Three for: Library and Classroom Free Lessons and Printables

This morning as I was pinning, I came across several great FREE items.  Who doesn’t love free?

Lessons

  • Use this search:  “Lynn Farrell Stover” “Library Sparks” This generous lady shares her Library Lessons – and they are awesome!  They are geared for elementary students but I have found ideas to “eduplay” with my grandsons.  (Hmm…don’t know if that term will catch on.)
  • The Book Bug‘s Destiny (catalog) exercises – for elementary, but I know I can use the general idea for my high school students:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8Hp3hxOmva9ekZhUVdUWkZKd28/preview  If you have some time, surf through her site.  Treasure trove!
  • Teacher Vision’s Library Resources for Teachers Most of the activities are geared toward elementary and middle school students, but some can be modified for use with high school students.  For example, librarians can add another level to the Dewey Relay game which divides students into teams tasked with being the quickest to locate books with a specific Dewey number.  Perhaps combine this with gathering citation information to have students not only locate, but also use, library resources.

Printables

Screenshots:

“Remembering the Titanic” from the PDF available from Highsmith at www.highsmith.com/pdf/librarysparks/2012/lsp_mar12_ll_titanic.pdf

“Always, always, always consider the source” from Technology Rocks Seriously’s Scribd. document.  http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/2012/01/blog-post.html

SCASL Conference Reflections: Day One

Who doesn’t love learning?  Certainly not anyone reading this post!  Conferences offer opportunities to expand your knowledge, connect with friends rarely seen, and make new friends.

The 37th annual South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Conference was held March 14-16th at the T.D. Convention Center in Greenville, SC.  The theme this year was “Advocacy Starts with You @your library.”  Approximately 500 professionals gathered to learn from, and network with, each other.

Our organization is always seeking ways to improve our conference, and this year was no exception.  Hats off to Heather Loy, SCASL Pres Elect, and Patty Bynum, Local Arrangements Chair, for one of the best conferences ever!  Many others helped make the conference the success it was, and I appreciate all the hard work and efforts of each person involved.

Two additions to our conference this year were located in the Exhibit Hall: the SCASL Committee Showcase and the Learning Commons.  SCASL committees created inviting displays to inform our members of the work we are doing and to encourage them to volunteer to serve on a committee next year.

The Learning Commons was sponsored by the SCASL IT Committee.  Members were encouraged to sign up and share a lesson, idea, program, etc. I loved the informal nature of the Learning Commons and look forward to it again next year.

I’ll share some snippets of information I gleaned from each of the sessions I attended.  Many presenters have provided links to their presentations/handouts which can be found on http://scasl.net.

“Big 6 by the Month:  Comprehensive and Essential Information Programs Now!” Bob Berkowitz (pre-conference session)

Bob encouraged us to use the Big 6 not only as a research/problem-solving model, but also as an instructional model.  He stressed that problem solving is not linear, and although there are 6 components of the Big 6, they do not have to be followed in any particular order.

Because our ultimate purpose in teaching is to prepare students for success in the world after high school (whether secondary training or the world of work), we need to focus on problem solving.  To illustrate how the Big 6 works in everyday life tasks, he asked one attendee to share her recent experience with buying a car.

Planning Your Year

“Information literacy is too important to be partial or arbitrary.”  (Berkowitz)

Just as other teachers must create long range plans, we need to create a yearly plan with a focus for each month.  We need a comprehensive plan that can be defined, is predictable, can be measured, and the results can be reported.

You might begin the school year with an overview of the Big 6.  Then in September, you might focus on Task Definition.  Continue to plan your year in this manner.

Our plan needs to be predictable, meaning we will follow certain planning procedures.  What role will the teacher-librarian play?  What role will the classroom teacher play?  How is the plan related to our district and school schedule? How will our plan address the standards?  Create an annual grade level or subject plan.

As we plan our program, we must include the evidence we will use to determine our students’ success.  Will we use portfolios?  Worksheets? Tests? Observations? Self-assessments?  Then we need to determine the criteria we will use to determine how well students met each objective.

“Track It!  Documenting Instructional Impact”  Donna Shannon, Gerry Solomon, Elizabeth Miller

I was anticipating this session from the moment I first read about it.  If I had to name just one area in which my library program needs to improve, it would have to be documenting the learning that takes place as a result of our instruction and resources.

