Saturday, November 18, 2017

Relationships and Reading


One of the most important parts of the teacher librarian's job is to engage students with literature. Recently, I have been thinking about a teacher that made an important literacy connection with me while I was still in high school. At that time in my life, I didn't realize how crucial professional relationships are for teachers and students. But now, so many years later, I understand the impact relationships can have on reading. To illustrate this, I will share a story from my 10th grade year.

A Step Into the Past

Mr. Gerald Cox was my biology teacher when I was in high school. He was also my bus driver when I was in elementary school. His daughter and I were classmates all through school at Bismarck Public Schools in Bismarck, Arkansas. Mr. Cox also served as one of my taekwondo instructors while I was in high school. Several years later after high school, I worked with him when I took my first job as a band director at Bismarck Middle School. By that time he had transitioned to director of technology on campus. We have always had a love of technology in common. But in high school, it was taekwondo that we shared.

What Made Him Stand Out

I remember that Mr. Cox was genuinely interested in me and my friends in high school. (He still is to this day.) He would actually sit with us at lunch when I was a sophomore and listen to what was important to us. If you think back to the teachers that have made an impression on you, this is probably a common theme. When they care about us as individuals, it shows. This is such an important fact for all educators to remember.

An Unlikely Book Suggestion

One day while sitting in Mr. Cox's class, he handed me a book. I recall that he told me he wanted me to read this book. It was The Secret of Inner Strength by Chuck Norris. The book was, of course, about Chuck Norris, martial arts superstar. At the time, I was super interested in taekwondo. I remember thinking, "I don't like to read. I don't want this book." There was no way I could tell my teacher this. It would have been impossible for me to let him down. He had thought of me while he was reading it, and now he had shared the book with me.

The Struggle

I was in a dilemma. Reading comic books was no problem for the 10th grade version of me. Reading a work of non-fiction outside of normal school work was way out of my comfort zone. I couldn't let Mr. Cox down. I had to read the book. I recall putting this off until the last moment late in the evening. The night I finally started reading his biography was transformative for me.

When You Can't Put it Down

The book gave me a glimpse into the life of a martial arts and television/ movie star. I remember flying through the pages at night during the first week of reading. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I am sure that I enjoyed visiting with Mr. Cox about the book before class and during lunch. Reflecting back, it wasn't the book content that drew me in to read. It was the relationship with Mr. Cox. It was a fear of letting him down. It took years for me to realize the power of relationships after becoming an educator.

An example book suggestion note.
A Phone Visit With Mr. Cox

During August of 2017, I called Mr. Cox for a quick visit. This is something I try to do every few years with teachers that had an impact on me as a student. During that phone call, I reminded him about the book he had handed me so many years before and how it had impacted me then and now. In addition, I shared with him how it had inspired us to try something similar in the library. This fall, we have been working hard to have students tell us what they like. As a result, we then look for books for those students based on their interests. When we present the potential books to the student(s), we stick Post-It Notes to the book with a personal message. We tried this for a few weeks with some good results. Most students seemed to like getting a message from us indicating that we had thought of them. After a few days of this, a male student came in between classes and said he had heard we were making book suggestions. He also said he hadn't read in a long time, and he wondered if we could suggest a book to him. Apparently, word had gotten out and students were talking about our operation!


Another Visit With Mr. Cox

I actually ran into Mr. Cox at a local restaurant one evening while having dinner with my wife. We had a chance to visit for a few minutes, and I was able to tell him about our book note program. He seemed pleased that his suggestion from so many years prior had inspired our library team. We decided to meet again the following Saturday at his house. While visiting, he presented me with a copy of The Secret of Inner Strength, which is now out of print. This meant so much to me since the book represents the importance of relationships. You can see a photo of us with the book on the left.

Takeaways

Not all students will respond to this approach, but some will. Almost every student will share their interests when we interact with them. I've had to learn to listen intently when they do this. When I have made a regular practice of this, students come to me to initiate discussion (even the quiet students). This is important since many students may not have an adult to encourage them. These relationships can open the door to library book and resource suggestions. They may even change students lives!

