Category Archives: Schools

Archived WSL Webinar: AASL Standards Overview

Join Paige Bredenkamp, School Library Consultant at Wyoming State Library and Jennisen Lucas, Wyoming’s AASL Affiliate and school librarian, for a discussion about the newly released AASL Standards for school libraries.

Download the slides (PDF).

Three New Educational Apps From the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, in collaboration with various educational organizations, has launched three web- and mobile-based applications related to Congress and civic participation for use in K-12 classrooms. From stepping behind the camera with photographers who fought against child labor to building a timeline that traces African Americans’ journey towards freedom, students are able to do all these things and more using the set of new free educational interactives. Each project takes a different approach to the subjects, and each is based on the rich historical primary-source items that the Library makes freely available at

Eagle Eye Citizen, developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Eagle Eye Citizen engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges on American history, civics and government with Library of Congress primary sources in order to develop their civic understanding and historical thinking skills.

Engaging Congress, developed by Indiana University Center on Representative Government, is a series of game-based learning activities that explores the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges it faces in contemporary society. Primary-source documents are used to examine the history and evolution of issues that confront Congress today.

KidCitizen, developed by Muzzy Lane Software. KidCitizen introduces a new way for young students (K-5) to engage with history through primary sources. In KidCitizen’s nine interactive episodes, children explore civics and government concepts by investigating primary-source photographs from the Library of Congress. They also connect what they find with their daily lives. KidCitizen includes cloud software tools that let educators create their own episodes and share them with students.

Getting Started With the AASL Standards

School Library Journal has compiled a list of essential resources for getting started with the new American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Standards, beginning with the three-minute introductory video above. Go read the article for all of them.

Then, be sure join us tomorrow, November 28, at 3:30 p.m. MST for our webinar, Talking About the New AASL Standards. Paige Bredenkamp, School Library Consultant at the Wyoming State Library and Jennisen Lucas, Wyoming’s AASL Affiliate and Library Media Specialist for Park County School District 1, will lead the discussion. Come with your questions and ideas!

School Library Paige

Just out! Catch the latest news and updates in the November 2017 School Library Paige, from the Wyoming State Library’s School Library Consultant, Paige Bredenkamp. Please take a minute to respond to the School Library Hotline; results will be posted in next month’s newsletter. Questions about school library issues? Contact Paige at or (307) 777-6331.

Upcoming WSL Webinar on New AASL Standards

Learn more about the newly released American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National School Library Standards. Paige Bredenkamp, School Library Consultant at the Wyoming State Library, and Jennisen Lucas, Wyoming’s AASL Affiliate and school librarian, will host a webinar discussion, “Talking About the New AASL Standards“on Tuesday, November 28, at 3:30 p.m. MST. Come with your questions and ideas!

Register here.

Questions about this webinar, or about other school library topics? Paige is on hand to help. Contact her at or (307) 777-6331.

Makerspaces and Libraries: READY, FIRE, AIM

By Doug Johnson
Blue Skunk Blog

At a recent meeting, a school library professor expressed her concern to me about the profession’s enthusiasm for putting makerspaces into school libraries. While she personally saw the value of the kinds of learning opportunities makerspaces are supposed to offer, she asked:

If school administrators see the makerspace as a trivial extra, might that association be applied to the library as a whole?

It’s a good question and one all of us need to be asking.

Unfortunately when a sexy innovation like makerspaces makes its appearance on the education stage, too many schools take the READY, FIRE, AIM approach to planning. My friend Joyce Valenza called out this problem in a recent blog post “Makerspaces: On Scanning the Road & Gently Easing the Brakes” (October 3, 2017). She asks:

Making is important. Informal learning is important. Tinkering is important. Connected learning is important. STEAM is important. Invention is important. Access is important. Project-based learning, problem-based learning and constructionism are important. Student choice and creativity are important.

But should a formal makerspace need to be a part of every school library?

And she wonders if makerspace planning in schools always takes in the specific needs, goals, and resources of the building in which the makerspace is being placed (and worries that good programming in the library might be eliminated by makerspace real estate.)

In her EdSurge article “What Should I Buy For My New Makerspace?, Laura Fleming writes:

Every makerspace needs to have its own unique vision, and that vision should be written down in the form of a mission statement. That statement will help you convey to others what your makerspace is trying to achieve and to help people better understand your space, but it will also help you be able to better select products that are appropriate and meaningful to your particular makerspace.

She then articulates a 5 step framework for selecting the right products for the makerspace. (If I can quibble, I would change selecting “product” to selecting “activity.” Product implies that makerspaces must only contain commercial equipment.)

