The Future Ready Librarians® Fireside Chat Let’s talk innovation, literacy, equitable digital access and more!
The Future Ready Librarians® Fireside Chat
Let’s talk innovation, literacy, equitable digital access and more!
Josh Stumpenhorst, 6-8 Learning Commons Director, Lincoln Junior High, Naperville Public Schools (IL), @stumpteacher
Tom Bober, K-5 Librarian, RM Captain Elementary, School District of Clayton (MO), @CaptainLibrary
Kathy Schmidt, Library Media Specialist, Coleman Middle School, Gwinnett County Public School (GA), @kathyfs24
Shannon McClintock Miller, Future Ready Librarian Spokesperson, K–12 District Teacher Librarian, Van Meter Community School (IA), @shannonmmiller (Moderator)
On December 12, 2019 Future Ready Librarians’ Shannon McClintock Miller held its last webinar of the year. She invited a few special guests to share favorite books, authors, technology, trends, ideas, advocacy tips, and other top things that have been happening in the library and within education in 2019. They examined our framework as Future Ready Librarians, they tied this essential work into the wedges of curation, empowered students as creators, literacy, equitable digital access and more.
As they got ready for the holiday break, they also shared ways to keep students engaged and learning with resources and ideas to take back to your communities.
Here are a few questions they pondered:
- What is the “hot” new technology you are using this year with your students in the library?
- What are the books (titles) that you just can’t keep on the shelf?
- What is it that your teachers have been coming to you with this year?
- What do you see as BIG things that are coming?
- What resources and programs do you share with your students as we go into the holiday and a new year? How do you keep connected?
Please direct questions concerning the webinar to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to watch the webinar live, please register to receive the video archive directly in your inbox.
Future Ready Schools® is a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed), a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those underperforming and those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. www.FutureReady.org
If you are interested in renting the Alliance’s facilities for your next meeting or webinar, please visit our facilities page to learn more.
Shannon M. Miller: We’re so excited that you’re here with us today for the last Future Ready Librarian webinar. And I’m really excited today because we’re going to have a little fireside chat with three of my favorite teacher librarians and friends, and I’m excited because we get to talk about innovation, literacy, equitable digital access, and a lot more. And so it’s going to be a really great conversation.
My name is Shannon McClintock Miller. I am a teacher librarian and innovation director at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa. I also serve as the Future Ready Librarian spokesperson along with my good friend and partner Mark Ray. You can find me on Twitter, @shannonmmiller. I blog at the Library Voice, and I put my email in here. And I’m always happy, not just about the webinar to answer questions, but anything that you might have a question about or something that you want to share, to make sure that we get it out into the world of Future Ready Librarians. I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to reach out any time. And I’m excited because I get to have three of my friends, like I said, on tonight. And my first friend that I would like to introduce you to is Josh.
Josh Stumpenhorst: Hey, good evening or good morning, whenever you’re watching this, and thanks for having me. So my name is Josh Stumpenhorst, and I am a Learning Commons Director, which is a fancy way of saying teacher librarian in our district. Because we have our librarians do so much more than just what we traditionally think of as librarians. I’ve been doing this for four years. Prior to that I was an English teacher for 13 years. I love what I do, and as Shannon kind of eluded to with her intro, my contact info is there. I love connecting with librarians and just seeing what cool things are happening in libraries just really anywhere. I love seeing what other people are coming up with in working with kids.
Shannon M. Miller: Thank you so much, Josh. And my next friend is Kathy in Georgia.
Kathy Schmidt: Hi, I’m Kathy Schmidt. I’m the Library Media Specialist at Coleman Middle School. We’re in Duluth, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes north of Atlanta. We are a STEM middle school, so we do a lot of project-based learning, incorporating art into the STEAM process with STEM. I’m on Twitter, @kathyfs24. Also I didn’t put it on the slide, but I have a new Instagram for our library, and it is colemanmslibrary on Instagram. And I would love to connect, just like Josh and Shannon said, with people and see what everyone else is doing, too.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, I love following Instagram, so I’m excited that you’re on there. That’s awesome. And our last guest and my friend Tom.
Tom Bober: Hi, I’m Tom Bober. I am the Elementary School Librarian at RM Captain Elementary, which is in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. I also get out and do quite a bit with historical thinking and doing work with historical documents kind of across the board with elementary, middle, and high school. And all of my contact information is below. Excited to be here tonight.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, thank you so much. And I think the cool thing about having the three of you on is – and myself too as a librarian – is we all have kind of unique interests and things that we do. And so I know that we’ll have a lot of really cool and different things to share tonight. So I’m really, really excited about that as well. As you listen to the webinar, please feel free to ask questions, to share things that you’re doing too – the questions that we have pop-up – please make sure that you’re sharing as well. And you can share on the Future Ready Libs hashtag (#futurereadylibs) on Twitter and also on Instagram. It’s so great to see those, and again on our Future Ready Librarians page, which is an amazing community. Share those stories and ask questions and make sure that you continue to stay part of that conversation, not just for the webinar but all year long.
As we go into a new year, we’re so excited for new things coming up that we’ll talk about at the end. But you can find all of the information also on the link at the bottom of the slide. If you’re new to Future Ready Librarians, there will be some things that we share at the end, but if you have some questions just as you’re watching and listening, please feel free to go to that site, and you might have more questions pop-up too. I also wanted to put in just our framework as Future Ready Librarians for you to refer to, and this is something that you can also find on that link. This is a poster that just is so great to be able to print off and have with you or put up. And I think a really good thing to reflect on, as we talk about all these things and see where the questions that we have and the things that we’re doing and the things that we want to do, where they fit into each one of the wedges and what we do as Future Ready Librarians.
