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Behind the Scenes - PSLA Delegates @ the AASL Affiliate Assembly

"Behind the Scenes" the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association has two voting  Delegates on the Affiliate Assembly of American Association of School Librarians (AASL). We are part of Region 2, which includes PA, NY, NJ, MD, DE and DC. In addition to providing PSLA with a voice at the national level, sending representatives to these meetings provides PSLA added opportunities to apply for grants and awards.

The purpose the the Affiliate Assembly is described below:

According to the AASL Bylaws, “the purposes of the Affiliate Assembly are to provide a channel of communication for reporting concerns of the affiliated organizations and their membership to the AASL Board of Directors; to facilitate discussion of activities and concerns of the AASL as reported by the AASL president, Executive Director and Board of Directors; and to report the actions of the AASL to the Affiliates.”  

Made up of 48 school library organizations from 45 states, the Affiliate Assembly serves as the representation of AASL’s (number) members. Each year, the Affiliate Assembly gathers for two meetings at both ALA Midwinter Meeting and ALA Annual Conference to handle official tasks such as voting on Concerns and Commendations, share best practices and knowledge, and learn about AASL activities and initiatives. 

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Tinkercad

Each week the Teaching and Learning Committee plans to highlight one app or website from either the 2018 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning or the 2018 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

As STEAM concepts move into younger grades, this week we feature a way to imagine "from mind to design in minutes" with Tinkercad.

Use Tinkercad’s CAD software to design 3D objects, such as prototypes, toys, practical tools, replacement parts, Minecraft models, jewelry, and more. Users can create objects from scratch with the site’s building blocks, from the extensive collection of community designs, or by importing and modifying 2D or 3D object files. Help and tutorials support beginning users. Teachers of younger students can create invite codes for accounts and monitor student work. Users can share designs in the community and do collaborative work, and designs can be exported for 3D printing. Grades 2 and up. 

Personal Comments (from Dustin): I know that our secondary students have used this software and website for years, but I am excited to try with our elementary students, who clearly are already adept at 3D thinking with Minecraft, Legos, and other virtual worlds.

Submitted by: Anne Bozievich
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee

Behind the Scenes: PSLA and Quantum Communications

"Behind the Scenes" our Association has an ongoing contract with Kevin Harley from Quantum Communications to provide PSLA with counsel on strategic communications and government affairs.

In an effort to support the mission of PSLA and more importantly our members' interests, the PSLA President and President-Elect meet with Kevin through bi-weekly phone conferences to identify targeted areas of need and to strategically communicate with stakeholders. In addition, Kevin strategizes with Deb Kachel, the PSLA Legislative Liaison, and takes part in key meetings of the Association.

Strategic Communications:

Among the activities that Quantum provides are the writing, design and distribution of the quarterly PSLA newsletter. The newsletter is emailed to PSLA members, as well as to all members of the general assembly. It also is sent to school board members, superintendents and principals for whom public emails are available. The purpose of the newsletter is primarily to educate policymakers on the important role that school librarians play in educating our children. Additionally, Quantum helps to write, edit and place op/eds by school librarians and school librarian advocates in newspapers across the state. Quantum also will promote the work of a particular school or librarian to a specific reporter.

Government Affairs:

Quantum helps to promote PSLA’s legislative agenda. An example is the introduction of HB 740, a bill that would require each public school in the state to employ at least one professional librarian. The legislation obtained nearly 40 co- sponsors, which for first-time legislation is outstanding. Quantum also has scheduled and arranged school library visits and tours for key legislators. Among them have been the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, as well as the House Education Chairman. We have a library tour scheduled for the full House Education Committee on October 9 at PSLA President Allison Mackley’s library at Hershey High School. Additionally, Quantum helped to schedule and organize a House Education hearing on the importance of school libraries. Quantum is currently working to gain more support for PSLA’s legislation in the House and, at the same time, getting companion legislation introduced in the Senate.

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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Be Internet Awesome!

Each week the Teaching and Learning Committee plans to highlight one app or website from either the 2018 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning or the 2018 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

This week, as we begin the year and start making choices for teaching digital citizenship lessons, I selected Google's Be Internet Awesome!

Be Internet Awesome offers elementary school students a path to digital citizenship and a way to become smart and safe users of the Internet. They will enjoy participating in the game Interland, and traversing Reality River, Mindful Mountain, Tower of Treasure, and Kind Kingdom to learn the fundamentals of online ethical use and safety. Additional resources for parents and educators are included. Grades 2-5.

