Category Archives: Schools

Coloring Contest for Wyoming Children Fights Food Insecurity



Coloring page with girl at table with table setting, large heart, and text that reads #HEARTFULL #TABLEFULLElementary school and children’s librarians — Food Bank of Wyoming is seeking your help to reach kids in PreK-5. 

Wyoming children are invited to participate in the 2022 #Heartfull#Tablefull Coloring Contest. Hearty is a character Food Bank of Wyoming uses to highlight hunger and the hunger helpers throughout the state. The Hearty program helps children know that food insecurity is around them and how they can help others in a time of need.

Learn more and download the three different coloring pages. Winners will be awarded in the following categories and receive a chocolatey prize courtesy of Donells Candies:

  • 1st Grade and Younger: Most Colorful, Most Creative
  • 2nd Grade through 3rd Grade: Most Colorful, Most Creative
  • 4th Grade through 5th Grade: Most Colorful, Most Creative

Deadline to enter is February 21. Mail completed coloring pages to Food Bank of Wyoming, P.O. Box 1540, Evansville, WY 82636. Include the artist’s grade and contact information.

WySLICE 2022 Open to K-8 Teachers and Librarians



Young, smilingstudents at computersWhat can teachers and librarians do to integrate computer science? What type of computer science support does your district need?

If you’ve ever asked these questions, WySLICE is for you!

WySLICE, Summer 2022, is looking for Wyoming schools and districts interested in partnering to learn about computer science (CS) implementation in classrooms.

Sign up now.

Teachers and librarians get paid to participate for one week in the summer. About 80 participant spots are available. The leaders can come to the school district or library if more than 25+ teachers and librarians are signed up in one location.

The University of Wyoming is proud to work with schools and districts to bring needed CS support (e.g., stipends, resources, teaching ideas) into K-12 classrooms and libraries.

Students Still Have Time to Enter Wyoming 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. Sponsored by Wyoming Humanities, the 2022 Wyoming Letters About Literature Contest is now open.

Submissions must be received by February 18.

Complete details including the submission form and teaching guide can be found here. Other inquiries may be directed to Lucas Fralick at lucas@thinkwy.org or 307.721.9243.

This contest is presented as part of the Wyoming Center for the Book, now housed with Wyoming Humanities.

Free Cybersecurity Games Available to Teachers



CIAS graphic and text that reads: "Cyber Threat Guardian (CTG) is a tabletop card game, which is ideal for students in Kindergarten through second grade, that introduces players to technology and cybersecurity terms and concepts. Below text are four cartoon characters.
Games also available for grades 3-5 and grades 6-12.

Our partners at WyoCAN have alerted us to a resource school librarians may be interested in – free games to teach cybersecurity concepts to K-12 students. The Center for Infrastructure Assurance & Security (CIAS) has developed three cybersecurity card games designed for students in grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-12. Free classroom packs (15 decks) are available to teachers.

Learn more about the games on the CIAS website under Gaming and on their Culture of Cybersecurity site. You can also find an introductory video to the program and the K-2 game, Cyber Threat Guardian, on the State Library’s WyoCAN page. To order free games on the CIAS website, use the “Click here to purchase” link at the bottom of the Gaming page, go to Cybersecurity Games, and look for the K-12 Classroom Box.

2022 Wyoming Letters About Literature Accepting Entries



Teens and tweens, get your pens ready! The Wyoming Center for the Book at Wyoming Humanities invites students in grades 4-12 to enter Letters About Literature, a statewide writing competition.

Download the guidelines to learn more. Deadline to enter is February 18, 2022.

Students may compete in one of three levels: Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8, and Grades 9-12. First place winners at each competition level will receive a $150 Amazon gift card, second place winners will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, and third place winners will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. All winners and honorable mentions will receive a non-monetary award certificate.

See examples of last year’s winning letters on the Wyoming State Library website and find a Teaching Guide for classroom use.

Questions? Contact Lucas Fralick at Wyoming Humanities at lucas@thinkwy.org or (307) 660-0729.

Challenges, Policies, and Reconsideration in School Libraries



Heavy chain and lock around a bookFrom the Idaho Commission for Libraries
By Jeannie Standal, ICFL School Library Consultant

September 2021 saw a 60% increase in reported book challenges in the United States over September 2020. Even taking the circumstances of the pandemic in September 2020 vs. September 2021 into account, that is a huge increase. If your school library has not yet dealt with a book challenge, there is a good chance one is coming your way. It can feel like a disaster, but much like any other crisis, preparation eases the way.

Foundational pieces

The first and most important priority is to make sure your school and school district have critical foundational pieces in place. If your school district does not have robust versions of the following policies in place, move those to the top of the priority list and ask your administration to do the same.