Next Steps

We plan to do this again during the school year since it brought success. I would like to get students to share how it personally impacts them when we make book/ resource suggestions. Between genrefication (read about this project here) and programs like this, we have noticed a significant increase in circulation this year. We can't wait to see what the cumulative totals look like at the end of the year. A library is much like a business with the students being our customers. How can we reach them better with our products? Relationship building is one way. Hopefully, our students feel like the valued customers they are!


Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Our First Skype With a Scientist

3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





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Monday, October 23, 2017

Our First Skype With a Scientist


I have written several times in the past about how connecting has made a difference in my practice and development as a teacher librarian. If you haven't read about my Skype in the Classroom adventures, you might want to check out this article. This school year, Kaitlyn Price (co-librarian) and I have made it a priority to visit teachers in our building during their prep periods. We typically will ask them how things are going and also check to see how their classroom technology is working for them. We have found that this typically leads to opportunities to inform teachers about new technology tools and/ or library resources. Sometimes we discover that teachers might want to collaborate with us through these visits.

Recently, I visited Mrs. Mary French (8th-grade science) during her prep period. I was able to check on her technology and have some time to listen to her tell me about things she was doing in her classroom. I told her about Skype in the Classroom and that I would be happy to help her connect with professionals outside our school if she was interested. She was immediately interested! Mrs. French told me she wanted to connect with an astronomer since her students were learning about galaxies and planets.

I sent a Tweet to Skype Classroom (@SkypeClassroom) asking if they could help. They replied with a link to their "Skype a Scientist" program. They have a program that allows teachers to fill out a form to connect with various experts in the field of science for Q & A sessions via Skype! It was perfect. I visited her classroom again in a few days, and we filled out the form together to ensure she would get the expert best suited for her students' needs. 
Our test connection with Joe

How We Set It Up

We completed the form that Skype Classroom Tweeted to me. After a few weeks, I was contacted by Joe Serigano, an astronomer and Ph.D candidate at Johns Hopkins University. He requested that I send a list of questions from the students so he could prepare ahead of time. I was able to confirm the scheduled time with him for the upcoming session with Mrs. French's class. We also set up a test session for the morning before. The test session went perfectly! In addition, we invited Mr. Matt Balcom, also a science teacher at Lakeside, to join us for the test session. It went so well, he planned to bring his class on the day of the Skype session. 

Joe visits us via Skype!
The Big Day 

The students were super excited to connect with Joe. The connection was flawless, and they enjoyed coming up to my Microsoft Surface to ask their questions. Joe was able to answer the questions and add additional content as appropriate. He shared his screen and showed them photos and other data that pertained to the curriculum. It was a great experience!

Teacher Reflection (Mrs. Mary French)

When Mr. Evans first approached me about Skype, I really did not know what to expect.  I am always willing to try new things and use new technology to help my students, but I was not sure how a Skype would work for my students.  I was nervous and excited about it.  Mr. Evans and I met to plan a good time (to connect) and waited to hear from our “scientist”.  I was still very unsure how this would be beneficial or how my students would respond.  I knew nothing about setting it up.  A match for a scientist was made with my class time and topic (Space Science).  After several e-mails, I found out it would be an actual discussion, and my students would actually be asking the questions that would lead the direction of the Skype. This made me concerned because I was still unsure of the type of questions that would be expected.  I found some background information about Saturn and its moons for my students, and they developed a list of questions they wanted to ask.  I was still not sure about this process.  

