Library Services Newsletter

January, 2018 Teacher Librarian Edition

Library Services Digital Resource of the Month: NetTrekker

As a librarian, teacher or student in DPS, you have a rich selection of digital resources, including databases, that is purchased and curated through Library Services' LION site. Go to and click on "online databases" or go directly to

Our Library Services team is also curating resources about our digital resources for you to learn more about their features and be able to use these overviews with your staff, students and families. Please let us know what would be helpful!

This month we are highlighting NETTREKKER.

Ed Tech and Library Services purchases NetTrekker for grades 3rd-5th. It is an excellent introduction to website research, providing a safe environment with educator curated open education resources. It provides students with examples of high quality websites. One of the most powerful features of this tool is that it measures the reading level of the website, and allows the user to sort by this feature. Each website is also tagged, organized and aligned to standards. NetTrekker can save librarians and teachers time when trying to curate grade-level appropriate resources.

NetTrekker has a feature that converts text to speech on websites which can be helpful for English Language Learners and students that need additional supports. Students can use their image search for multimedia products. Their famous person tool (under "Tools") allows students to search for someone by time period, profession or cultural heritage (or all three).

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Library Spotlight

For the month of January we are turning the spotlight on Nick Bleckley, affectionately known as “Mr. B.”, librarian at Cheltenham Elementary. In the two years that Nick has been at Cheltenham, he has transformed the library into a delightful, organized, and welcoming learning environment. Nick is especially excited that this spring, thanks to the support of the school leadership team, the library will be upgraded and “re-imagined” into a space that will be more open, flexible, and inviting with resources to support whole group, small group, and independent learning. (His reaction – “Huzzah!” – as his pal, Ben Franklin, would say.)

When asked what he was most proud of, Nick had great things to say about the Cheltenham community:“We have so many adults at Cheltenham who express their caring about our kids. I try to be part of this. I’m outside the front door greeting students every morning. I make a special effort to spend time informally with our children who present behavioral challenges. My most common consequence for serious misbehavior in the library is to require the offending student to spend time with me, solving some problem. (Lots of fifth graders have helped me figure out how to open the hood of my car!)”

Nick said that he has been lucky to collaborate with teachers and the community liaison to have a book give-away each year before summer break. They are often able to provide five or six books per student. There is always a wide variety of books and students choose for themselves. Talk about a great way to help counteract the summer slide!

In speaking about his collection, Nick has adopted a purchasing method for non-fiction that he feels works very well for his school community. Each year he focuses his purchases on specific areas. Nick said, “This has been especially valuable when teachers want students to do research projects. I am able to suggest the teacher choose insects, or dinosaurs, or Colorado mammals, or the planets, or some other areas in which I know the collection is strong at various reading levels in both English and Spanish.”

One of Nick’s favorite books for an interactive read-aloud is Bony-Legs by Joanna Cole. He says that while the text is simple, it lends itself to lots of questions – factual, inferential, and critical thinking. He notes that there are some interesting idioms and vocabulary, and it’s a great story with lots of opportunities for readers and listeners to ham it up!

Nick said that one of the most rewarding parts of his job is helping to bring speakers to the school. Cheltenham hosted author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat this October and Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Time’s best selling illustrator LeUyen Pham last spring. All three spoke about their inspiring struggle to find themselves as artists. Dan Santat read his latest book After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again. Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham shared their new graphic novel, Real Friends.

What does Nick do for fun in his library? Many of his younger students enjoy Nick’s “library ninja drill” where they silently follow him, the library sensei, through a series of silly movements designed to provoke giggles and a rapid heartbeat. He says that he explicitly teaches the students that it’s not just for fun – a relaxed, oxygenated brain learns better.

Nick especially enjoys doing research projects with his classes. See photo below of Nick and his class of first graders in front of a display of their writing project about penguins. It’s easy to see that his students also enjoyed participating in the project!

Nick is a member of the book review committee – aka the Review Crew. He enjoys spending time discussing the best of new books with other professionals. We appreciate the fact that he is an expert when it comes to writing vibrant, engaging reviews!

Nick’s words of wisdom: “Our students need to feel cherished, but challenged. My father-in-law used to say, ‘I’ll make it a great day.’ I try to talk with troubled kids one-on-one about the implications. Whatever our problems, whatever support we need, in the end we have choices. So carpe your diem and let’s make it great!”

