Monday, October 24, 2005

Blog Interaction with Carl Harvey II – Mon. Oct. 24 to Wed. Oct. 26, 2005

Carl Harvey II is the library media specialist at North Elementary School, Noblesville, IN.

Learn more about Carl Harvey at

To begin the conversation, you might blog-talk with Carl about professional leadership and development, collaboration and curriculum development, or technology integration. I am sure that Carl is willing to discuss any idea and issue related to jobs in school library media.


  1. Greetings Carl,

    You've written many articles and led presentations as well. How do you decide what to write or present on? What process do you go through in order to collect your information? Also, in a slightly different angle, when you're working on a training session for library staff or teachers, what topics have you taught for these different groups?

  2. Hi Carl,

    I’m interested in hearing more about the multi-school, multi-district reading/writing project you developed at Lowell Elementary. I recently participated as a volunteer reader at a local elementary school in Chapel Hill that was conducting it’s annual “Camp-In With Books” program. It is a week-long, school-wide initiative to encourage reading where the media specialist sets up tents borrowed from community members in the media center. The kids enjoy sitting in the tents while reading. The media specialist also arranges for volunteer readers to visit each of the individual classrooms to read aloud to the kids. I had a great time reading to 3 different classes (2nd grade, 4th grade and 5th grade) on Friday. I’m curious what type of PR methods you used to promote your program and how you enlisted the support of the administration and teachers. Did you have any kinds of special guests or assistance from the greater learning community outside of the school or district?

    Thank you.

  3. Hi everyone! Thanks for letting me be a part of your course!

    Reply to Emily's Post --

    I write what I know. All of my articles have come from an experience I've had or a project I've developed. Now that I've been writing for a while, I sometimes will get asked by an editor if I have anything on a specific topic, but that is still very rare. Since almost all of my articles have been from own personal experiences, I've not done much research, but rather just put to paper the events that transpired or the feelings that I have on something. I had my first piece published before I had a job thanks to my student teaching advisor who said after we finished a project "this would make a great article". I would have NEVER thought of doing something like that without her nudge. However, ever since then I've enjoyed the process and continue to write when I can. It is a great way to reflect or evaluate a project, too.

    Training for staff is something complete different. Most of my trainings in my building have centered around technology (Kidspiration, Digital Cameras, Kid Pix, Clip-art, etc.) Usually these tend to be quick 30 minute blurbs, and I try to tie those to curriculum and things the teachers are doing already. I also do a monthly newsletter to highlight books and we always have a "new items" day where I put out all the new things for teachers to see first before they get put on the shelves.

    But, really, some of the most effective teacher training is done as you teach a collaborative unit with them. Often times teachers don't have time to sit down and learn how to use a program (or notice a new book or new resource) as they are juggle getting everything done to start a day. BUT, if while you are teaching their class how to make a Kidspiration web about an author or reading a story and pulling out the compound words that are in their spelling list that week, they are very likely to learn. The key is trying to demonstrate how the training is going to be relevant to what they are doing -- that's the hook.

    We were just talking about training lately and how most of it is done right when the teacher needs it -- which isn't efficient when your showing each person the same thing just at different times -- but certainly tends to be more effective.

  4. I loved your article about Mo Willems (LMC Aug/Sept. 2005)! Since I generally work with older kids, I'm more familiar with young-adult books but I recently fell in love with Knuffle Bunny and Leondard the Terrible Monster. It's nice to finally know the origins of the word "knuffle". As a former New Yorker and NYU grad, I loved hearing about Mr. Willems' past and the neighborhood that inspired the illustrations in Knuffle Bunny. How did you get lucky enough to conduct that interview? Did you meet him in person or was it a phone interview? Has he ever visited your media center? Have you interviewed other authors?

