by Dorcas Hand
Looking for a new way to work with both teachers and administrators? Apply the new ELAR TEKS to your campus work at the same time you implement the Texas School Library Standards. Take full advantage of the new ELAR TEKS to illustrate your direct impact on student growth. The ELAR TEKS will be fully implemented in 2021-22; until then only TEKS in both the 2009 and 2017 editions will be tested. Full implementation means the new TEKS will be used in the STAAR tests from then forward. (K-8 official info)
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission Supplemental Resources and Crosswalks for the 2018 Texas School Library Standards webpage offers a Side-by-Side for the new ELAR TEKS and the Texas School Library Standards. I have adapted the document a bit to make it even more obvious where the links are: Using ELAR TEKS to illustrate School Library Impact based on TX SL Standards. More useful in your library classroom than this overview will be the full ELAR TEKS, which you can find on the ESC19 ELAR page.
The ELAR TEKS focus just where you would expect: on reading and writing skills, on auditory and visual comprehension, vocabulary construction, and improved capacity to discuss ideas orally and in writing. The Texas School Library Standards focus on the resources that support these goals most broadly. You already know that, so let’s get specific. Here are a few examples; you will have a hundred other ideas.
In Kindergarten, Strand 4 is Developing and sustaining foundational language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking--self-sustained reading. The student reads grade-appropriate texts independently. The student is expected to self-select text and interact independently with text for increasing periods of time. You will use your library’s curated collection to provide both students and teachers additional grade appropriate texts for students to read independently, texts that the students can choose according to their own interests and abilities and in addition to classroom offerings. This is a direct impact on student learning. And I have offered the driest suggestion - your collaboration will be colorful and focused on your specific teacher and campus needs and enthusiasms.
In Grade 3, Strand 10 is Author's purpose and craft: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student uses critical inquiry to analyze the authors' choices and how they influence and communicate meaning within a variety of texts. The student analyzes and applies author's craft purposefully in order to develop his or her own products and performances. The student is expected to: a. explain the author's purpose and message within a text; b. explain how the use of text structure contributes to the author's purpose; c. explain the author's use of print and graphic features to achieve specific purposes; d. describe how the author's use of imagery, literal and figurative language such as simile, and sound devices such as onomatopoeia achieves specific purposes; e. identify the use of literary devices, including first- or third-person point of view; f. discuss how the author's use of language contributes to voice; and g. identify and explain the use of hyperbole. Listening to students discuss the books they are borrowing today, or the book they loved last week, supports this goal directly as well. With a bit of guidance, these discussions can go right into the classroom to teach skills that will be tested - and enthusiasm can remain high because the students themselves own the book choices. Palacio’s Wonder, Harry Potter, Riordan’s Lightning Thief series - I could go on.
In Grade 6, Strand 12 is Inquiry and research: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student engages in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes for a variety of purposes. The student is expected to: a. generate student-selected and teacher-guided questions for formal and informal inquiry; b. develop and revise a plan; c. refine the major research question, if necessary, guided by the answers to a secondary set of questions; d. identify and gather relevant information from a variety of sources; e. differentiate between primary and secondary sources; f. synthesize information from a variety of sources; g. differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism when using source materials; h. examine sources for: i. reliability, credibility, and bias; and ii. faulty reasoning such as hyperbole, emotional appeals, and stereotype; i. display academic citations and use source materials ethically; and j. use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results. Our TX School Library Standards are built around an Inquiry Process with a very specific eye on your ability to tie your work to student growth in the classroom. Any research project offers you a place to start.
The first four strands of the Library Standards focus on all the skills around reading and inquiry, the strands that align with the ELAR TEKS. Library Strands 5 & 6 focus on the behind the scenes work of librarians: maintaining a safe and nurturing environment, and demonstrating leadership. Both of these standards will be in play as you offer leadership in connecting your resources and teaching expertise to classroom curricula, and in welcoming all your students to an inviting library space that encourages them to read to succeed.
These new ELAR TEKS currently in implementation in all our TX public schools offer school librarians a gem of an opportunity to raise awareness of our direct impact on student achievement. You can start small to take full advantage of this opportunity by working on these Action Items:
Many thanks to Liz Philippi of TSLAC for organizing the Supplemental Resources for easy access, and to Terry Roper, Library Consultant at ESC Region 10, for leading the organization of the ELAR/Standards Crosswalk.
by Debbie Hall
Here is an example of an email contacting new board members and giving them information about the school libraries across the district or your own school. Most school board members don’t have an education background and need to be informed about school libraries. Send “your board representative” news from your library or invite them to stop by. Tell them a story. Let’s educate the Board of Education.
This email was sent to our four recently elected board members on Feb 4, 2020. We also sent an attachment which you can find in this link. The School Librarian's Role in Reading is an updated, released this week, AASL position paper.
An excerpt of this email was also sent to the five school board incumbents.
We are contacting you to welcome you to the school board of the Houston Independent School District. We know that you are committed to doing your best to increase student success and provide needed services to the young people of our district. Please know that you have support in the community for your work.
Student success and increasing needed services are part of our mission as well. During your campaign our community group, Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD, contacted you to provide information relating to the state of school libraries in HISD. You may have seen the article by Jacob Carpenter in the Houston Chronicle (November 18, 2019) which described the issue of low circulation in libraries in many of the district’s schools. Here is a link to that article in case you missed it:
Mr. Carpenter’s article speaks the truth about the state of HISD’s school libraries. Circulation of materials is not up to standard because the district has failed to realize the importance of school libraries and has permitted school libraries to founder. It is not surprising that lower reading scores across the district have occurred in tandem with a lack of support for school libraries by the central administration. Principals may choose to close their library or understaff their library at their discretion. The lack of library services is an equity issue when some schools have these services and others do not. Currently, there are over 55 schools with closed or vacant libraries in HISD. Aldine, Alief, Fort Bend, and Spring Branch currently staff all of their schools with certified librarians and have no service or equity issues.
For further information about libraries in the district as a whole or in your area, please contact Kallie Benes who is the library manager for HISD’s Library Services. I am sure she would be eager to provide you with up-to-date information. We would also encourage you to look at our library advocacy website at https://www.studentsneedlibrariesinhisd.org/
Libraries must provide materials on many reading levels and materials that appeal to the broad interests of students who want great stories and have a hunger to learn more about the world they inhabit. School libraries staffed by certified librarians and with a sufficient budget to provide collections that can satisfy the curiosity of young minds. I am attaching a recent document from the American Association of School Librarians which outlines the librarian’s role in the reading program. Please consider using your influence to restore the school libraries our students need now.
We provide information for all who seek to improve access to school libraries through our website. We collaborate and work with other groups who support public schools. Please contact us if we can provide additional information or support. We encourage you to visit the school library when you are on campuses and evaluate what is offered for yourself.
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.