  1. collection development policy lays out the purpose, goals, and priorities for the library’s collection in support of the school library’s mission which, in turn, supports the school’s mission. Library collections might include print books, recordings, digital materials, periodicals and newspapers, and even equipment. The collection development policy should cover all of those and any other items in the library. The ICfL uses this simple Collection Development Policy for the IDEA Collection.
  2. challenge policy or reconsideration policy and procedure is part of a collection development policy. It clearly establishes a policy and a procedure with which a book or other item is examined to determine if it should remain in the collection. The American Library Association (ALA) provides a Reconsideration Policy Toolkit to help librarians and administrators develop policies that will suit their libraries.
  3. A challenge procedure always includes review by a reconsideration or review committee. This committee commonly includes the librarian, members of the faculty, at least one member of school administration, and at least one parent. Some committees include members of the community like the local public librarian, a member of the PTA/PTO, and possibly a school board member. It should not include the party submitting the challenge. Learn more about the role of the reconsideration committee.

More things to consider

Recruit and establish the review committee before a challenge happens. They should be very familiar with the role and purpose of the library, and the review committee members should establish internal relationships and trust within the committee before the work of a challenge begins. That anchoring knowledge and respect for fellow committee members will help them come to a sound decision regarding any challenged material.

Got those in place? Awesome! But that’s not all. It’s important to be familiar with the books that are most likely to be the target of a challenge. Keep an eye on the trends in book challenges and read this helpful article from school librarian Martha Hickson published in the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Blog. It has some great tips on being ready should a challenge come your way.

If someone is concerned, but has not yet submitted a formal challenge, it’s a good opportunity to talk about their concerns (this is where knowledge of the book comes in handy). Be open to their comments and concerns and acknowledge that while the principles of students’ freedom to read, listen, and view are important considerations, parents have the right to monitor and guide what their own children read. However, this is not the time to make any promises about the fate of the title in question. Often a conversation where the concerned party is heard and understood will resolve the problem, but if not, point them to the reconsideration procedure with a recommendation that they read the entire work before submitting the complaint so they may consider their concerns with the benefit of context.

It is natural to want to avoid trouble, but top of mind should be the purpose and mission of the school library. School librarians maintain a collection to serve and represent a diverse student body with a wide variety of needs and interests. They provide “windows and mirrors” and help students find stories about people that are both like themselves and nothing at all like themselves, in settings and situations that are both familiar and different. They ensure students have access to a large variety of points of view, rather than stories and histories written by and about a single point of view. They employ sound principles of selection rather than preemptive self-censorship.

A few additional resources:

Blog Post: A Proactive Approach to Book Challenges by Jennifer LaGarde from the Adventures of Library Girl blog, which includes a concise and helpful infographic.

Document: Instructional Materials Conversation Guide for Principals (and for librarians) from the Beaverton School District.

Foundational Document: Library Bill of Rights

NCTE’s Position StatementThe Students’ Right to Read

A Conversation with Jennisen Lucas, AASL president



Woman in princess dress on stage walking to podium under "AASL Salt Lake City 2021" banner.
AASL President (and princess) Jennisen Lucas takes the stage at the organization’s recent conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Wyoming might be a small state, population-wise, but our librarians are not afraid to take the national stage! Jennisen Lucas, District Librarian for Park County District 6, is a great example. On July 1, she officially began her term as President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

AASL, a division of the American Library Association, is the only national professional membership organization focused on school librarians and the school library community. AASL has more than 7,000 members and serves school librarians in the United States, Canada, and around the world.

We decided to ask Jennisen a few questions so she could share her perspectives.

How did you get started in school libraries?

I planned to be a librarian for as long as I can remember, but I had originally wanted to be a cataloger at a college library. When I attended classes as a perk for a job at Eastern Illinois University, I started to study children’s literature. By the time I was enrolled in library school, I realized that if I became a school librarian I could be on the same schedule as my husband. After getting my first job in a school library, I was hooked. I absolutely love how school libraries connect learners to the world and connect all of their content areas together.

What made you decide to take a leadership role?

This is a really interesting question. It was an evolution, but the short answer would be that I decided to say yes when I was asked. I never thought of myself as a leader beyond my building until I attended what I thought were membership meetings for the Wyoming Library Association School Library Interest Group, and I was asked to take a leadership role because I came to the meetings. The more I thought about leadership, the more I realized that I needed to be involved in professional organizations to learn. That led to presenting at WLA conferences and then at AASL Conferences. Then I found that people asked me to step up and join committees, and then ultimately, this large leadership role.

What inspires you?

My learners inspire me. They are still searching for ways to make a difference in the world, and they remind me that I have that opportunity. I hope that my involvement will, in turn, inspire them to open the door when opportunity knocks. We have to not be afraid of success.

What is the importance of school libraries?

School libraries are critical spaces for learners to discover themselves, connect their interests to the world, and ask real questions that go beyond content studied in their classes. Learners deserve current, diverse, dynamic, and curated collections of materials that will help them make connections between their classroom learning and their passions as well as certified school librarians to guide them on their journeys as they create the future.

Why is telling the story of school libraries so critical?

