AASL Conference

Hartford, CT November 14-16, 2013

Graphic Novel Club and Contest

Addie Matteson (@queenaddie), a librarian, worked with kids to create a graphic novel club with a planning committee and graphic novel competition. Graphic novels written by students are now part of her library's circulation. It seems like a great way to engage kids in the writing process while plugging into their interests! I am working with a fifth grade student and her teacher to implement a graphic novel club in our school.

photo courtesy of thousands.com.au

Opening General Session Guest Speaker: Dr. Tony Wagner

Author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

We must reimagine schools
Students need both the skill and the will
Seven Survival Skills (Skills That Matter Most)

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving (problem identification, knowing how to ask the right questions)
  2. Collaboration (creating solutions that will work in multiple countries; led by peers)
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurial spirit
  5. Effective oral and written communication (right now they don't know how to think or reason; they don't know how to write with passion or voice)
  6. Be able to access/analyze information (how to do an effective internet search and evaluate information)
  7. Curiosity and imagination

There is a gap between these skills that top companies look for and what is being taught in American public schools; curriculum today is test-prep.

Statistics on recent college grads:

  • 54% unemployment rate
  • $30,000: average debt
  • 1 in 7 (ages 18-24) neither employed or in school

Companies are looking for creative problem solvers

70% of our economy is made up of consumer spending, increasingly fueled by debt

We need to become manufacturers of ideas instead of things.

Traditional school:

1. celebrates individual achievement

2. compartmentalizes knowledge

3. too passive- consuming

4. Failure is to be avoided at all costs

5. Creates a culture of compliance and risk-aversion

6. Extrinsic motivation-dangling the carrot

Innovative school:

1. Collaboration

2. Interdisciplinary units around problems to be solved

3. Emphasis on creating teachers as coaches

4. Demands risk-taking

5. Iteration- what worked, what didn't (plus/delta)

6. Intrinsic motivation

What creates intrinsic motivation?

  • play (time outside, limited screen time, limited toys, spirit of play, element of whimsy)
  • passion (leads to perseverance)
  • purpose
Keep spirit of play alive

Let kids design their own investigations

Passions morph and evolve

We are not on this earth just for ourselves. We are here to make a difference for others.

Teach and assess skills that matter: "The Four Cs"

  1. critical thinking
  2. collaboration
  3. communication
  4. creative problem solving

Every student with a digital portfolio showing what he/she knows- exhibitions of mastery.

Get past the idea that a multiple choice test shows what you know.

How do companies hire?

-Collective human judgment displayed by evidence

-Google looks to hire 15% who don't have college degrees

-Companies ask: tell about a complex problem you tried to solve

-they want to see digital portfolios

Google's 20% Rule: You have time to play on company time

-Students have 20% of school time to work on your own for what you care about

-document in a digital portfolio

-"Google Days"

Give the Kids the Keys: Students Drive the Independent Project

How do we cultivate curiosity?

  1. Grab a teaching partner
  2. Build excitement and anticipation with kids and parents
  3. Gives students a sheet: 3 ideas you'd like to research
  4. Peer and teacher review
  5. Create timeline
  6. Have cohorts of students to troubleshoot and share knowledge along their learning journey

Must help students narrow their question

Do "minquiries" - mini research projects to warm them up to the independent project

-focus on inquiry

-evaluate sources

-create rubric with students

-open critique and craftsmanship

-teaching "What does good critiquing look like?" "How did that feel?" "What language was helpful?"

-fishbowl a critique- others take notes of quality of critique; can even videotape

-then critique the critique

-teach and practice positive feedback and questioning

Recommended books to get started:


  1. questioning strategies
  2. awareness of available resources
  3. locating sources
  4. evaluating sources
  5. online searching skills
  6. reading non-fiction
  7. note-taking

Reading Marathon- Hinsdale Central High School Library

2700 students

300 faculty and staff

4 librarians

one of the top 5 schools in Illinois

competitive culture

Wanted to challenge them to read more widely

-tried using the Illinois state reading program: Abe Lincoln awards

-tried One School One Book

-Decided to try 26.2 books in 26 weeks

October through April

-wanted to make it a challenge vs. a competition

Different "racing bib" options:

  • Mighty Miler (5 miles, 280 pages)
  • 10K- 6.2 books
  • Half Marathon- 13.1 books
  • Full Marathon- 26.2 books
  • Ultra- 45.5 books

Students and staff join the marathon

"Join the marathon elite without hurting your feet."

