Monday, August 27, 2012

Get to Know You Activity

Well, today was my first day back at school.  This is the beginning of my second year being out of a school library because of budget cuts.  I am working as a program assistant in a Junior High.  Anyway, I just wanted to share a cute first day activity that a teacher did in her class.  I thought that a school librarian could do the exact same thing with a class on their first visit to the library.

She made a simple powerpoint of things that were true/false about her life.  If the item was true the students had to walk to one side of the room, if the item was false they walked to the other side of the room.  I liked this activity because it got the students moving.  The students were given a small piece of construction paper to fold in half hot dog style.  On one side they wrote their first and last name-perfect for name tags.  On the inside, each student wrote two things about themselves.  However, the statements could be true or false!  The rest of the class had to guess.  Simple, but yet fun and engaging.

Just thought I would share in case you were still looking for a beginning of the year activity.  Great for older students.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fall, fall, fall!

How many of you are still stressing over that one big bulletin board that is totally empty?  Well, here is another idea for a bulletin board that I used in my library one time.  Again, my idea, and a very creative volunteer created it!  Remember to always tap in to your parent volunteers!

I plan on making my next posts about some great fall read alouds for kindergarten and primary students.  Also, since we have the big presidential election coming up this year, I have a fun activity I used to do in the library that involved the whole school!  I will share soon!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Debt Forgiveness.

Do you purchase books for your library collection out of your own pocket?

I assume not, but wanted to make sure the obvious question was out of the way first. I ask because many a librarian, school and public, gets a bad rap as an overdue overlord, a cost kaiser, a rule rajah, a... um... prince or princess of penalties!

Is that being too harsh? Or are we the ones that need to loosen up a bit?

Colleagues in my district go round and round over what to do about overdues. Do you forgive and forget? Do you maintain the lost book record throughout the school year, but allow the student to continue to check out materials? Do you restrict access to the collection? Just how strict is appropriate for this, the most heinous of all library crimes?

We've tried out a couple of things in our library over the past six years but may have finally stumbled upon a solution that gets the books back without the gluttonous punishments: reintroducing the ROBOT Challenge!
Oh, ROBOT wall! How your weekly sticky postings drew their gazes!

Back in April I mentioned on this very blog that we were in need of something new. We were losing far too many books each year (an average of 150 books not returned annually at a value of $13/book = approximately $2,000). True, this wasn't our money. It was the state's money. But this is no excuse to watch thousands of dollars walk out of our library each year.

I know how this could get a librarian mad. I know how this could make you want to tag the offending students' names in the CIRC and prevent them from ever checking out a book again. I know this could turn a really sweet librarian into the Library Dragon. But what if you could let go of all of those angry feelings and find a way to help the students be more responsible in the process?

Well, I'm happy to report that the ROBOT challenge worked! Sending home overdue slips weekly and keeping parents informed of what materials their kids had checked out seemed to be the ticket to cultivating responsible library patrons.

The shining stars meant ZERO overdue books, which also meant a popsicle party... my treat!
By the end of the year we had just 15 books remaining. This is huge! And even better, we didn't have to lock any of our students up in the dungeon or threaten to eat their tater tots for the remainder of the school year. :)

I've had a lot on my heart this year around the topic of debt forgiveness.

  • Are we holding the children prisoner to their lost books? 
  • Are we offering alternatives to patrons who cannot afford to replace lost books?
  • Are we understanding of the various outside factors contributing to the problem?
  • Are we holding repeat offenders responsible? we've resolved the following pledge to our patrons.
  • We will forgive lost books at the start of the school year following Back to School Night. No questions asked.
  • We will allow students to continue checking out books even after a book has been marked long overdue or lost. Limited to one book per visit until overdue book is returned.
  • We will allow students to "work off" their lost book fine by volunteering for one week in the library media center. Responsibility demonstrated is a fine resolved.
  • We will limit students who continually lose books to keeping library books in their classroom. Some home situations just aren't ideal for library books.
  • We will love you no matter what. Books get lost. If you didn't mean for it to happen, we believe you.
What steps are you taking toward debt forgiveness? We'd love to adopt some new practices to continue better serving our patrons.

- Matthew

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School Orientations

This week is orientation week in the Media Center.  I usually show a PowerPoint and review the rules and sections of the Media Center as well as the procedures for checking out a book. While planning out my orientations this summer, I came across some cute videos on YouTube that pinned.  I thought you might like them, too:

Shelf Marker Song

This is a short video demonstrating how to use a shelf marker using a song.  It is to the tune of "The Hokey Pokey."  Granted the first part about the picture on the shelf marker is unique to that library, but you could always start the video after that part, or if you are really brave, just sing the song yourself.

Sammy the Shelf Marker

This is a super cute video.  Again, it has a few parts that are unique to the library it was created for, but it is still usable for demonstration purposes.

How to Use a Shelf Marker in the Library

This video is performed by upper elementary students and is also a demonstration of how to use a shelf marker. I like that the students are acting it out.  You can hear a librarian reading a "Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a..." something book in the background, which makes me think, "WOW! Now that's a library!  Lots going on at once."   I don't think it's too distracting, and again, I like that the kids are the ones demonstrating the proper and incorrect ways to use a shelf marker.  I especially like the sword fight scene.  LOL

Library Manners

This one has been on Pinterest for awhile.  I repinned it from another SLMS.  It is short and sweet, so it's perfect for PreK, K and 1st grade classes.  

 Scaredy Squirrel Goes to the Library

This is another cute video.  2nd-3rd graders might enjoy it. 
I like that it is narrated by kids.