Telling the stories of school libraries is critical because their very existence is under fire. Misunderstandings about the roles of school libraries as just being the storehouses of books coupled with the stereotype of school librarians just reading to children and checking out books have led to cuts of librarian positions and even spaces when budgets are tight. The only way to correct these misunderstandings is to educate through stories that tell more than just statistics. We need to highlight how our school libraries literally save the lives of our learners by providing safe spaces; how our learners grow beyond the school walls and even their small towns by interactions with information in our libraries; how certified librarians act as instructional partners, information specialists, guides, and facilitators; and how school libraries enrich the learning environment for all members of the school communities.

What do you hope to accomplish in your year as AASL President?

I hope to accomplish two things during my year as AASL President. First, I would like to help my colleagues remember to look at the positives of our positions, even when it seems we are beaten down by outside forces. Secondly, I want to convince everyone to tell their stories and share our truths. School librarians take on this career because of strong beliefs in our core values, especially those of intellectual freedom and democracy. It is the school librarian that teaches learners about the human record, guides them as they discover it, and encourages them to add to it. We are vital.

What future do you see for school libraries?

I optimistically look forward to the future in which school libraries really do take their place as the heart of every school, staffed with certified school librarians that guide our learners from knowledge seekers to true purveyors of wisdom. I see a future in which school librarians lift each other up and share our stories, and we can continue to invite great learners into our spaces to share in the abundance of knowledge and create new information, reshaping the future into a better world for everyone.

Cyber-in-a-Box Student Video Challenge Deadline Extended



Promotional flyer image
Click for downloadable PDF.

There’s still time to sign up! Wyoming middle and high school classrooms are encouraged to create new video content promoting public cybersecurity awareness for the Cyber-in-a-Box library program. Registration for the challenge has just been extended until November 30, 2021.

The Cyber-in-a-Box School Video Challenge offers teachers $100 for supplies, and offers teams of up to five students (grades 6-12) t-shirts for entering the Challenge. Participants will produce five-minute videos by March 1, 2022.

In creating the videos, the Challenge connects education objectives involving technology, computer science, communication, teamwork, and social behavior while enhancing community cyber-health and cyber-safety practices.

Questions? Contact info@cyberwyoming.org or (307) 314-2188.

Students can Enter Cyber-in-a-Box School Video Challenge



Wyoming middle and high school classrooms are encouraged to create new video content promoting public cybersecurity awareness for the Cyber-in-a-Box library program.

The Cyber-in-a-Box School Video Challenge offers teachers $100 for supplies, and offers teams of up to five students (grades 6-12) t-shirts for entering the Challenge. Participants will produce five-minute videos between September 2021 and February 2022, with judging in March and finalists announced in April.

In creating the videos, the Challenge connects education objectives involving technology, computer science, communication, teamwork, and social behavior while enhancing community cyber-health and cyber-safety practices.

Contest details

Zoom Q&A sessions are planned for teachers in September and October. Sign up for a session and find more information and guidelines on the Cyber-in-a-Box School Video Challenge at cyberwyoming.org.

Why this video challenge?

In 2020, Wyoming citizens reported losses of $5,096,704 according to FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center, for less than 600,000 people in the state, said Laura Baker, Wyoming Cybersecurity Alliance director. That is over $8.81 for every man, woman, and child in the state.

“Cybersecurity is a community issue,” Baker said. “These losses are for our communities, and we need to have conversations about being more security aware. When families discuss the wireless router’s password at the dinner table, we will know we have been successful. We hope these videos will help provoke those and other conversations in the community.”

The Cyber-in-a-Box library program was developed by the Wyoming CAN (Cybersecurity Action Network) Committee and implemented by the CyberWyoming Alliance and the Wyoming State Library, both members of the CAN committee. Examples of videos can be found on the Wyoming State Library website at library.wyo.gov/wyocan — student videos selected through this challenge will be published there as well.

The Challenge is sponsored by the CyberWyoming Alliance and Wyoming State Library thanks to grant funding by Rocky Mountain Foundation and the Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative. Cyber-in-a Box program materials are published

Wyoming Innovations in Learning Sessions Announced



Innovations in Learning banner

The Wyoming Innovations in Learning Conference is an opportunity for educators to share and explore innovative teaching and learning practices for classrooms and distance learning environments, from kindergarten through higher education. This year’s event will be held online on September 30-October 1. Individual registration is $25, including online payment fee.

Session details are now available. Here’s a sneak peek at some of what’s in store:

  • Ringleading Education: Finding Success in the Teaching Circus by 2021 Wyoming Teacher of the Year (Alexis Barney)
  • Clarifying Digital Citizenship: A PK-12 Scope and Sequence (LeeAnn Lindsey)
  • Art Education Strategies to Strengthen Learning Across Disciplines (Reachel Cook)
  • Inclusive Syllabus Design (Christi Boggs)
  • Bridging the Digital Divide in Wyoming (Beth Cook)
  • Chart a Course for Quality: Navigating Online Learning (Christine Voelker)
  • Demonstrating Teacher Competency Through Computer Science Micro-credentials (Laurel Ballard)

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, and school libraries.

For more for information, contact Robin Grandpre at (307) 777-5315 or robin.grandpre1@wyo.gov.