Guided Inquiry in the Learning Commons

We hope to make a change in culture and mentality, transforming our “library” into a “learning commons”. One of the most effective ways to do this is to develop a culture of inquiry. Please see the new pages in the top section at the left for explanations of why we want to become a learning commons, and how Guided Inquiry can help us accomplish this.

School libraries lift entire educational climate

Studies in Colorado show that good school libraries can help raise literacy and reading scores.  Now, a recently-concluded two-phase study in NJ provides evidence that a good school library program not only lifts individual student achievement, but also the entire educational climate of a school. “Researchers note that effective school libraries reflect strong cooperation, collaboration, and communication among classroom teachers, administrators and school librarians. ‘Collaboration is really the key with an effective school library,’ says Pat Massey, a former NJASL president and the high school library media specialist at South Plainfield High School in New Jersey.” (article in School Library Journal)

What does this mean for Hudson HS? It means that we are on the right track to make a difference in our students’ lives! Our school culture is definitely becoming more collaborative and cooperative, whether one talks about the adults in the building or the students. Let’s spend time this summer thinking about all the good things that we worked on and accomplished this year, and come back in the fall with new ideas and energy to continue pushing ahead on school culture and academic achievement. And keep the library/learning commons right in the middle of it all!

Link to the NJ study is here.

Library survey

Hi everyone,

Please fill out the student survey (link is to the left where it says “Survey links”). We are doing a long-range plan for the future of our library and need your opinions!  It really does matter!

And teachers, please fill out the staff survey. The link was sent in an email. Let me know if you need me to send it again; I’d be happy to do so!

“TwitterNovel” – School Library Month

April is National Poetry Month, yes, and we celebrate poetry and poets!  But it is also National School Library Month, and we celebrate the critical function served by school libraries.  We want all students and staff to visit the library this month, check out some books, read some magazines, look for things online.  We also hope you’ll participate in our “TwitterNovel”!  We have started two versions of a short story with the same line, and we are asking the community to contribute “twitter-sized” lines (no more than 140 characters) to continue the stories.  Come see how the stories are progressing!  No actual Twitter is used; just the 140-character idea. Ask for entry forms at the circulation desk.  Prizes for the most entries!

Library Lobbying at the State House

On March 28, many people showed up at the State House in Boston to lobby for libraries.  The following article was published by the Public News Service, MA:

BOSTON – Supporters of school and public libraries will get their chance to lobby at the State House in Boston today. It’s part of the annual Massachusetts Library Association/Massachusetts School Library Association (MLA/MLSA) Legislation Day, an opportunity for members and students from around the state to speak to lawmakers about the importance of all libraries.

Kathy Lowe, the executive director for the MSLA, says now that the digital age has brought information at lightning speed to the fingertips of anyone who can access the Internet, the focus of libraries has changed from finding the information for people, to helping them find out where the information is really coming from.

“Now we have to help people be smarter about looking for bias in the information that they find and to know if it’s accurate and to know if it’s current.”

Lowe says students will be on hand to discuss how libraries have helped them, and they will also be honored with a ceremony. Hundreds of students from across the state participated in a bookmark contest. They were asked to design bookmarks based on this year’s theme, which is, “Think, Share, Create, Grow.”

“They’re judged by local authors and illustrators and other members of the library community, and for the winning bookmarks we have copies printed that we distribute widely and also give to the students to distribute within their schools.”

The future of libraries? Considering digital…

Several librarians I know went to Cushing Academy recently to see how the transformation from typical HS library to the first nearly-all-digital library was going.  Cushing is a private high school, so granted, their experience would undoubtedly be different than a public high school going through the same transformation.  Loudly castigated nearly two years ago for getting rid of nearly all books, the headmaster of Cushing, Dr. James Tracy, has now become a highly-sought-after speaker around the country.  Personally, when I first heard that Cushing was removing almost all of their print books in favor of digital access, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is probably the wave of the not-too-distant future.  I just didn’t want to say it out loud to anyone, because I didn’t think most people would want to hear it!

Robin Cicchetti of Concord-Carlisle HS visited Cushing and wrote about it on her blog.  I present her comments to you, here at Hudson HS, because I do believe that we are headed in this direction.  I would not want to do it all at once, like Cushing did, but I’m just warning you now that this is what’s coming, whether we want to jump on that bandwagon or not!  We’ll have some growing pains along the way, and we’ll have to experiment with several different types of digital platforms until the market shakes out.  But I’m excited about the possibilities for providing access to all sorts of information, and I hope that you can be too!

Quote from Robin’s blog:  “This is the core of the Fisher-Watkins (Cushing Library) philosphy.  The library is not the place students and faculty go to get material.  It is the place they go to learn how to effectively search digital resources to find what they need, and it is an environment designed for studious inquiry and work.”   Robin also says that the library at Cushing servies two main purposes: 1) To promote reading and make sure it survives in a digital environment. 2) To promote research and information literacy in the digital age.  Despite diminishing the collection to only 5,000 books, Cushing has actually had to hire more library staff to keep up with the demand for learning information literacy skills!

As the Hudson High School Library/Learning Commons takes steps to make 21st century learning more relevant for our students, please keep these comments in mind.  I look forward to walking this journey with all of you!

What do librarians make?

Joyce Valenza (my favorite school library “guru”) recently posted a video of herself explaining why she gets upset when she is introduced as someone who is “more than a librarian”.  In a blogpost that is also an homage to Taylor Mali (“What teachers make”), Joyce tells listeners/readers what she – a school librarian – “makes”.  “There is no need for me to be more than a librarian.  Being a librarian is more than enough.”  When you see Joyce’s list of things that she does on a typical day, and the difference that she makes in the lives of her students, you realize that we need librarians more than ever now, even if we use fewer books that are published on paper.

It is my hope that the library at Hudson HS will continue to grow and be as vital to our school community as Joyce’s library is to her community.  I can’t do it alone; we all need to work together to be creative, to collaborate, to communicate, and to think critically.  But this week, as a group of us visit the Chelmsford and Concord-Carlisle high school learning commons, I believe we are taking our first steps toward moving the library to the center of our goal of providing a 21st century education for our students.

What do librarians make? A difference!