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October 2009, Volume 1, Issue 10

Check your Fall Calendars!

YARP Voting Begins
Oct. 18

Teen Read Week
Oct. 18-24

National Friends of Libraries Week
Oct. 18-24

National Novel Writing Month

National Gaming Day @ your library
Nov. 14

American Education Week
Nov. 15-21

Letters for Literature
Dec. 12 deadline

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Featured e-Resource of the Month
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School Libraries

Take another look at school library standards

It’s time to take another look at the South Dakota School Library Standards. Endorsed by SDLA and adopted by the SD Board of Education and the SD State Library Board in 2004-2005, these voluntary goals and guidelines have served our school libraries for five years.

Much has changed in the world of information, technology and education in the past five years. In that time the American Association of School Librarians has published Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Programs. If you have not yet had a chance, take a look at these publications at AASL: Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.

AASL has also developed a national plan called Learning 4 Life, or L4L, to implement the new standards and guidelines. One of the major steps in the plan is to make everyone in the school library community aware of the new standards. In SD we have been communicating that information in one-to-one site visits and at related trainings and conferences.

We are ready to make plans to take another step. Responsibility for the standards has moved from SDLA to the State Library. If you are interested in being involved in revising the SD School Library Standards in any way over the next year, contact Joan Upell at


Voluntary free reading is key component in reading success

Reading is the baseline skill for success in school and in life so a goal for teachers and librarians is to get kids excited about reading books and media. Students who read are better writers. Students who can’t read or who read poorly frequently struggle to access and use technology productively and efficiently. How do we get busy or, perhaps, disinterested kids to read? Many experts advocate for offering them choices in reading matter.

Stephen Krashen notes in The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research “in-school free reading programs [or voluntary reading] are consistently effective … [these] readers do as well or better than students who were engaged in traditional language arts programs.” Krashen further states that the longer free voluntary reading is practiced, the more consistent and positive the results.

According to Lisa Von Drasek in “Summer Reading? Good! Assigned Reading? Bad,” a successful reading program should more broadly define reading to include not only books but also magazines and zines, graphic novels, comics, nonfiction and listening to audio books. Read more at the EarlyWord.

For more evidence, read about the experience of Jonesboro, Georgia teacher Lorrie McNeill who, after 15 years of teaching reading traditionally by assigning one book as a whole-class read, last fall turned over book reading decisions to the students in her seventh and eighth grade English classes. In May Ms. McNeill’s approach was vindicated when she received results of her students’ performance on state reading tests: 15 of the 18 eighth graders exceeded requirements and scored in the highest bracket. As seventh graders the previous year, only four of the same class had reached that level. The entire article is at New York Times: A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like.

Do we throw out traditional reading programs? Of course not, but maybe Voluntary Free Reading as a component of school reading programs could contribute to success in creating accomplished and active student readers. In South Dakota the Prairie Bud, Prairie Pasque and YARP/Teen Reads lists offer terrific ideas for giving students reading choices. For more info on all three programs go to: Prairie Bud, Prairie Pasque, and YARP Teen Reads.


Looking for motivation for your reluctant teen readers?

Orca Book Publishers we will be giving away a free download of the new Graphic Guide Adventure - Media Meltdown starting Oct. 1. Visit Media Meltdown to claim your free copy of this exciting graphic novel. The site also features games and activities and an information page for teachers and librarians on media literacy.


Tools to use for Web site evaluation

Here are two tools you can use to help teach your staff and middle and high school students some Web site evaluation strategies. All you need to use both of these tools is the URL of a Web site.

To find the owner of a Web site go to easyWhois. Knowing who owns the site is a lot like knowing who published a book. Students need to know if the information they are finding is from a qualified and reliable source.

Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive lets you find the history of a Web site. You can see when the site first began and the changes that have been made to it over time. You can also use this to find a site that takes you to a dead link, or to find information that was once on the site but has been updated and removed.


AASL, graphic novels, history, reluctant readers, school library, summer reading, teens, websites

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The Cornerstone monthly e-newsletter is created by the South Dakota State Library. For more information on how to be a part of this newsletter, please contact us via e-mail with your questions and ideas.