Library Chess Table!

I am thrilled with our new addition to the library: a chess table with two chess sets, custom made for us by Seniors Vaughn Rossi and Shane Taugner. It represents a true labor of love on their part, and beautiful craftsmanship. Here is a photo of them with the table right after they delivered and set it up it yesterday:

Vaughn & Shane with chess table

It’s clearly going to be a very popular addition to the library. Here are some more shots of Vaughn and Shane and of some other students enjoying it:

Created with flickr slideshow.

School Library Journal Summit 2014

SLJ Summit 2014

I was very fortunate last week to attend School Library Journal’s annual invitational leadership summit. This year’s summit took place October 25 – 27 in St. Paul, MN. It was truly a teacher librarian’s dream come true. This mini-conference brings together approximately 200 of the most cutting edge, enthusiastic leaders in the school library field from across the nation. Had we simply gotten together for the weekend without any of the formal sessions, I would have come away with second-to-none new knowledge and ideas through the networking with friends from all over the country I have met before live or via my social media personal learning network (PLN) and new friends I made there for the first time. While the networking was incredible, we did, of course, also have an amazing collection of sessions that added to my expertise as a school librarian, inspired me to work smarter to better serve my students and staff, and supported our district’s top priority of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for professional development this year.

As a teacher librarian, I support the needs of CCSS  in many ways. Below are just a few of the key ways, along with some related takeaways from the summit.

Research Support

Although research is not isolated as its own topic in the CCSS, even a cursory reading makes clear that it is a key element in the Writing standards. In fact, research is one of the highest frequency words in all the standards. I help students learn good research skills every day through class lessons and one-on-one help on how to find, evaluate, cite, and use research sources; pathfinders I provide curating quality resources on topics being researched; and online tutorials on the library website.

One of the outstanding panels at the summit, the Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) group from North Carolina, led by Dr. Mark Edwards, National Superintendent of the Year, shared the district’s experience transitioning to a 1:1 laptop model. The librarians play a pivotal role in supporting this model. Five of the district’s eight librarians (the district has one credentialed librarian and one assistant at every school and two librarians at the high school) participated in the panel. We were all inspired hearing how they fulfill their “every child, every day” motto with engaging teaching, resources, and curriculum. I have ordered and plan to share Edwards’ book,  Every Child. Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement, with our district. On the research topic, the librarians shared the importance of having a research method that is scaffolded from the early grades through high school. The research model MGSD uses is the extremely well-respected “Big 6” strategy. I actually implemented this model when I was a middle school teacher librarian in my previous district, and I continue to share elements of it with classes that visit the Mira Costa Library, but I have never felt like I have enough teaching time during class lessons to fully implement it at Mira Costa. Listening to the MGSD librarian panel is making me rethink my priorities; I want to move to implement it in a more formal, explicit way at Mira Costa to help students better understand research as a process of steps.

Another session at the summit, delivered by Jole Seroff and Tasha Bergson-Michelson, librarians at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, inspired us to ponder and get in touch with our own research techniques that we exercise tacitly, and to model those techniques for students. For example, when students begin research on a topic for which they have little or no background knowledge, we can help them build stepping stones to good search terms and questions by having them scan introductory texts to find keywords to search for and questions to explore as they move forward.

Reading and Reading Materials Support

Reading both informational and literary texts are important components of the CCSS. One vital role I play in the library is building a culture of reading. By developing a collection of quality literature and fiction, literary nonfiction, and informational text, I provide appropriate reading materials for our students curricular needs. And, equally important, I promote reading books students want to read, since I know that the more students read and get to read about what interests them, the better readers they become, and the more prior knowledge they will build and have available to apply to curricular texts.

I attended a pre-summit session led by Deborah Ford from Junior Library Guild that helped me not just with ideas for new titles to enrich our collection, but, more importantly for me, with strategies to weed the many old and outdated books our library owns. I have not been able to keep up with this very important task at Mira Costa. I plan to make this a priority this year and at least begin an extensive weeding project which will make the remaining newer books more visible and accessible to our students.

I also benefited from visiting with a variety of vendors that supply materials that could better support our collection. I am currently working on creating an order with Mackin, one of the vendors, to purchase digital, downloadable audiobooks for all our core English literature. I will also be taking advantage of exciting new offerings from some of the other vendors, and I appreciate discount opportunities for summit attendees provided by several of the vendors.

