The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) and the University of Wyoming (UW) will co-sponsor Embracing Literacy, a summer professional development opportunity focused on literacy practices. District- and building-level teams are encouraged to register and attend this outstanding opportunity to hear from many nationally-renowned literacy experts.
Embracing Literacy will be held virtually over a four-week span beginning Tuesday, July 21. Virtual sessions will be scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays during each week. Sessions will be recorded providing registrants unlimited access for ongoing review of session content.
Registration is $50, with an option to buy two tickets and get one free. The conference theme, Optimizing Learning for All: Supporting Evidence-Based Literacy Practices, provides the foundation for participants to learn more about the components that combine to create literacy. The implementation of screening, progress monitoring and various classroom practices will also be explored.
The top two Wyoming applicants will be forwarded to USED by November 1, 2020. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will select a single classified school employee from among the nominees to receive the RISE Award by the spring of 2021. Governor Gordon will honor nominees and finalists. In addition, the USED will recognize the honoree and communicate his or her story in order to inspire excellence among classified school employees.
Jennisen Lucas, district librarian for the Park County School District #6 in Cody, Wyoming, was recently elected as the 2021-2022 President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). She takes office as President-Elect on July 1. We asked Jennisen to share some of her thoughts about leadership, her goals, and the profession of school librarianship.
What made you decide to run for AASL President?
“It’s difficult to say no when people you admire ask you to step up, but, running really was my choice. This as a chance to boost our profession by adding my passion to that of others as we move forward in promoting our expertise. I’m very excited to work with the others elected to our new board.”
What do you hope to achieve as AASL president?
“As AASL president, I hope to work with the executive board and the membership to increase our voices. I truly believe in AASL’s new mission: “Every School Librarian is a Leader, and Every Learner has a School Librarian.” Our new strategic plan is about helping our membership see themselves as leaders and to help administrators see them in that capacity as well. I’m also hoping that this national position may be helpful to Wyoming by showing the administrators in Wyoming the importance of school library leadership.”
How did your state-level leadership positions prepare you for this?
“There’s no way I would have had the confidence to move into this type of leadership without the help of the amazing school librarians in Wyoming. When I moved here 11 years ago, I really didn’t think I was a leader. I thought of myself as a building-level librarian. But Wyoming is so small that we really all have to be leaders, and I grew in confidence as I found that my ideas were as good as everyone else’s. It could be any one of our school librarians in this position. We all have leadership skills. What I’ve realized is that the more involved I am in our associations, the more I learn, the more I grow, and the better I feel about being a school librarian.”
How have your colleagues in Wyoming encouraged or inspired you?
“I really want to thank my colleagues here in Wyoming for believing in me. I have been inspired by everyone I have met. We all have different strengths and are willing to learn from each other. I could write out a list of people and how they have inspired my teaching and leadership, but I’m afraid I would accidentally forget someone. It really is everyone!”
What does this mean for Wyoming on the national stage?
“It’s interesting to think about this opportunity as bringing Wyoming to the national stage. We’re such a small population state that it seems leadership on a national scale is a far-off dream. Wyoming has such a different lifestyle than many other states, partly due to our small population, and people sometimes dismiss ideas as being for more populous areas. Having a Wyoming leader can bring the importance of school librarians and equitable school libraries to Wyoming. One thing I’m excited about is that the 2021 AASL Conference — during the year I’ll be president — is scheduled to be just south of us in Salt Lake City. What an exciting time to bring our educational leadership around to the power of school libraries! We should start planning now to bring our administrators to Salt Lake.”
Is there anything you’d like to add?
“This is an exciting time to be a school librarian. I’ve seen more conversations with my school district faculties about copyright, ethics, digital resources, and equity of access in the past month than I think I have in my entire 18-year career. Education is changing, and school librarians have a chance to be at the forefront of this. I hope that with me on the executive board of AASL, it may inspire our other Wyoming School Librarians to stand and lead locally to turn Wyoming into a leader in this educational change. We are change agents, and we want all learners — including educators — to inquire, include, collaborate, curate, explore, and engage. This time of “crisis learning” is starting to highlight these skills. This is our chance to shine!”
Jennisen Lucas, district librarian for the Park County School District #6 in Cody, Wyoming, has been elected as the 2021-2022 President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Jennisen will serve as president-elect during 2020-2021 under AASL President Kathy Carroll.
“I’m so humbled to be a trusted leader in AASL, an organization that is made up of some of the most innovative and intelligent people I have ever met,” Jennisen said upon learning of her election. “Thank you. The world has certainly changed very rapidly in the past month. We are now at a crossroads in education in which the expertise of our profession is desperately needed, if sometimes still overlooked. Now is the time to rise to the occasion and assert our leadership skills, innovation, and flexibility and show what we know education can be. I look forward to working closely with our elected board and all AASL members to rise as the essential leaders we are. We are school librarians! We’ve got this!”
Jennisen is currently serving on the AASL Board of Directors as the Region 9 Director. Her most recent AASL volunteer involvement includes chair of the standards implementation committee, member of the school librarians as leaders position statement task force, and member of the leadership development committee. She has also served as an AASL Chapter delegate.
In Wyoming, Jennisen has been involved in both local- and state-level organizations. She has served as secretary and chair of the Wyoming Library Association School Library Interest Group and chair of the group’s Information Power Planning Committee. Jennisen has also held leadership positions in the Cody Reading Council and the Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Award Committee.