The presenters created a wiki that provides both background information on why documenting student learning in our library programs is essential and links to resources to assist us as we incorporate documentation into our programs.

The presenters shared a variety of documents and ideas (all on their wiki) including collaborative planning logs, learning logs, rubrics, project based learning checklists (I really like these!), and more.

Please take some time to explore the resources they have gathered.

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

As always, the first day of conference ended with the opening of the Exhibit Hall.  Attendees were treated to refreshments as they browsed vendor booths, checked out the SCASL Store, and visited SCASL Committee displays.  Attendees left with their appetite whetted for the sessions planned for the second day of conference.

Three for: Free Resources for You and Your Library

Free is always good!

  • The Libraries Agency offers free templates for posters, notices, announcements, and more.
  • Have Playaways or considering purchasing them?  Circulation Station provides both  Click & Ship and a Build & Print options.  Get free posters, stickers, info takeaways, and shelf tape through the Click & Ship option.  Customize posters, trifolds, and newslettters on the Build & Print page.
  • Love, love, love this downloadable pdf (see photo above) to display in your library!  Gale Cengage Learning offers this and more.  School librarians can find resources designed specifically for K-12 here.  Check out the Lesson Plan Library.

Three Quick and Easy Ways to Advocate for Your School Library Program

Has advocacy for your program been moved to the back burner while you deal with other, more pressing issues?  The following advocacy strategies can be easily and quickly replicated.  Why not try one this week?

1.  Ask students to recommend books they would like to have added to the library’s collection.  This can be a simple Google Doc Form that you link to on your website (examples: The Unquiet Library , Blythewood Middle School , North Andover Public Schools , Rock Creek School Library) or it can be a sign on the Circulation Desk with slips of paper (example:Academy of Personalized Learning’s Please Buy This Book ), pencils, and a box where completed forms are inserted.

By requesting student input, you are reinforcing that the library is THEIR library.  If you purchase a book based on a student recommendation, why not place a book plate in the front of that book identifying the student?

2.  Contact parents.  As a classroom teacher I dreaded most of the phone calls I had to make to parents.  To ease the stress of sharing problems with parents, I began to make one positive phone call each week.  What a difference that one phone call made!

Why not call parents when

  • a student seems to be enjoying a research project he/she is working on?
  • a student has participated in a literacy program?
  • a student has participated in one of your library’s programs (perhaps he/she won a contest you sponsored)?
  • a student has been helpful to other students in the library?
  • a student has excelled in a program outside of the library? (As an educator, I take pride when any of our school’s students is successful.)

Try a positive phone call once, and you will be hooked! Read Leigh Ann Jones’ blog post “How to make a parent’s day AND advocate for your library in one simple step” for inspiration.

3.  Show administrators what is happening in your library. Keep a camera at your Circulation Desk and use it!  Snap pictures of students reading, researching, using the library’s online catalog, etc. Compose a quick email to your principal and attach a photo.  Because he/she more than likely has a full inbox, use a catchy phrase in the subject line.  (Our school mascot is the bulldog, so my subject line will read “Bragging ’bout Bulldogs!” Yes, that’s intentional slang usage; love alliteration!)

Don’t just stop with pictures of students.  Pull out that camera and capture teachers interacting with students in the library.  When you compose the email to your principal bragging on the teacher, why not CC the teacher?  Imagine how warm and fuzzy that teacher is going to feel (and rightfully so!) about the library when he/she opens that email?

Advocacy:  don’t leave your library without it.

Purchaser on the Prowl

Tracking Book Reviews

Your library may subscribe to several reviewing journals, but why limit yourself to print publications to discover new books that would fly off your shelves?

As you can see from the image, I have a folder in my Google Reader devoted to YA Lit.  I have to admit that the small number (39) of unread posts is unusual; the holiday break has given me time to go through my reader.

I often leave this folder unread for days.  Do I not like YA lit?  Please.  It composes approximately 90% of all of my fiction reading.  So why am I not anxious to discover the jewels (some not so shiny) that these blogs hold?

Fear.