Supporting use of digital media

Students’ use of digital media plays another important role in the CCSS. I support our students by helping them use digital media appropriately and effectively to learn and to create products to demonstrate mastery. This Fall, we significantly increased our library’s digital offerings by adding EBSCO’s Academic ebook collection of more than 130,000 titles along with EBSCO’s Academic Search Premier database, giving us access to more than 4,600 academic journals. Another takeaway from the summit was ideas I can use for better promoting our new ebooks that are replacing outdated print titles. Some schools, for example, are using old VCR cases to “stand in” for ebooks on the library shelves. These cases include ebook titles and QR codes to allow students to access the ebooks. I will be working this year on a variety of strategies to promote the rich electronic sources we now have from EBSCO and other vendors.

And so much more

This is just a few of my early reflections of my experiences at the summit. I know I will be able to take advantage of many more of my experiences there to enhance the library program this year.

And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this posting, the networking was incredible. Here are just a few examples:

  • I got to see Michelle Luhtala and Shannon Miller, two members of our#SWVBC (Somewhat Virtual Book Club) and plan some strategies for our ongoing book club meetings.
  • I connected with Joyce Valenza, Andy Plemmons, and Deb Shorganizers of the Global TL network, and got to exchange ideas about building meaningful global connections for our students. At Joyce’s suggestion, I am considering submitting a proposal to present about the Somewhat Virtual Book Club at the Global Education Online Conference in November.
  • Andy was one of the people I recently got to know through my virtual PLN and had the pleasure of meeting in person for the first time at the summit. We also have in common that we both attended a Google Teacher Academy and became a Google Certified Teacher last summer, and we exchanged ideas about what we learned at our academies, his in Atlanta, and mine in Mountain View.
  • Another librarian I was honored to meet live for the first time at the summit was Michelle Colte, School Library Journal‘s School Librarian of the Year, coming all the way from Hawaii. During the weekend, she and Elissa Malespina, another PLN friend, filled me in on their Virtual Poetry Summit plans for National Poetry Month in April, and invited me to join. I plan to recruit Mira Costa students to participate.
  • Fellow California School Library Association friends Sue Heraper and Liz Dodds and I had a chance to connect live and exchange ideas we can use to enrich our association’s activities.

Here is a wonderful video created by Capstone, another of the vendors, we saw during the opening of the summit that shows the vital role of libraries and trained librarians supporting our students’ engaged learning:

Many thanks to School Library Journal and all the organizers, exhibitors, and presenters who made the summit possible.

Oct. 6 -17 at the Mira Costa Library

Research & Other Library Lessons

While the library is busy with all sorts of activities – reading, studying, using the computers for writing essays, accessing information, and more – research is always a dominant theme. Now that the Freshman Orientations are behind us, the library is booked for lots of research projects. During the last two weeks, I prepared resources and taught short lessons on research skills and sources with Ms. Vaughan’s 9th grade English class, Ms. Sieker’s and Ms. Cook’s 12th grade English classes, Mr. Timberlake’s Model UN students, and Mr. Davidson’s Biology students. I also taught several of these classes about plagiarism avoidance and respect for copyright. Here is some of the material I have shared when doing lessons on plagiarism and respect for copyright:

Over the last year or so, Google has been making it much easier to give credit to sources used in Google Presentations/Slides and Google Docs. For several classes working on online presentations, I shared how students can find images using the Research Tool in Google Slides and why it is important to give credit. Here is a screencast I prepared a while back that includes information I shared live with students:

For a number of the classes visiting these last two weeks, I also helped students use, a great online tool for storing research sources, creating citations, taking notes, and evaluating sources. Mira Costa has a premium account for EasyBib, which gives us ad-free access, and adds the note taking and website evaluation tools. See this page on the library website for help with EasyBib.

Library Club All Our Yesterdays Discussion

Some Library Club members during our October 3 Hangout
Some Library Club members during our October 3 Hangout

The Mira Costa Library Club served as host for our monthly “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” Google+ hangout discussion of All Our Yesterdays on October 8. Author Cristin Terrill spent the entire hour with us, and was extremely generous in replying to all the students and librarians’ questions about the book, her writing craft, and her plans for future books. We also had four other schools attending. I was very proud of our students who served as the moderators of the discussion. Here’s the Google+ Hangout recording of the session:

We are looking forward to our next session with We Were Liars by E. Lockhart on November 5. Our Library Club also meets during lunch each Tuesday, and welcomes any new members.

