School Libraries Transform

Chicago Public Schools Department of Literacy: Libraries

2018-2019 Back-to-School Professional Development Event

August 31, 2018 8:00am - 3:30pm

Michele Clark Magnet High School

5101 W Harrison St. Chicago IL 60644

Register in the CPS Learning Hub

Course Code: 42008 Class Code: 79849

OR for those with no access to the Learning Hub, click here to register

Detailed descriptions of breakout sessions can be found below the schedule.

2018/2019 School Libraries Transform Schedule Back to School Librarian PD DRAFT

Session Descriptions


Varian Johnson is the author of nine novels, including The Parker Inheritance, which received four starred reviews and was named a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild selection and a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick among other accolades. His middle grade caper novel, The Great Greene Heist, has been named to over twenty-five state reading and best-of lists. In addition, Varian has written for the Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts middle-grade fantasy series as well as novels and short stories for YA audiences.

Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is honored to now be a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family. Visit his website promoting books for children and young adults by black creators here:


Plunge into the PreK-12 Diversity Reading Lists - join some of your CPS Teacher Librarian Colleagues as they walk us through the amazing new CPS Diversity Reading Lists.

Mirrors and Windows Matter: Increasing Equity of Access to Learning with Culturally and Linguistically Relevant Texts - Why are culturally relevant texts important to improve student literacy and how can you source the best materials for your library collection? Amy Weiss from the CPS Department of Literacy will share the importance of culturally relevant texts along with strategies for engaging your students with literature.

Beginning is easy. Continuing is hard. Advocating for School Libraries and Librarians - You laid the groundwork and then you got busy. How can advocacy be made a little easier? Learn about ALA resources and see what other librarians are doing to showcase the ways libraries transform.

Gale Resources - The Future is Now: Innovate. Communicate. Resonate. - Need help connecting content to the classroom? Come see innovative ideas that will help you effectively communicate with your teachers and students! In this session, participants will learn how to explore Gale resources to find high quality, standards aligned materials that are credible and up to date. Learn how new features such as reading levels can be used to differentiate instruction. All essential library content can be integrated right in the teacher/student workflow utilizing our collaborative tools such as Google Drive/Classroom. In addition, students can highlight, take notes, translate, or even listen to the content! This session is sure to resonate with ALL, including your teachers and students.

Help Your Students Share Their Stories with a Pop Up Library - Pop Up Library discussions and workshops encourage participants to ask — and then answer themselves — what stories are missing, why have they been left out, and how can we alter our perception of who the experts, authorities and gatekeepers are in order to recognize the knowledge and insight in the people who surround us, and in ourselves? Through the process of interacting with and questioning the record, identifying sources of expertise in their own communities, actively seeking out sources and materials, and then sharing what they have uncovered, participants “rewrite” the record by adding to the Pop Up Library. Students are more likely to share their own stories and respect their own expertise when they recognize the authorities on the shelf as their friends, family and neighbors. By broadening the definition of what is worth valuing as a city, Pop Up Libraries open up conversation and bridge divides.


The Power of Perception: Picking Books for all Readers - Join our keynote speaker and guest author Varian Johnson, who will discuss how he became a children’s book author. He will also discuss the power that books have in all children’s lives, and the need to provide books that challenge reader perceptions.

Computer Programming & Coding 101: What's All the Hype About & How Does it Fit into What I Do With my Students in the Library? - Computer programming and coding have been examined as a means of modern storytelling. So, what does coding for elementary students look like and how does it fit into what happens in your library? This session provides an introduction to Computer Science concepts and an opportunity to engage with several online and unplugged resources to help bring engaging computer science experiences to your elementary students.

Introducing the New AASL National Standards - Join the experts from AASL to learn about changes to the AASL National Standards and how you can meet and assess these standards in your library instruction.

Free Simultaneous View e-Books, Available All the Time! - In this session you will learn about the BiblioBoard ebook platform ( which includes PreK-12 titles and resources available 24/7/365 for everyone in Illinois. This resource is free of charge. Can you believe it? Join us and find out more! BYOD, please!