Fear?  Yes. Fear of reading about a great new book only to forget its title.  If I read the post, it disappears from my reader.  Yes, I can mark it as “unread” and “star” it, but there have been times when I have seen 170 posts in that folder and just deleted them all. (Sorry to those of you whose blogs I subscribe to – it is no reflection of the quality of your posts! No, it is my way of dealing with information overload.)

I have sometimes attempted to make notes of these titles, but these are often forgotten or misplaced.  You see, not only do I read these blog posts at home, but I sometimes read them during my lunch break at work, or while waiting in line at the grocery store.  And, despite what others will tell you, I am not organized.

I need a way to make note of the titles no matter where it is that I am reading reviews.  What is always handy?  Since I am online while reading them, why not use Google Docs to keep track of those I-do-not-want-to-forget titles?  Because this week is offering me the luxury of time, I decided to create a spreadsheet and begin to fill it with some of those titles.

Bookstore Finds

This is not the only mobile solution I have used to record new titles.  Buffy Hamilton first alerted me to the power of Evernote for collection development.  I haunt the local Barnes and Noble (they know me by first name) and hightail it straight for the Teen section when I arrive.  With iPhone in hand, I scour the new books.  When I find one that seems promising, I use the Snapshot feature in Evernote to take a photo of the book cover and place it in my Collection Development notebook right in Evernote.

Follett Library Resources recently released a Titlewave app that is awesome!  Now, when I find promising titles, I can search for them in Titlewave and read reviews right on my iPhone.  I can even add them to a book order on the spot.

What mobile means have you discovered for recording possible book purchases?

Teen Read Week 2011

Teen Read Week is historically observed the third week of October, but that week is also the time for our fall state testing.  The library is used for testing, eliminating the opportunity for us to sponsor events that week.  No problem!  Those of us in education understand the importance of flexibility.

This year, our Teen Read Week wasn’t celebrated until the week of Oct.31st – Nov. 4th. The theme of Picture It @your library offered many possibilities and we decided to experiment with all new (to us) ideas and activities.

Bookmark Yourself

To begin the week, we borrowed Cathy Nelson‘s “Bookmark Yourself” idea allowing students to personalize bookmarks (with or without their photos – it’s amazing the number of students who don’t want their picture taken).  The activity was popular and is one we will use again.

Pictionary with Book Titles

One morning before school, we played Pictionary with book titles.  Now, I can’t draw worth a lick, but I have enjoyed playing Pictionary before and hoped our students would, too.  Armed with a whiteboard stand, some Expo markers and an eraser, and 15 book titles written on folded slips of paper, I enticed students (some might say I pounced on them) as soon as they began entering the library at 7:30.  Students wander into and out of the library for the 35 minutes we are open before school and at one point we had fifteen students playing Pictionary.  They loved it! Again, this is an activity we will repeat.

Name that Book Contest and Luncheon

Our piece de resistance was the Name that Book Contest and Luncheon held on Friday. (I first wrote about the activity here but did alter my original plans to only use 2012 SCYABA nominees.)  Again, I bow to Cathy Nelson who got my mental wheels (they are quite rusty) moving when she shared her (brilliant! fantabulous!) Books 2 Pics idea with me this summer.  And I must thank my intern, Sheila Roberts, and my co-librarian, Jay Campbell, for their hard work.  Each created slides that rocked! for five books.

Because our school population has grown considerably but our cafeteria has not, we now have four twenty-five minute lunch periods.  Students signed up to participate and by Thursday afternoon, all slots were filled. (Valuable lesson learned last year during Teen Read Week – line up alternates for the game.)

Students quickly reported to the library when their lunch period began and helped themselves to pizza, soda, and cookies.  While they ate, I explained the rules of Name that Book.  The bidding war began when the first book’s clue was provided.  Only one of the four lunch groups completed the game by identifying (or trying to identify) all fifteen books.  All groups had a blast and said they’d love to play the game again.

Teen Read Week 2011 has come and gone, but the memories created will linger for quite some time.  The thrill of implementing new activities and have them succeed is deeply satisfying.  I love teens and their passion and enthusiasm!

Can YOU Name that Book?  The slide above represents one of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees for 2012.  Any idea which one?

