D-11 wins honors for cool new libraries

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childrens books on shelf
  • LibAmanda
  • The school library was once focused on these things, which we called "books."

I grew up a stereotype.

Too tall for my age, with bushy hair and bad fashion sense, I tended to walk down school hallways with my nose quite literally in a book. And yes, I did occasionally run into open locker doors.

Needless to say, I was one of those rare kids who took easily to the library. I loved the quiet. I loved the brainy librarians. I even loved the card catalogue. Here was a place that I could go and be left alone with my books.

And I do mean alone.

But the modern school library isn't the quiet affair that it once was, and many educators say that's a good thing. Libraries — including local ones — have gotten louder and more creative, drawing kids with programs on blogging and creating webpages.

The Colorado Department of Education just handed out 14 awards for "Highly Effective School Libraries" statewide. Three went to Colorado Springs School District 11. Only Jeffco Public Schools received more honors. That's certainly worth an "atta boy" — even if the nerd in me is a little sad to see the quiet sanctuary of the school library go the way of the dinosaur.

Colorado recognizes 14 Highly Effective School Libraries

Today’s most effective libraries are centers of activity with students sharing ideas and creating online displays of what they’re learning. Those are hallmarks of the 14 Highly Effective School Library honorees announced today by the Colorado Department of Education.

In comparison with libraries in past decades, which were associated with keeping quiet, reading, and maintaining order, today’s school libraries are the interactive hub of the school. They are places where active learning and inquiry are encouraged and explored. Students at these recognized libraries created blogs during an argumentative writing unit, created web pages to demonstrate learning in a science unit and offered constructive peer feedback to one another using Google comments.

“Twenty-first century skills are an essential component in education today, and effective school libraries and librarians are critical links for attaining these skills,” said Eugene Hainer, assistant commissioner and state librarian at CDE. “Students can benefit from the district’s support of these highly effective programs and the staff in the honored libraries.”

Prior to applying, each teacher-librarian, along with their respective principal, assessed their library program using the “Highly Effective School Library Program Evaluation Rubric.” This assessment tool outlines what a quality school library program should look like in areas such as student and teacher collaboration, differentiated instruction, curriculum development and leadership both within and outside the school community.

State and national studies conducted over the past two decades show that students in schools with endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests in reading, compared with students in schools without endorsed librarians. The presence of school librarians positively impacted students’ standardized reading scores even when controlling for student poverty (free and reduced-cost meals). Even if schools had overall staff declines between 2004 and 2008, students’ standardized reading scores were better in schools that maintained or gained a licensed librarian.

Go to www.lrs.org/documents/school/school_library_impact.jpg to view a complete list of the study and its findings.

Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond will recognize the 14 libraries at the April State Board of Education meeting.

The Highly Effective School Library 2013 recipients are:

• Bennett High School, Bennett School District
• Bill Roberts ECE-8 School, Denver Public Schools
• Chipeta Elementary, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Deane Elementary, Jeffco Public Schools
• Eaglecrest High School, Cherry Creek Schools
• East Middle School, Mesa County Valley School District 51
• Holmes Middle School, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Horizon High School, Adams 12 Five Star Schools
• Ken Caryl Middle School, Jeffco Public Schools
• Martinez Elementary, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Ralston Elementary & Parmalee Elementary, Jeffco Public Schools
• Ryan Elementary, Boulder Valley School District
• Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver Public Schools

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