Riffing on Joyce and Laura, here are some questions I might ask when implementing a makerspace in a school:

  1. Has my school articulated the “why” for its makerspace? Do teachers, administrators, and parents understand the purpose behind creating this very different learning enviroment? Is it in alignment with the school’s mission?
  2. Is there a suitable location for the makerspace? Is the space being considered currently being used for a valuable purpose? Can the makerspace be portable?
  3. How will the efficacy of the makerspace be evaluated?
  4. How will the makerspace support curricular outcomes?
  5. Who has responsibility for managing the makerspace, selecting activities, scheduling the space, maintaining the equipment, supervising the activities?
  6. How can it be assured all students have access to the learning experiences afforded by the makerspace? Will only identified students or students with teacher who are enthusiastic about the philosophy behind making get to use the space?
  7. Who will determine whether the true spirit of making – creativity, problem-solving, self-direction, etc – is being nurtured? Who will monitor to make sure the 3D printer is not being used as an expensive photocopier or the graphics program just a digital coloring book or the programming devices not just a exercise in following instructions?

Great results are nearly always the result of good planning and hard work. Interesting correlation. Resources — money, time, energy, space, PD — are too scarce to waste on a half-baked trend that does not benefit kids.

Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Letters About Literature Certificates for Your Students

Students who participate in Letters About Literature write a letter to an author, living or dead, whose work inspired the student’s life. Although only a handful can win top prizes, every student who submits a letter should be proud of his or her achievement. If you would like to honor your students’ participation in LAL, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has now created downloadable, printable certificates for use in your classroom or library.

The certificates are one of the Letters About Literature resources for teachers. Also available are a teaching guide and an archived webinar (password Letters123!) of best practices. In addition, the State Library has created ready-to-print flyers that make it easy to promote LAL with your students on our information page at

Letters About Literature is open to students in grades 4-12. There is no entry fee to participate. Questions about LAL? Contact Susan Mark, WSL Publications Specialist, at or (307) 777-5915.


The School Library’s First Contact With Parents

By Doug Johnson
Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog

This question was recently posted to LM_Net:

Do any of you send a letter home with students at the beginning of the year that explains library rules, routines, info, etc..? If so, could you please share so I could generate some ideas. Thanks in advance.

Ah, the first thing our parents hear from us are our RULES! Why not hit them with our SERVICES in that first communication instead? Rather than…

Dear Parents,

Please be aware of the library’s rules:

  • Your child is allowed to check out two books each week.
  • Books must be checked out and returned on the specified library days.
  • If a book is not returned, no additional books can be checked out.
  • Fines will accrue for late books.
  • Lost books must be paid for by parents before report cards are issued.

Your librarian


Dear Parents,

The library program has some exciting opportunities in store for your child this year:

  • Our curriculum will be promoting the very best of children’s literature to your child with activities designed to help student’s enjoy the stories even more.
  • We’ll be doing our very best to get (or keep) your children “hooked on reading” by recommending specific reading materials to each individual.
  • At each grade level, students will be learning research and computer skills specifically suited to their developmental needs.
  • The new iPads in the library will be available for reading e-books this year!
  • We have a lot of special events being planned, including author visits, a book fair, and reading contests.
  • If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please let me know. We’d love to have you.

Your librarian

Parents can and should be our greatest advocates, but this will only happen if we communicate the positive. Sure, it’s OK to communicate library “rules.” But what priority should this communication be given? Think about it.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Geography Awareness Week Bookmark Contest

Geography Awareness Week is coming up November 12-18. To mark this occasion, the Wyoming Geographic Alliance is sponsoring a bookmark contest for students in K-8 on the theme of “Civil Rights.”

All bookmark entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2017. This contest is only open to Wyoming students, limit one entry each. Judging will be based on geographic content, artistic quality, and creativity.

Download the entry form.

First place winners will have their bookmark published and distributed to libraries and schools throughout Wyoming. First and second place winners for each grade level will receive an inflatable globe and National Geographic world map. The sponsoring teacher will receive a one-year subscription to National Geographic Kids.

Questions may be directed to Robert Rust, WGA Graduate Assistant, at or (307) 766-3213.

Geography Awareness Week, organized by National Geographic Education Programs, encourages citizens young and old to think and learn about the significance of place and how we affect and are affected by it. Each third week of November, students, families and community members focus on the importance of geography by hosting events; using lessons, games, and challenges in the classroom; and often meeting with policymakers and business leaders as part of that year’s activities. Geography Awareness Week is supported by year-long access to materials and resources for teachers, parents, community activists, and all geographically minded global citizens. The event is organized by National Geographic Education Programs.