Starting the Year Running: Collaborating on Literature Circles

During the summer, I visit my school library once a week to water plants.  One June day as I strolled through the library,  I noticed how many “sets” of books were sitting on the YABA and fiction shelves.

Each year I order multiple copies of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award (SCYABA) nominees and often recommend them (as well as non-nominee titles) to our book club officers for consideration.

Once the book club officers and sponsors select a title for discussion, I order more copies to ensure all book club members will have the opportunity to read it before our meeting.  These two factors (book club-selected title and SCYABA nominee) mean we have five or more copies of certain titles.

Why not?

Several discussions over the last year with my book club co-sponsor have focused on the lack of enough class sets of YA titles for her English II classes to read and discuss.

Light bulb moment:  why not examine the titles with multiple copies in the library to determine if they contained common themes?  When I did, I realized that many were either based on abuse or dystopia.  Why not suggest using these titles in classroom literature circles?

I emailed Barbara, my book club co-sponsor, with the idea and she loved it.

So the year’s first collaborative effort was born.

Literature Circles

I admit that in order to ensure we could offer each of her two classes six titles from which to choose, I had to stretch each theme just a bit.  Listed below are the titles we are using.

Abuse:  The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Things Change by Patrick Jones, Hate List by Jennifer Brown, and Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Dystopia: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Epitaph Road by David Patneaude, and Epic by Conor Kostick

Planning

On the first day of the collaboration, I would visit the class and booktalk each of the titles being offered as a selection for them.  Students would complete the Title Choice Sheet I provided and Barbara and I would each take one class’s set of Title Choice Sheets and record the students’ first, second, and third choices.  I would use those sheets as I created each class’s literature circles.

After I left the classroom on the first day, Barbara would explain literature circles to the students and assign “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. This piece would be the basis for lit circle practice.

On the second day, students would practice two things:

  1. preparing for a lit circle discussion using one of the roles (Discussion Director, Illustrator, Summarizer, Fortune Teller, or Literary Luminary)
  2. participating in a lit circle

Barbara would assign a role to each row in her class.  The rows would circle up and, using the role handout, decide what their role would bring to a lit circle discussion. Barbara and I would listen to each group as they planned.  If we felt it was needed, we would provide direction.

After twenty minutes, Barbara would disband the role groups and have them regroup in lit circles composed of students representing the five roles for which they had just prepared. Barbara and I would would visit each lit circle and provide guidance as needed.

On the third day, I would announce the literature circles and distribute the books I had already checked out to each student.  When I left class, Barbara would again discuss the purpose and workings of a literature circle and allow each lit circle to meet to plan how they would progress (the roles each would assume and the pages that would be read for each of the circle’s five meetings).

Ready, Set, Go!

We put our plan into motion on Aug. 16th (the first week of the 2011-2012 school year).  The students were excited about having a choice in their first class read and did exceptionally well on the second day as they took part in the small group discussions. I looked forward to checking in on their progress and asking for their feedback on this venture.

Overwhelming Success!

Students made class presentations on Friday, Sept. 2nd.  Each group sat in front of the class and shared a summary of their book, real life lessons they had gleaned from it, and then explained the posters that each individual had made on their book.  (The requirements for the poster included three symbols, five quotations, and three things that represented a character.)

I was able to join both classes on Friday and listen to several presentations.  Impressive!  But I didn’t have to wait until that day to know that our lit circles were being successful:  just a week after the students received their book, several boys came to the library to check out the sequel to their novel.  They had finished well in advance of what we had planned and wanted to know what happened next in the story.

Flexibility

Mrs. DeLac is the co-sponsor of our book club and had shared with her classes the novels we would be reading for our September meeting.  One young lady read Angry Management by Chris Crutcher and asked if she could present that novel to the class rather than create a poster on her lit circle novel.  She still assisted her lit circle group with their presentation, but she was so blown away by Crutcher’s book that she wanted to share it with others.  Mrs. DeLac’s flexibility in allowing this student to share another book demonstrated her desire to encourage her students to read for pleasure and talk with others about what they read.

Passion, enthusiasm, and the desire to read for pleasure. A winning combination for our first attempt with Literature Circles!

Image used through a Creative Commons License:

“Reading Time”

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