  5. Reply to Steph's Post --

    Read Across the City was one of those little ideas during a snow day that just kind of snowballed. It was my first year and I was looking for ways to work more with teachers. My student teaching advisory had distance learning in her building and we thought it could be a great way to connect, but unfortunately I didn't have access in my building. So we began to brainstorm ways our kids could still collaborate. We came up with City Friends ... voluntarily a class from my school and her school would pair up. The media people were the mailman and we transported letters, videos, etc. back and forth. It was a great writing connection and the teachers and kids have a ball. It was totally optional, but I think we had almost 17 teachers from each building that first grew each of the next two years. We also added the other two year round schools from Warren Twp. and the other year round school from Pike Twp. So, as this City Friends was rolling we wanted to give them an opportunity to meet, so we decide to have a Read Across the City party on Dr. Seuss's birthday. We came up with some whole school activities -- reading content, writing poems from school to school, etc. We partnered with Butler Univ. and a children's lit class had a project where they had to create a carnival game based on a children's book. The game was for the party and if they came and volunteered to run their game, then we took their photo and wrote a nice letter for their portfolio. We had Dr. Seuss birthday cake and hoped if we got maybe 50 people from each school that would be 250 people we would be really happy. I think that first year it came in right around 900 people. The second year it was 1200 people (We also brought in an illustrator that year and all the schools had him visit which gave us even more in common to work with collaboratively!) It was a great project and we enjoyed it a lot. A great example of collaboration among LMS and it helped foster collaboration in our own buildings, too. We did a lot of PR in our own schools with newsletters, flyers, (thank goodness we asked them to RSVP that first year....we kept calling and ordering more cakes!) and talking it up with the teachers. We also did try to promote with local media, but never really got much coverage. The kids were excited about it all, so that really was our best PR.

    We even had two groups of teachers that took it even farther and did a whole curriculum unit and built in field trips to each others schools. Those that took it a step farther really enjoyed making those connections and it really made the curriculum more fun to teach, too!

    As for administrator support, all I can tell you is at Lowell I had a great principal. I met with my principal and she jumped on it because she knew it would be good for kids. The teachers were willing to try, too. We did everything we could to make it as easy for them to participate as possible. We offered to deliver letters back and forth to avoid the mailing hassle. We planned the party. We organized and managed the reading contest. We helped them write/make videos/etc. to send to their City Friends. So, that all they had to do was have a good time and be excited about the project. It seemed to work.

    I could go on and on and probably still not do it justice. There was an article in School Libraries Media Activity Monthly in March 2001 that gives a lot more detail if you are interested.

  6. Reply to Steph's Post --

    Mo is a hoot! I interviewed him over e-mail and laughed hysterically at all his comments and replies to my questions. As Mo said, "You Never Know" and this was just another opportunity that came knocking on my door. I had been writing reviews for LMC for about four of five years, so they were familiar with my writing and one day they asked me to write an author profile of Mo -- and of course I said YES! He hasn't visited my LMC, but I think he would be a great author visit for us someday. I've not written any other author profiles, but I've had many authors visit my school where I've had wonderful conversations -- Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Jerry Pallotta, Jim Aylesworth, Margie Palatini, Eileen Christelow, and Wil Clay. This year we're having Steven Kellogg and all the teachers are most excited. I had an author visit my first year at both of the schools I've worked at and found it to be a great starter for working collaboratively with teachers (because they are excited, too!). It is a lot of work, but a fantastic experience for our students that I've managed to have one every year somehow.

    I also attend the Butler Children's Literature Conf. every year and that is a great way to have time to talk and meet authors.

  7. Wow! Your list of visiting authors is impressive. I had the opportunity to see Stephanie Tolan, the author of "Surviving the Applewhites" speak at the North Carolina School Library Media Conference this year. As she was addressing a group of adults, her topic was quite different than it would have been if she were addressing students. I would like to see an author speak from that perspective. You mentioned that it's a lot of work to arrange an author visit. How do you go about starting the process? Do you contact their literary agents first? How expensive are most of them and does that come out of the media center budget or do you generally have some type of fundraiser specifically for an author visit?

  8. Reply to Steph's Post --

    You are right that various authors have different presentations/speeches for adults and kids. Some authors are better with kids and some are better with adults, too. As for contacting them, it depends on the author. A lot of authors have websites and will give you a link on how to contact them for a school visit...of course, not all authors do visit schools. Most publishers also keep a list of those authors who will do schools (and/or conferences). I also work with a local independent bookstore who has some contacts and that helps. The key is to plan early (at least a year out from the event) and check with others who have had the author visit. I call or email other colleagues for references. It is too much money to spend to have a "bad" experience. It is also imperative that the kids are well prepared. Authors share horry stories of going to schools where kids didn't even know any of their books.