I know for myself, as we go into a new year, setting some goals in my job and in my career and what I want to do in 2020 is really important. And so I hope that you use this, because it kind of becomes, to me and I’m sure a lot of you as well, our roadmap of where we’re going and where we’ve been. So there’s a link in here that you’ll be able to get to. These slides we will also be sharing afterwards when we share the link to the recording. You’ll be able to get to this slide deck as well, where you can get to all of these resources and some more too. So you don’t have to write everything down, because you’ll be able to get to it.
So we’re going to kick off our fireside chat with this question. What are the hot new technologies you are using this year with your students in the library? And this is something that – today, I spent the whole day collaborating with teachers in my job and just getting ready for the next seven, eight days before we go on break. And there are so many things, if it’s Ozobots in robotics and 3D printing and new tools like Adobe Spark or making things in _____. And there’s always something new and exciting, and I think as librarians, part of our job is to stay on top of that. And it can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming. But I think something like this, where we’re all listening to each other, it’s kind of a good time in the year to capture some of those hot new technologies. And so I’m really excited to hear your ideas, too.
Josh Stumpenhorst: Yeah, so I absolutely love my job, because I often tell my wife, I get paid to work with kids and play around with things that they’re interested in. And two of the hot new things in our library this year, one is quite literally hot, and that is a laser cutter. We were able to get a grant, and so we have a Glowforge laser cutter. And you can see a couple of my students here. They have been working on creating boxes, music boxes, jewelry boxes, just boxes for the sake of making boxes. It is pretty cool to see, because it’s a whole level of digital fabrication that I think a lot of our kids are starting to get relatively familiar with, with our 3D printers. And a laser cutter kind of takes it to a whole nother level, certainly in a matter of precision, and we’re seeing kids do some pretty cool stuff with it. So that’s pretty hot.
And then the newest thing that’s just taken us by storm, even in the last couple of weeks is esports. I’ve been reading a lot about it. I was always a gamer growing up through high school and certainly in college. Probably spent more time doing that than I should have. And with the reality in some of our high schools, where kids are turning pro, getting college scholarships, it’s not something that we can afford to kind of sit on the sidelines on. So we started an esports club in our library that meets during lunch, and we had our first meeting, and we had over 50 kids show up. And I didn’t even make announcements. I told a handful of kids and word of mouth it spread like wildfire, and we got kids showing up to play games. They’re having conversations. It’s competitive. It’s just another thing that kids can kind of engage in in our library. It’s fun. But also one of my big focuses this year has been the socioemotional learning, and man you put a room full of kids playing video games together and there’s some serious socioemotional learning going on in that room. Yeah, a lot of fun.
Shannon M. Miller: That’s so awesome. So tell us what they’re doing right here where they’re _____ _____.
Josh Stumpenhorst: So the picture on the left there, they’re playing Smash Bros. The three games we play are Smash Brothers, or Smash Bros as the kids say, Mario Cart, which is a game I played back when it was two-dimensional graphics. It was really horrible. And then we play Rocket League, and we’re in the process of actually having tryouts and having a team that we’re going to compete with schools outside of our school. And the kids could not be more excited about it. It’s cool because I’m also a basketball coach, so I get the athletics piece of it. And these are kids that are not typically going to be my athletes. These are kids that this is their thing, and I try to find a space for every kid to kind of find their thing.
Shannon M. Miller: That is so awesome. I know that that is something that the last couple conferences that I had went to, those were starting to pop-up, presentations, and really excited as we go into kind of the conference season with FETC and TCEA and ISTE coming up that hopefully we’ll be able to hear more people talk about this, because it’s really cool.
Josh Stumpenhorst: Oh, yeah. It’s here to stay whether we like it or not. And we look at the amount of money that’s in the video game world for kids, from a financial standpoint, it’s hard to ignore.
Shannon M. Miller: Oh, it sure is. I know that it’s hard to ignore at our own home. And so I get it. Those are two cool ideas. And Kathy, tell us what you’re doing.
Kathy Schmidt: All of our kids in our school do a project-based learning project every quarter. I work with a group of seventh graders on broadcasting and video. Like Josh, I get a grant, and I got two Tello drones. The drones are great, because you can actually code them, but you can also just record video on them. So my broadcasting kids started using those to do lots of drones. The picture in the middle is actually a drone shot of our library of one of our project-based learning showcases that we did recently. And then they put that video into a video promoting our school. So our school, like I said, is a little unique in our district.
We put everything together using WeVideo. So I know this isn’t a new technology but my kids have really enjoyed – we do have the paid version, and again part of that was with the grant also, that I got the paid version for these students. So not everyone in our school has access to the paid version. But they’ve loved incorporating the drone footage. We have two drones. Luckily we have not crashed them so that they’ve broken yet, so that’s good.
The other thing WeVideo does now is you can record podcasts, and you can record it and save it as an audio only, as an mp3. So this group of seventh graders, we started a podcast, and so far it’s called “Coleman On Air.” You can search us on Spotify. And right now what is up is they took “This I Believe,” which was an NPR segment, and they did their own “This I Believe” podcast. And they recorded them in WeVideo, and we put them up on our podcast channel. And some of these blew me away. Especially knowing some of these students, and they’re not – as Josh said, I try and find things that the students can connect with. And so these aren’t maybe our really academic kids or even our sports kids, but they really enjoy doing some of this stuff. It’s been really fun and kind of exciting to do that.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, that’s really awesome. And they love that, and I love that it’s their voice that they’re sharing. Those are the same drones we have. They’re pretty cool. And Tom?
