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February 2012, Volume 4, Issue 2

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

Digital Learning Day
Feb. 1

Read Across America Day
March 2

Teen Tech Week
March 4-10

World Read Aloud Day
March 7

PLA Annual Conference
March 13-17

School Library Month

National Library Week
April 8-14

Preservation Week
April 22-28

Money Smart Week
April 22-28

World Book Night
April 23

Featured e-Resources of the Month
Gale Virtual Reference Library gets a facelift

School Libraries


Don’t miss the chat on Feb. 9 - the School Library Chat

Please join us for an informal School Library Chat on Feb. 9. Anyone working in a school library is welcome. School librarians and library paraprofessionals often report they have no time for travel to meetings or to attend webinars, but they would appreciate a chance to talk with others, share ideas and ask questions. The School Library Chat is a chance to do just that.

School Library Coordinators, Mary G. Johnson and Joan Upell, will begin hosting the pilot program of chats on Feb. 9 at 4:00 CT for those east river and 4:00 MT for west river. Participants will need to have a phone, a computer with Internet access and be ready to chat. There is no registration required and no credit offered. The focus of the first chat will be what’s going on with the new school library standards in your libraries, but it's all informal and flexible! Watch for more information and directions as we get closer to the date.


21st Century School Library Taskforce creates self-assessment tool

The 21st Century School Library Taskforce gathered in Pierre for its first meeting on Jan. 18. The group is developing a voluntary self-assessment tool for school libraries based on the newly adopted South Dakota School Library Guidelines.

Included in the self-assessment will be three levels listing specific criteria to best describe and delineate school libraries that model and teach 21st century learning skills, practices, technology and access to resources.

Taskforce members include: Alissa Adams, Sturgis; Robert Behlke, Huron; Daria Bossman, SDSL; Jeanne Conner, Sioux Falls; Amy DeNomme, Brandon; Mary Frank, Gregory; Dianne Hemminger, Spearfish; Mary G. Johnson, SDSL; Joanne Kallhoff, Madison; Sharlene Lien, Sioux Falls; Scott Lepke, Custer; Lynda Lewis, Hill City; Jean Moulton, Watertown; Emily Olson, Harrisburg; Angela Ostrander, Faith; Joan Upell, SDSL.


Putting the new School Library Standards into action: Part 2
How do you rate? ~ A lesson in critiquing websites

Do your students Google everything about which they want information? Do they take everything from the Internet as “truth”? How can students learn to judge what is on the Internet?

Librarian Nicole Ulvestad, Pettigrew Elementary, Sioux Falls, teaches her students to differentiate between what is reliable information and what is not by using a set of criteria to rate websites. While her lesson is geared to fifth graders, it can be set up for any level or grade. Taken from, the lesson teaches the following South Dakota library standards:

  • Inquiry & Problem Solving
    1.5.3 ~ Generate a scaffold of questions to investigate with prompting and support; modify as needed. (Understand)
    1.5.4 ~ Locate resources appropriate for purpose using library tools. (Apply)
    1.5.5 ~ Critique resources for accuracy, currency, reliability, usefulness, purpose. (Evaluate)
  • Multiple Literacies
    2.5.7 ~ Use electronic/digital tools and resources to locate and creatively share information. (Apply, Create)

Ulvestad first introduces students to a rating sheet with the following questions: 1) Can the author be trusted? 2) Will this site have the information I need? 3) Is this site up to date? and 4) Is this a good research site for students? Under each set of questions are another set of questions with a one through three rating system. For example, under question one, students review areas such as finding the author’s name, checking to see if the author is an expert, reviewing the grammar and spelling, and being able to contact the author. Each category is scored by students, with a final score that is a discussion area for students and teacher. The website rating guide is available at the Cybersmart website. Reviewing the rating guide also helps students to learn vocabulary with which they may not be familiar, such as “navigation” or “dead links.”

Once students understand the guidelines and vocabulary on the rating guide, Ulvestad takes students to the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Endangered Animals online. Together, they go through the criteria on the rating sheet to gain some experience and knowledge on reviewing a website. As a group, they discuss the high and the low scores given on the website.

Ulvestad checks understanding by having students pair up on computers to look at better websites, such as World Book Online. Using the laminated rating guides and the knowledge gained through the discussion and practice run-through, students review the chosen website. When students finish, they meet with other pairs to discuss their findings. Whole group discussion focuses on the highest and lowest scores a website can receive through the rating criteria. Finally, Ulvestad discusses with students the question, “What does the score tell you as a researcher?” Students continue to use the rating guides for practice in their research throughout the school year.


Looking ahead to the 2011-2012 School Library Survey

The 2011-2012 School Library Survey will open on April 1 and close May 16. With 98 percent of all districts/school systems completing the survey last year we are looking to reach 100 percent this year. We have clarified a few definitions, created some new choices in the checklists and added just one new question. For example, you’ll be able to check whether your libraries now provide ereaders, allow student owned devices, or use social networking in instruction. The new question is for combination libraries only and asks if there is a written agreement between the school and public libraries involved. There will be a webinar offered on March 29 to go over the basics of the survey program. Watch for registration details coming soon.

Between now and April you may want to look at your data from previous years. Go to and use your district login and password. You can also look at the complete statistics and make comparisons at using the same login and password information. Contact Joan Upell (email) or Mary G. Johnson (email) if you have any questions.





21st Century, school library, Sioux Falls, standards, survey, webinars, 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.