    Costs vary from author to author. I would say the current average daily fee is $1500 plus expenses, but many are well above that mark. We get several schools together and that helps divide the hotel, air, and food costs. Funding comes from a variety of sources -- PTO, grants, extra curricular account, principal's money, etc. It does not (and could not) come from my media budget as that has guideslines for what can be spent (library materials). At my building we have built it into the PTO budget along with allocating book fair profits to help fund the rest.

    There are several books and articles out there about hosting a successful visit, so it would be good to read one of those before starting just to help give you some ideas!

  9. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Good afternoon,

    I agree that author visits are a wonderful thing to incorporate into a media center curriculum. However, as you mentioned, they can tend to be pricy. Have you ever had trouble defending the expense to your administrator? Do you have any suggestions on how to get support for these types of projects?

    Thank you,
    Sadie Smith

  10. Carl,

    I've heard in one of my other classes that having an author visit involves the media specialist making sure the author is taken care of from the airport arrival to the departure. How much "author care" have you had to do in order to keep your guests satisfied?

  11. Anonymous5:31 PM

    Hi Carl. Hey you jumped right in and got to work when you became a Media Specialist, didn't you? I am amazed by your accomplishments in such a short time. I think your media center website is great. It is easy to navigate and is well designed for the age of the students you serve. Do you find that the students use the website a great deal? Do teachers use it? I think you have great resources and links - I hope they are used! How do you decide what to add? Do you wait until a collaborative unit comes up and then add the sources, or do you add according to what the teachers are working on standard-wise whether they collaborate with you or not? Thanks for the info! Sandy Hodges

  12. Reply to Sadie's Post --

    Your right, administrator buy-in can be difficult when your talking money. You have to be able to make the connections to school improvement plans and connections to curriculum/standards. I have had a couple of leery principals. They let me arrange the event, but both were uneasy about the amount of money and the return on investment. Our schools had goals in both reading and writing and we felt this was a great opportunity to provide an enrichment program. However, once the author visit was over, both were immediately ready to let start booking one for the next year. They saw the kids excitement for reading and writing and bring in that "real world" experience was a key motivator. I have kids still four or five years later asking for books by the authors we've had. Most schools had many convocations with this group and that coming in and it can really add up to a lot of money. I think if you can justify how this event will really extend into the curriculum and not be a one shot deal that will help make the case.

  13. Reply to Emily's Post --

    As for the "care and feeding" of the author. It all just depends on the author. I've had some who we have made sure has people to take them to dinner each night and I've had others who as long as they have room service prefer a quiet evening alone in their hotel room. Since we often contract an author for several days and share him among schools, the LMS can split the duties of being their taxi cabs, so it usually isn't bad at all. It is a good idea to ask the author early on what they expect so you can be prepared.

  14. Reply to Sadie's Post --

    Yeah, I did kind of hit the ground running. Mostly I've been fortunate that many opportunities have come my way and I've just taken advantage of them. I encourage everyone to get involved in the profession. Belong to AIME first and foremost and then AASL and others. Find a committee to join and begin to interact with your colleagues. We are usually so isolated that I truly treasure my media friends from across the state (and country). These networking contacts have helped me locate jobs, make connections to pubishers for writing articles (and books), and are great for bouncing off ideas. Ok...but back to your question.

    As for our website -- yes, we use it ALL the time. We I first came there, the support staff would drag a shortcut onto every machine when a class wanted to access a certain website. I quickly ended that and we put all our links on the website. All links are added when we have a specific lesson or collaborative unit we're starting. All of my teachers use thematic instruction, so they have a year long theme and then those are broken down. I took that cue to organize my website so that it mirrored their themes. The teachers love it, and it makes it very user friendly for the kids. (I have copies of every grade levels year-long plan and that helps IMMENSELY when planning not only for the website, but for looking for collaborative endeavors! I've had two grade levels recently begin to revise their plans and I've been a part of those planning sessions! Its been fantastic!)

    Ok, I kind of got off topic a bit, but there in the middle I think I answered your question! :)

  15. Carl,

    Can you provide some advice regarding grant ideas? It seems like every great project I have seen or heard about has been funded by a grant. Should I begin with my local PTA, or go for the big $$? I would like to write grants cooperatively with some of my teachers, but they seem as overwhelmed as I am. What do funding sources look for?