Tom Bober: Thank you. One of the things that we’re trying to do this year is take the technology that we have, which for us is a lot of iPads, and really just try to maximize the effect of what we can do with them. I mentioned at the beginning that we do a lot with historical documents and history-based learning. So we’re trying to take these apps that we have and just look at them through that lens, and how can it let students interact with history in some different ways and share out their interpretation of history in different ways.
So for example, we’ve got students who are putting themselves in historical pictures and using that to explain what they’re seeing around them and what’s happening in that particular moment, so kind of putting themselves in the moment. An extension of that is with ChatterPix, where kids are actually embodying a historical figure through a portrait and speaking as that person. So they’ve got learning that they’ve done, but then they’re actually becoming that person and kind of taking on their voice.
We’re also using MERGE Cube Object Viewer to start to see what it’s like to – if we would actually hold 3-dimensional objects, and there’s a major institution – which I don’t think I can say yet, because it hasn’t quite come out. It should be this month or next month – who’s coming out with scanned files that could be run through a 3D printer, but we don’t have 3D printers. So we can use that MERGE Cube Object Viewer to hold that same item. And what is it like to hold that item and make meaning from it as opposed to looking at it in a photograph, for example? And then I know something like the Post-It app has been around for quite a long time, but trying to use it in new ways. How can we use it to organize our thinking, to grab other people’s thinking around history, and figure out just the way that we can process information in new and better ways using some of these apps on the iPad?
Shannon M. Miller: Very cool. I have to say that one of my favorite new apps is Object Viewer. And I love your ideas, and I love, too, like that you said about if you don’t have a 3D printer, it’s a way that kids can still use programs like Tinkercad or things that they might be creating and to be able to actually see it and view it, how it’s going to look, is just a really cool thing. And so I love that. A lot of these have also won AASL Best Apps, and so it’s good to see these
Tom Bober: Yeah, we’re looking at the rest of that list now to see what else we can utilize. And I know we look at it through a really specific lens in our library, but then we have teachers who then come and bring it in to use these technologies in different ways and for different focus areas beyond what we were originally thinking. But it helps to introduce it to the students, and to the teachers a lot of the times, and get it out there to the school a little bit easier.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s a great thing to hear. So we’ve talked now a little bit about technology, and of course we’re librarians, and we have that big focus on literacy, especially in the center of our framework. So one thing that I couldn’t ask were some of the books that you just can’t keep on your shelf.
Josh Stumpenhorst: Oh, man, so there’s so many books. It was very difficult to narrow it down to just a handful. But in the top left there’s Scythe by Neal Shusterman, is in my junior high, hands down, the hottest book. It’s unbelievable, and it’s been out for, I think, two or three years. But the third and final installment in that series came out, and I was checking our holds on it. We’re talking double digit holds. Some kids have just said, “Forget it. I’m going to Barnes & Noble to buy it,” because the hold list has been so long on it. It’s a fantastic book.
Long Way Down has been real popular with our eighth graders. One of the things that I’ve been really focused on in our library is creating a collection that reflects the population of students, but also looking at what voices are missing. And so the African-American voice in a capacity that is not always fitting the stereotypes that a lot of our kids unfortunately feel. Long Way Down and literally anything Jason Reynolds writes is powerful in our library. The James Pattersons always go well, but the Maximum Ride series was released as a graphic novel, and I think it’s 10 books. I feel like that’s right. And we ended up having to buy two sets of them because they just fly off the shelves.
And then one that I really like and the kids have really honed in on is the I Am Still Alive. And I always tell the kids that it’s Hatched, the old Gary Paulsen’s stalwart that everybody loves, but it’s a more modern day revamped female lead character. One of these books that I can’t put down, and the kids just – oh man, they eat it up. It’s never on the shelf. And then Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau is also super popular. And it is kind of a who-done-it a little bit. There’s kids that are stuck in a high school and some bombs go off in the school, and it’s narrated by these different characters and one of our main characters is actually the bomber. And so there’s these subtle clues and inuendo, but you don’t know who it is. And all five of these books are just never on the shelf. As soon as they check in, I’m printing a hold card and giving it to another kid.
Shannon M. Miller: That sounds awesome. A couple new ones to me too, and so I’m adding those to my list tonight.
Kathy Schmidt: I want to add on to that, so we Skyped with Joelle Charbonneau last year. She is fabulous to Skype with. I connected with her via Twitter, because I had a book group and we read Time Bomb. If you get a chance or you have a small group that you want to Skype with her, she was a great Skype. And it is a great book also.
Shannon M. Miller: Okay, awesome.
Kathy Schmidt: So this is my slide. This is Kathy. So I put the Read Woke logo up there. So Read Woke was a program started by the fabulous Cicely Lewis. Some of you may have seen her. I believe she presented at SLJ Summit, and I know she was at NCTE, and she had a column in School Library Journal. But the idea behind Read Woke is to look at marginalized – how did she put it? Marginalized groups, and make sure that they’re represented in your library. So we have a very diverse school, and I have taken her – she short of had a bingo board. And so I took her idea and made it a little bit going into middle school, since hers was more high school books. And so these are some of the books that we included on our – we did a Tik-Tac-Toe board this first semester, and these were some of the books that we put on there. And our kids are really loving them.