Personal Comments:  This site offers an engaging and easy to navigate world, with lessons that are age appropriate and connected. The Interland is a visually appealing way to practice and discuss online safety, secure content, cyber-bullying, and mindful behavior. No account is needed to start and users can return repeatedly. Problem solving games help keep students motivated, and the mini lessons are presented to inform rather than scare. Explore, and Be Awesome!

Submitted by: Dustin Brackbill
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee
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AASL Best Websites & Apps: Kapwing

Each week the Teaching and Learning Committee plans to highlight one app or website from either the 2018 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning or the 2018 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Share with any stakeholders who may benefit! 

This week we will focus on Kapwing. This is a great way to produce and edit video for instruction or for students to create projects. A member of the Teaching and Learning Committee used Kapwing to promote the current top three circulating books in the library.  See the Wendover Middle School Library Twitter post.

Kapwing provides a multi-tool solution for teachers and students to create everything from video montages and memes, to stop action videos and sound effects. Its simple yet robust platform makes it useful for students of all ages. Teachers can use the various tools to engage students in any subject, and students will use these same tools to showcase their learning and improve presentations. Grades 4 and up. (AASL)

Submitted by: Beth McGuire
PSLA Teaching & Learning Committee

A Profile in Advocacy - Jayne Downing

My path crossed Jayne Downing’s when I attended an APSL meeting years ago to talk about advocacy. APSL was the Association of Philadelphia School Librarians, now defunct since there are approximately only 5 school librarians left in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Jayne has been a school librarian in several city schools for 34 years at elementary and middle school levels. She earned her MLS from Clarion and is nationally board certified (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) in both Early Childhood through Young Adult and Library Media (not easy!).

During her time at SDP, Jayne has seen a thriving school library department and program reduced to almost nothing. Years ago, SDP eliminated the classification of “school librarian” and all librarians were classed as “teachers.” This allowed the district to hide the number of actual librarians in the district. As principals, tasked with site-based decision-making, had to make difficult choices among nurses, counselors, and librarians, more and more principals cut school librarian positions, especially as librarians retired. In fact, finding out how many librarians still exist in the district is extremely difficult due to the classification change. The 2017-18 figure in the chart below is an anecdotally gathered number as the district cannot confirm it.

In 2016, when Jayne served as a full-time librarian, Jayne’s school, the Penn Alexander (K-8) School, a K-8 public school for 560 West Philadelphia children, was named a National Blue Ribbon School. Penn Alexander is a partnership school and financially-supported ($1330 per student) by the University of Pennsylvania. In the past two years, however, Jayne’s schedule has been changed to include more reading and English assigned classes, reducing the amount of time the library is accessible to all students.

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Here's what's happening this week...

For many of us, the first week of September means the start of another school-year and the re-opening of our school libraries. This week also has some exciting events for all school librarians.

The September issue of District Administration Magazine features a 2-page advertorial which highlights how the new AASL National School Library Standards can help districts prepare their students for life-long learning. Be sure to share this article with your administrators via the direct link, or you can print out copies of the article to place directly in their hands. Visit AASL's Libraries Transform Campaign page for complete details, as well as access to helpful tools to help educate stakeholders about the importance of libraries.


 

Set your watches for these two great webinars this week:

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AASL Standards Crosswalks

If you follow Shannon McClintock Miller's blog, The Library Voice, you may have heard the good news...the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has released two crosswalks for their National School Library Standards! One is a crosswalk for the Future Ready Librarian Framework, and the other is a crosswalk for the ISTE Standards for Learners and Educators

You can download PDF's of each of these crosswalks from the AASL website.  In 2019, we can look forward to these crosswalks being web-based with helpful filtering and searching capabilities.

Update: July 30, 2018 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the July 30, 2018, Board Meeting.

Board Minutes

Update: July 12, 2018 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the July 12, 2018, Board Meeting.

Update from the July 12, 2018 Board Meeting

New School Year..New Standards

As you gear-up for a successful 2018-2019 year in your school library, be sure to take advantage of the tools available to align your teaching to the new AASL National School Library Standards.  Through funding from the Library Services and Technology Act, PSLA and the University of Pittsburgh have already begun training sessions around Pennsylvania to help you implement these standards into your school library program. Full details can be found on our AASL Standards Training website.

 

If you were lucky enough to attend our 2018 Pre-Conference, you experienced a valuable working-session on AASL Standards with our current President, Allison Mackley and Past President, Jennifer Bates.  Click here to see the innovative and inspirational project posters which were created by participants as they collaborated on implementing the standards into their library program.

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PSLA Position Statement - Certification Staffing Policy Guideline 48 – Library Science

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association board of directors approved a PSLA Position Statement - Certification Staffing Policy Guideline 48 – Library Science

 

Librarian Cuts - It's that Time of Year Unfortunately!