Go the Distance 26.2 Book Marathon

Even if you don't cross the finish line, celebrate your accomplishments

  • Provide a sign-up using signupgenius.com- can sign up for specific bib on signupgenius; can also change to a different bib during the time period
  • students stop by library during lunch, before school, etc. and get a race packet: "racing bib"- sheet to keep track of books read and welcome letter with start, finish, and rally dates
  • get water bottle, banana, and granola bars like a real marathon
  • have water stops and road rallies:
  • December luncheon- supported through the PTO
  • February (Valentine's Day)- bring your own lunch but chocolates are provided
  • Kids and teachers sit together and talk about the books they are reading
  • slideshow at luncheon "What Are You Reading?"
  • Big Deal for Finish Line for moments of individual and group recognition
  • t-shirts for administration, teachers who are advocates
  • medals, podium, pomp and circumstance
  • Create list of what everyone reads
  • reading recommendations on display

Overcoming Adversity: Helping Real Kids Learn Resilience through Fictional Characters

Panel of authors:
  • Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Kimberly Newton Fusco
  • Cynthia Lord
  • Karen Day
  • Jo Knowles
  • Nora Raleigh Baskin
  • Erin E. Moulton
  • Leslie Connor
  • Susannah Richards- Moderator
-books help kids navigate life

-authenticity in writing connects people

"Reading a book gives a deeper understanding. They (kids) feel it and know it but can't label it yet." -Lynda Mullaly Hunt

"I approach a book by tackling a topic that I'm struggling with and it helps me." -Jo Knowles

"When we pretty things up and don't tell the whole truth we leave kids alone." -Cynthia Lord

"It's funny how people always say thanks for writing Rules because it helps people with autistic family members. Every lesson in that book is for me. I have a 22 year old son with autism." -Cynthia Lord

"Kids feel everything and they don't know what to do with it." -Karen Day

"I get the situation first. A lot of my books are about the new shape to the American family. Then I wait for the character who is pretty freakin loud." -Leslie Connor, on her approach to writing a book.

"I love people's quirks. That's my favorite thing about people." -Erin Moulton

"I think about how the character feels in that moment. Then I think about a time I had that same feeling. Then I stop and write all about that feeling." -Cynthia Lord, on how she makes characters and situations authentic

"I always give my character traits that I do not like and I do not admire." -Cynthia Lord, on showing that life isn't black and white but shades of gray

"I use writing to work out issues in my own life." -Nora Raleigh Baskin

"Two words of advice for students: 1. keep a journal to get to deep, deep feelings 2. be a journalist and write what you see." -Kimberly Newton Fusco (RI resident)

"There are a million reasons to feel different in this world but the feeling is the same." -said to Cynthia Lord on a Native American reservation when they told her how much they enjoyed Rules

"Girls who want to matter more to their dads." -Cynthia Lord, on the surprising letters she gets from Rules fans

-I was struck by how many writers on the panel admitted to not being readers when they were young and how some said they struggled in school. Many said they played outside instead of reading.

-Nora Raleigh Baskin said she was very troubled. She said writing saved her life.

-Kimberly Newton Fusco talked about having such a bad stutter that she never spoke when she was a child. Reading and writing saved her.

Books They Loved as Children or Young Adults:

  • Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White - Nora Raleigh Baskin
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor - Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - turned Jo Knowles into a reader
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl- Kimberly Newton Fusco
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech - Karen Day
  • MidSummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare - Erin E. Moulton, "I fell in love with Shakespeare. I didn't understand much but the words were so beautiful."

Lynda Mullaly Hunt talked about struggling as a reader. What changed her opinion of herself was a librarian putting Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume into her hands and saying, "I want you to go home and read this."

"High expectations is the biggest compliment you can give a child." -Lynda Mullaly Hunt

"You have so much power to change lives." -Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Repackaging Research Activities to Meet the Common Core: Rising Above the Status Quo

Paige Jaeger @INFOlit4U



"Why are we teaching students to gather apples if we're not teaching them to make a pie?"

  • Students no longer just "cover"
  • Students uncover and discover
  • Student-centered research
  • Students are empowered by choice and transfer of responsibility
  • Move beyond fact fetching and regurgitation
  • Create an evidence-based claim and provide differing viewpoints
  • example: Should pennies be taken out of circulation?
  • Students must say yes or no and give three supporting details
  • Reading is an active activity: read with a pencil to mark up the page; find 3 VIPs, give a purpose to read
  • very UBD: What do you want them to know at the end?
  • example: (when studying Westward Movement) Would you go West? Convince your friend to stay behind or go with you.
  • example: (Body systems are mutually interdependent) You're going to be kidnapped by aliens. In order to get back to earth you need to donate one of your internal body parts. What will it be?

As you're crafting an essential question consider:

  1. What do you want them to know at the end?
  2. Is there an arguable point?
  3. Start with: how, why, what if
  • Multi-year approach
  • Don't cheat the wonder stage because when they create their own questions they'll own it
  • Put pronouns into essential question - "your" so students own it