Getting started

crayonsI am now officially an Elementary School Librarian! I was fortunate to find myself to be an early hire, with a job secured before the 2009-2010 school year was out. This gave me the opportunity to get a jump-start on creating my program. Creating an inviting and easily accessible physical space was my first challenge this summer. Assembling volunteers was at the top of the to-do list as well. With the support of a few dedicated school-parent volunteers and my amazing mentor teacher from Willamette Primary School the physical space is just about ready for students. The digital space is a huge work-in-progress! (I just obtained access to the school web page yesterday.) There is much to do to make the library homepage an attractive and useful resource. I did find the following web resources to help me with this task:

From Resources for School Librarians: http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/resf/wpages.html
From the University of NC School of Ed: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/969
From Joyce Valenza: http://www.sdst.org/shs/library/evallib.html

Now on to another extremely important task – planning my curriculum!

Window and Door

doorwayThe library is a window to the outside world. That was the sentiment of one teacher-librarian at a recent West Linn-Wilsonville School District teacher-librarian meeting. He talked about playing a loop of a slide show about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in the library for the students and staff at the school. They would come by and watch for a few moments or several minutes throughout the day. Imagine what would happen if the students were able to connect with other students their age in those areas directly affected by this tragedy? Or discuss this event with students from another country? This further step shows the library as a window and a door.

The school library is a place for students, staff, and family members to come for information and connections to the outside world through print and digital means. This can be in the form of viewing news on current events, exposure to different cultures through factual and fictionalized stories, and written and verbal discussions with classes outside of the community.

A library collection of current local newspapers, web links to age appropriate news sources, and a wide variety of print books and magazines is integral to creating this vision. Providing open access to these library resources in addition to support from the school librarian will enable students to become more aware and information literate global citizens.

Some tools that will be useful in making this happen are Skype to facilitate virtual face-to-face discussions, a student school newspaper, and something such as the Epson Brightlink 450Wi to serve as an interactive bulletin board. Partnering my training as a teacher and librarian with these resources and tools will support the journey of making my own school library both a window and a door.

Image attribution: “Tsaravets – Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria” by Jennifer Scypinski

Global Competence

birds on wireGlobal competence is an issue in education that is incredibly important for students at all levels. The world has become such an interconnected global society that it is crucial that our students are educated in a manner that reflects this. Just this last month the National Education Association published a policy brief on the importance of this issue titled “Global Competence Is a 21st Century Imperative.” This policy brief stresses that “…students be educated to develop habits of the mind that embrace respect for others, a commitment to cooperation, an appreciation of our common humanity, and a sense of responsibility…” We live in an interconnected world which demands an appreciation and understanding for cultural diversity and an ability to collaborate within the global community.

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) “Standards for the 21st-Century Learner” reflects the importance of this global competence issue as well. Throughout this document collaboration is stressed as a way for students to create and share knowledge with respect to a global perspective; the learning community is within the classroom, school, and the world at large. In order for students to participate and collaborate ethically and to inquire and think critically they must develop global competencies. School librarians are skilled at collaborating with classroom teachers in order to cultivate differentiated learning experiences to develop this global competence.

As a specialist in 21st-century teaching and learning school librarians assist students and teachers in connecting learning to real-world issues and in the exchange of ideas in a global context. In fostering collaboration that extends to learning communities in the wider world we may more easily connect with a common ground. This appreciation for commonalities will enable students to embrace diversity and connect with a global perspective. By using the knowledge gained through studies and experiences as an educator and information specialist school librarians will be able to promote these global relationships.

Image attribution: untitled by .Jennifer Leigh., http://www.flickr.com/photos/45206157@N00/168200539