Wednesday, February 8, 2017

This post originally appeared on this Blog November 22, 2013, but I'm re-posting (with minor edits) because of the continued timeliness of the topic.

I find it interesting that so much has been written  about this new idea of project-based learning for schools. That's the whole basis of an effective school library program! I feel like non-librarians are catching up with what has been best practice for school libraries for decades. In fact, our Kentucky state school library media guidelines promote project-based learning in flexibly scheduled libraries with full-time certified librarians to facilitate that work.

What does "flexible schedule" mean? In school library circles, that means an open schedule that allows teachers to schedule collaborative teaching opportunities with the school librarian to learn about and conduct research projects, to learn about different genres of literature, and to conduct inquiry-based activities using print and/or digital resources. On this type of schedule, the certified librarian is available at the point of need for entire classes, as well as small groups and individuals. A flexible schedule doesn't mean "no schedule." An active library with a flexible schedule has an ever-changing calendar that doesn't look the same from day to day or week to week.

Again, the use of the library is based on needs of the school community and is based around inquiry learning and promoting the reading of a wide selection of materials. I've seen several schools and districts come up with their "new" idea of a learning commons staffed by a facilitator who can create this type of environment. However, those schools and districts often overlook the fact that the library media center and the school librarian are the basis of that type of environment. It's the type of library program that Kentucky has promoted for years, and our KY school librarians are specifically trained through masters degree certification in how to manage that type of innovative setting.

I encourage school councils and administrators to work with the existing expertise of the certified school librarian in their buildings and to be creative in their scheduling and use of library media center facilities in order to support and promote a 21st century learning environment that embraces a project-based, inquiry-based curriculum.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Mayflower

Sailing with three masts
And a crew of twenty-eight,
The Mayflower ship
Brought Pilgrims to their fate.

The year was 1620.
The ship was rather small.
The trip was very rough,
But the Pilgrims felt a call.

After ten long, stormy weeks,
The ship landed on the beach
Of a Massachusetts bay;
New land had been reached!

A hundred left from England;
A hundred crossed the sea;
A hundred landed safely,
In the land of the free.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

North or South?

Is Kentucky in the north?
Is it a southern state?
Ever since the Civil War
There’s been some great debate.

We speak in southern accents,
We like bourbon and barbecue,
And, by and large, the Baptists
Fill the Sunday morning pew.

But, we also shoot for baskets,
Our winters can be harsh,
And when we clean our clothes,
It sometimes sounds like “warsh.”

So choose a side and claim it,
And be Kentucky proud;
Whether you say “you” or “ya’ll” –
In Kentucky, both allowed!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What is Science?

Learning in the Sciences
Means "making" every day --
Making messes, testing theories,
Making learning out of play!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Bigger Goal

Little Penny Perfect
Always makes straight A’s,
She sits up front no matter what
And seeks the teacher’s praise.

Little Sammy Struggle
Sits in the very back,
His mind begins to wander
Due to skills that he may lack.

Mrs. Brand-New-Teacher
Sees them both (and all the rest),
She knows that children learn
When the goal is not a test.

So, she helps Penny Perfect
To focus on real skills
And to learn authentically
Not excel at practice drills.

And she helps Sammy Struggle
Recognize that learning’s more
Than memorizing facts
That to him are such a bore.

And all the other children
In that teacher’s class
Learn and grow and think,
And not just merely pass.

by Kathy Mansfield, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What is Social Studies?

(Inspired by the C3 Framework)

What is Social Studies?
Is it knowing lots of dates?
Is it naming every country
And their economic rates?

I think Social Studies
Is all about the “why” –
Inquiring in our world,
Not afraid to ask and pry.

It’s being civic-minded,
It’s applying what we learn,
It’s evaluating sources
And learning to discern.

Social Studies means
Asking every chance,
Knowing history patterns,
Supporting our own stance.

But the learning doesn’t end
With answers we derive,
We put it all in action
And make Social Studies thrive!

By Kathy Mansfield, 2015

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Here's a fun poem during this holiday season about the new Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) being implemented in our state this school year. School librarians are participating in a pilot this school year utilizing a framework specific to them, so I hear lots of feedback about their participation in the system. They are certainly excited about a tool that is built specifically for them! (see related post here)

My PGP is written and
My SGG is planned;
My peer observer now proclaims
She is my biggest fan!

My admin saw my framework,
And he saw all that I do.
Student voice is next
To get the kiddos’ view.

I liked the self-reflection;
I could see where I might grow.
I found where I’m accomplished,
And that is good to know!

I think I’ll take a breath now
And reflect on what I’ve done –
Lots of thought and work,
And some of it was fun!