The First Rule of Punk, which I’ll talk about a little bit more in a minute, but it’s a great book by Celia Perez. And my understanding is, she is a librarian, so of course it’s going to be a good book. It’s about a girl and she moves out of town with her mom and has trouble
middle school, moving, fitting in, that kind of thing. But she has illustrations in the book. It’s not a graphic novel, but she talks a lot about creating zines, which is something that we do here at out school, some of our art students do, so it’s just a really great kind of coming-of-age book kind of thing for a middle school student.
Front Desk is by Kelly Yang, that’s another book. It is about a girl and they’re in the California area, I think Los Angeles area. And her parents are Chinese immigrants and she’s a Chinese immigrant, and her parents are running a hotel. We have a lot of different characters coming in and out of the hotel. Basically the main character takes it upon herself to run the front desk in this hotel while her parents are cleaning the rooms, getting things ready, that kind of thing. If you read the back of the book, Kelly Yang – so this is actually sort of autobiographical, and her parents ran a hotel and she would run the front desk. I read this with a group of sixth graders and they flew through the book and they really enjoyed it.
New Kid, which is down below there, is a graphic novel. I read it this summer. I have four copies in my library. I cannot keep it on my shelf. It is kind of that same theme – I didn’t mean to have a theme here, but he is a boy and he is going to a new school and he really feels like the teachers aren’t seeing him for who he is. He is African-American, and he keeps getting called the same name as the other African-American student at their school. There’s a lot of things going on in this book. After I read it, I said, “Every middle school teacher needs to read this book,” because I think it really shows us how kids look at how we treat them. And if we call them the wrong name, it really does mean something to that child.
Jackpot is the newest book out by Nic Stone. This is a little bit more YA title, but I do have it in my library. Nic Stone is from our area, and again, if you have never had a Skype with her or had her come to your school, she is all kinds of awesome. This book is a girl who – she’s working at a convenience store. She’s a senior in high school. It is Christmas Eve and she sells some lottery tickets, and one of them is the big winner. But she doesn’t know who she sold the lottery ticket to. There’s a boy in her school, rich kid, who is one of the people. She didn’t realize she sold – he was in the store that night, so she enlists him to help her find who she thinks she sold the lottery ticket to. So it’s a little bit of a trying to figure things out, little
story in there too with her and her parent, who go to a school that there are a lot of kids that have a lot, and she is one of the students that doesn’t have a lot. For our students especially, because it takes place at the high school where Nic Stone went to high school, which is right down the road from us. So it’s sort of a – I think our kids connect with it, but it’s a great book.
And then the last book I have on here is Amal Unbound. Our seventh grade studies the Middle East and a lot of our seventh graders are picking this book up because it deals with the culture in the Middle East and specifically about girls and how they are not valued in that society right now and that education is not necessarily a given to middle school/high school girls in that culture. Incidentally too, Amal Unbound, the author Aisha Saeed also lives in the Atlanta area. So some really good books that our kids have been really enjoying that kind of fall under that Read Woke umbrella.
Shannon M. Miller: Love it. Thank you. Those are all awesome. I love New Kid. One of my favorites.
Tom Bober: So some of the ones at our elementary level – and I’ll just say, everything besides the Nic Stone book on Kathy’s list is very well circulated and in our library too, especially amongst our fifth grade, but also some of our fourth grade students, which is really nice to see. And Nic, I think, is coming out with a middle grade focus book – I want to say it’s called Clean Getaway – that comes out early next year.
Kathy Schmidt: It is. It comes out January 7th. I’m a little bit of a Nic Stone stalker.
Tom Bober: So I’m excited to introduce Nic to my elementary students, because I have had a chance to hear her speak and I’ve read some of her work, and I really enjoy it. So I’m glad to bring her voice into our school. A few things, though, that have been moving really well in our library, first one is Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Best Friends. That’s the followup to the first Real Friends, which is memoir essentially of Shannon Hale’s middle school years. Shannon actually came to visit us when that first book came out. And I think that she really touched a lot of our students in the sense that the story that she tells of her – actually this is elementary and then it gets into middle school in the second book. The story that she tells is really this kind of universal story of not only feeling like you fit in and wondering who your friends are and where you stand. And I think that most if not all of our students feel like that at some time or another, and she was really able to express that so beautifully in the book, and the illustrations really bring that home as well. So when the second book came out, her first book, Real Friends, had really never died down. Students were clamoring for the second one, so it has done equally well.
I’d also say, just about any book in the Rick Riordan Presents series has done well for us, but Tristan Strong has – I don’t even know if it’s really sat on the shelf. I think it just continues to circulate, and it has just had really great word of mouth since it’s come out not too long ago. Another one that has done well is Peculiar Incident on Shady Street. And this one by Lindsay Currie has been out for a little while, but it is on our state book award list. It seems to be a really nice new voice and kind of the middle grade ghost story. And she’s just done a really nice job with it, and students are checking it out left and right. And if I were to make a prediction for our state book award, which one might come out ahead, this one I think would have a good shot.
Now Dog Man: Fetch-22 has been out all of one day, but when it made it onto our shelf this morning after I picked it up yesterday at our local bookstore, the copies, I think, lasted about 10 minutes. And then all of a sudden we had the reserved list going and building all through the day today. We have a book release calendar that I keep, and I share that with our local bookstore. So I just go every Tuesday and pick up the new books. But I also share that book release calendar with my students. So those students who are really book savvy about what’s coming up, they’ll come and ask me, “Are we getting this book?” or “Are we getting that book?” And I’ll open up the book release calendar. And so they knew that Dog Man: Fetch-22 was coming out today and were just waiting for it. Or coming out yesterday, excuse me, and were just waiting for it. And usually we take about a day or two to process, but that one I got on the shelves as soon as possible.