 How to Take Care of Library Books

This is probably my favorite video.  It was created by a librarian and even has places built in to stop and discuss each scene.  It's perfect for 1st and 2nd grades...maybe even 3rd.

And I have to throw this one in just for fun.  Being as it's set in a college library, it's definitely not for elementary, but I found it entertaining, anyway.  Hope it makes you smile, too.

The FUNdamentals of Book Care in Five Easy Lessons

Happy back to school!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fall Bulletin Board Display

Hello All!  I am excited to join Sharing the Shelves.  Over the past year, I have found so many amazing blogs for classroom teachers.  I just discovered Sharing the Shelves last night and I was so excited to see that this blog is about school libraries!  Yes!!
I have been a teacher for 10 years.  Four as a classroom teacher and six as a librarian.  I was in a district for 8 years when I accepted a new job in a different district.  Low and behold I was cut.  As a result I subbed in three different districts this past year.  Still looking for that new job!
Since I don't have the opportunity to set up my own library this fall, I would like to share some of my ideas from the last several years.  I hope some of my ideas will inspire you!
As I'm sure many of you are getting ready for the first day, here is a picture of a fall bulletin board that I had outside my library.  I was the librarian in an early childhood building for four years.

I can't take all the credit.  Several years ago I had a very creative volunteer.  I would give her the ideas and she would run with the ideas!  If you look closely, we printed off colored pictures of books to display on the leaves-books about fall, apples, trees, etc.  Great themes for September in kindergarten and first grade.

Help Students Reach Their Reading Goals

I don't know about at your school, but at my school Accelerated Reader is a BIG deal.  Kids are very eager to earn their AR points, but that doesn't always equate to reading success.  AR is an expensive program; we spend close to $3,000/year on the online program so it's important that we get our money's worth. There are so many aspects of the program that are very underutilized.  One of the little-used tools that comes with the online program is Home Connect which allows students and parents to monitor their progress at home or at school at any time.  When I turned on the AR Home Connect option last year, it also allowed teachers to set three different reading goals to help optimize a student's reading ability.

The three reading goals include

Book Level Goal
This is based on the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) on the student's STAR test and, hopefully, increases each quarter or nine weeks.  The ZPD gives a high reading level and a low reading level and the student should read within that level to have the most chance to effectively increase, or accelerate, their reading ability.  The goal is usually the average of this high number and low number.

Example    ZPD = 2.3-3.3   Book Level Goal =  2.8

Points Goal
This is the standard goal that most teachers have used in the past. Students have a certain number of points they should earn by taking quizzes on books that they've read within their ZPD.  I suggest that students read at or above their Book Level Goal, but not above their ZPD.  Renaissance Learning has created a PDF that helps you determine what point goal to set based on how many minutes you want your student to read each day.  It's very helpful when determining what point goal to set.

Quiz Average Goal
This goal is just what it sounds like.  It is the average of all the quizzes a student takes in a set grading period.  It is automatically set at 85% by the Reniassance Learning Company, the company that runs Accelerated Reader. I contacted them about how to lower it, but was told that I could only increase it, not lower it because their studies show that 85% is the lowest average a student can earn and still increase their reading level.

*AR and Accelerated Reader are registered trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc.

Using Home Connect, students can monitor their progress every day on their goals each quarter, six weeks, or however your school year is divided.  Home Connect gives a visual so students can see how close they are to reaching their goals. When they reach their goal, a star appears next to that goal.  You can see in the screen shot above that the student has reached 2 out of the 3 goals.

I encourage teachers to talk with their students and set their goals with their students' input.  I gave teachers a copy of this goal sheet to keep a record of their progress each quarter.  I did not make up the contract.  It was made several years ago by someone in my county, but I still use it because it's good documentation and a good goal planning page.  You can get a free copy by clicking here or on the picture above.

*AR and Accelerated Reader are registered trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc.

For students, I teach a lesson, and a review lesson half way through the year, about how they can meet their AR goals.  If you'd like to see the lesson for free, you can click here or on the picture above. Some of the information included in the PowerPoint are specific for my school, but you can get the general idea of what everything looks like and how it runs by looking at this PowerPoint.

In addition, I also give students this AR Goals bookmark.  I have added a place for them to mark their goals on the back which is also a good way for them to see their reading progress through the year.  You can get a free copy by clicking here or on the picture above.

I have contacted Renaissance Learning and they will send a rep to do an hour long overview of the program for free.  They also offer a day long Professional Development, but the cost is $3,000.  That's not quite in the budget, so we are going to make due with the hour long overview and hope that it helps us learn to use more of the tools offered through the program to help our students truly accelerate their reading.

So how about your school?  Are you using AR or another reading incentive program to encourage students to read?

*AR and Accelerated Reader are registered trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

QR Code Library Orientation

Yesterday was the first day our media center was open for the 2012-2013 school year!  All four of the fifth grade classes came in for their first library visit of the year.  To remind our students of our library rules and procedures, I created a QR code scavenger hunt.  I developed 12 questions to teach/remind students about media center resources and where materials are located.  I created the QR codes using Kaywa.  We are fortunate enough to have 20 iPads in our media center with the Scan bar code/QR code reader app.  Students worked in pairs.  One student wrote answers on the scavenger hunt sheet and the other scanned the QR code.  Then they traded so each student had the opportunity to scan six codes.  My students were so engaged in this activity!  Even students who are regularly unmotivated were cooperative, careful with the iPad, and they even completed the entire scavenger hunt!  See below for  link to my QR code library orientation scavenger hunt on Slideshare!