Joe shared his screen to illustrate specific information

The day before the Skype with the students, we met via Skype our assigned scientist, Mr. Joe Serigano from
Johns Hopkins University, Dept of Earth and Planetary Science.  After meeting him and getting a few more ideas, I was at ease about the upcoming Skype.  Mr. Serigano told us that he would welcome questions about his typical day as a scientist, his education, as well as his knowledge of Saturn and Saturn’s moons.  I believe the Skype was a huge success.  I loved seeing my students interact with an expert in the field of science and know that they were welcome to ask questions.  I had students ask questions about Saturn, Saturn’s moons, his background, and even science fiction movies to see if the ideas presented were possible.  Afterwards, my students wrote a reflection of the Skype, and I was blown away by their responses.  They really enjoyed getting to ask questions and have someone take time to answer their questions.  I feel that this broke barriers for some students and changed their perspective about scientists.  Most were happy to have this opportunity and even wanted to do this more. I am so glad that I took this chance for my students to have this opportunity.  


We loved seeing students ask questions via webcam
Student Voices

"This experience impacted me in a positive way. Mr. Serigano was a smart scientist and helped our science class to learn in a new way. I would strongly suggest that this type of learning be in all classes. Learning from a specialist is a great thing for kids to experience." - Ronni

"Today we did a Skype call with Joe Serigano. He is well-educated over what Saturn is. I liked the information he gave us, and the way he explained it. I hope we can get to do another one of these." -Jamison

"This was a very fun activity we did with Joe Serigano. It was awesome that he took the time out of his day to answer some of our questions we had for him. If we had a question, he would answer it with the best of his ability. We talked and learned about the moons of Saturn. We all thought this was very neat to be talking to a scientist." - Annelise

"This impacted me by changing my view on scientists. By experiencing this I thought all scientists were nerdy, and he wasn't at all. I think I might be interested in being a scientist. I learned a lot of interesting facts... and I want to learn more about Saturn and Jupiter." - Hannah

"I really liked this because you can talk to a person and not just ask Siri or look it up on Google." - Hailee

Next Steps

We are already planning another Skype with a Scientist with Mrs. French's other classes so they all have the experience of connecting. In addition, Mrs. French and Mr. Balcom are planning on an immersive collaboration with us in the library. We are looking at NASA simulations for Global Warming and climate change. As I reflect back on this opportunity, a few things come to mind. First, we have many opportunities waiting for us in the school that can come to the surface from simple classroom visits. Secondly, many teachers are nervous about stepping out of their comfort zones. As teacher librarians, we can go on that journey with them and take risks together. When we have successes as a team, it creates friendships and trust that can lead to additional collaborations. Now is a great time to boldly go where no classroom and library have gone before. The students are the ones that ultimately benefit! Growth must take place away from the area of comfort. Why not take these journeys in the school library?

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our First Book Tasting Event

I have been seeing many teacher librarians talk about book tasting activities on social media over the past several months. With our specialized student focus on increasing interest in reading this year, book tasting is something I've wanted to try with our high school students. Just a few days ago, we attempted our first such event. It was a great success, and I will share the journey of its development in the paragraphs below.



Brainstorming

During lunch, we have been sharing the idea of a book tasting event with students for the past few weeks. I've been surprised at how many of them liked the idea. We began thinking that this could be an excellent service to provide teachers in their classrooms. Such book "catering" events could be a creative way to advertise our newly genrefied fiction section to teachers and students. For information on our genrefication process, please read Kaitlyn Price's (my teacher librarian colleague) blog article here.

Planning

There are always opportunities to reach teachers with library services. We merely have to actively seek such chances. That opportunity happened one afternoon when Mrs. Michelle Davis, one of our 10th grade ELA teachers, came to the library. We had just been talking about book tasting, and we told her about it. She was immediately interested in having us come to her class. We found a date and began talking about what it could look like.

Room Layout
The Event

Mrs. Davis decided to use 6 tables in her classroom set with a restaurant theme. We had battery powered candles, tablecloths, and a "Book Pass" form that my teacher library colleague, Kaitlyn Price, had previously used.   Mrs. Davis would greet students outside her door and hand them a "Book Pass" form (you can find this form on Kaitlyn's blog here). She also took time to describe the expectations of the day. The students spent 7 minutes at each table. We had at least 10 titles at each location. The genres she selected were Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Action/ Adventure, Realistic Fiction/ Historical Fiction, Romance/ Biographies, Sports, and Mystery/ Suspense. The "Book Pass" form required students to list the Title/ Author, list their comments, list the genre, and provide a rating. This form also served as their exit ticket for class.