And then I’ve got this little picture of origami here as a reminder to talk about our active non-fiction. So we’ve been doing a lot of work with Melissa Stewart’s five different types of non-fiction, and one of them is active non-fiction, the non-fiction that teaches you how to do something. When I heard Melissa speak for the first time about this, which was at Nerd Camp two summers ago, it really struck me that not only did that whole way to categorize non-fiction really make a lot of sense and needed to be brought into our school, but I realized that with our active non-fiction, a lot of those books were not being fully realized, because kids would check out books that showed them how to do something, but they might not have the actual materials to know how to do it.
So we started really small, just with like origami paper and drawing paper, just so when kids checked out those books, they would also get those materials. But we continued to build that through last year and even more so this year. So we’ve got books on knitting, and so they get knitting needles and yarn. And they’ve got books about tying knots and they’ve got books on – the newest ones that we just added are books on magic tricks and so they get some of the materials so they can actually practice the magic tricks as they go through the book. So all of that whole category of books has been really popular and growing. And some of our students have just found something that they hadn’t realized that they were interested in before, and I really enjoyed being able to share that with them.
Shannon M. Miller: That’s awesome. I love that. I think that’s such an important thing for us to remember, how much kids truly do love non-fiction. We have one of our favorite books that we can’t keep on the shelf is – there’s one about knitting hats for cats, and so it’s a really popular book and is checked out all the time. But I think it’s such an important thing to remember as well. We all love non-fiction. So thank you guys for sharing those. I love it. I’m sure that people were adding books as you spoke about them.
One thing that comes up too a lot, when we talk about technology and we talk about finding the right books for our kids, are things that teachers come to us for. And this is something in my job, a lot of my day is spent collaborating with the teachers, and it’s one of my favorite things to do too, because I want to make sure that they have what they need for our kids and for themselves. And just to collaborate to do all of these great new ideas and to bring these great new books to our kids is so important. And so what are some of the things that your teachers are coming to you this year with?
Josh Stumpenhorst: So you know it’s funny, this question about teachers coming to you, and I’m still very, very, I consider a novice in this role, but one of the things that I spent a lot of time on is in creating value in my role as a librarian and finding teachers seeing me as something they need. Right? Because one of the things that I think a lot of people assume is librarians are typically there to help research, to really connect with ELA teachers. But the resources we can provide for science, for math, for social studies, for electives is so big. And so I have spent a lot of time trying to make those connections. For example, the
Sphero robots are not _____ _____ to show an application of mathematical skills and learning in a tangible way. And so the teachers have been coming to me this year and the previous year to really say, “All right, you’ve got this really robust maker space, the STEM activities. How can we connect them to our curriculum?” And I love doing that, because again, I get a lot of people that look at what I do and say, “Oh, you’ve just got a bunch of toys. But what does it do for my curriculum?” The teachers have finally, I believe, started to see me as somebody that’s not just going to talk about books or just fly drones and have fun, but let’s look at how I can be of service to kind of create a real life application for some of the skills
Shannon M. Miller: Josh, I think that one of the things, watching you in the last couple years and the things that you have done, you’re so important to our field, because of all of the new innovation and technologies. And I think that you’re fearless when it comes to using these things, which is one of the things that I kind of embrace too as a librarian, is just taking chances. So it’s really great to hear that your teachers are embracing you as a resource in other ways. You mentioned some of those ways, but it’s really great to hear that they are coming to you now and seeing you as more in that. So what is the main thing that they’re holding onto now that they’re looking for guidance from you?
Josh Stumpenhorst: So one of the things that I’ve kind of been focused on is creating an understanding that the librarian is not just a resource for ELA or English teachers but can be a resource to all teachers. So whether it’s the history teachers using our VR goggles to take kids to places they’re studying or the math teaching using our robots to show linear equations or whatever concept their teaching in a real life application, I’m just trying to create that value so the teachers, not just ELA teachers but all teachers, see the library is a space that can be a resource. It’s something that they can all utilize to increase and enhance the learning of all of their kids.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, I think that’s great. And in my job I always think about that and what I can be. It’s so much more than just showing the latest robotics or how to use a 3D printer. But taking it and having that trust with the teachers, that they know that not only do you have the knowledge but really deepening that, because we are educators. And I think that’s one thing that – a hurdle that sometimes we have to get over because of our role as the librarian too. What about you, Kathy?
Kathy Schmidt: Like with Josh, that’s one of my big things too, is to get those teachers that maybe like the science, math, especially our connections, which is sort of our related arts classes to come in and collaborate. But the other thing we’ve been talking about this year, especially with our teachers, is digital citizenship, especially when it comes to using images and using pictures. Our kids are creating their project-based learning projects on their own. They might be part of a one or two – two or three person group, but they are constantly just going to Google and finding pictures.
And we’ve been really trying to share – and I’ve been working with a couple different teachers – about how do we teach our kids, where do we go? Why that you don’t just download and print or download and put on your website other people’s pictures, and that kind of thing? And that digital citizenship piece that I think the teachers are realizing now is so important to teach our kids, but our teachers really have nowhere to start. And to be honest with you, some of our teachers – I’ve done some professional development this year, and they’re like, “Oh, so you can’t do that?” So if our kids take a picture and they copy and paste
website, which is part of their project-based learning final project, that that’s not legal. Like, no, it’s not. So I think it’s a learning curve for everybody. But then really trying to start our kids out so that as they move to high school and then college or whatever they do after, that they have those skills.
