . . . for my doctorate! Boo-ya!
I’m entering Drake University’s Education Leadership doctoral program! I start in August.
Here was my essay:
My name is Christine Sturgeon. I am a teacher librarian and serve as the current president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians. In that position, I have become aware of the great shortage of teacher librarians that exists in our state and nation. I have also learned of the even greater shortage of professors of school librarianship. This shortage, if not corrected, is a travesty for our children because teacher librarians create programs that engage entire school communities which elevate the learning experience of all (from the “Vision for Iowa’s School Libraries,” available online here). I want to be a professor of school librarianship, and Drake’s Leadership program will open the door to that possibility.
I am a lifelong learner. It took me some time for that to be the case on paper: 21 years to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with another 18 months to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Even before that, though, I was continually learning and challenging myself. Since my graduation, I remain an example of lifelong learning to my family, my colleagues, and my wide personal learning network that I have nurtured by attending conferences, serving on boards, and networking on Twitter.
I believe my references have attested to my abilities and vision for education. At Manson Northwest Webster Schools, where I am in my fourth year as a teacher librarian, I have transformed the school library from a staid place of tradition to a vibrant community of learning inside and outside the school walls. I have successfully led the change of the physical space at both the elementary and secondary levels. But more than that, I have shown by example how the library can change lives. Some examples include creating the first “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program in a school in the state [that I know of!] leading the international student program at the high school, teaching Genius Hour and Genre Reading, facilitating VREP, introducing computer coding at the elementary level, winning grants, doing video production weekly with sixth grade students, and soon, creating and overseeing makerspaces at both the elementary and secondary buildings.
I love being a teacher librarian. No day is identical, and in so many ways, I am able to write my own job description. Yet I know I can reach more Iowa students by teaching other teacher librarians. I already do that in some capacity as IASL president, but I know I can have a greater impact as a college professor. It is your program that will make that possible.
“I always knew I wanted to be a librarian, and being a K-12 teacher librarian means I reach nearly all the students in a community. I love inspiring kids to try something new, for example we recently started a Makerspace at the elementary school, and had a 3-day “Makerspace Kickoff.” Kids went to stations and experimented in Electronics (Snap Circuits, Makey Makeys, Squishy Circuits), Marble Run (designing a roller coaster of sorts with cardboard tubes) and of course, Coding.
Being the only Teacher Librarian in my district, it’s easy to feel isolated with what I do. But through Twitter, I have an amazing Personal Learning Network, and it’s been so much fun to meet some of those people in real life.
Being connected helps because when your network is expanded, so is your knowledge and abilities, and that helps me to be a better Teacher Librarian to my students.
I believe that in the future education will be more connected, more hands-on and more personalized. Hopefully words like “Genius Hour”, “Makerspace”, and “Student Voice” will all become household words.”
Months of work and planning culminated last week in the MAKERSPACE KICKOFF at the elementary school. It went off without a hitch. Here are some pictures:
6th graders enjoying the Flextruck Virtual Reality station
Scott from the AEA helping kindergarteners make music with the Makey Makey kits
I don’t like roller coasters, so I left it to the kids to try it out with the Oculus Rift!
Fourth graders tinkering with Squishy Circuits
Our Thai foreign exchange student, Thiti, helping with straws and connectors in the 3D building station
5 picture writing, using 30 Hands app
A second grader using CodeMonkey
Skallops and cards fun
Sixth graders building with cardboard
Our art teacher tries out Paper Circuitry on our pre-Kickoff PD day
I will say, the word “Kickoff” might be a wee bit of an exaggeration, if it implies that the Makerspace is completely ready to go. The room is getting painted today, I need to add some more shelves and some locking storage, and the Makedos and Skallops are out of stock. There is a lot more to do, but the Kickoff event was a huge success and a great starting point. Want to do a Kickoff of your own? Here are my tips.
Get help planning – Julie Graber was my great partner-in-crime from the AEA. I couldn’t have done it without her. If possible, get some on-campus help, too. My principal was a full partner, but he’s a busy guy and I couldn’t exactly spent fifteen minutes a day debating whether Squishy Circuits or Snap Circuits were the way to go, or if the room should be painted in canary yellow or lemon yellow. It would have been nice to have someone here every day – a teaching partner or para (mine was having a baby!) – to bounce ideas.