I was also invited to participate in “Google Rocks! Hawaii,” a weekly Google+ Hangout for Hawaii educators led by Linda Lindsay, Teacher Librarian at Seabury Academy on the island of Maui, on October 14. The theme of the show that week was book clubs, and I shared about our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club.” Here’s a link to the recording.

The Geeks

Some of our Geek team

Our Geeks (formerly called the Geek Squad, now the Geeks) are ready to provide help to both students and staff with tech issues of any kind. Please take advantage of their services! You can get help during lunch Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday, after school Monday through Thursday, or by appointment. Contact me or fill out this form to request an appointment. The Geeks also hold club meetings on Thursdays, and welcome any new members.

Are you challenged by a tech issue-


Señora Rossell’s class visited the library again to work on their blogging project. See my last posting to learn about this activity.

Planning Work

As your librarian, I also do a lot of planning with teachers to get ready for class visits and other projects. During the last two weeks, I prepared resources for Ms. Yoon’s Biology classes, and met with Ms. Clarke, Ms. Rossell, Ms. Chen, and Mr. Marx to learn about their classes needs for upcoming visits. I am also a member of a group of teachers led by William Brown planning an interdisciplinary project we will launch in the Spring on the theme of water and the current water drought in California. In addition, Mira Costa is forming a new Curriculum Committee. We had our first meeting last week, and I volunteered to serve as Chair of this group.

Señora Rossell’s Spanish Class Blogs


I am a huge fan of blogging. Blogging offers a perfect opportunity for students to reflect, to practice writing, to share about topics that they care about, and to engage in conversations through comments. Blogging within the educational context allows for an organic tie-in of needed digital citizenship skills acquisition and Common Core requirements for writing across the curriculum. It also encourages students to find their personal writing voices and to make global connections through comments that may be received from around the world.

I had the pleasure of working closely with Spanish Teacher Anita Rossell and her Spanish for Native Speakers class during the 2013-2014 on a number of projects in the library. During the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year, we collaborated to help the students do research and create digital timelines for a project in which they selected a famous Hispanic person and created a timeline for this individual. They also created a personal timeline, which they compared with the famous person timeline. They learned how to use Google Drive to share documents with classmates and their teacher. In January 2014, Señora Rossell wanted the students to start creating digital portfolios. At my suggestion, we decided, instead, to have them create blogs. While digital portfolios document students’ work, the blogs could do this along with also having the students reflect on that work and demonstrate growth through the built-in chronological sequence of the blogging format. Once we launched our blogging project, the students completed a number of posting assignments, and, in the course of doing so, they:

  • developed digital citizenship skills, including learning about online privacy and safety, online etiquette, respect for intellectual property, and building a positive digital footprint
  • writing skills and personal expression, both formal and informal, in Spanish and in English
  • commenting skills, learning to write meaningful comments that compliment, make suggestions, and/or ask questions
  • technology skills, such as how to design a site, how to embed images, videos, and links, and more.

You can see links to the great blogs created last year on this page on the library website.

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 8.50.58 PMThis year, Señora Rossell is teaching an AP Spanish Literature/Language class, and most of the students in that class are continuing from last year’s Spanish for Native Speakers class. During the last two weeks, the class visited the library several times to begin extending the blogging project into this school year. And, this year, we established a class blog that will contain the class assignments and links to all the student blogs. We also plan to have the students contribute some of the posts to this blog. I am very excited about working with Señora Rossell and her students again this year and plan to help them make some global connections with other bloggers they can engage in conversations with through the comments feature.

Here are screenshots of just a couple of student blog examples:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 8.56.25 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 8.58.19 PM

I am so proud of their hard work! Be sure to visit the links on the class blog for more.

Please consider reading some of these great blogs and adding your own comments! I know the students will appreciate your doing so.

I am also in the process of developing a plan to promote blogging to other teachers and students at Mira Costa and beyond this year. You can check out my Google Teacher Academy action plan for a preview of what I am working on. Stand by for more information to come!

Sept. 22 – Oct. 3 at the Mira Costa Library

Our New EBSCO Subscriptions

EBSCOFor the 2013-2014 school year, we significantly increased the number of nonfiction books available to our students by adding a subscription to the EBSCO eBook High School Collection database, giving us access to approximately 7,000 simultaneous use ebooks. Last week, we upgraded our subscription to EBSCO’s eBook Academic Collection. This is BIG news, since it increases our available ebooks to more than 130,000 and allows our students to take advantage of the kind of collection normally only available to university students. Most of the holdings in this collection are nonfiction. A huge advantage of these ebooks is that they can be used simultaneously by an unlimited number of readers; we aren’t restricted to one reader at a time.