Join School Library Journal for their Middle Grade Magic virtual summit, a day-long celebration and exploration of one of the burgeoning and most important areas of publishing for young readers: literature for children ages eight through 12 and beyond! This free, completely virtual conference takes place on Wednesday, April 8, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. MDT. CE credits will be available.
Attendees will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the most anticipated new titles for kids and tweens and have the opportunity to check out the virtual exhibit hall, chat directly with authors, download educational resources, and receive prizes and giveaways.
Can’t make the live date? No problem! The entire environment will be archived and available for up to three months.
National School Library month is a celebration of (you guessed it!) school libraries and librarians. Every April, school librarians are encouraged to highlight the role the library and librarians play in strong schools and academic success. You might have to take your celebration online this month, but you can plan for it now with help from the resources on the AASL website including free graphics to download and templates for proclamations from a variety of elected officials. There are also PSAs from the likes of Dav Pilkey, Jason Reynolds, Jeff Kinney, and more!
The National Archives has created activities and ideas for teaching elementary age children. These resources focus on skills like sequencing and finding clues in historical objects, and topics like symbols and national monuments.
Looking for fun ways to engage kids in finding family history? They have downloadable family trees and charts for kids of all ages. Plus, find instructions for making a “food family tree” based on family members’ favorite foods.
(Note to Wyoming residents: Ancestry Library is temporarily available to you for home access with your library card. Find it in our GoWYLD Genealogy resources.)
Throughout history, people have grown gardens at home and at school to provide food. Students will look at historical images of gardening and decide what order they belong in, showing how a garden grows, and thinking about the kind of garden they would like to have.
How are people united by the principles of democracy and symbols of citizenship? This activity asks students to identify symbols of our country, government, and democracy. Then they can create their own symbol representing good citizenship.
Needlework was an important part of a young woman’s education in early America. Many women used their sewing needles to express themselves both artistically and intellectually. They also used needlework samplers to record information. Today, samplers serve as important historical documents that can teach us about the past.
Print out their “Analyze a Photo” worksheet for kids (PDF) to walk through the process, or share this online activity. Then ask your student to create their own banner or picket sign using 10 words or less to show support for a cause of their choosing.
How do symbols connect with important American ideas? In this activity, students will investigate symbols in the design for the Great Seal of the United States. Afterward, they will examine a one dollar bill to find the Great Seal.
Find even more online teaching activities on DocsTeach, the interactive website from the National Archives where students can investigate historical documents and photographs to make sense of the past.
Additional topics for elementary students include:
Responsible digital citizenship includes the ability to use the Internet safely. Knowledge and awareness are the building blocks of this new responsibility and a source of self-protection for young people who explore the world online.
This includes appropriate online behavior, interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response.
Peruse the links below to view high-quality resources to assist in educating students about internet safety, social media netiquette, and cyberbullying. Games, videos, and simulations are used to guide students to become responsible digital citizens.
Conference organizers are looking for presenters from all fields willing to share their ideas and experiences to help inspire educators to bring their best teaching practices to K-20 learning. Preference may be given to hands on session formats. Sessions are 60 minutes.
Session proposals will be accepted through May 8, 2020. Selected presenters will be notified of their inclusion in the conference by June 1, 2020. Presenters will be given a discounted rate of $30. A registration code will be emailed to the presenters selected.
This conference is hosted by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE), the Wyoming Distance Education Consortium (WyDEC), the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming community colleges, the Wyoming State Library, school libraries, and the Wyoming Arts Council.
In the digital age, algorithms based on personal data allow information to find us as opposed to the other way around. Have we adequately prepared the next generation, who are predominantly accessing the world through social media platforms and search engines, to filter through the noise?
In a 2019 survey of US secondary school librarians, 96 percent said they teach some form of information literacy. These research skills allow students to “discover and evaluate credible information effectively and ethically by thinking critically.” In other words, students learn to identify biased reporting and suspicious sources, which can be applied to everything from Instagram posts to citizen news sites. Yet, according to a 2017 survey of academic librarians, the knowledge is not being retained — only 28 percent of first-year students enter their institution prepared for college-level research. If information literacy is widely taught in schools, why is there such a large gap?
Librarians cite a “lack of time” (69 percent) and “lack of faculty support” (59 percent) as the biggest challenges to instruction. “I don’t think [faculty] see these skills as important. They also feel so pressed for time covering their curriculum that these skills fall to the wayside.” Survey respondents candidly admitted that higher-ups in the educational food chain don’t see a critical value in information literacy skills. The lack of prioritization from administrators trickles down to teachers who often fail to prioritize “non-tested” material. Librarians note the difficulty in finding instruction time for students and the lack of integration and reinforcement of these skills across all curricula.
Amid the frustration, some respondents offered that one solution could be to start younger. “Students are so hands on with tech, even BEFORE entering preschool, focusing on these skills at the high school level seems too late,” noted one librarian—and they’re right. A 2015 study by Pearson found that 53 percent of 4th and 5th graders and 66 percent of middle school students regularly used a smartphone. Yet, only 28 percent of children learned about “seeking multiple perspectives” prior to entering high school. How to effectively use open web resources was more likely to be introduced in grades 10 and above, meaning there are years of access to information without proper education on how to appraise it.
One librarian who participated in the research study offered this as a final thought, “In our world of ‘fake news,’ teaching our students how to find accurate news sources and how to evaluate them is critical to have well-informed citizens.” Information literacy education needs to be addressed by understanding the critical role librarians play in laying the foundations for information consumption. Librarians are necessary for teaching students how to evaluate sources and make informed decisions to navigate a world increasingly embedded in the internet and social media.
Note: This post is part of the series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, the LRS highlights statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.