2014 SLJ School Librarian of the Year Finalist

An incredible honor happened this week.  I was named a finalist for the 2014 School Library Journal & Scholastic School Librarian of the Year.  My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been flooded with congratulations and I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls as well.  Being recognized is such an honor, but more importantly to me, recognitions like this highlight the powerful work that takes place in school libraries around the world who have librarians who are connected educators constantly staying on the cutting edge of innovation, advocating for students, and sharing their work for the good of libraries worldwide.  I stand tall with Michelle Colte, School Librarian of the Year, and Colleen Graves, co-finalist.

You can read the full SLJ story here.

Read about Michelle Colt.

Read about Colleen Graves.

Read about me.

Here’s the official press release.

School Library Journal and Scholastic Announce Winners of the Inaugural School Librarian of the Year Award Library Media Specialist Michelle Colte is recognized for her innovative use of technology and exceptional

NEW YORK, NY – September 3, 2014 – School Library Journal today announced the winners of the first annual School Librarian of the Year Award, which honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st- century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI, was named the winner and will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of materials of her choosing from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s founding sponsor. Additionally, Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA and Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, were both recognized as finalists and will each receive $500 in Scholastic materials of their choice. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal, available now with winner Michelle Colte as the cover story, and on SLJ.com.

A panel of school librarians, School Library Journal editors and other industry professionals from Scholastic and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) determined the winners of the award. All nominations were judged based on several criteria, including creativity in programming, exemplary use of technology and integration of library resources with curricula.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and its honorees, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

Quotes about the School Librarian of the Year Award:

Michelle Colte, 2014 School Librarian of the Year, stated, “I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy – it’s about helping people make connections and share knowledge within the community and beyond. I am honored to be named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, and I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools creatively.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of School Library Journal, said, “This inaugural award is a unique opportunity to highlight the work of school librarians who help K–12 students gain critical literacy skills, discover great literature, and engage personal, creative expression, using technology. School Library Journal is pleased to honor these exemplars of the profession, underscoring the important role of librarians and media specialists in fostering future generations and bettering the greater community.

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Library Publishing, shared, “It’s an honor to recognize and celebrate the innovative and dedicated work school librarians are doing to engage students, foster literacy and encourage lifelong learners through technology. Scholastic is thrilled to sponsor the School Librarian of the Year Award and we look forward to seeing how the winners, all of whom creatively and passionately have implemented exciting ideas in their schools, continue to inspire their students as well as their fellow school librarians.”

About the 2014 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2014 School Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte, who has served as the library media specialist at Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI for nine years, is a passionate advocate of integrating technology into instruction as well as building community. Her efforts and accomplishments have included:

  • Emphasizing the importance of playful learning through initiatives such as Hour of Code, where students learn the fundamentals of computer programming;
  • enhancing her library’s technological capacity by actively seeking out grants for netbooks and tablets;
  • working hand-in-hand with teachers to incorporate technology into instruction through the use of student-developed websites and fostering collaboration through Google Apps;
  • developing a sense of “ohana,” or family, in the library by regularly coordinating school events to bring together students, staff and parents;
  • understanding her school’s community, which predominantly serves military families and providing resources specific to their needs, both in the library and through its online portals; and
  • sharing best practices with other educators throughout Hawaii and nationally through social media and as a frequent presenter at tech and education conferences.

Finalist Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA, aims to enrich classroom instruction with lessons and activities from his school’s media center program, focused on empowering students to experiment with new technologies. He continuously encourages students to use various apps and social media channels, not only to create content, but to share their creations with fellow classmates and the community. As a lifelong learner himself, Plemmons understands the importance of professional collaboration and often presents at conferences or webinars.

Finalist Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, established a Makerspace and introduced a series of Maker Monday workshops at her school where students have the opportunity to design and create during activities such as app-making. An early adapter of new technologies and programs, Graves shares her knowledge by organizing “lunch and learn” sessions where students and staff discover innovative strategies using programs such as GarageBand, Google Sites and more.

Each of the honorees provides a unique look into what a modern-day school librarian’s role is in today’s schools. To learn more about the winners and their accomplishments, visit http://www.slj.com/librarianoftheyear.

 

September 11th: A Transliterate Experience

As I’m preparing to present at the School Library Journal  Leadership Summit 2011, I’m thinking a lot about transliteracy and how I can create experiences and opportunities for students to “read, write, and interact across a range of platforms.”

Students watching videos and eyewitness accounts of September 11

Fifth grade approached me a few weeks ago about collaborating on a day of September 11th activities.  Because they are departmentalized this year, they wanted to bring connections to September 11th in each of their classes:  reading, social studies, and math.  The more we planned the more the day came together as a day to experience the events and stories of September 11th in multiple ways in order to create a complete story about the day’s events.

The day started with each student getting a September 11th ribbon to wear throughout the day.  In homerooms, students wrote and illustrated what a hero was to them.

When students rotated to their reading class, they read the book Fireboat by Maira Kalman.  They watched videos of the actual fireboat and had a class discussion about how heroes were found in unexpected places during the events of September 11th.

Students exploring interactive websites on September 11

In the media center, we started our time by watching a 2-minute video that overviewed the day’s events.  We read a 3rd grade student reflection from the book Messages to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11, 2001 collected by Shelley Harwayne.  Then, students went to the computer lab and used a pathfinder of websites to experience September 11th through videos, interactive timelines, personal accounts, news reports, and more.  Along the way, student wrote down information that they learned about the day.  To close our media center time, students used Wallwisher  to create their own memory wall for September 11th.  Students wrote thank –you’s, prayers, emotions, and other thoughts on our collaborative wall.

At the end of the day, students returned to their writing and illustrations of heroes to see if their thinking had changed in any way after experiencing the day’s lessons.  They also revisited the 5th grade wall to see how it had developed throughout the day.  Reading each 5th grader’s thoughts is a powerful experience and to see all of their thoughts published in one location was a dynamic closing of today’s lessons.

These students were less than one-year-old when September 11th happened.  Their lives are very disconnected with the events of that day.  We wanted today’s experiences to immerse the students in the stories and tragedies of this historic event through multiple kinds of media.  By the end of the day, students had:

  • Viewed recaps of the events of the day
  • Listened to accounts of the day through multiple viewpoints
  • Interacted with timelines and maps
  • Read and viewed news reports
  • Viewed personal videos & eyewitness accounts
  • Read and listened to stories & children’s books inspired by the tragedy
  • Wrote personal thoughts, views, and facts
  • Collaboratively documented their thoughts as a grade level with web 2.0 tools

A student types her memory on Wallwisher

As usual, I was amazed at the level of engagement and collaboration as students worked with technology.  At the beginning of the day, we had a big issue with Wallwisher not allowing students to post their messages.  I was frantically trying to figure out the problem, but at the same time students were trying out different things to fix the problem.  It was a student who figured out that the page had to be refreshed before typing a new note because we were all logged in under our school’s generic account.  Because of their willingness to try things out, the rest of the day went very smoothly to capture all students’ reflections on the wall.

Collaborative memory wall written by Barrow 5th Graders using Wallwisher

The sheer amout of resources for September 11th can be overwhelming, but I can only imagine how the number of resources might grow if this tragedy happened today.  Today, we would have tweets, facebook posts, huge amounts of personal videos, blogs, and more.  We would be able to live this story in a much more diverse way through multiple platforms.  I was impressed at the close of the day by how many platforms students had used to experience this tragic story, and I feel like our students leave us today and head into the weekend with a better understanding of September 11th as they see the memorials and television specials on Sunday.  I invite you to take a moment to visit our 5th grade wall and read students thoughts from today.