Organizing Booktalks

Reader’s Advisory can take many forms, but my favorite is booktalking.  The beginning of a new semester is the perfect opportunity to reach out to teachers and offer to do booktalks for their classes.

Last week, I gave booktalks for twelve classes.  Each booktalking session averaged three to seven books which can become a management nightmare.  I use the following method to organize booktalks so that if teachers wish for me to booktalk more than once to their classes, I can be assured I am not repeating myself.

Organizing Booktalks

1. First, I created a spreadsheet of the books from which to choose (and keep adding to it).

The spreadsheet includes the author, title, and up to three genres.

2. Next, I gathered the booktalks I have created (or found) on each title.  These are all titles I have read; one of the primary rules I learned in my YA Lit course was to only booktalk books you have read.  Creating booktalks is often time consuming, so when I don’t have the time, I use Nancy Keane’s Booktalks — Quick and Simple.  I file these alphabetically by title.

3. Finally, I created a simple booktalk chart template that I use for each teacher.

I keep all of this information in my Booktalk Notebook that I keep for reference at the Circulation Desk.

Giving the Booktalks

Once a teacher requests a booktalking session, I confer with him/her to determine a few factors I need to consider as I plan:

1.  length of time teacher wants to stay

2.  class composition (equal numbers of males and females?)

3.  student interests (At the beginning of the semester, teachers often can’t provide a great deal of information, but if they have done interest surveys they might be able to share if any students are in band, chorus, orchestra, student council, or participate in any sports.)

Then I pull together from three to seven books based on teacher information.  I use the template to record the titles I plan to do for each class. If this changes (sometimes I can tell from a class’s attitude as they enter the library that I need to change a title or two), I note the changes after the booktalks.

I set up a display of the books I plan to booktalk in front of the Promethean board, and as students enter and are settling in at the tables, I play an Animoto video I created on the current year’s South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees. Brochures on each table provide more information about each of these titles. I end the booktalks with a book trailer and tell the students that they are free to check out the titles I used on the table.  It is always SO rewarding when students run to get a copy of the books on the table!

Analyzing the Booktalking Session’s Effectiveness

Often I can tell if a title is going to get checked out as I am doing the booktalk.  High school students don’t fake interest in books; their body language speaks volumes.  And, bless their hearts, some students are not ashamed to say, “I’m getting THAT book.”

Other ways I use student feedback to help me improve my booktalks:

  • A quick look over at the table a bit later as students are checking out books lets me know if a title (or titles) didn’t get checked out.  I make a note of this on the template.
  • If a title did not get checked out, I discuss the booktalk and title with my service learners and the other media specialist to see if I can pinpoint the reason for lack of interest.  If possible, I revise the booktalk before giving it again the next block.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.
  • If students ask me if I have more copies of one of the titles I booktalked, I put the title on hold for them and make a note of it on booktalk template.

I would love to read about your booktalking methods and sessions.  How do you organize your booktalks and what techniques have you found to be successful?


 

Tech ‘n Treat

Addressing Burnout

We are nearly through the first quarter of the 2010-2011 school year in my school district.  As the end of the grading period nears, deadlines loom:  grades to be entered, reports to be filed, parent-teacher conferences to prepare for, yet more paperwork to be completed.  Teachers are stressed.

How cans school librarians help alleviate the stress classroom teachers are feeling as well as provide ways to ease some of it in the future?

Schedule Time Out

Why not plan an end-of-the-quarter event in your library?  Invite your staff to drop by during their planning periods or after school one day for a “Tech ‘n Treat.”  Play soothing music, provide refreshments, offer door prizes, and let teachers go “trick or treating.”

Set up stations throughout your library where your teachers will not only find a container filled with goodies, but also discover terrific ideas to incorporate technology into their lessons.  At one station, teachers can discover Flip Video cameras and examples of how they can be used to enhance student learning.  At another station, they’ll find an interactive Jeopardy game that could be used for unit reviews.  At still another, they can watch video “how-to” tutorials – choose a tool that would be helpful to your faculty and either create a tutorial or find one online.

