October 26, 2015

PPP: NSTA2015 Reno Bridging the Content Gap with Nonfiction

Written by Deborah B. Ford

NSTA RenoFor my last trip of the month, I went out of the box and spoke at the National Science Teachers Association Regional Conference in Reno. I was slated to present Bridging the Content Gap with Nonfiction, a new session I just wrote. I promised to talk about new nonfiction (I chose 30 titles), free resources for teaching, additional free information text resources, and  technology to bring it all together. In an hour. Um. Yeah. While I was getting dressed, two thoughts came into my head: 1) Don’t let my new grandbaby come while I’m gone and 2) Let someone show up for the session. So. What happened on Saturday morning?

I got to my room early. It was at the end of a hall and set up for 136 people. In my head, I’m thinking, “Well, there are plenty of seats. Please let the people come.” I brought 50 handouts and posted them to the NSTA sessions site. I checked the internet. Dead zone. Hotspot was a no-go. Be flexible and move on. (Note to self: Add screenshots for when I do this again in Philadelphia in November.) I stood at the door and greeted people. By the time we were ready to start, the room was 3/4 full. A quick survey revealed one principal, 2 STEM specialists, and science teachers K-12.

They loved it. They loved the titles. They loved the resources. They could have cared less that the internet wasn’t available. (Though I was sad. I made a short Kahoot for a post presentation survey. The link to it is now available in the handout.) We had plenty of time to discuss the books, resources, and even ask questions. What a great group.

Here’s my take away for library staff: Reach out to your content areas.

1. Use my handout (see below) and shop JLG. Use the power of the backlist. They want these books. NSTA’s Outstanding Science Trade Books are grouped on our website under Outstanding Book Lists.

2. Create your own booklists for subject areas. Market them. Merchandise them.

3. Do PD for your content areas. We have found our 30 minute webcasts to be highly attended. You don’t need to do one hour.

4. Make sure your content area teachers know about your databases. If you don’t have any, check out your public library’s and use them.

5. Make the effort to speak at content area conferences. This is your chance to spread the word that the library is their partner.

Here’s my take away for science teachers: Reach out to your library staff.

1. Give them a heads up on your curriculum content. We are happy to connect to what you’re doing and provide you with resources.

2. If you want a maker space in your library, get together a team and talk about what that looks like for your school. Look at the JLG Pinterest Board on Maker Spaces for info and ideas.

3. Read, read, read. Today’s nonfiction books are amazing resources. Go down to the library and absorb the new books. Offer your expertise to weed obsolete resources.

4. Evaluate your nonfiction classroom library. Science materials should be no older than 5-10 years (unless they have historical value). Improve your collection by adding SLJ Series Made Simple. Talk to your librarian about JLG and how you can use its resources. Remember that all of our selections have been correlated to CCSS.

For those of you who attended on Saturday, thank you thank you. My heart was full and excited from being with you. Thank you NSTA for allowing me to participate. (and I love the lapel pin.) If I can be your library coach in any way, feel free to contact me.

Full handout is available here.

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  1. Deborah B. Ford

    on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 10:30am

    No grandbaby yet. Her due date is tomorrow. Tap, tap, tap goes my booted foot.

  2. Lydia J

    on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 18:26pm

    But what about the grandbaby?

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Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford

Deborah B. Ford, JLG’s Director of Library Outreach, is an award-winning library media specialist and international speaker with almost thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools. Traveling across North America, she does workshops, library coaching, and professional development for school and public libraries. Deborah is the author of JLG's Booktalks to Go @ SLJ. She also maintains an award-winning coordinating online resource at Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @jlgdeborahford.

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