Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Off to Chicago

Tomorrow I leave for a short trip to Chicago to teach a seminar called, The Best of the Best: Top 100 Web Resources for Elementary Teachers, K-6. Sponsored by the Institute for Educational Development, this full day seminar includes:
  • Teacher-friendly templates to use upon returning to your classroom
  • Grant funding opportunities for educators to add much-needed resources to your classroom
  • Best subscription databases and the resources they provide to teachers
  • Searchable databases filled with engaging Webquest adventures for all elementary subject areas
  • Timesaving teacher tools to ease the strain of all that paperwork in your classroom
  • Exciting online collaborative projects that can connect your students with a world-wide community of learners
  • Copyright-free digital images to enhance your presentations and Web sites
  • Explore the wonderful world of free Google tools
  • The latest, most cutting-edge Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis and Webcasts and how to use them in your K-6 classroom
  • Web site addresses (URLs) and what the various parts mean to make you a savvy surfer
  • Web browser choices and why you may need more than one on your computer
  • Online bookmark services to organize your favorite Web sites in one location for easy access from any computer
  • Tips for conducting successful searches to ensure that your valuable time online is well-spent
  • Elementary curriculum sites that focus on elementary math, social studies, art/music, ELA, reading, science, special education, and ESL
  • Software to create your own Podcasts to communicate world wide or locally
  • Online translator tools to help improve your communication with ESL parents
This is a new seminar for me. My biggest hope is that the teachers who attend will learn how to save time and money by finding the best resources that are available. When you search Google for Ancient China, you get over 10 million hits. Life is too short to sort through that.

So, what are your 5 favorite sites? Oh, and by the way, the Voki, is one of those cool things we'll learn now to do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beyond the Book

While reading the local paper online, I saw a link to an article called Beyond the Book. Intrigued, I clicked. What I saw next was brilliant. The article was a description of 20 programs that will be held in North County public libraries over the next week. From resume writing classes to guest speakers and musical programs, patrons can attend these free programs- beyond the book. Check out your local public library. There’s a lot going on.
There's also a lesson in there for school libraries. How many of us school library types offer programs and activities like this? What are some beyond the book programs that we offer?

How about these?

• Resumes that Get the Job
• Concerts from student performers
• Theater performances by student actors
• Books Anytime- Anywhere- E-books
• Reference Online- Databases Rock!
• 4G charging stations
• Dial-a-Story
• Game Night/Day
• Stitches- A Sewing/Knitting, etc. group
• Musings- Teen Writers Workshop
• Yoga in the Stacks
• Gaming Night/Day
• SAT Prep
• Poetry Slams
• Art Demonstrations by students
• Recycling Crafts
• Cooking Demonstrations

So think about it. When people think of the library, what do they think of? It's time to change the stereotype. There’s a lot more we can offer beyond the book. Why not advertise that too?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank Goodness for English

I've spent most of the last two days at the district hearings regarding the layoff notices to certificated teachers. This morning, the union attorney told us that 20 teachers would be recalled before the testimony continued. She rattled off many different subject areas. Library was not one of them. I settled in for what I was sure would be a long day. The very last name that was called was me. I gasped. I cried. People applauded.

What happened? I don't know exactly, but it seems there were errors made in the seniority list and tie breakers due to other certification. I believe my English teaching credential saved me. Now I am free to breathe and go about my work.

Relieved? Extremely. Relaxed? Not yet. Classifed battles have yet to begun. Now, I get to stay to help fight them.

For all of you who wrote to support me. I thank you. For those who prayed and spoke and wrote to others, let's remember we're not out of the woods yet. Let's keep all libraries open. Libraries matter because children matter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More than a Storage Room

I am a published author. An international speaker. A school librarian. Twelve months of the year I am employed by San Diego Unified Schools as the district’s only resource librarian. We have over 228 schools in a district with nearly 132,000 students. For the first time since I took this job 9 and a half years ago, we have every school library open except one.

Our School Board is currently in the process of making budget reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. Of over 200 schools, we only have about 30 Teacher Librarians. School budgets have excessed about half a dozen of them. Another 13 Teacher Librarians have received a layoff notice. Though I don’t work at a school site, I got caught in the big net of media credentials, so I am one of the thirteen. It appears that certificated library staffing could take a 50% cut.

Classified staffing seems just as grim. We are projecting that 37 school libraries will close due to no staffing. Eleven additional secondary schools will have less than one person working full time. Most of these have more than 1000 students who will need to check out textbooks.

Our library staff is a mixture of mostly classified and just over 30 certified people. In the last two years, we have trained almost 100 new staff members. Many of these library workers began as volunteers. Their children attended their school. Then they saw the value in what they did. They do their job, not for the summers off or for the salary. They do it because it’s important. They do it because it matters.

There is a common misconception about what a “librarian” does. The average person thinks a librarian reads stories to children and checks out books. Today’s “librarian” is much more than that. Libraries with adequate staffing level the educational playing field. Not every child has internet access at home. Not every child has a 4G phone. Not every child has books to call his own.

But in the library, students may have access to current technology. They have access to books. Most importantly they have access to trained staff who can guide them from 92 million Google hits on poetry to 184 educationally appropriate sites. Someone who can teach him about how to find the most current data. Someone who can find that just-right book.

Yes, I am an international speaker and a published author. But I am also a school librarian. I chose to work in this district because it matters. These are my schools. My teachers. My students. They need me. They need all of us. Libraries matter because kids matter. Libraries are more than storage rooms for books. They are the doors to literacy. Let’s keep them open. Shall we?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bringing Poetry to Life with Digital Resources

Baseball, spring flowers, and poetry. It must be April. Since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month. This weekend I will be teaching a Saturday Matinee at the IMC on using digital resources to teach poetry. Whether you teach language arts or not, there’s a poem and a strategy that will enhance your curriculum and jazz up your lessons.

We will start, of course, with Destiny, our one-stop-shopping hub of all things digital. Within your online catalog, you may also find titles and digital resources. If you Google “poetry” you get over 92 million hits. Within Destiny, 184 educationally appropriate sites. Why start driving the Titanic when what you really need is a speedboat?

We will look at some of the best sites for K-12 instruction. We will also look at our databases. In TeachingBooks.net, for example, there are 546 results. From lesson plans to videos and strategies, everything you need to teach your curriculum is there for the searching.

As time allows, we will also look at poetry dramatization. We will sing some poetry. We’ll look at some of the best new titles. Today’s poetry is fun. It’s informational. Picture book poetry is beautiful.

Maybe you belong to me (fellow SDUSD teachers/staff). So join me. It’s not too late to get in on a jam packed, rip roarin’, poetry packed hour. Bring your cup. I’ll make you some coffee or tea. The bonus: It’s my Saturday to work, so I can help you find the best resources from the IMC collection while you’re here.

For more information:

April is National Poetry Month. Join Deborah B. Ford, District Resource Librarian, for a one hour workshop of online resources to jazz up your current poetry curriculum teaching with the latest in Web 2.0 tools. Learn how to find new digital resources. Discover lesson plans, books and teaching strategies for your library or classroom that will entice even your most reluctant readers. Find them today. Use them tomorrow.

Register for this fun one hour workshop at:

IMC Saturday Matinee Series: Bringing Poetry to Life with Digital Resources (5458SATMAT0008)
SRN: 545804162011

Class will be held from 10 AM to 11 AM at the Instructional Media Center, Room 3. Bring your coffee/tea cup!!

Contact Deborah B. Ford for questions. dford@sandi.net