Transformative Teaching with Google Classroom - Google Classroom is a free learning management system that all CPS schools share. Whether you are just beginning your exploration into Google Suite or consider yourself an advanced user, there will be something in this session for everyone. Kara will introduce the newest features of Classroom rolling out this fall and talk about best practices and creative ways to engage students with Google Classroom.


Plunge into the PreK-12 SALSA Spanish Language Reading Lists - join some of your CPS Teacher Librarian Colleagues as they walk us through the amazing new SALSA Spanish Language Reading Lists.

PreK-12 SOAR Supports - Everyone’s favorite SOAR Support Specialist, Joe Horning, will share some tips and tricks for making the most of our SOAR Library Catalog.

The 90 second Newbery Film Festival - The “90-Second Newbery Film Festival” is an annual video contest in which young filmmakers are challenged to create short videos that compress the entire stories of Newbery Medal or Honor winning books in about 90 seconds. The best videos received are featured in annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festivals around the country in 14 cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and many others. These events are hosted by founder and Chicago author James Kennedy ("The Order of Odd-Fish") with award-winning author co-hosts such as Jon Scieszka, Linda Sue Park, Kelly Barnhill and other kid lit luminaries. In this session, James Kennedy will share some of the most entertaining 90-Second Newbery videos he’s received and talk about how you can make 90-Second Newbery videos at your own school for the film festival.

CPS & The New York Times - Every staff member and student at CPS has access to The New York Times via the NYT Student Sponsorship Campaign. How does access work, what does it entail and how can faculty and students benefit from having this access? This session will provide an overview of our K-12 specific resources found on The New York Times Learning Network.

Robots in the Library! - Come learn from our colleagues in the CPS Department of Computer Science! You will come away with some new and innovative ways to incorporate robots and robotics into your library!


CPL Children’s Services Team - Come learn about some of the amazing new resources available to teachers and students at the Chicago Public Library.

Building a School-wide Culture of Literacy - As a literacy magnet school, Hawthorne has placed a high priority on building a culture of reading within the school. Lies Garner will share information about how her school has built a love of reading through author visits, literacy events, and elements every librarian and teacher can do to model and create a reading-rich culture.

Teen Services at CPL - Join us to learn about the wealth of digital media resources, caring mentors, and teen spaces at Chicago Public Library.

Getting Started with - Get the most out of your license by exploring this dynamic suite of resources with everyone in your reading community including students, families and colleagues. Discover videos filmed in authors’ studios, lesson plans, book trailers, vocabulary lists and more. Attendees will leave this session with tips and tools to support school-wide collaboration and training with all stakeholders.

Personalized Learning in the Library - This session will cover the tenets of personalized learning, and make connections to what PL could look like in a library setting.


Project LIT Community Featuring Author Varian Johnson - Project LIT Community, founded by Mr. Amato and Maplewood High School students, aims to increase access to diverse books and promote a love of reading in schools and communities across the country. In this session you can learn about how CPS teachers and the Department of Literacy are participating in this community.

Literacy Best Practices and Supporting Reading and Writing through Library Instruction - The Department of Literacy provides continual professional development to literacy, reading and writing teachers across grades PreK-12. Come learn how your library instruction can support district-wide literacy initiatives and learn about the latest best practices for literacy instruction city-wide.

Computational Thinking: "Zoom in" to Explore These Essential Skills for Students - Computational Thinking has been billed as the "5th C" of 21st Century Education. This session provides an introduction to computational thinking practices and explores a variety of ways to engage elementary students in computational thinking through literature and storytelling.

Britannica Encyclopedia Online - Britannica is an incredible research tool for students in grades K-12, in English and Spanish. Learn about some of Britannica’s multimedia features and innovative ways to incorporate it into your instruction.

Joe Horning Solves Your Problems: SOAR Troubleshooting Q&A session - Have you had an issue for weeks, months, or even years with SOAR? Have a question that you weren’t sure you would ever find the answer to? Ask the expert, Joe Horning, at this session. No question is too big or small.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Email Kara Thorstenson at