Kyle Harmon
Over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, the High School Librarian Study/Cohort Team met once a month outside of the school day to discuss, examine, and collaborate on a variety of topics. These topics centered around an essential question: How to create, develop, and grow a school library program which is fully integrated into the school’s curriculum that meets the needs of a changing school and a transforming library environment while keeping “what is best for our students” in the forefront. Topics and activities centered around five main areas:
  1. Strategies for integrating Common Core Standards into the library curriculum.
  2. Methods to collect and analyze data to determine effective library instruction.
  3. Best practices for partnering with classroom teachers to improve collaboration.
  4. Research skills colleges and universities are expecting students to know upon entering higher education.
  5. The new state mandated teacher assessment; how to incorporate into daily activities and document evidence of student learning and growth.
The initial meetings began the leg work of examining and understanding complex text and the role of school librarians in leading our perspective buildings and how to support classroom teachers with teaching, using and locating complex text. Our first step was to understand the upcoming changes in curriculum at the high school level including Common Core Standards, ELA and the PARCC tests. A list of resources and reading strategies to tackle texts and examples of how to annotate text will be constructed. It came to light each high school is in a different stage in the awareness, use and implementation of complex texts; some have done extensive work in this area and have begun to lead staff development while others, such as myself, complex text is not yet a building priority as determined by the lack of dialog or conversation around complex text. With the Library Study Team’s continuous discussions in our meetings throughout the year about text complexity; resources, evaluation tools, text/task considerations, and the know-how to apply AVID critical reading strategies I feel empowered to bring this to the forefront of my building discussions and am in a better position to support classroom teachers.This is an area of growth with high impact in the coming school year.
What is best for our students and how do we impact student growth and achievement? In our next meeting each library shared how it tackles information literacy assessments of incoming 9th graders. SHHS just completed its fourth year of F.A.S.T. which introduces our information resources to incoming 9th graders. As part of this program, in the Fall all 9th graders take a pre-information literacy test and then the post-information literacy test in the Spring. The development of this program and the increasing number of opportunities we have to collaborate with classroom teachers on research project throughout the school year has seen a positive increase in not only the information literacy test, but TCAP test scores as well. We need to revise questions and perhaps increase the number of questions to make sure we have addressed all critical information literacy skills as well as strengthen our collaborative efforts with classroom teachers. To quantify the library’s (our) impact on student learning discussions centered around the correlation between library book check-outs and ACT reading scores. Information was shared of how to make calculations and interpret results. I took the information from the discussion and applied it to Smoky Hill. I researched back over a seven year period to find the data to determine if the same type of correlation existed at my school that was found at others. After doing this, I found there is this point in time, no correlation at my school between book check-outs and ACT scores. But if I went further, and found a correlation did exist between library book check-outs and TCAP reading scores by grade level; for every book checked out to 9th graders correlates to a five point increase in TCAP reading scores. To substantiate these initial findings, I need to continue to research the number of check-outs per grade level per year. Accessing this type of information is challenging as it is outside the norm or generated reports. This project provided a great opportunity to collaborate with math teachers.
How to best prepare our students for career and college success? To reach this goal the study team did two activities. First, a panel of Academic Librarians from across the Front Range assembled and we began a conversation of the essential research skills needed for incoming freshmen; what do students need to know to be “college ready” and successful at the collegiate level. This discussion was well attended as content teachers and administrators were invited to attend. Overall, the discussion revealed we are in fact doing great things in the library and there are a few areas in which improvement could be made (evaluating sources, getting kids comfortable using the library resources, and asking for help).
Secondly, the study team visited the University of Denver’s recently renovated Anderson Academic Commons. I arranged a private tour of the brand new state of the art facility by Andrea Howland, External Relations Coordinator followed by a meeting with the Dean of Libraries. I was impressed with the staff’s diligence in documenting student needs in relation to the collection, services, collaboration,community, and space. I found myself purposely heightening my awareness of our student traffic patterns, asking direct questions and asking for student opinions to what they need, what they would they would like to see in the future , and brainstorming ways to entice and bring more people, students and teachers alike, into the library---the hub of learning.
Our final meeting focused on the new state mandated teacher evaluation, summer reading program, the new Enterprise online catalog system, and we celebrated Eaglecrest’s recognition as the 2014 National School Library Program winner! What a great accomplishment, one all Cherry Creek libraries can aspire to achieve. I felt a huge sense of optimism of CCSD’s commitment to the development of libraries and staff as well as all the libraries commitment and support of each other. Change is inevitable and part of the library and the teaching profession on a daily basis, i.e. the new state mandated teacher assessment, but I think we have a strong foundation upon which to weather these changes and build and strengthen the breadth and depth of CCSD's library system for future generations..
The library is the conduit of information and learning between departments and content areas within schools. This High School Library Study Team developed a high sense of cohesion between the high school libraries; a true team dedicated to students, teachers, staff, communities, our libraries, and each other. Yes, each library is site based managed, but a common foundation of principles, learning, and camaraderie extends across the district high school libraries. As a new teacher librarian to SHHS and the district library team, the study group proved to be an essential component to my assimilation to the secondary level. Each meeting was highly productive and I left each meeting with new ideas from deciphering common core standards and tying them into library instruction and district directives, teacher support of complex texts, promotions, summer reading, and celebrating success and failure. We met our 2013-2014 stated goals and then some; we have the momentum and “team” to build strong durable school library programs that meet the needs of the changing school and library environment which is fully integrated into the curriculum.
Outside of meeting hours:
a. Complete readings from texts and related professional journals
b. Coordinated/hosted College/University Academic Librarian panel/visit; built blog to continue discussion.
c. Coordinated/arranged University of Denver’s Academic Commons Library tour/discussion
d. Attended CASL workshops:“Game Changer” (8hrs); Town Hall Mtg:Teacher Evaluation (3.5hrs); "Powerful Partnerships: Libraries,
Technology & Common Core (1 hr.)
e. Researched, collected, and analyzed library data and statistics for correlation to student growth and achievement. Collaborated with John Thompson, Math Department.
f. Presenter at ELA Professional Workshop: 21st Century Skills & Technology
g. School Board meeting; Dedication of “April Library Month”