The "Chef" Makes a Visit
Kaitlyn and I would roll in a cart with the books after her introduction. We both wore aprons and carried the books to the tables as if we were servers in a restaurant. I used phrases like "Careful, these are hot", "I believe this table ordered Sci-Fi/ Fiction... excellent", and "This book is cooked medium rare for you, sir." The students seemed to enjoy the role play we provided. In the middle of the sessions, Ray Borel, one of our library assistants, would visit the class dressed as a chef. He used a French accent to interact and check on the students. During the last 6 minutes of class, we would return to check out books "to go." On the next day, all her classes came to the library to respond to a Google Form survey we created. You can view some of their responses in the Student Voice portion of this article below.

Teacher Reflection (Mrs. Michelle Davis)


The book tasting may be one of the most successful activities I have ever had in my classes.  Though I have worked to create a reading-friendly culture or mindset in my classes this year by spending the first ten minutes of every class each day reading, this helped to convince me that even my reluctant readers are willing with the right approach.  I cannot thank our media specialists enough for coming to me with an idea and working together to form a plan that kept 5 classes of sophomores engaged and reading for full 50 minutes (or more) class periods.  


The formal dining ambiance of the event created a sense of curiosity and excitement in my students. Students were intrigued by the formality of a maitre d’  greeting them as they approached the door and were in awe of candlelit tables as they entered.  The interest didn’t stop with seating either. Students remained engaged throughout the periods, sampling from six different genres.  


Candlelight Book "Dining"
It was thrilling to watch my students browsing through the many choices they had been served, choosing the “dish” they believed to be most favorable to their appetites, and devouring the stories. The positive reaction that I both saw and received was rewarding.   There were several students who, though pretending to be uninterested, checked out books for “to go” orders when they believed no one was looking or paying attention.  Additionally, I had students thank me (surprising, right?) and even request future book tastings. Many students anxiously asked if they would get their book passes returned so that they had the list to refer to in the future.  


The whole event was a success.  There was very little redirecting students.  Most of the students stayed focused and willingingly engaged for the entire event. I am anxious to see how my students respond in their official feedback forms following the event.

I will absolutely be doing this again with my classes.  The event allowed the students time to sample books that they may have never willingly chosen otherwise and find gems beyond my limited classroom library.  

Student Voices

"I thought it was an interesting way to get people to get a taste of some reading genres that might not appeal to certain people."

"At first I thought it was going to be boring but it turned out to be pretty fun."

"I thought it was pretty cool but I feel like we should have had more time to actually read the books and get a good taste."

"It was cool and interesting and helped me find out what kind of books I like."

"I really liked it. I ended up finding a book that I like. I would have never found this book if I would have not done this."

Takeaways

It always surprises me how simple changes to a classroom space can alter the dynamic in a dramatic way. Mrs. Davis' students were extremely engaged in this activity. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to get out into a classroom. Teachers and students saw us in the hallways as we went to and fro in our costumes. This advertised the event in a great way! Teachers and administrators visited the event. In addition, several ELA teachers now want us to bring our "book catering" to their classrooms. One has even made reservations for these services for early next week. I think we have a great recipe for literacy success in the building. Think about launching your own book tasting event soon. Be sure to share your book tasting stories in the comments below.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Follow me : @stony12270

Sunday, September 17, 2017

3 Things I've Learned About Breakout EDU

 I first wrote about our adventures with Breakout EDU after I discovered it on summer professional development trips last year. You can read about our first library orientation Breakout EDU here. Since that time, we have learned so much about how to facilitate such sessions. To illustrate this, I want to present 3 things I've learned about Breakout EDU over the past year. I hope you will find these points helpful as you begin planning your own sessions.

