Category Archives: Schools

Weathering a Library Book Challenge

Book challenges occur across Wyoming, and the most recent one happened in Laramie County School District 1.

A parent filed a complaint against Drama by Raina Telgemeier, saying it was inappropriate for elementary students, after his eight-year-old daughter selected the book from her classroom library. The book is also available in school libraries in the district. Drama came in at number five on the American Library Association’s most recent top banned books list for its LGBTQIA+ characters and themes.

After a public hearing on January 30, the District Reconsideration Committee voted unanimously to keep the book on library shelves with no restrictions. The meeting drew 75 attendees, most of whom spoke in support of the book. A few days later, Superintendent of Schools Boyd Brown oficially accepted the committee’s recommendation. The story was picked up nationally by the Associated Press and appeared in U.S. News and World Report and other news outlets.

“I was impressed, happy, and humbled with just how supportive our community was,” said Sarah Horen, the Librarian at Triumph High School in LCSD1 and the support contact for the District’s elementary libraries. “So many different people came forward in support of the book — older students, younger students, parents, nurses, psychiatrists, and even a suicidologist. Everyone — regardless of their position on the book — was just so respectful and so warm. A lot of moving testimony was shared.”

Two major factors helped in this situation: The district had a good collection development policy in place, and the librarians knew they could reach out to others for advice and support.

The story began in October when the student picked the book from her classroom library as a free reading choice. She was uncomfortable with some of the themes and brought it to her parents, who spoke with the teacher. The district’s librarians became aware of the situation in early November, at which point the parents officially filed their complaint.

Sarah contacted the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom for assistance and ended up working with their Assistant Director Kristin Pekoll. She also reached out to the Wyoming Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Advisor, Janice Grover-Roosa and the Wyoming State Library’s School Library Consultant Paige Bredenkamp, as well as to colleagues in other libraries to see who had Drama on the shelves and who had encountered issues with it.

“Kristin was really helpful,” Sarah said. “We talked on the phone about 40 minutes one day, and she had great advice on different perspectives to bring to the table. She encouraged us to focus on the fact that we’re excited that parents were involved and that the child felt comfortable going to them — but every child should have that opportunity. When we take away the book, we take away that choice.” Parents who want to restrict reading choices for their own children are welcome to work with their school librarian to do so.

“There are kids out there that need this book in their lives. It’s important for all kids to be able to see themselves reflected in literature.”

Having policies in place in advance is critical, Sarah said. “What really helped us is that we have a very strong collection development policy in our district. It shows we don’t pick books randomly. There are specific criteria a book has to meet to be added to our collections. This book checked all the boxes. So the collection development policy is the first thing you should have, and then have a good policy and procedure in terms of what to do in a challenge.”

She added, “A challenge is kind of a scary thing and isn’t necessarily something you look forward to having happen, but it’s good to see librarians rally for the freedom to read what you want. The book was kept and it’s a great book.”

Lucas Seeks AASL Presidency

Jennisen Lucas

Jennisen Lucas, District Librarian for the Park County School District #6 in Cody, Wyoming, is one of two candidates for the 2021-2022 American Association of School Librarians (AASL) presidential term.

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. Along with AASL, Lucas is a member of ALSC and YALSA.

“AASL is an amazing group of talented school librarians at all levels,” Jennisen said. “In my roles on various committees and as a regional director, I have come to better understand the overarching concerns and goals of our profession. It’s an honor to be selected to run for president-elect.”

Phoebe B. Warmack, director of the William H. White Jr. Library and Reynolds Family Learning Commons at the Woodberry Forest (Va.) School, is the other candidate for the AASL president-elect position.

The full slate of AASL candidates can be found at Ballot mailing for the 2020 ALA election will begin on March 9, 2020, and will run through April 1, 2020. To vote, AASL membership must be current as of January 31, 2020. The American Association of School Librarians is a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

Govinfo Resources for National History Day

Reposted from govinfo

National History Day© (NHD) is a non-profit education organization established in 1974, that provides educational programs helping students and teachers influence the future through discovery of the past. Their largest program is the National History Day Contest which is a year-long academic program focused on historical research, interpretation and creative expression for 6th- to 12th-grade students. The experience ends with a series of contests at the local and affiliate levels and an annual national competition in the nation’s capital in June.

The 2019-2020 historical theme is “Breaking Barriers in History.” Students select topics related the annual theme, examine the historical importance, and create a presentation. (Source: National History Day.)