In addition, we added EBSCO’s Academic Search Premier database, which provides us with full-text access to articles in approximately 4,600 academic journals. Together, these new subscriptions provide excellent support for Common Core across the curriculum. They also allow students to read about areas of personal interest to them, learning what they want to learn. When students get to explore their own personal interests, they are more engaged and learn more. The link to our subscription is posted on the library website Databases and ebooks page and the various subject pathfinders. Here is a direct link. The ebooks will also soon be searchable through our library catalog. Please contact me or come by the library for a handout to get the username and password for these great new resources.

I’d like to extend special thanks to Wayne Knutson and Bill Fauver for helping me to review these resources over the summer, and to our District Educational Services Department for providing a portion of the funding.

We also, of course, need print books. Here’s a display of recently-arrived nonfiction print books, many of which were funded by the PTSA to support Common Core:

nonfiction books


Finishing Freshman Orientations

During the last two weeks, I completed the final 9th grade orientations, hosting Ms. Wiseman and Ms. Wachell’s classes for a second day of orientation, and Mr. Zeoli and Ms. Mullen’s classes for day 1 and day 2. Here’s our display of printouts of some of the great slides that students created sharing their passions and a book they found related to these interests:

Freshman Passions

(You’ll have to come visit the library for a better view of these!) I look forward to seeing all of the Freshmen often when they visit on their own and with their classes for upcoming research projects and book selection.

Introducing Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom

As part of the Freshman orientations this year, I have been introducing students to their district Google Apps for Education (GAFE) accounts and to Google Classroom. The latter is a new Google application just introduced in September. It can make running a paperless classroom and using Google Drive features much easier for teachers and students. It allows teachers to share assignments and announcements with students, conduct online discussions, and have students submit work as Google Docs, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, and have it automatically organized in folders. For students, having a district GAFE account means that they can keep their school files and emails separate from any personal items and that teachers can easily know their students’ emails for sharing materials, contacting them, and offering comments and feedback on work.

I have also started sharing information about the benefits of using GAFE accounts and Google Classroom with Mira Costa teachers this fall. Last week, Michael Hayden brought his Music Appreciation class to the library to have me help them access their GAFE accounts and join a Google Classroom. Now, the class will be able to do all its assignments paperlessly! I look forward to helping more teachers and classes take advantage of these tools.

Mira Costa Hall of Fame

On October 3 Mira Costa hosted its third annual Hall of Fame. The breakfast and lunch for the distinguished alumni was held in the library. What an amazing group of alumni we had here! It included Noreen Harris Baer, Huntley Castner, Lance Dixon, Jim Lindbert, Jeff Rohrer, Marianne Selek Wibberley, and Cormac Wibberley.

Hall of Fame

Señora Rossell’s AP Spanish Class Blogging Project

Anita Rossell’s class visited the library on September 30 and October 1 to begin this year’s blogging project. This project warrants a posting on its own. So, please stand by for that!

Join Our #SWVBC Discussion with Author Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays

The Mira Costa Library Club is delighted to serve as host for this month’s “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” online book discussion. We will be discussing All Our Yesterdays. Here’s what I wrote about the book in my Goodreads summary after I finished last summer:

I really, really loved this book. I loved the time travel part and how it made me puzzle out how all that works. I loved gradually discovering how characters from one time and another are connected to each other. I loved the suspense. And I loved the romance.

I am especially excited that Christin Terrill, the author, has agreed to join us! If you are still a doubter as to the value of Twitter, please note that I was able to connect with her and extend the invitation via Twitter.

Many thanks, Christin, for agreeing to join us in our online Google + hangout! All the students and the librarians in the participating clubs are so jazzed that we will have the chance to talk to her live. All Mira Costa students are invited to join our club for the discussion in the library lunch room at 3 PM on Wednesday, and we also welcome any remote remote participants who would like to participate as well. The event will be viewable live by anyone at this link. If you want to join the Hangout room as a participant, please email me. Here’s a map of our current network of library clubs, created for us by Cathy Jo Nelson, Librarian at Dorman HS, in Roebuck, SC: