by Deborah Rinio, AkASL Secretary
It’s August and the school year is just beginning. As you start new positions, begin new projects, or settle into the groove of your day to day, it’s time to consider renewing or joining the Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkASL). You may be wondering why you should bother or what you get from your membership, so I’m here to tell you!
AkASL is a roundtable of the Alaska Library Association (AkLA) and is focused on school library issues. AkASL is also an affiliate of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and as such has a voice at the table when it comes to national school library issues through the affiliate assembly meetings that occur twice a year at ALA Conferences. Dona Helmer is our AASL Affiliate Representative this term. In her role, she brings the concerns of Alaskan libraries and library staff to AASL.
AkASL is continually working to improve and grow its services to the library community. AkASL works closely with AkLA and the Alaska Society for Technology in Education (ASTE) to ensure quality school library programming at each respective conference.
We also work hard to keep you abreast of all the opportunities that abound and events you should be aware of through several channels:
AkASL also works behind the scenes to be a voice for school library issues at the state and local level. Out advocacy committee presents at principals and superintendents’ conferences, prepares advocacy materials for others to share, attends ESSA meetings, and participates in AASL advocacy events. We help pass along relevant legislation and are working on utilizing the ALA Action Center to keep you informed of statewide issues.
Right now, we are starting a campaign to ask the State Board of Education to adopt the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Connect with us on Facebook or the Listserv to stay tuned for more information on how you can help!
AkASL also runs the Battle of the Books program, provides grants to attend professional development in person and online, and offers awards and scholarships to honor the school librarians and school library staff that make our work possible.
Most importantly, AkASL is a group of your peers that volunteer their time to - as it says in our mission statement - help in “advancing high standards for the school library profession in Alaska”. They can’t do it without your membership or your help.
To join or renew, please visit: http://www.akasl.org/join.html
If you’d like to volunteer or have comments, questions, or concerns, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to you joining us soon!
by Dona J. Helmer
A lifetime ago, someone asked me if I had any audiobooks they could borrow for a summer road trip. I had to admit that I didn’t own any but could get her some. I simply sent a letter to the now-defunct Kliatt magazine and asked if I could review audiobooks for them. When you review, you generally don’t get paid but you do get to keep the material so I soon had some audiobooks to share. You know the story, life happened and I no longer had time to review but I still loved books on tape. While I was living my life, the industry experienced huge growth. Actually, I found out recently audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing industry. https://goodereader.com/blog/audiobooks/global-audiobook-trends-and-statistics-for-2018 Michelle Cobb of the Audiobook Publishers Association stated, “26% of the US population has listened to an audiobook in the last 12 months... 8% of all listeners are under the age 35.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about audiobooks and their place in our lives and our libraries. First, let me disclose that I love having someone tell me a story. I also like to use my time to multitask while I am sewing or (sigh) doing what the little dusting and vacuuming I do that passes for housework. I also have friends I meet who recommend specific readers and specific audiobooks that I “must read”.
I decided that I need to update and improve my skills as a selector and listener. An article at Bookriot (https://bookriot.com/2018/07/10/audiobooks-vs-reading/) says that,”Reading aphysical book and listening to the audiobook are two different paths that lead to the same destination. Each creates differing experiences and memories, but neither is better or worse than the other”. Of course, I knew that but the post helped to clarify my thoughts and you might want to take a look at their list of ways to view audiobooks vs reading.
At conference this summer, I heard Mary Burkey, author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013), talk about the history of audiobooks and give tips about listening critically. Mary is past chair of the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Recordings, was part of the Odyssey Award Task Force, and served as the chair of ALA s first Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Committee. She reviews for Booklist magazine and The Horn Book magazine, and writes Booklist’s audiobook column Voices in My Head. She is an amazing resource and I just had to buy her book so I could continue to learn more.
In fact, I got so enthused about audiobooks that in addition to Mary B ‘s book I also purchasedListening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy by Sharon Grover and Lizette D. Hannegan (ALA, 2011). This is an older work but has a research bibliography and information about thematic lists of quality titles and suggested group listening activities that you can share with teachers
If you are looking for current (low cost or free) information check out:https://www.booklistreader.com/category/audiobooks/ for up-to-date information on the Audie Award winners, new audiobooks and reviews.
Also take a look at http://soundcommentary.com/ for lengthy reviews of audiobooks by library practitioners. You can subscribe for under $7 per year.
Need Money? Remember you can always do a grant to DonorsChoose or if you exploring grants to help integrate audiobooks and need some statistics or maybe just ideas, gohttps://www.booklistreader.com/2017/04/04/audiobooks/a-trove-of-resources-to-help-you-get-an-audiobook-grant/
A presentation by Deborah Rinio
Watch the slides here.
