Category Archives: School Media Specialist

AASL Recommended Apps: Humanities and Arts: Google Arts and Culture

Last summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.

The app Google Arts and Culture “offers a smorgasbord of art related topics for the “culturally curious”. From art stories to art exhibits, users can explore the world of art by reading the latest feature stories, or by going on a 3D tour of a museum.” You are able to zoom up close for a detailed look at artwork, browse the art by time period or color, or filter your search by artist or medium. To generate classroom discussion, use the “Experiments” feature.

Level: High School +
Platform iOS and Android
Cost: Free

School Library Journal has this review of the app that describes it as a “versatile tool that can be integrated into many classroom activities.” And Business Insider has a detailed description and how-to for the app that you can read here.

Watch a trailer of the app below:

AASL Recommended Apps: STEM: Cosmic Watch

Last summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.

This app is a celestial watch based on a 3D model of the solar system as experienced from earth, and is a world and astronomical clock.
“It shows time as what it really is – our position and motion in the cosmos. Students can learn more about astronomy and our solar system, watch the real time movement of sun, moon and stars or simply enjoy the beautiful design of the celestial sphere.” The app’s website features tutorials as well as some educational resources that  feature images from NASA missions.

Level: Middle School +
Platform: iOS/Android
Cost: $4.49

Read this review from PC Mag for a detailed description of the app as well as pro/con items. You can also read a review by a teacher here, from


AASL Recommended App: Books: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Last summer, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) announced their Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2017. The apps encourage qualities such as creativity and collaboration, and encourage discovery and curiosity.

The app Shakespeare’s Sonnets features all 154 poems performed by an all-star cast, background analysis, and shareable videos. Users can “dig deeper with commentaries by the Arden Shakespeare and Don Patterson. In addition to the performance videos, there are expert interviews that take closer looks at Shakespeare and the sonnets.”

Read this review of the app from Common Sense Media, or preview the app with this detailed review here.

Level: High School
Platform: iOS
Cost: $13.99

Watch this short video to get an idea of how the app works:

Learning About Library Associations: American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

Library science is an enormous field, home to every interest you could imagine! This means that there are many organizations out there for you to join, in order to connect with other people who share your professional interests.

So even if you work alone in your library, there are other people out there doing work similar to yours! Each week we will highlight a different library association for you to learn more about, and depending on your work, potentially join! You can also check out our page dedicated to Library Associations.

A majority of our members at CMLE are school library people, so listen up, because this is the organization for you!

According to their website, “The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is the only national professional membership organization focused on school librarians and the school library community”

AASL is a division of the American Library Association and serves members all around the world. Their mission is “empowering leaders to transform teaching and learning” and you can read their current strategic plan here. AASL has “supported the profession for over 60 years and understands the current realities and evolving dynamics of your professional environment and is positioned to help members achieve universal recognition of school librarians as indispensable educational leaders.”

The AASL website is a great resource to use if you work in a school library. It contains information regarding ESSA, the Best Apps and Websites of 2017 (make sure you are following our series on these), national standards, as well as advocacy tools.

Learn more about membership in AASL here. Some features include:

CMLE Visits: Pine Meadow Elementary School

It is always so fun to visit our members! One of the great things about being part of a multitype system is the opportunity to see the work being done across all kinds of libraries – a lot of similarities, but everyone has some distinctions.

This visit was to the Pine Meadows Elementary School in Sartell. You can see the welcoming atmosphere right away in the cute colors and signage around the library.

One of the first distinctive things you notice when visiting an elementary school library, as opposed to any other CMLE member, is that they focus on usability for their community members with furniture! Everything is designed for smaller sized people, as usability is key for any kind of library.

In this library, the furniture and shelving is not only size-appropriate for the audience they are trying to serve, but cute and colorful! (I love the way these round chairs look – enticing to kids!)


Colorful items are a key component in any cheerful library, especially in one serving younger patrons. These cute and colorful drawers are separated for different age groups, filled with activities to do after the students have finished their work.  Puzzles, games, and things to color are part of the offerings – all easily sorted and accessible.


Shelves filled with nice-looking books make their contents enticing! The books are carefully labeled, to show patrons the different qualities of the books they may want to read.  Books left on the shelves are not doing patrons any good, so this kind of marketing is great to see! (See that collection of blue Hardy Boys books? My brother and I read all of them, and seeing them in any library always makes me happy!)

Installing seating right at the point of material availability is a great idea! Give patrons the chance to be so entranced by the books they are finding, that they sink into a chair to look through them.  Displaying popular or interesting books at eye level is another great way to be sure they are easily found by patrons.

  Again, thinking about usability is key for patrons of any age. The descriptions of the Dewey numbers make a system that is incomprehensible to our patrons more understandable. I love to see these kinds of signs! If patrons understand the groupings of our materials, and know where to find things, they are more likely to take materials home with them – which is our goal! (Libraries do not collect items for ourselves – they are for our patrons to use.)

In addition to the cute (and useful!) furniture in this library, they have a regular display spotlighting authors! The books were flying off the shelves here – always great to see. Displaying materials draws the interest of patrons this way is always valuable for patrons – and the more they use materials, the better everyone does!

And of course, libraries are so much more than just books now! We are information centers, with all kinds of information literacy and resources for our patrons to use as they learn! Makerspaces of all sorts are increasingly popular in libraries, and this one is no exception. In this section of the makerspace you can see the crayons neatly sorted, and all kinds of great material to draw, color, and work with.  Again, color is always eye-catching, and the really cute signs on the walls help draw your attention to the fun you can have here, learning about graphics!

In a small room attached to the main library room there are other treasures to find! On the left you can see more makerspace material of all sorts – a great array of projects to try. And on the right you can see a green screen and some of the material used in video creation! This kind of information literacy building is great to see – kids need to know how to both use and create digital materials to be fully literate people in today’s world. More technology skills learned at a young age just help to put them farther down the road toward success later!

I love this feature that I’m seeing in more libraries: a self-check system. In this library, patrons can return books themselves. This frees up staff time to focus on providing more in-person service to patrons; and it gives patrons a better understanding of one aspect of library operations, and another opportunity to practice their technology skills! When they go to a public library, they are likely to have a chance to self-check books; so this practice will be valuable.

 And fundamentally libraries are here to provide instruction and assistance for their communities! We are information professionals, and here to  help our communities access materials of all types. So this dedicated instructional location is not only really cute – but so important in providing quality service!

If you want to reach out and make connections, Amy is in her first year in this library – and has some great energy and ideas to share! Contact her here: Amy Moe, Instructional Technology Specialist, PME-Sartell Schools

Have we been to your library yet? We are visiting all 300+ CMLE members to see the great things everyone is doing  – and we want to see you! Send us an email TODAY, and give us three different days/times that work for you. (Email:  Let’s get this visit underway, and share your information with the rest of the community!