Govinfo provides access to a wealth of official publications from the Federal Government to assist students and educators with their project research.

Research Tools on govinfo
Check out the “What’s Available” page to see publications by collection and examples of content.
The “Tutorials and Handouts” page offers information that will help guide students through the search process.

Samples of Content on govinfo Related to This Year’s Theme

Women and Minorities

Civil Rights

Space Exploration

Internet and Data Security


*This is a citation to a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law. To see select unofficial compilations of laws that either do not appear in the U.S. Code or that have been classified to a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law, visit the Statute Compilations collection. Statute Compilations incorporate amendments made to the underlying statute since it was originally enacted. Learn more including the availability and currency of Statute Compilations on govinfo, as well as how to find them.

Additional GPO Resources

Browse GPO’s online bookstore for thousands of publications from the Federal Government.
Search GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) to find additional publications related to your topics. The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available.

One Book Wyoming at Your School Library

Want to start a One Book discussion at your school library? The Wyoming State Library has book kits you can check out that include copies of Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, a teaching guide, promotional materials and more!

Learn more on our One Book Wyoming page.

Questions? Contact the Wyoming State Library’s School Library Consultant Paige Bredenkamp at or (307) 777-6331.

Traveling Trunks from the Smithsonian

Reposted from Smithsonian Libraries

Traveling Trunks is a new resource-lending program of the Smithsonian Libraries. These multimedia library kits are packed full of resources from across the Smithsonian Institution that deliver immersive experiences. Through touch, tech, sound, and sight, Traveling Trunks creates a screen-free sensory-rich environment.

Through the current four themes students can listen to authentic songs and stories by the Latinx community, solve intricate mystery games based on US presidential history or ancient texts on zoology and herbology, and hear under-told stories of American women’s history. The program is a free resource for young learners and their educators, and Traveling Trunks can be sent to libraries, schools, community centers, and other learning sites for a month-long lending period, with the option to renew. All costs, including shipping costs are covered; access to a FedEx office is required.  ​​

Interested in learning more about how Traveling Trunks could come to your space? Pre-register to stay in the know. and to submit your questions and comments.

Upcoming Traveling Trunks


Coming January 2020
Cost: Free
Ages: All


Coming Spring 2020
Cost: Free
Ages: Middle School and up

Coming Spring 2020
Cost: Free
Ages: All


Coming Spring 2020
Cost: Free
Ages: Middle School and up


WDE Supporting Digital-Age Teaching

From the Wyoming Department of Education

One hundred Wyoming educators will have the opportunity to earn the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Certification for Educators with financial support from the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). The certification is the only competency-based certification focused on digital-age teaching practices.

Today’s students are “digital natives,” but need skilled educators who can channel their use of technology for high impact learning. For success in their future, students need to be creators, not just consumers of technology, use digital tools to solve open-ended problems, work in design teams to address real-world issues, and communicate complex ideas that demonstrate their knowledge.

ISTE Certification for Educators training includes in-person workshops and online learning, followed by teachers applying what they have learned in the classroom. Teachers document their innovative classroom activities and submit the evidence of the activities in a portfolio as the final step to become certified. The certification process is rigorous, but Wyoming educators will be well-supported by the WDE.

The Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) announced that educators who complete the ISTE Certification training are able to receive an Instructional Technology endorsement. Wyoming is leading the way as the second state in the nation to offer the endorsement after ISTE certification.

The WDE also introduced Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines for any educator who wants to learn more about integrating education technology to deepen student learning in their classroom. The guidelines are based on the ISTE Standards for Students. For educators interested in putting the guidelines into practical use in the classroom, the WDE will also offer a Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines online course. The PTSB will offer .5 licensure renewal credits for educators completing the online course. Completion of the Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines online course is a prerequisite to engaging in the ISTE certification training program. The guidelines are available digitally on the WDE website. Hard copies may be requested.

“With this financial and program support, we hope to empower Wyoming educators to embrace new trends in digital-age learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Anytime we can support our educators in professional development and professional growth is a win for our students as well.”

ISTE developed the ISTE Standards for Students for use all over the world. These standards include “Empowered Learner,” that build student self-direction, “Computational Thinker,” and “Innovative Designer” that establish powerful problem solving skills.

For more information about the ISTE Certification for the Wyoming educators visit here.