And at another station, play an inspiring video.  One of my favorites is Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make.”  Here is an edited version which is more faculty friendly than the original.

Remind your teachers that they shape the future, one child at a time.  Remind your teachers that you value them. Remind your teachers that you are there to assist them.

If you were creating a Tech ‘n Treat for your faculty, what stations would you include?

Credit: The title of this blog post was borrowed from an upcoming meeting of the Media Specialists of Spartanburg County.

Photo Attribution:

Burning the Candle at Both Ends by Julianne Villaflor

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ennailuj/3611354390/

They Need Their Teachers to Learn

‘Nuff said.

Going Gaa-Gaa for Google

It is no secret to those who know me:  I am a Google fan.  Google offers great (FREE) tools that have simplified my life and allowed me to accomplish more  – efficiently and effectively.  Some Google services I use:

Google’s Educational Uses

For those educators who are still not sold on Google, here are some links that either offer more information for educators, or give examples of educators’ use of Google for their students.

General

Google Search Options

Google Docs

Other

AASL Conference: Concurrent Sessions “2.0 Learning Tools Smackdown”

Photo by Brenda D. Anderson

Posted at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30556726@N04/4082021020/

Hot Ticket

This session was one of the hottest tickets on Friday.  I left the Exhibition Hall, still a bit dazed from meeting James Patterson, and headed to Room 207AB early to try and get a front row seat – only to find a crowd already awaiting entrance to the session. So, no front row seat, but I was still able to snag seats for Heather Loy and myself.  I’m sure many were not as fortunate, so I’ll share links to information posted about the session below.

Organized and lead by Joyce Valenza and Robin Williams, the session was divided into “timed” sharing sessions in the following categories:

  • Reading Promotion
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Information Fluency
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Audience Sharing

As always, being in a room with educators wanting to share ways to enhance student learning through the use of Web 2.0 tools was energizing.   I still haven’t had time to check out all of the new tools and sites that were shared.  AND plenty more are on the AASL Smackdown Wiki.  Bookmark this site because it is one you will want to revisit.

One of the shared sites that I have had time to explore is  Morgue File.  “Where photo reference lives” is the tagline of this site.  Great source of free photos for students (and teachers!) to use in projects.  I have now been recommending this one in conjunction with Creative Commons.

History

The Learning Tools Smackdown is now something of a tradition at library and technology conferences.

Links to “2.0 Learning Tools Smackdown” from AASL Charlotte

  • If you have a “b There” Virtual Track Pass, you can listen to a podcast of the session. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the podcast.)

Make Word Mosaic


Earlier this week, someone requested a link to a concrete poetry making site on the SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) listserv.

Today as I was reading and tweaking my Google Reader, I came across a new tool through Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day that looks very promising: ImageChef‘s Make Word Mosaic.

ImageChef’s simple description: “Write a comment or poem in the shape of hearts or other symbols.
Send a greeting or post to MySpace or your blog.”

After you have chosen your symbol and typed in the text you wish to include, click on the heart symbol to the right of the text box and you can add a variety of symbols to your word mosaic. In the example below, I added musical notes, envelopes, stars, and people to the mosaic.

Another Free Digital Storytelling Tool for Teachers

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Garden
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Smilebox offers free Club Smilebox accounts for educators (normally costing $39.99 annually).  This tool is perfect for educators who want to create and post a scrapbook slideshow in just moments.

Club Smilebox also allows you to create animated photobooks, email cards,  and postcards to share with others.  You’ll find over 850 design templates from which to choose.  Creating one is as simple as choosing a design, importing photos from your computer, and then arranging the photos by simply clicking and dragging them onto slides.  Want to share your creation online?  It’s as simple as clicking on “share” and either copying and pasting embedding code or signing into an account like Facebook and letting Smilebox post your slideshow.

Sign up for your free account here.

(I first wrote about this tool here.  After playing with it again this morning, I felt that it was worth a repost due to its ease of use.)

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