1. Have enough boxes for everyone - The first year we conducted Breakout sessions, we didn't always have enough boxes for everyone. As I recall, we might have 12-15 students assigned to one box. We discovered it was more difficult to keep everyone engaged with higher numbers on one box. This year we have used more boxes for classes when possible. By keeping 7-10 students assigned to one box, we noticed a higher level of engagement during our library orientation sessions this year (2017-2018). The students also seemed to enjoy it more by having fewer student teams on each box.



2. Take up the locks when students unlock them - I'm not sure how many locks were ruined last year, but it was significant! After students unlock locks, they will automatically play with them. When this happens, I promise they will accidentally reset the locks. This can make for a really bad day of Breakout EDU! This year, I had students bring me any locks or lockboxes immediately after opening them. I would give them a hint to move on if they followed this direction. The results were no ruined locks and a happier experience for all! Also, at the end of the day be sure to reset locks to something you can remember while they are in storage. We now reset the number locks to 000 or 0000. The direction lock to UP-UP-UP-UP and the word lock to SPELL. We have discovered that we cannot always remember the last Breakout EDU puzzle from several months prior. Resetting your locks for storage will greatly reduce future stress!

3. You don't have to help them immediately, let them problem solve! - During our first year of Breakout EDU sessions, I felt like I had to give the students a hint every time they got stuck. I hated seeing them struggle. I missed the point. Breakout EDU is all about problem-solving and teamwork. Let them struggle and think as a team. The better they work as a team, the more successful they will be. The struggle is part of the experience. Offer hints, but make them agree to ask for a hint as a team. Consider giving them a specific number for hint support advice (for instance, each team can only receive 3 hints, etc).



Breakout EDU takes a lot of time to plan and execute. I had several students ask if I like setting up puzzles. I told them it was very time consuming to do, but it is so worth it to see them learn through engaging puzzles. Be sure to share your favorite Breakout EDU moments and/ or blog articles in the comments below!

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

How we helped geography classes Skype with national parks in the library.

3 things every educator should remember.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Geography Classes Skype with National Parks

Several months ago, I wrote about ways to connect your library with Skype. If you haven't read that piece, take a moment to get familiar with Skype in the Classroom and the cool connection possibilities they offer. Since writing that article, I have had the opportunity to have some wonderful virtual tours with National Parks around the United States. I would like to share how we did this with several 9th-grade Geography classes during the spring semester of 2017.




The Need

Geography was offered to 9th-grade students during the second semester of the 2016-2017 school year. Two of the teachers that would be presenting these classes came to me because they knew we frequently connected via Skype in the library. They asked if we could help them connect to National Parks around the country as part of their classes. The teachers knew this would be a wonderful way to expose students to different land forms and places around the country in a new way. I was very excited to assist them with this endeavor!

How We Set Up The Sessions

I visited the Skype in the Classroom web page to see what parks were available through virtual field trips. I selected which sessions the teachers wanted, and put our available dates with times. It didn't take long for national park rangers to email me confirmation times. We typically connected the day before each session to test our connection and equipment.

What Happened

Below are brief descriptions of each park session. I made Facebook Live video broadcasts and put them on YouTube to share here.

Badlands National Park is located in South Dakota. The ranger did a great job talking about the landforms and wildlife in the area. My favorite part of this video clip is when he turned the camera around to show the students snow on the ground. The entire room reacted with a unanimous sigh. It was one of those moments that reminded me why we should connect our students to the world outside of our classroom!



Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Idaho. We enjoyed hearing about geysers, hot springs, and other natural phenomena during the session.



Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California. I recall that the park ranger Skyped outside with a desert background! It was a wonderful experience for our learners.



Student Reflections

"What I liked about Skyping the Badlands National Park was that he showed us fossils of animals that used to live in that area."

"I LOVED the whole experience! I have one suggestion though, maybe students go one at a time and ask their question/ questions? But loved the whole experience. Maybe we could Skype with the White House."

"The Skype was very good. It gave us information and something for us to look at and see that what we are learning is happening around the world..." 

"I think the Skype call was fun, and I liked how he showed pictures and fossils and stuff to show the animals that were actually there. I think he did a good job explaining everything, and I thought he knew the material very well."