  16. Hello Caral! You have an amazing array of activities. I have two questions. 1. Do you find that your involvement in the library community leads you to be more inovative and use best practices and if so in what ways, and 2. How do you balance your writing and your involvement with the every day task of running the media center? What do you focus on and what did you learn to facilitate?

  17. Reply to Margaret's Post --

    Grants are tricky and I wish I could say that is something I've mastered. It is something I still struggle with and work on everytime I write a grant. My best success has been with PTOs and local school foundations. The key I've found is to make sure and follow the guidelines of the grant to the letter and be able to have a clear voice about how the grant would impact student learning. Working with teachers cooperatively is great, but your right that it takes more time and planning. Often times, however, if you can make it successful and it brings in what the teachers needs it will help you "win" people over to your side. My advice would be to start out small and see what happens. The only grant you are guaranteed not to get is the one you don't apply for.

  18. Reply to Nicole's post --

    I am 100% ABSOLUTELY certain that my activity in the library community has made me a MUCH better library media specialist for my staff and students. Even when I attend a committee meeting, the positive energy and charge you get from learning and interacting with others in the field is wonderful. Planning a conference makes you a better presenter not only for sessions, but for when you work with your own students and staff.

    I'll had to admit I'm addicted to being involved in the profession and look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead. I LOVE talking about school libraries and I LOVE hearing what others are doing. All of this makes me a better library media specialist.

    A great example would be a couple of weeks ago we sat down to plan a session for AIME. There are three of us working together for this presentation with varying years of experience. We each looked at the topic from a different angle and we spent several hours sharing projects we did and ideas of how are programs are set-up. It was great! I came away with lots of things I want to add to my program.

    I worked with another media specialist over the summer and picked-up a whole knew way to teach research/inquiry. I modified it to fit into the approach we already use, but the combination of ideas made it one of the best teaching experiences I've had to date.

    I get that same feeling from writing and attending conferences. Just that opportunity to share and interact with others is unbelievable. Because often we are the only ones in our building that have our job, that interaction with others in the field is crucial to keep us from becoming too stuck in our routinue.

    Now we hit that all important question of time. How do you fit in being active in the profession and at the same time being successful in the building. I don't have all the answers on this one. I'd be lying if I said I don't put in long hours...somedays probably more than I should. But this is what I love doing so I have a great passion for it.

    A couple of things...

    The school day is school time, so I am focused in on that. It is important that being involved does not take away from doing my job effectively.

    So, most of the time the other projects I have going are things I do in the early morning, evenings, weekends, or in the summer. For example, I write when the mood hits me. A lot of times I will jot down topics or little notes in my Palm and then over the summer when I have more time to digest it will be when I actually write. Other times an idea just sparks and I have to get it out right away and the article just comes flowing. I see it as a great way to reflect on what I'm doing -- a self-evaluation of the program so to speak. My writing helps with that.

    Everyone needs to know their limits about how much they can handle, but at the same time we can't be afraid not to try something just because it put us out of our comfort zone. There are many ways to get involved that aren't big time commitments. The key is to get involved. You'll be amazed what you can do! One last example, I had a friend that we started working together the same year as LMSs. She had a list of things that she never wanted to do, but thought someday I would do -- be on a committee, chair a committee, being President, etc. It started out slowly, but she has scratched a lot of things off that list and become a very valuable leader in our organization. I haven't talked her into the Presidency of AIME yet, but I keep trying. :) So keep your options open and be ready to be as active and involved as you can be.

  19. Hello again,

    Could you tell us more about the new way you learned to teach research/inquiry and how you incorporated it with your way?


  20. Reply to Steph's Post --

    Our district has adopted the Big6 research model as the official model for teaching research. We've had that in place for many years. As I have read some of the work by Danny Callison, and talked with colleagues like Kym Kramer and Leslie Preddy, I have absorbed some of their strategies for inquiry. We have a research journal for each project that takes students through the Big6 model, but provides them a place to explore what they want to learn on a topic. This journal is now used 2nd-4th grade and I'm most excited to see the consistency in the way that we're helping students through the process. I think that will pay off dividends in the future. We also have stoped just jumping into a project, and this first project with 2nd grade we modeled the research journal using a REALLY BIG version of it and did a group project. It was great. Some of this changed from what I learned from Kym and Leslie and some of it changed because as I've collaborated with teachers and they trust me more, they are now more open to ideas about how we can begin to make changes that are good for kids. The journal has made a huge difference in opening the door to other collaborative adventures, too.

