SLS Communication Grants

SLS Grants Promote Global Connections
Posted on 03/13/2019
Joy Elementary video conference

Librarians and teachers from five districts have designed virtual communication experiences for students this year through a new School Library System grant initiative.

The “Expanding Our Students’ World” grants support school-based initiatives to engage students in a virtual or digital communication experience to enhance learning and encourage collaboration. These experiences have included virtual field trips and real-time conversations with authors and experts. Interested librarians apply for a grant with a partner teacher to conduct a specific project that has both a tie-in to the curriculum and a virtual experience for students. 

This is the first year these grants have been offered.

Stockbridge students create postcards from space“The digital world provides more opportunities for students and educators to connect with the world than ever before,” SLS Coordinator Sue LeBlanc said. “School librarians remain the go-to experts in their buildings for connecting students and teachers with curricular-tied, real-life resources and opportunities.” 

Expanding Our Students’ World grants have been awarded to:

  • Oneida librarian Linda Zuber and teacher Bonnie DeGroat for a videoconference between 8th grade students at Otto Shortell Middle School and a Holocaust survivor.
  • VVS elementary librarian Elizabeth Collins and teacher MaryKay McAndrew for a videoconference between 4th graders at J.D. George Elementary School and an animal expert.
  • VVS librarian Tina Laramie and Earth science teacher Chris Carr for high school students to videoconference with a seismologist and research plate tectonics.
  • VVS librarian Jackie Buzzard and teachers Gina Castilla and Dan Relyea for third-graders at McAllister Elementary School to take virtual field trips to different communities and compare geography, culture and environment.
  • Stockbridge Valley librarian Amanda Ingalls and teachers Lindsey Taylor and Nicole Byron for 1st graders to take a virtual field trip into space guided by a non-fiction author of space books.
  • Rome librarian Nicole Iverson and teacher Tracy Guiliano for 6th graders at Joy Elementary to meet virtually with a 6th grade class in Indiana and discuss a book they are both reading. Rome students have already videoconferenced with the author of that book.
  • Morrisville-Eaton librarian Jessica Jacobs-Broedel and teacher Kristan DeGeorgio for 7th graders to talk virtually with an author whose book they are reading.

In her application, Jacobs-Broedel said this project will provide students with an authentic learning experience, broaden their experiences beyond their home town and enhance their presentation, public speaking, questioning and listening skills.

ridge mills students videoconferece with another school“A focused, educational videoconference with experts and peers provides students with an invaluable opportunity to develop communication skills in a hands-on, real-world context,” LeBlanc added. 

LeBlanc introduced the grant at a kickoff workshop in September and used it to reinforce the new expanded role of the school librarian. 

“The school librarian’s role as an expert is about more than books and databases,” she said. “Their knowledge and expertise includes a wide variety of educational experiences available through videoconferencing.” 

She said several librarians in the region have developed videoconference-based educational experiences for their students even without a grant. Rome librarian Cathy Woodruff connected 2nd graders in her school with their counterparts at a school in Brooklyn to discuss similarities and differences between communities. Hamilton librarian Amy Jerome hosted two videoconferences so her 4th graders could talk with their peers in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

For both librarians, this was their first attempt at an educational videoconference. Jerome said she borrowed atlases from the SLS catalogs and taught students to read maps in preparation for their Google Hangout sessions. She said LeBlanc’s September workshop helped plant the seeds for her work.

“The presentation made it look more doable that it had felt previously,” she said. “The students really enjoyed it.”