Fake News (presented at the AkLA conference)
AASL Best Websites (presented during ASTE conference)
AASL Standards (presented at the AkLA conference)
A presentation by Jill Gann @ the 2018 ASTE conference
View the slides
By Deborah Rinio
Gwenyth Jones, the Daring Librarian, is a force to be reckoned with. Her style, passion, and sense of humor result in a dynamic presenter with a lot of great tips to share. During the ASTE conference, she presented a workshop for Alaska librarians on ways that librarians can be marketing geniuses. She talked about social media and she presented other technology related ways that all educators can engage their students in future ready concepts. However, there was one thing she said that made me pause. She said to always say “yes.” Of course, she didn’t mean all the time and in every situation in our lives. She meant that when speaking to your administrator you should always frame thing in the positive.
On the surface, this sounds like a great idea, but as I thought about it more I asked myself “what about when you can’t say yes because you don’t have the time, resources, or skills?” I asked her this at the conference, and the Daring Librarian say to say “not yet.” I’ll admit I appreciate the positive attitude, but I worry that if we always spin thing in positive ways we will undermine our advocacy efforts. If we don’t tell our principals that we can’t do something and more importantly why, we will never get the resources we need to be transformative and empowering.
Let me be clear, I am not criticizing Ms. Jones for having this perspective. We each have our own approaches to different situations. She was condensing her - most likely complex - ideas into a snippet for one slide in a presentation. I’m sure “just say yes” is more complicated than that in her own mind as well. But I feel the need to respond and present an alternative to that concept.
What if instead of just saying “yes,” or saying “not yet,” we say “let’s work together to solve this problem and find an alternative solution”? It may not be as catchy, but it creates a space where we are instructional collaborators, where we are working together to problem solve, not doing things for others but with them.
Let me give you an example. A few years ago one of the elementary librarians in my building was asked by her principal to teach keyboarding two or three times a week. Keyboarding is a technology standard, but is not connected to libraries in our district. To teach keyboarding would not only mean that she was teaching out of her content area, but also that she would not have sufficient time to shelve, repair books, order materials, and do all the other things that she does outside of instructional time. My suggestion was to ask her principal why he wanted keyboarding taught and find the shared value.
It's likely he thought that students need to be able to type quickly and efficiently to be more effectively learners. The librarian probably thought the same thing. The disagreement was with the how, not the what. So, I advised her to bring an alternative plan to him. Instead of teaching additional classes, why not have a laptop cart in the library (she didn't already) and involve more technology-based activities in her classes. Students would get more practice typing through natural organic usage and she would also get technology for her library and not lose important prep time.
She wasn’t saying no, but neither was she saying yes; because it’s never as simple as just yes or no, and not yet implies that someday you might be willing to engage in the activity. If it’s something exciting and transformative maybe “not yet” is the way to go; but if it’s something that makes you cringe, that sets your teeth on edge, that makes you question whether your administrator, or teachers, or parents really understand what you do, then try out “let’s work together to solve this problem and find an alternative solution.” It places you in a position of power, it situates you as a problem solver, and it gives you an opportunity to educate others about your role in the school community.
By Leigh Horner
As Alaskans, we’re pretty lucky to have the State of Alaska Library pay for us to have access to Brain Pop. Brain Bop is just one of the high quality databases that the State of Alaska purchases through SLED for all Alaskan Libraries. I’ve had teachers ask for our district to purchase Brain Pop and I would jump up waving the login and password and information that we already have it for FREE! However this year at ASTE it was revealed to me that Brain Pop is more than movies and quizzes. Currently when you login to Brain Pop with the state-wide login you can play games, take quizzes, build concept maps...but then you hit a wall. Unfortunately, you can’t save anything and there are many other tools and features that are not available through the single-user state login. To have full-access you need an individual Brain Pop account. Don’t be disappointed, your school district can get your own account for FREE. That’s right it’s still free for Alaskans! There are just a few steps that you need to go through. Have your IT admin or district administrator contact Cassandra Fostick email@example.com (Cassandra is our Alaskan rep). Your IT admin simply needs to ask to shut off the school IP authentication for Brain Pop. Brain Pop can then set up My BrainPop accounts for all the teachers and students in your school. They will be using Canvas or Google Classroom that’s why it’s important that they have permission from your admin.
Once BrainPOP has been activated in your school, you and your teachers can start using all of the features available. Teachers can track students’ work, provide feedback, create custom assignments. Using the full features available, teachers can provide game-based learning for their students and teachers can have playful assessment of their students learning. One example is Make-a-movie. Students and teachers can produce their own Brain Pop style movies using scenes, images and animations from Brain Pop. This easy-to-use movie-making tool (https://www.brainpop.com/make-a-movie/landing/?refer=/make-a-movie/) also allows you to add your own narration and drawings. Finished movies can be submitted to their teachers for feedback. All of this is available to you for free through the State of Alaska’s paid subscription.
Brain Pop is so much more than movies, games and quizzes. Educators have access to lesson plans, classroom aids, creative teaching ideas, and resources (https://educators.brainpop.com/). There are interactive games and informative movies that can be used with smartboards. Complete lesson plans and flipcharts are available for educators. Take advantage of this opportunity to have full access to this terrific database. Did I mention that it’s paid for through the State Library and won’t cost your district anything?