  21. Carl,

    How long have you been using the Big6 research model? Have teachers begun to see the benefits of using this model? Has everyone jumped on board? Have you heard from middle school teachers about the effect this may have when these students are older?


  22. Carl,

    Something else...does your school or corporation have anything in place to teach students how to keyboard? This is a challenge for my 7th grade students. It is hard to even work on creating a PowerPoint if you have to hunt and peck across the keyboard. The corporation I am in has NO keyboarding program in place in the elementaries or middle schools. Students get a light dusting of keyboard in Frosh Computer Applications, but I say it is too little too late.

    How important do you think keyboarding skills are to an effective information literacy program?


  23. Anonymous8:11 AM


    I have one other question concerning the Big6-- is this a district wide model? (I'm guessing yes?) If so, do you collaborate with the upper- level media specialists on best practices/ methods of instruction? (You seem involved in so much, I just wondered what the level of communication was between media specialists in your district.)


  24. Carl,

    Hello...I have another question regarding Author visits. When you host an author, how do you go about determining the audience for the Author? Does the whole school attend in a convocation format? Does this work from an attention-holding standpoint, questions, personal interaction? Some authors prefer small groups: have you ever followed that format with several small groups? For the money, it would seem you would need to open it to all students, but in my discussions here with our media specialist in Zionsville (middle school), she has run into challenges in the past as to the best venue for the visit and how to maximize the experience for the students. Would like to know your experience with organizing the talks.

    Thank you so much for your time and tons of knowledge/wisdom!

    Carrie : )

  25. Reply to Amanda's Post --

    I'm not sure how long Noblesville has officially adopted the Big6. It was here when I arrived four years ago. We have a District Media/Technology Integration Guide. We didn't want it seen as a separate curriculum, so the guide is for all staff members to use when trying to integrate media and technology -- it is not just for the library media specialist. Research is a compontent of that. We've done several things to try and get everyone on board. We bought a Big6 poster for every classroom (including special areas! I do a research project with the music teacher every year and so we use the same journal and process with her classes, too!). I was amazed, but everyone actually put it up. Copies are in the lab and the library, too. As I've collaborated with teachers, I've asked that our research projects focus on the Big6. The development of our research journal has been the key step that really has brought about a school wide buy in. The journal has been adopted from 2nd-4th, and by talking with consistent vocabulary, a common process and format, I think we're really starting to see an impact.

    I don't know what the impact of what we're doing is on the Intermediate or Middle School, but it probably would be a great thing to ask. I'm still fairly "new" to the district and a lot of the focus on the journal have really just been the last year or two, so we haven't had too many kids yet move up that have had all those experiences yet....but something we probably should look into.

  26. Reply to Amanda's Post --

    As for keyboarding that is written into our Media/Tech Integration guide. It is an expectations that students work on typing while at the elementary level. We have a couple of software packages available. This tends to be an activity that the teachers do and I have very little to do with it. Our teachers are responsible for taking ownership to make sure the students have the keyboarding instruction. I would say most at least get a good introduction to it while in elementary.

  27. Reply to Sadie's Post --

    Yes, Big6 is a K-12 district wide adopted approach to teaching research. We talked about it a lot a couple of years ago as we developed the model. Our LMS team meets monthly focusing mostly on a professional development topic. We also do some of the housekeeping items, too. In addition, our elementary LMS team has four 1/2 day collaboration sessions where we meet around a topic and share ideas and resources. This year we're focusing on how LMS can support the district wide initiatives -- school improvement plans, writing, math, and CLASS. I get the most out of those sessions. We use e-mail, an e-mail conference, a blog, and the old fashion telephone to communicate as well. We work well as a team and rely on each other a lot.

    Your question has prompted me that perhaps we do need to think about having more conversations between elementary and secondary about teaching research. There certainly is a good flow of communication in our district among the LMS and it is a great team to bat around ideas and share, so it would be easy to have that conversation. I'm making a note to bring that up next time as possible topics for our LMS meetings.