But it’s also, we are in a school district that has a lot of testing. Not just state testing, but we also have a lot of district assessments that our kids take, and digital citizenship is not something they are tested on. So sometimes finding the time with teachers – while they know it’s important and they know it’s important for our kids to learn, there’s only so many hours in a day that we have our kids. So that’s been a challenge this year.
Shannon M. Miller: It’s good that that is – even though it’s a challenge, which I know it is for a lot of us, but at least it’s a topic that’s coming up and it’s something that we think about too at Van Meter all the time. How about you, Tom?
Tom Bober: We are in kind of a transitional year this year, because we have moved, finally, to a flexible schedule at our elementary school. And it was something that I’ve been ready for for several years, but I didn’t feel like my – not I didn’t feel. Talking to teachers, they were not ready for it. They couldn’t see the benefits of it. And I wanted to get us to a point where if I asked for this change that they were going to be onboard. And so we’ve really been going through a big year of change and transition and figuring out ultimately, with regard to the library, what type of learning stays? What type of learning is going to go away? And what things are we going to grow that we were doing something with but we really weren’t maybe living up – it wasn’t living up to its full potential? And that’s really been kind of across the board.
I think one thing that Josh said earlier, really is something that I believe strongly in, is this idea that as librarians we should really know what our value is. And not in a universal sense. I think that’s important too, about what’s important about librarians in libraries and in schools, but what do we specifically bring to the table in our situation in our school. And if we can own that, I think that we can really play a strong leadership role in our buildings and in our districts. So that’s something that I’ve been trying to bring in. I think that I, in my first years as a librarian, was always thinking that I was someone who was in service to my students and in service to my teachers. And that is still true. I think something that I’ve tried to reshape my thinking with is how can I lead my students somewhere? How can I lead my staff somewhere at the same time?
And so a lot of this year has been that flexible scheduling transition. I’ve done a lot more this year sitting in with teachers and being a thinking partner when it comes to just lesson design and information finding and that research piece that we’re still in some ways working through what that looks like K thru 5. That is something that as a building we’re still struggling with, you could say. And I feel like this year, given my scheduling flexibility, I’ve been able to play a much more active role in being part of the conversations. Whereas before I was someone who would kind of come in after the conversation and try to influence. Now I’m influencing up front, and I think that that’s been a positive thing.
Shannon M. Miller: That’s great. I know there’s nothing like having a flexible schedule when you’re, well, any grade level of librarian. But I know for me, having that flexible schedule in the elementary is just really key to being able to make a difference as well. So thank you guys for sharing all those thoughts, because I think it’s just so important. The next question that I want to share, because we’re sharing so much and we’re going to run out of time to share some of these great things, are some of the resources and programs that you share with your students as we go into the new year. I know that I have a lot on my list. We have these drones sitting in the cabinet that can’t wait to be used and some new curriculum when it comes to thinking even about socioemotional learning and some of those topics that are coming up. And so we would love to hear some of your ideas too and what you’re going to be using.
Josh Stumpenhorst: So the one I wanted to share is a new program, product, however you want to bill it, from Sphero, because we’re a big fan of Sphero in our district but certainly in our school, is they have created a Computer Science Foundations Program. And this is going to sound bad, but I like something that can do things for me, because I have so many plates spinning in the air at all time. So if I have a product or a resource that can get kids into something on their own and they can be very independent, I’m a big fan of it.
So the Computer Science Foundations for Sparrow, there’s three different courses and it progresses for them. And I’ve got kids that hop on there. They hop into a lesson. There’s a QR code on it. They scan it. it loads the lesson for them, loads the activity, loads the program, and they can kind of go through it themselves. And it’s teaching them basic coding from a drawing coding to a block-based coding, all the way to Java Script. And I’ve had kids on it now and it has been just so powerful to see kids – I know Hour of Code is big for a lot of people. I’m not a fan of it, because I believe coding should be something we just talk about all the time, not just for an hour. And it has been just, wow. It’s been such a great resource for kids to kind of go through and develop those coding skills and computer literacy and tech literacy. So that’s probably been my most recent one that kids are really, really digging and seeing a lot of return on their learning, their investment in.
Shannon M. Miller: Awesome. I can’t wait to check that out more. Big fans here too of Sphero and the things that they’ve done.
Kathy Schmidt: So what I’m sending home with our kids is we just kicked off our One-Book, One-School for this year, and the book we’re using is The First Rule of Punk. So we kicked it off last week. Unfortunately we don’t give the book to all our kids. Someday I hope to be able to get a grant to be able to do that. but all of our teachers have copies of the books and we encourage our students to purchase the book for $9.00. I’m
tomorrow to some kids, and the idea is that hopefully they go home and they read it over break. We’ll do a lot of activities once we come back in January with the book. And then the culmination is a big literacy night that we have at our school, which is this year on February 4th. And so we’ve done this the past two years where we kind of kick it off right before Christmas Break. And it’s been pretty successful, because I think a lot of kids do read it over Christmas. I had two parents today come in and purchase the book, that they’re going to give it to their kids for the holidays. And so it’s worked really well for us. And I’m really excited, because I think our literacy night this year is going to be awesome with this book.
