READ: Essentialism

At last year's Systems Change conference, this title was listed as one worthy of professional reading, plus, it looked intriguing... so, I read it.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown


Essentialism is essentially (pun intended!) about the disciplined pursuit of LESS to empower us to BE MORE.

Here were my takeaways:

Only you are in control of your time and energy. Create your life's agenda so that something or someone else doesn't create it for you.Say no. It's ok to be unavailable or to heck out in our super social, instantaneous world.As much as it hurts to hear it, you can't have it all. And, really, do you want it all? Wouldn't that be heavy?Teams function best when there is one, clear, identifiable purpose. When team members aren't taxed for time and energy, results are better.Make time for yourself. Read or keep a journal or practice yoga or wake up early... do whatever it is that centers you so that you can make essential decisions to make your life better…

Random Reads

I do a lot of online reading and I love to get reading suggestions from others.
So I thought I'd share, in series style, just two things (online articles and posts mostly) that I found interesting or impactful for school libraries, education, and growth.

Let me know how you like this series as we get going with it. My ears and mind are open for business and I want to be sure to post what's valuable and interesting to you.

P.S. I made this visual collection of links using the free app It's a fun curation tool.

2018 Best Websites from AASL

Each year the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) puts out its list of Best Websites for Teaching & Learning. These websites, tools, and resources are free, web-based sites that are user-friendly and provide a foundation to support 21st-century teaching and learning inside and outside the library.

New this year! These best sites are aligned with the Shared Foundations in the new School Library Standards for Learners. View the Best Sites and the alignment here.

Plus, for this month’s Tech Round Up! I shared about Book Creator. The Best Websites Committee used Book Creator to build a book about this year’s 25 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Take a look. It's a good way to get an idea of how you could use Book Creator with your students and for your own professional practice.

I plan to highlight several of these Best Websites throughout the school year so stay tuned.

Disclaimer: The South Dakota State Library does not endorse any service, product, or recommen…

Tech Round Up! Book Creator

Book Creator is digital notebook creation app that allows students to demonstrate and share their learning in a fun, content-driven way.

It's free... or low-cost subscription.

It's simple... or complex.
Appropriate for a variety of age ranges.

It's flexible... or not.
Choose a layout or choose a completely blank page for maximum customization.

It's customizable...
with font, shapes, stickers, drawing tool, hyperlinks to text or images, embeddable audio and video files.

It's publishable. Flippable. Shareable. Printable.

Here's a video that sums up its feature pretty nicely.

Want ideas about how to use Book Creator? Here are 50 ways ready for you to view in a book published by Book Creator.

And Book Creator isn't just for student creation. How about educator creation? What a great way to create and curate your own resources in the library or classroom.

Disclaimer: The South Dakota State Library does not endorse any service, product, or recommendation listed i…

Teacher-librarians are Curators

...To curate is to select, collect, preserve, maintain, organize, archive, and share.

Have you ever thought about if you're a dumper or curator? Dumper!? Just the sound of it is, well, dumpy.
As librarians, we want to be mindful curators in our super digital, instantaneous, information abundant world.

This article from the education blog Cult of Pedagogy mentions libraries specifically and lists tools and tips for curation. It really is very good and worth the read about dumping vs. curating.

In the library, curation largely looks like collection development and its many facets. Curation applies to us more broadly as teacher-librarians in terms of our program, our place, and our instruction. We build and organize collections for students and staff; we share resources in a variety of ways;  and we teach information literacy skills along with a myriad of other skills that require selecting, collecting, organizing, and sharing.
Digital curation tools are a must in our world. I've …

Tech Roundup! Library Websites/Virtual Libraries/Digital Branches

A library website is also called a virtual library or a digital branch and it allows your patrons to have access to your library 24/7, 365.

There are now so many ways to have a digital presence and it's easier than ever thanks to ready-made templates and click-go-creation platforms. You no longer need to know code. You no longer need to pay someone else to do the work. And you don't need to buy anything.
I won't lie. It's work. A virtual library doesn't just magically appear. You do have to take the time to build it and maintain it but it's so worth it.
It’s a matter choosing a platform in which to create your digital branch by picking a mobile-friendly template (and almost all are nowadays), spending time planning its navigation and structure, and building the site. Of course, it doesn't end there. Updates, additions, and maintenance are needed just like they are in your physical library.
Some freely available popular platforms include Google Sites, Weebl…

2018 AASL Social Media Superstar at this Year's Boot Camp!

Each summer the SD State Library offers a professional development opportunity called School Library Boot Camp. This is a two-credit Black Hills State University course that can be taken at either the undergraduate or graduate level by any educator in South Dakota. Scholarships are available to cover tuition costs.

This year's date is set July 23-26 on location at the State Library in Pierre. The theme is 21st Century Literacies: The School Library Connection. Content will revolve around digital, media, and information literacies as they relate to education.

One of the presenters/teachers at Boot Camp is one of this year's AASL Social Media Superstar winners!

It's Jennifer LaGarde, otherwise known as Library Girl. You can check out Jennifer's blog The Adventures of Library Girl and read more about her accomplishment as AASL's Social Justice Defender Superstar.

Kristen Echtenkamp and Lynn Klundt, librarians/educators from Northern State University in South Dakota, …

Children's Book Week

99 years!

This April 30-May 6, 2018 marks almost a century of celebrating for young people and the joy of reading via Children's Book Week.

Children's Book Week, a program of Every Child a Reader, is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country that connect kids with their favorite books and authors to instill a lifelong love of reading. Check out the media and event kits to promote this fun week. You can also sign up online as an official event to get extra freebies. Your event/celebration it can be simple or elaborate.

Another program that schools can use to promote reading is The Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards. Online voting started March 1 and runs through Sunday, May 6, the last day of Children's Book Week. Winners will be announced on May 30.

Tech RoundUp! Digital Audiobooks

It's often our ENL (English as a New Language) students, students with special needs, and struggling learners who benefit the most from audiobooks. These types of books are wonderful for early and struggling literacy, making oral gains such as fluency and pronunciation, independent reading, scaffolding, pairing, and comprehension. Not to mention, they help to make a long car ride fly by!
This month I'm sharing several online sources for free, digital audiobooks. I've added these and others on my Padlet titled Digital Books if you'd like to explore more or bookmark for later. I'll keep adding to this Padlet so check back.
Unite for Literacy

Loyal Books


Storyline Online

International Children's Digital Library
ebooks via the South Dakota State Library including Book Flix, Gale Reference Center, EBSCOhost eBooks, and SAGE Knowledge

P.S. Here’s the Tech Roundup Digest - a running list of all the roundups. Feel free to share with your staff.

Disclaimer: The Sout…

Advocacy for School Libraries: Resource Share

It's that time of year when advocacy questions increase in my inbox. Cue the SD State Library Advocacy page. Visit this helpful page for links to local and national tools and readings.

Take a look at the South Dakota's Future Ready School Librarians pamphlet. Its intent is to help administrators understand the importance of school libraries in our state. I encourage you to share this with your local administrator/principal, school board, and superintendent.

Another local reading includes the School Library Data Digest. For two years now the SD State Library has published it in a handy format so that you can display it on the end of a shelf or anywhere else in the library. Each autumn print copies are mailed superintendents who should then distribute to librarians and other stakeholders.

The 21st Century Self-Assessment Tool is a good one to use as an aid in implementing the SD School Library Guidelines. This tool can be a catalyst for conversations with your administrator conc…