  28. Reply to Carrie's Post --

    Most authors will typically do three "sessions" a day. Most will also have additional time for signing books and some may offer for small groups with lunch, etc. Just depends on what the author is willing to do. All of the authors I have had I have had for the entire building. It is not always easy finding an author that will appeal K-4, but I find to justify the money I need someone that will see all the kids. I usually group like grade levels together and sometimes the session for K and 1 might be a little shorter, but I really have found that they are all so excited about the author coming that I really don't have huge problems with attention span. The size of our building is such that three presentation puts nice size groups that I can have the program in the library and it is just fantastic. If we grow any, I'll be stuck going back to the gym -- not my favorite, but you do what you have to do . Obviously it mayb be easier schedule wise to do this in an elementary, but I have middle school friends who do author visits and do them school wide -- the approach may be different, but still effective.

  29. Hello Carl,

    I know that you have a flexible library program and your teaching staff takes advantage of your media center and you as a professional. What key steps do you think helped you establish this kind of schedule with working collaboration? What advice would you give others who are seeking collaborative relationships with their teaching staff?

    Thank you,
    Sawyer Beier

  30. Hello Carl,

    I have visited your media center before so I know that you have a flexible library program and your teaching staff takes advantage of your media center and your skills as a professional. What key steps do you think helped you establish this kind of schedule with working collaborative planning? What advice would you give others who are seeking collaborative relationships with their teaching staff?

    Thank you,
    Sawyer Beier

  31. Reply to Sawyer's Post --

    Building those collaborative relationships takes time. Something I had to remind myself many times when I moved to North four years ago. Having started from scratch twice now, I think there are a couple of things I feel are keys to the success.

    First and foremost is building an environment of trust. I always follow through with anything I promise my teachers (or principal). They know if they ask me and I say I can do it...I will. At first these can be small things like pulling resources, ordering a title, but after they realize you will deliver...and consistenly deliver when asked, they begin to trust you to be more involved. You have to keep in mind that teachers often don't really think what they are currently doing really has anything wrong with it, so for them to be open to trying new things and be willing to let you become an instructional partner, they have to have that feeling of trust with you. Same goes with your administrator. I always come through when I promise my principal something. I also know he feels he can trust me. It is not uncommon for him to come down and bounce ideas off of me (and vice versa). He knows I have a good perspective of the entire building, that the teachers trust me, and I'll give him my honest opinion.

    Second, put yourself out there and suggest ideas all the time. When I pull resources for a teacher, I try to include. "We could do this and this and this in the LMC on this topic." or when I'm in their weekly planning meetings I'll throw out things "We could do this, or you could use Kidspiration for that, or whatever." Now, do they always take me up on But, I'm constantly offering ideas and eventually they do pick up on one here and there.

    Third, find a couple of teachers that are open to trying things. Let these be the guinea pigs and once they have some succesful opportunities with you, they will be touting your praises to the rest of the staff. It usually is very easy to point out which teachers have great influence in your building. If you can get one of those teachers to work with you, the dividends there will be unbelievable.

    I try and attend every planning session I can. I have two grade levels that plan as a grade level each week for the next week. I attend both of them each week. It is so easy for me to know they are doing and look for connections because I'm an active participant in their planning. The other three grade levels don't plan that way, so I have to be more observant of lunchtime conversations or have little chats while their students are checking out books. All of my grade levels have year long plans and I try to keep up with them and shoot out ideas here and there when I can. You have to be proactive. You can't wait for it to just happen, but be out there trying hard to make those connections every day.

    When our teachers and trained on something new, I go to the trainings, too. It may not be that I will directly doing that with students, but if I'm going to understand what the teachers are going to be doing and finding resources to support it, I need to know what it is.

    I do a lot of one on one help, too. Helping find resources and technology help. Just another way to have a conversation and another way they have come to rely on me.

    Something else I did when I started out, was I met with each teacher individually or no bigger than a grade level. At my first job, a flexible schedule was all new to them. I knew if I presented it at a staff meeting, it would die quickly. I had a supportive principal and since it wasn't part of the specials rotation it wasn't going to be a big issue, but teacher feed off each other and I knew if one started rattling off problems then they all would. So, by meeting one on one I could explain a flexible access library media program, I could ask where they saw me helping, and could focus in on their individual concerns. It worked and smoothly introduced flexible access to the building I was working in.