Sadly, it is in April and May that I begin to get emails for panicked school librarians that staffing cuts have just been announced that will decimate school library programs for students and staff. Most librarian who contact me are completely surprised at the totally unexpected cuts and are so flummoxed that they have no idea what to do in response to the announcement. After having written so many emails on this situation, I am curating the best advice and sources here.

BEST ARTICLE (from a school librarian who fought this battle and won):

Fighting Cuts: How To Keep Librarians in Schools.” SLJ.com, April 3, 2018. Advice form Elissa Malespina, a teacher librarian at Somerville (NJ) Middle School and president of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Librarians Network. 

Read the article and/or watch the 45-minute webinar at https://AntiochLIS.libguides.com/schlibcert/librncuts.

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Update: January 20, 2018 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the January 20, 2018, Board Meeting.

Update from the January 20, 2018 Board Meeting

Donegal High School Library Hosts Rep. Hickernell

 

    

On December 14, Sara Frazier, librarian at Donegal High School (Mount Joy, PA), hosted a visit by Pennsylvania state Representative Dave Hickernell, a Republican serving parts of Lancaster and Dauphin counties who is also the Chair of the PA House Education Committee. Also attending were Cathi Fuhrman, PSLA Vice President, and Kevin Harley, PSLA’s communication strategist from Quantum Communications who helped to schedule the visit. Donegal’s Superintendent, Michael Lausch also visited with the Representative in the library. During the hour-long visit, Rep. Hickernell was most impressed with the technology in use in the library and how instruction is embedded in the school’s curriculum. He watched Sara teach a lesson on using Gale databases as part of a social studies unit. Sara reported that Rep. Hickernell seemed very impressed with what a school library offers to the school’s students in this small, middle-income, rural community which he represents.

The Donegal Library Program is well supported by its administrators. Each of its four schools has a full-time librarian with library assistants. In recent years, the high school library received a grant plus district money to refresh the look of the high school library to make a more inviting atmosphere for its teenagers. Sara, a “graduate” of the PSLA-University of Pittsburgh Sustaining Leaders Academy, is a strong school library advocate, maintains a nicely designed LibGuide website (http://libguides.donegalsd.org/dhslibrary), and is actively engaged in the instructional program at Donegal. Watch the short video “A Typical Day in the Library” on the library website.

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Update: October 14, 2017 Board Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the October 14, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the October 14, 2017 Board Meeting

Libraries: The Hub of the School

Libraries: The Hub of the School (PSEA Voice)

 College-level research assignments for AP classes, resources for terms papers, learning credible sources on the internet, access to laptops and iPads for students who don’t have their own.

That is a short list of the key roles libraries play for high school students.

The libraries of their grandparents – card catalogs, shelves of encyclopedias – are long gone in the digital age of the early 21st century. “Shhh’’ is another relic. Collaboration and socialization are fine.

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Update: May 20, 2017 Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the May 20, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the May 20, 2017 Meeting

Lower Dauphin Sits on One of the Largest Rainy Day Funds in the State, All While Eliminating Librarians

by Heather Lister

In an interview with ABC27 on May 17th, Lower Dauphin Director of Community Relations claimed, “You do the best with the resources you have before you go back to the taxpayers and ask for more money.” This statement was in response to a growing number of community members speaking out against reducing the number of certified librarians in the district, which is currently being proposed for the 17-18 school year.

The district is arguing that by eliminating the position of a middle school librarian, they will free up the funds to increase technology and make a more modern space. There are two issues I see with this. First, with this logic the district could eliminate math teachers if they invest in fancy calculators. Second, I had no indication that Lower Dauphin was under any sort of financial distress. So before making conclusions, I do what any good librarian does, I research.

As I began exploring the financial data to back up the district’s statement, I referenced several published documents from recent Board meetings. I learned that both State and Federal funding has increased, the employer rate for PSERS pension contributions is the lowest increase in 5 years, interest on investments increased 150%, contributions and donations from private sources is up 500%, and the district saw an increase in both property tax and earned income tax from the growth in the area. So why the need to cut positions? However, I understood that districts can’t rely on levels of federal and state funding so I continued searching. Just weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released its updated financial reports for the 2015-16 school year.

One of the biggest takeaways from this report is that Pennsylvania school districts’ general fund balances now top $4.4 BILLION dollars and there seems to be a growing awareness of this issue. Naturally, I was curious what Lower Dauphin’s contribution was to this amass of money.

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Update: March 30, 2017 Meeting

Please see the attached document for an update from the March 30, 2017, Board Meeting.

Update from the March 30, 2017 Meeting