Britannica School Resource for PreK-2

Britannica Fundamentals NEW! from Britannica Learn on Vimeo.

Check out the newest offering from Britannica School: Britannica Fundamentals. This replaces the Learning Zone with an updated platform. Activities align with what younger students are learning about in school in language, literacy, geography, and math. Fundamentals has four paths for learning: play, read, create, and explore. Get acquainted with Britannica Fundamentals with the video above.

You’ll find Britannica Fundamentals within Britannica School — just click on Elementary, then look for Fundamentals in the icons.

Questions? Contact Chris Van Burgh, Wyoming State Library Database Instruction Librarian, at or (307) 777-3642.

Teaching Resources for Letters About Literature

Wyoming students in grades 4-12 are invited to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) of a book that changed their lives. The 2020 Wyoming Letters About Literature reading and writing contest will open November 1. Both individual and classroom entries are welcome.

School librarians, teachers, and homeschoolers should note that a Teaching Guide is available to walk your students through the book discussion and letter-writing process. The guide addresses the LAL teaching strategies and ways in which the program can dovetail with curriculum for teaching reading and writing. Included are worksheets for duplication and assessment checklists. Students might want to read the letters from last year’s winners, posted on our website, for examples of what a winning letter looks like.

Learn more and find ready-to-print flyers to promote the contest to your students.

Postmark deadline for Wyoming entries will be January 11, 2020. No electronic submission is available for this year’s contest. Questions? Contact Susan Mark, Wyoming State Library Outreach Librarian, at or (307) 777-5915.

Innovations for School Libraries

Found in the Big Deal Media K-12 Technology newsletter

Guide for Conversing with Parents About Learning with Technology
Your Edtech Conversation Guide, a free downloadable resource from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), is the definitive handbook for changing the conversation with parents about how students are learning with the use of technology.

Program Based on Real-World Writing
This school year, The New York Times is offering a free, flexible, seven-unit writing curriculum based on real-world genres found not just in The Times, but in all kinds of print and online sources. Woven into each unit are multiple opportunities for students to publish and have their writing read by authentic audiences.

SPOTLIGHT! On Coding for Children with Autism
Learning to code is about learning how to solve problems, work with others in creative ways, and think in a new language. Teaching children with autism employs the same skills—creating logical connections, breaking tasks into smaller parts and sequencing them—but it is also much more. Teaching children with autism to code is teaching them the thinking skills they need to address the challenges they face in their everyday lives—to frame their thoughts, to prompt them through routines, and more.

  • Autism Coding Academy: Coding Autism is building the first autism-specialized coding academy, pairing online coding education, community, and an autism-savvy support team to help transition autistic talent into the technology workforce.
  • Coding Guide for Children on the Spectrum: Coding for Kids with Autism: The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Educators offers answers to some of the most common questions the authors have encountered while operating a successful coding school serving hundreds of children on the autism spectrum.

Nading Receives Celebrate Literacy Award

Ginny Nading at work. A student took this photo of her when they were layering liquids to bring the spiders to the top.

From Natrona County Schools

Journey Elementary librarian Ginny Nading was named a recipient of the 2019 Celebrate Literacy Award from the Wyoming State Literacy Association. Ginny has been a part of the Natrona County School District team for 13 years and has spent the last 6 years as an elementary school library media technician. She’ll graduate with her bachelor’s degree in Library Sciences from Valley City State University this coming spring.

The Casper Literacy Council nominated Ginny Nading for the impact on literacy she makes in the school community and beyond through her work with students, teachers, and families. She devotes countless hours to organize, plan, teach, and deliver literacy activities in many forms.

Ginny’s passion for literacy was instilled in Cody Wyoming through her fifth-grade teacher Mr. Smith, “I loved going to my school library and looking for that special book while thumbing through the card catalog and listening to the read-aloud,” she said.

Ginny takes pride in running her library differently. She gives students a choice of flexible seating options and opportunities for hands-on learning. This year she is beginning to explore with Breaker Space, a work station that has “misfit” toys and other broken electronics for students to disassemble and discover with.

“This award means so much to me,” she said. “It was humbling to be nominated, let alone be a recipient. I think literacy is so important to everyone, whether it is for pleasure, research, or work. Literacy is a functional life skill that we all need to have. I love being able to share my love of reading to my students, all 400 and some, through different tones and excitement.”

Ginny was honored and received her award at the Young Authors Celebration in Casper on September 7, 2019.