    Administraive support is also critical. It is just an expectation in my building that the teachers and the library media speciailst are to work collaboratively. My principal expects it. I make sure he sees what we're doing, too. I send him a monthly report sharing projects and activities (along with some statistical data). In my newsletter I highlight projects -- a good way to give the teachers that are working with you some much needed pats on the back.

    Overall the main thing to keep in mind is that it just takes time. There are still areas at my current job that I'm not pleased with or that I see for growth or improvement. But when I look at where we were when I started compared to now it just amazes me all we're able to do.

  32. Reply to Sawyer's Post --

    BTW, Sawyer mentioned that she has visited us at North. We always enjoy having visitors, so feel free to contact me if you ever want to stop by!

  33. Anonymous2:23 PM


    I have a problem with the flex scheduling in that some students might not come to the library. How do you make sure this doesn't happen. I feel that a planned time would allow me to know the students and their interest so that I could better guide and suggest materials for them. I have been a public librarian for a long time and usually can recommend books for my users after knowing them awhile. Do you get to know the students if you don't see them on a regular bases?

  34. C. Heck3:56 PM

    Hi Carl,

    One item that I have identified as inhibiting collaboration is the image of the SLMS. Many teachers and administrators view the SLMS as the "keeper of the books." How do you convince teachers that your role as a librarian is beyond that of advising readers and giving book talks?


    Chad Heck

  35. Reply to Flexible Scheduling --

    Ah, one of the great debates in the profession -- flexible scheduling. No doubt from looking over the site Larry created for this class you've read some of the article published in SLJ by my friend Doug Johnson in Minnesota. There are those that are on a fixed and want to be flexed. There are those that prefer a mix. I prefer (and disagree with Doug that AASL should be advocating for it as best practice) a total 100% flexible / open access schedule.

    But, before I go on I need to define for you our flexible schedule -- which is really two different schedules, but both flexible.

    First and foremost is my instructional calendar. I am not part of the specials rotation (and I will say one of the biggest advocates for keeping me out of the rotation is the music teacher!) All of the instruction is planned collaboratively with the teachers. This week for example we started to model our research journal with 3rd grade. I'll see each class three times. With the flexible schedule we could squeeze it in with fall break and other specials day I may see the same class twice in the same day to get the time in, but we may it work. Two weeks ago I had second grade in for a four day project. So, I may see the kids for several days in a row and then have a couple of weeks before they come in for another project. I do lots of one-shot deals, too. It just depends on the time of year and the needs of the students. The plus to be flexible is I can do projects with the special areas, too. I've already had two projects this year with our music teacher. By having that flexible schedule I am truly able to do more with the kids rather than a rigid 30 minutes a week.

    The second "schedule" we have is for circulating of materials. It is totatlly separate from instruction. We actually don't have a schedule for circulation. We have some guiding philosophies.

    Every student must have at the minimum one opportunity to come to the LMC and check out materials every week. (This can vary from teacher to teacher on how they accomplish this -- bring the whole class, small groups, or one at a time! Only guideline is if more than 1/2 the class comes, so does the teacher!). This is an expectation of the principal and I feel very confident in saying that all of my teachers do that.

    As a matter of fact, we have some that go above and beyond the once a week minimum. For example, we use a balanced literacy model for instruction of language arts. Self-selected reading is a block at all grade levels. First graders come down EVERY SINGLE DAY and check out new materials during their SSR time. It is great! Kindergarten checks out twice a week. And everyone else is at the minimum once a week, but most of the teachers are great about if a kids tells them they need new materials, they find time to send them down. WIth just 375 students, we average about 1800-2000 items being checked out a week. I tell the teachers I don't care if they write in their plans they are coming down Wed. at 9am. That's fine -- just don't tell me. I don't need to know that. And, don't expect that your class will be the only one in the library at that time. One day we had seven classes in our LMC at once...two at the instructional area, two on the storysteps, one on the couches and computer researching, one in the computer lab, and two checking out books. It really worked very smoothly. Teachers know that if they feel the LMC is too crowded they can always come back later. If you have set times and lock yourself into that, what happens on Mondays -- Labor Day, MLK, Jr. Day, President's Day, etc. There are so many Monday holidays that those kids would miss out and here you have to try and cram them in somewhere. With our lack of a schedule, if a teacher usually comes on Monday and we have a holiday/snow day, etc., they just come some other time. It is more efficient, too. Our students do self-check out of all their materials. We have two stations so it goes pretty fast, and either my assistant or the teacher just keeps an eye on the screen. If we have a rush with two or three classes checking out, then that gives us some quieter time for my assistant to work on other tasks.