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Makerspace Hub

We are highlighting three more of our new kits in this month's newsletter. Please contact us for more details. Our Makerspace website has great curriculum aligned ideas, as does our Makerspace course in Schoology (join with course code 4FSPF-Z43BD).


This kit provides an introduction to programming, allowing novice tinkerers to create and code inventions without breadboarding, soldering, or wiring. Arduino recommended for Grades 9+.


Osmo enables the iPad to merge the power of physical play with the digital advantages of real-time feedback. Playing beyond the screen invites students to collaborate on tables or floors while manipulating tangible game pieces such as number tiles, letter tiles, and coding blocks. Comes with a teacher’s guide. Recommended for Grades Kinder+.


Playmags are 3D magnetic building blocks that attract on all sides and even when flipped around. Children will effortlessly learn through creative play about geometric shapes, symmetry, architecture and basic math concepts such as counting, addition, and subtraction through manipulation of the colorful pieces. Comes with two books. Recommended for Grades ECE+.

Students Tackle Robot Coding Challenge

Students at three Denver schools recently tackled a makerspace coding challenge. The daring pupils eagerly took on the tasks with teamwork, programming and trial-and-error. By using Sphero robots, block programming and iPads, the upper elementary and middle school students worked under strict timelines to complete two robot challenges. Place Bridge Academy teachers reported the activity was “a great learning experience.” A big thank-you to these educators for “making space” for this activity: Ian Yates, CMS Community School; James Wilkerson, Place Bridge Academy; and Hunter Taff and Elizabeth Babowice, High Tech Elementary.

  • To schedule a student Sphero programming challenge, contact Ed Tech:

  • To reserve and check out a makerspace kit for your school from Library Services (they have Spheros and much more!), visit here.

Another RIF Grant Kudos!

Last month we reported that 3 schools received the Books for Ownership grant from Reading Is Fundamental. We would also like to congratulate Kathleen Boyd from Trevista at Horace Mann for applying and receiving the grant for her school! A big congratulations and thank you to all library staff who take the time to apply for grants that contribute to student success.

DIA Grants for Celebrations with an African American Focus

If you are interested in planning a Dia celebration this year with an African American focus and you would like to increase your library multicultural collection - then read on!

The Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature (CSMCL) has announced that they will award a $500 grant in selected multicultural children’s book for your library to organizations that plan to serve children and families by having a Dia library program/celebration with the event held on or about April 30, 2018.

The grant information sheet and the grant application are attached.

· The application must be received by February 26, 2018

· The award will be announced on or about March 1, 2018

· Visit the CSMCL website for more information:

Basic info:

· Libraries (elementary, middle, and high) that serve children and families that are celebrating Dia (El Dia de Los Ninos/El Dia de Los Libros, Children’s Day/Book Day) with an African American focus are eligible to apply.

· The selection criteria will be based on creativity and originality of the implementation of the Dia celebration.

· You will not receive a check for $500, but rather $500 worth of preselected multicultural books. Library Services does not know what the titles are, but you can view the CSMCL Best Books of 2017 on their website.

· The winning library will need to submit to CSMCL 15 digital photos of the event via email or mail the 15 photos on a flash drive no later than one week after the Dia event. (See attached grant information for details.)

· At this time CSMCL has not determined the number of grants they will award.

What is Dia?

Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.”

Pat Mora, award-winning poet and author, was inspired to start Dia more than 20 years ago. Goals of Dia: 1) to celebrate children and connect them to the world of learning through books, stories and libraries; 2) to recognize and respect culture, heritage and language as powerful tools for strengthening families and communities.

More Information

Visit the Dia website:

Visit the Pat More website:

Schools interested in applying for the grant will be working directly with CSMCL. We would love to know who applied – so keep us posted!

Deb Romero - Library Services

Inspiring Displays!

We would love to share out displays that inspire kids to read and try new genres, topics, etc. Please email us your photos so we can put them in our newsletters for everyone's enjoyment!

Below are some of the latest from Kathy Boyd at Trevista. We love your enthusiasm!

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Diverse Books Reading Lists

As part of our Diverse Books Initiative, we are sharing out themed booklists with some of the latest and greatest titles for students. Earlier this month we shared out one in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Feel free to share these out with your staff and parents!

Please let us know if there are events, topics, genres that you would like us to highlight, and please do share titles that you know and love.

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