Final Thoughts

I think this illustrates an important way the library can help connect teachers and students to the world outside of the school building. Teacher librarians often have a flexible schedule at the secondary level. This allows us to locate and schedule events like this for teachers that may not have the time or confidence with such connective technology. This is definitely a future ready practice we can all bring to the table. What are you waiting for? It's time to connect! Be sure to add your memorable connection moments in the comments below.



Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Are you listening to student voice?

Connect your library with Skype.

My table of contents for the blog is here!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Saturday, August 12, 2017

3 Things Every Educator Should Remember

As I'm preparing to start another school year, I've been reflecting on all the conference sessions and inspirational speakers I've heard over the past several weeks. These sessions have made me think about teachers I've had in the past and what made them stand out. It has also been good to think back to things I could have done better in my education career. Whether you are a teacher, teacher librarian, or an administrator, you can still have a huge impact in the entire school learning community. I want to share three things that should be a focus for all of us each and every day we encounter students.

Enthusiasm is Contagious

Some of my favorite educators are always enthusiastic about their work. I have worked with principals, superintendents, and teachers that love what they do. You don't have to ask them; it shows in their daily approach to work and life. These people usually draw others to them naturally. They have the gift of making everyone feel special that comes into contact with them. One thing I have noticed about this special type of personality is that their energy and enthusiasm is contagious. I want to be like them and so do most people that come into contact with them.

Being an educator demands high energy since we are charged with motivating our learners to excellence. This year, what if we remembered that the energy we project is contagious? Does this mean we can go in each and every day with the intensity of the first weeks of school? Of course not. We are human and imperfect! We can approach each day knowing that people (students, teachers, administrators, and parents) are watching us and can feed off our enthusiasm. If I'm excited about the school library, others will also be excited because I am. They may not be as enthusiastic about the library as I am, but they will recognize I love what I do.

If I consistently stand at the door with a smile on my face and greet students (even on a Friday before spring break), it makes the atmosphere better for everyone. We set the tone in our classroom which can impact the entire school. I want to remember this each day I go to work. My enthusiasm could change the course of someone's day and maybe even their life. We never know what impact we may have! Enthusiam is contagious!

Relationships Matter

This week, I was reminded by a session speaker that a growing number of our students do not have the parental support system that many of us had as young people. My parents are still there for me, and I talk to them numerous times during the week. I can't even imagine what it must be like for a young person to not have someone at home supporting them with encouragement. Some of our students may be totally without parents. While this is a tragedy, it is also an opportunity for educators.

You don't have to look hard for these students in the hallways of a public school. In our school library, we seek them out. I love finding students that walk in the hallway staring at the floor and surprising them with  a genuine compliment. Something as simple as "I like your shirt" or "Nice shoes!" can brighten a student's day. It is entirely possible that such a compliment might be the only one they hear all day or all week. Try this each day, and watch what happens. It always opens doors for the kids that need it. This practice has drawn many students to the school library and provided them with a safe haven. It has also provided them with a support network, which is our library staff. Frequently, these students will start telling us about their interests. When they do this, we make time to listen. This is an opportunity to help a kid find books they may want to read. We may also be able to connect them to a makerspace tool or skill. Sometimes the opportunity comes to put such a student in front of the crowd and allow them to show off their talent. (Yes, this can happen in the library and/ or your classroom!)

My fondest memories from public school and college are of the positive relationships I had with my favorite teachers. The ones that stand out the most are the ones that showed me they cared. They listened to my dreams and encouraged me to reach for the stars. What memories are you creating for your learners? What will they remember about your library or classroom? What will they recall twenty years from now about you? Are you leaving a legacy of positive relationships? What if we considered this each day we went to work? Relationhips matter.