    Now besides checking out, our LMC usually has three to four kids who opt to come into the library instead of recess, so we have some spaces where they can sit and read or scan a magazine. My library is not huge, but was well designed so that multiple activities can be happening at the same time.

    Lastly you asked about the kids and recommending books. A couple of thoughts. First, the teachers come with their kids a lot of time, so they are really good about helping them find books that would be good. Second, my kids all know they are welcome to come to my office or find me out in the stacks and asked for my help. The only exception is if I'm teaching. I have an office FULL of stuffed animals and they feel very comfortable in coming in and asking when they need help. Usually a quick conversation and I can lead them to something they might be interested in. Lastly, I do booktalks with grades 2-4 currently. This year I added I'm expanding slowly. I go to their classrooms with a cart of books and just share. I give them a list of the titles and they mark the ones they would like to reserve. This is another way for me to get good books into their hands that they might miss while just wandering around the stack. that I've rambled and you've heard my soapbox. I am just certain this is the best and most efficient way for students to use the library media center. I am also certain my teachers (and principal) would agree.

    Again, this is something that usually takes a little time. When I came to North, they had a set check out time, but the LMS schedule was flexible. I quickly tossed the library check out schedule and their were great gasps and concern about how it would all work. But, once we got in a flow they love it. I haven't had anyone asked to go back to the set checkout time, yet!

    Lastly (boy this one was long...I must be slightly opinionated on this topic), as for knowing the kids. Sure I get to know the kids. Now, do I get names mixed up sometimes or have to ask a kid to remind me their name -- sure! The kids get me mixed up with our PE teacher (or sometimes slip with a Mrs. Harvey instead of Mr. Harvey). So, do I know all 375 from sight...probably not, but I make a concious effort to work on it. I would have the same trouble even if saw the class once a week. My brain just doesn't always automatically remember them, but now that I've been there four years I do know a good deal of the kids names.

    In conclusion, it is all how you set-up the program (if you are given a choice) that will determine if a fixed or flexible schedule will work best. Remember for a flexible schedule implementation, it takes a couple of years and can't be something you just expect to work right away. It goes back to building those trusting relationships.

  36. Reply to Chad's Post --

    The image of a library media specialist is a hard things to overcome sometimes. I once had a teacher tell me for a while she had contemplated going back to become a SLMS. She had seen other LMS and thought it looked like an "easy" job. But, she said after a couple of months of watching our program and all that we do, she said it sure looked like way more work that she wanted. THANK GOODNESS! We have enough people in our field that are just happy with the status quo and aren't helping us to change the image of the school library media specialist. It is no wonder that when positions have to be eliminated, LMS come near the top of the chopping block because far too often we have those that just are keepers of the books.

    How do you get past that image? You have to demonstrate that your talents and skills are much more useful. Attend planning sessions, being an active part of the school improvement process, push out ideas for instruction and collaboration, look for any possible opening where you can wedge yourself into their classrooms, etc. are all good ways. We just have to be able to sell ourselves and what we have to offer. It takes time and patience along with building those trusting relationships. But, once you tear down that image they have in the past, you can begin to create in their head the image of a bustling library media program of the future. Gary Hartzell's work speaks volumes to how we have to work into changing people's perceptions and turn them into positive supporters of the library media program.

    I guess the best way to change the image of the LMS with teachers and administrators is by the actions of what you do. I've had a principal that came from a private school background where he had never had a LMS. But, because of what he saw happening in our LMC he quickly caught on to the best practices happening. Our actions are going to be the most effective in changing those perceptions. I know that can be hard when your forced into a fixed schedule or get a school you really didn't want to be in, but you have to look for ways to start somewhere and the set reasonable goals to building the program and let it grow each year.

  37. Thank you for letting me be a part of your class the last three days. I've enjoyed the opportunity to interact with you via the blog. Hope to see some of you at the AIME conference coming up Nov. 6th-8th. Please do come up and introduce yourself if you are there!