Shannon M. Miller: I absolutely love that book, and it is so exciting, and I love the fact that you guys are all reading it together. That will be so much fun.
Tom Bober: Yeah, I echo, great book. We don’t do One Book, One School, but that title alone makes it enticing. As we are getting ready for winter break, a lot of what we’re focused in on is literature and making sure kids are kind of in that mindset to push them through to continue reading over that break, so that when they get back in, they’re kind of still fresh with their reading.
So I do a lot of one-on-one consultations with students. That’s something that’s opened up a lot more with that flexible scheduling. That’s on teacher request, parent request, and student request. And I’ll sit down and help them prepare winter reading lists. And we do that throughout the year too, but it gets especially busy at this time of the year. We also have just kicked off our Mock Caldecott group with our upper elementary, and that’s something that takes place at lunch, and it’s an optional club that we do. But we’ve got pretty good participation this year. We’ve been doing it for several years, but last year I was lucky enough to sit on the Caldecott committee, so we’ve made some changes to how our Mock Caldecott works, and I’m really excited to implement them. And so far so good.
And then also just a nod to our state book awards. Those are something that we don’t actually vote for until March, but now is a great kind of check-in point for encouraging students to read some great titles that have been curated not only by librarians in the state but in our – the way that we do it, there’s also a student voice that comes up with that final list. There are some wonderful titles there.
Shannon M. Miller: That’s great. And to know that you were on the Caldecott is just pretty darn cool, Tom, I must say. That’s on my bucket list, so that’s so neat, and you guys had so many great things that you were going to share. And so just really quickly, how do you share these resources? I think that as we get ready for holiday break, it’s fun to see how everybody’s sharing things. I’m making a Smore, and I’m going to share it on our website and on our Facebook page and Instagram and send it home, too with the kids in just a letter, because I want to make sure that they’re staying connected to a lot of these things that we have that we have been sharing just during the webinar, but also that we want to keep them just kind of connected to us too. A lot of the kids need that. So just really quick, are there any cool things that you’re doing to share these things with kids over break?
Josh Stumpenhorst: So I’ll say the simple obvious answer, social media. I have Instagram and Twitter. I share out student projects, all that kind of stuff. And for me to stay connected, the Facebook groups have been amazing. The Future Ready Librarian Facebook group. There’s a 3D printing Facebook group, a Glowforge Laser Printer – there’s so many groups for teacher librarians to connect with, to share, and also learn from, which I find super, super helpful.
Kathy Schmidt: I ditto what Josh just said about how we as librarians can stay connected, and those Facebook groups are great too. I actually got the idea for the First Rule of Punk, to do this as our One Book, One School this year – I put out on Twitter, “I need a book. Middle grade. Something to do with music. What do you guys have? I need to come up with something.” We do our One Book, One School on our STEAM theme. And this came up, and I said, “Oh my god, that’s perfect. I hadn’t even thought about that.” So it’s such a great way to stay connected.
For our teachers, I went back
I did probably 15 years ago, and I have a little thing I do in Canva every month and I post it in the staff bathrooms. I call it the “Toilet Times,” and I put usually one or two resources. I usually add a book in there that’s a hot book that maybe our teachers need to look at to suggest to our kids. And then as far as the kids, our principal sends out a newsletter every week, and I’ve been putting stuff about the One Book, One School, reminding parents especially, “Hey, we have some audiobooks and ebooks on our catalog that our students can access,” things like that.
Shannon M. Miller: Very cool. I love those ideas. How about you, Tom?
Tom Bober: So with our students, because they’re so young, usually a lot of that’s face-to-face obviously, but with our parents, we do have a Facebook page for the librarian, so I will do live broadcasts. Usually those are to talk about new books that are coming into the library, but sometimes we’ll mix it up and do something else there as well. And with our teachers, I’m part of what we call an innovation committee within the building. And our goal is to share out different innovative ways of teaching and that could be through very short podcasts, just a snippet of video, some photographs, whatever it is that we think kind of captures the moment. And sometimes it’s just a quick little blurb with a link out to a great article or someone else’s video that they have on there.
But I’ve got to echo, for myself, I love the Future Ready page on Facebook as well as some other great librarian pages, Twitter as well, and I’m also just a sucker for a really good face-to-face conference. I could, as I’m sitting here today, I would love if Josh and Kathy would have like an hour-long session on just one of the many great things they talked about. I would love to sit-in and learn from them. So that’s another way that I personally like to learn and grow myself.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, me too. I know, it’s exciting, because we’re getting ready to go into all the conferences of the next year, and so I just could suck it all up. I love everything that we’ve heard, and I know that everybody else has too. So just in a few words friends, since we only have a few minutes left, is there any advice or great things that you want to share? I know sitting here today with a lot of teachers at Van Meter, it was a lot of things just with self-care even, taking care of ourselves and spending time with our family. That’s probably kind of my advice as we go and we get ready for a new year, because we’ve all done so many great things. So if you guys want to share something quick, that’d be great.
Josh Stumpenhorst: I’ll be quick, because I get a lot of questions around some of the stuff that we do in our makerspace, in our creative areas. People say, “Oh, you must be some sort of tech guru, and you’re this, that, and the other.” And the reality is, no. Almost every single device – 3D printer came into our library. I didn’t know how to use it. We got a milling machine. I didn’t even know how to turn it on. Laser cutter, I was afraid I was going to burn the building down. My advice is, embrace it. Bring the kids in with you. Learn how to do it together, and just go with it. Because if you’re afraid that you don’t know how to do something, that’s going to hold you back from doing something that could potentially be amazing for kids. And so you don’t have to be an expert in anything, just be an expert in working with kids. And it will all kind of work out.