Me with Julie Graber, Instructional Tech Consultant with Prairie Lakes AEA
Plan early – Those of you who know me know that this isn’t exactly a strength of mine, but it is what it is. In the fall, I did go to see Iowa State’s “Flextruck” (a portable setup taken around to schools by some folks at ISU’s College of Design with virtual reality and other tech tools) with the elementary and high school principals, and we got on their calendar early, then built the Kickoff around that. I also applied for and received the ITEC/Mediacom Grant, so that kept me honest as far as planning goes.
Be flexible – We had eight stations total, but after Thursday with grades 3-6, I realized that some of the stations were just too difficult for the K-2 kids coming the next day. We switched out Paper Circuitry for 3D building, with Skallops and cards (borrowed from another school), straws and connectors, and tanagrams (the last two borrowed from the preschool teacher). We got rid of Cardboard Challenge (not that young kids can’t build with cardboard, of course, but our quantity of “clean” cardboard was diminishing and getting students to build for a purpose – making a game – wasn’t really working in such large groups). The coding station went fine for grades 3-6, with students using CodeMonkey, but it was a stretch on Friday. Kindergarten classes were the last two session of the day, and the high school helpers begged me to change it up. To what? I wondered. They knew –> Minecraft. We got that set up and it went perfectly.
A high school helper helping a kindergartener with Minecraft
Enlist lots of volunteers – We had over 40 high school students who came over on Thursday or Friday to help out all day. We seriously couldn’t have done this without them. I told them that they may have noticed that I never sent out an all-call email asking for help – I asked for them specifically, because I knew them and I knew they were people I could count on. Only 2 students who I asked said no, and seriously, they were starring in the musical that night. We also had some parent volunteers, old friends of mine, specials teachers when they were without classes, our tech guy, and more help from the AEA. Then there are the people who weren’t there but helped immensely, like my library assistant at the high school. I definitely couldn’t have done this without her! (I say that a lot, I know. But it’s true.)
Here is our schedule, so you get an idea of what our days looked like. I know of some schools that let students decide which stations to go to, so there were a variety of grade levels together. We didn’t do that, instead, classes stayed together all day, going to different stations. All classes saw the ISU Flextruck but the 3-6 classes each missed a couple of stations through the rotation. We’ll hit those up in Library/Tech class.
You may be like I was, wondering how we could possibly get people on board with giving up a whole day for this event. We met with teachers early this year to discuss the idea of Makerspace, and we kept the idea front and center. I wrote about it in the school newsletter to get parents interested, and I just kept my focus this year on Makerspace. I’ve been a bit like a broken record – “A Makerspace is a community center with tools . . . “
We’re certainly not done. As I said, everything needs to get in place, and we need to start presenting challenges to be fixed. We’re also building a Makerspace at the high school. I know what I’m doing this summer!
We’re putting together a Makerspace at the elementary school! I put a teaser in the school newsletter (page 8), and I’m using Kristin Fontichiaro’s list, “What’s in your school’s dream Makerspace?” as a starting place. I’m applying for two grants (cross my fingers) and making a project proposal for school administration. We already have 2 Makey Makeys and a Kano computer, and kids are having fun exploring those.
My definition for a Makerspace is, “A community center with tools,” with the community in this case being the students and staff at the elementary school, and tools being age-appropriate. So soon, we hope to have high-tech tools like Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi, but it also includes mid-tech tools like a digital camera as well as low-tech tools like origami paper. Makerspaces are for makers of all stripes!
Parents are coming in for Christmas concerts and book fair starting this week, so I decided to make a Christmas tree of sorts with ornaments that have low- to medium-cost items that people could donate to the cause. Want to donate? Great! Find the Amazon wish list here. (Obviously, if you have other items that would work, especially on the crafty side of things, donate away. Items don’t have to be brand new, either – if you have a half-used bag of pom poms at home in your craft supplies, we’d take it!)