Each Day is an Opportunity

We never know what opportunity we may have to impact change in our students' lives each day. Education is a magical career because we are influencing both the present and the future. Each time a student codes something with one of our library makerspace robots, they could be taking those early steps to be the next successful programmer. When you encourage a student to keep trying at that skill they haven't yet mastered, your words could motivate them to a path to become an expert years from now. By connecting your students to the outside world through a tool like Skype, you may shatter their perception of distant countries and the people that live there. They may even forge lifelong friendships with future international colleagues through such continued classroom connections. The possiblities are truly endless.

Like anything in life, the education profession is what we make of it. What adventures will you take your students on this year in your library or classroom? Each day is an opportunity. Educators change lives. 

I can't wait to see what happens at school this year. Be sure to share the things you are enthusiastic about in the comments below. Remember... you make a difference!

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

What can a library be?


My table of contents for the blog is here!






I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


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Saturday, August 5, 2017

What Can A Library Be?



Do you ever stop and think about what the school library can be for your learning community? It is easy to get caught up in the daily activities and forget about the endless possibilities that exist for our learners. As I prepare to begin my tenth year as a school librarian, I've been thinking about how the library spaces and resources can transform our students' lives. I would like to share some recent happenings that have illustrated this to me.



A Safe Place

We loved seeing new students discover the library!
Recently we hosted an 8th grade school wide orientation. It was a busy day of meeting countless new students. As these young people arrived at the high school as new 8th graders for the first time, I thought about how intimidating this transition must be for them. It was also easy to see which students were new to our district since they were usually standing by themselves. How uncomfortable this must be for new students. I enjoyed seeking these students out and introducing myself and our library staff to them. Such connections will undoubtedly direct some of them to find us again in the library. In years past, the library has been a safe haven for many of our students in all grades. It is fulfilling to know that we can accomplish this by being friendly and showing interest in the students that visit. Most of the time, all it takes is a simple "Good morning", "How are you?", or "I'm glad you are here". As I reflect back through the events of the day, I'm glad I took the time to visit with so many new students. This was an investment that will bring new customers to the library when school starts. The library is an important safe place in the school.

A Place of Inquiry and Innovation

We started our brief orientation sessions in the fiction room portion of the library. My teacher librarian colleague, Mrs. Kaitlyn Price, enjoyed telling the newcomers about her genrefication project of all fiction titles. (You can learn more about how she accomplished this here). I imagine many students were curious about the titles they would find in the nine different categories she established in the space. I feel certain many will return to browse their favorite genres. In fact, one student proclaimed he would read every one of our science fiction/ fantasy titles! 

After this, we moved next door to the non-fiction room for a brief tour. Then we allowed them to explore the makerspace resources. We had Viewmaster Virtual Reality devices, Ozobots, Little Bits, Legos, coloring pages, jewelry making resources, and our Ollie robot out for everyone to try. Each group was very engaged with all the resources. As we interacted with all the students, I began to wonder how many of them might become proficient with our makerspace resources. Consider the numerous possibilities for these students. By having access to such resources at age 13, what progress might be possible between grades 8 to 12? Learners could begin designing and building projects using the 3D Printer. learning the basics of coding, and designing video games. Such activities may change their lives forever. The library is an important place of inquiry and innovation in the school. 

A Place of Connections

In the past, we have used Skype and Google Hangouts to connect students all over the country and world. We are already planning to continue this practice in the coming school year. Today I asked our new student visitors if they had ever Skyped with another place at school. Some hands went up, but most had not enjoyed the experience. I wonder if those students are looking forward to the places we will connect with in the coming year. Will they associate the library as a place that connects them all over the world? Will they tell their parents and grandparents about the places they connect in the library? How will this change the perception of the library and school? 

We enjoy having guest speakers in the library. In previous years we have had Veterans, local politicians, librarians from the county library, guest authors, local community musicians perform, and more. Many students have connected with such presenters during our brief lunch programs. I can't help but wonder what many connections await us this coming school year. What lives might be changed as a result of such programming? The library is an important place of connections. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you will join me in pondering these things as the school year starts and progresses. I want to stay focused on what the library can be for our learners. We can make a difference in our school and community. Anything is possible in the school library! It's going to be a great year.

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.


My table of contents for the blog is here!





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