Shannon M. Miller: Hallelujah. I say that all the time as well. I was presenting in New York a couple days ago, and I said, “I’m not an expert in anything, but we can reach out to people on Twitter, and we can write to them and tell them we need help, and we can ask each other.” And so we have the best communities as librarians. It’s awesome. How about you, Kathy?
Kathy Schmidt: I agree. And I love the thing about burning down the building, Josh. That’s what I feel if I leave my 3D printer on overnight. I think, too, is getting the word out to your community, to not only your teachers but really your community about what you as a librarian, what you do. Because I really think even in getting ready for 2020 that people still don’t – they see the library as, “Oh, you’re shushing and wearing a cardigan and” – although I do wear a lot of cardigans – that people really and truly don’t know all the other stuff that we do in the library. So I think Josh had said it earlier about getting the word out and letting people know what you do. And for us in our community it’s been a game changer as far as people supporting us either with money or resources or doing stuff with our students. It’s really about promoting yourself and promoting the library program and what you do.
Shannon M. Miller: So true.
Tom Bober: And I know this is going to sound like I’m just kind of echoing here, but I have got to go on board with this idea of just knowing the value that you bring and sharing that out, so other people can attach to that and start to take advantage of it. And to what Josh said, I have teachers come to me all the time and get frustrated because they say that a seven-year-old knows how to use tech better than they do. And what I usually respond is that, “Maybe they do, but part of the reason they do is that they have no fear.” And so I think if we approach technology with the opportunity of doing great things, but also having no fear, we can do some really incredible things with students and their learning.
Shannon M. Miller: Yeah, not to have fear. That’s a big thing. And as we get ready for a break, it’s time for us to maybe embrace some of that too and try some new things. I know from this that I have a lot of ideas and I thank you, friends, for all of those. And I know that everybody else listening is thanking all three of you, too. We can’t wait to see what you do in 2020.
As we end this webinar and we end another year of Future Ready Librarians, there’s just a few things that I wanted to share quick. If you have questions and you need resources, the website is great to go to for Future Ready schools, and we have a page on there for librarians that has all the information that we need. We just got done with our Future Ready Institutes and we’ll be having these again next year. But I think even though they’re finished, looking at some of the resources and things that we shared, either through the hashtags for Future Ready or Future Ready Libs and also by following the Facebook pages for these different groups is so important.
This is just one of the webinars that we had. We had six this year, and these are all recorded and you can find them on our site. And we’ve had some great ones, and it’s really going to be fun to think about the next year too. This is our – end of our third year, and so we’ve had now 18 of them and these are all recorded for resources. And even if you watched – and some of them I’ve watched more than once and shared with even teachers and administrators and others in my building, and it’s great to be able to just learn things from experts just like the three guests that I had on today. And so I really highly encourage you to watch some of those as well.
ISTE also has a course. I think, now we’re going into probably about 18 months now at this and you can now enroll for the spring that is coming up and even the summer. It will be open soon that you can enroll in that too, but the course is really great, because it goes through just exploring Future Ready librarianship. It’s a 15-hour self-paced course that is in collaboration with Follett and the Alliance Future Ready Librarians. This is great for K-12 librarians and anybody that’s really read to take that next step to lead beyond the library.
All these resources that we talked about all throughout the year and that we’re sharing tonight can be found and curated on a couple different spots. We have a Symbaloo and we have a great Collection by Destiny that even has a collection for each one of those different wedges. This Padlet is also great because it’s just crowd sourced, and if you have things to share, and I’ll be sharing some resources even from tonight on there, but please feel free to share those resources as well. Make sure you follow our Smore, which is something that we share things – like this webinar will be put on there and some more resources as we end up the year. And as go into the new year, we have some exciting new things coming up that we’ll be sharing on there as well.
Just like everyone said tonight, the Future Ready Librarian Facebook page is a great community. And even though it is huge – I think we have like almost 24,000 members now – I love to use it to ask questions, to get ideas from. You can also search the group to be able to find more specific things, so if there’s something that you’ve seen or something really specific you have a question about, you can use that. It’s on the left-hand side, kind of in the middle of the page, and it’s great to be able to search it that way too.
I mentioned at the beginning using the Future Ready Libs hashtag. I love it on Instagram, because you can now follow a hashtag, and so by following that, you can get so many great ideas. But also on twitter, be sure to follow the conversation, but be part of that conversation too. And I know that by following not just Future Ready Libs but Future Ready, I get so many great ideas and inspirations everyday but following the things and just sharing the things that we’re doing at our school too.
This is a poster, and as you go into a new year, if you haven’t shared it before with your administrators, with your teachers, put it up in your library or classroom, make sure that you do, because by sharing the things that we can do, and we talked tonight about collaboration and sharing resources and truly knowing not just what we do, but sharing it with others, what we can do, that’s going to make all the difference for your new year. So print this off, put it up, share it, put it in people’s mailbox, and make sure that you’re sharing all the great things that you’re doing as Future Ready Librarians.
There’s a lot of new things coming up in the next season and we have something new that’s going to be really fun, and more details are coming soon. Again, I thank the three of you for joining me tonight, and I thank all of you, and let’s continue this conversation into the new year and get ready for a good break. And remember, again, take care of yourselves and have a nice safe new year. So thank you guys for joining me, and I love all your ideas and your wisdom. You’re inspiring to all of us.
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