Gearing Up for the New Year: Calendar Dates

Each July, I am conflicted over the upcoming death of summer vacation and the birth of a new school year.  The realization that the alarm clock will once again be sounding at 5 a.m. giving me an opportunity for a brand new start causes those proverbial butterflies in my stomach.  I pour over the back-to-school fliers in the Sunday paper while leisurely sipping my hazelnut creme coffee, knowing that the delicious freedom of sleeping late and not living my life by a bell schedule will soon come to an abrupt halt.

Fresh Start…and New School Supplies!

But how can I not love a chance to get it right one more year?  Each August, educators are blessed with the opportunity to improve our teaching and meet new students.

When I moved from the classroom to the media center, I gave up lesson plan books in favor of planning calendars.  Three years ago I found an almost perfect academic planner (At a Glance  Academic Year Weekly/Monthly Planner) and have made a trip to Office Depot each July since then to purchase one for the new year.  This calendar becomes my map and journal for the school year.

Events Sponsored by ALA, YALSA, and the AASL

First to be filled in are important events sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.  Those dates for this year include:

Sept:  Library Card Sign-Up Month

Sept. 25 – Oct. 2:  Banned Books Week

Oct. 17 – 23:  Teen Read Week

Nov. 13:  National Gaming Day @ Your Library

Mar. 6 – 12:  Teen Tech Week

April:  School Library Month

Apr. 10 – 16:  National Library Week

Apr. 14:  Support Teen Literature Day

May 1 – 7:  Choose Privacy Week

Other Dates

Once those dates are on the calendar, then I begin to scour the Internet for other events/celebrations that could be added to our library calendar.

Sept. 8:  International Literacy Day – sponsored by the International Reading Association

October:  International School Library Month – sponsored by the International Association of School Librarianship

Nov. 14 – 20:  American Education Week – sponsored by the National Education Association

School Library Monthly‘s Almanacs

School Library Monthly publishes their monthly almanacs online.  You’ll find both an Activities Almanac and an Author and Illustrator Almanac that provide a wealth of information and ideas.

The Author and Illustrator Almanac provides not only the birth dates of important authors and illustrators, but also links to more information on many of them.

The Activites Almanac can be the answer to prayers for bulletin board ideas.  Not only does each month provide an illustration and details on a specific bulletin board, but reading through the events in each month is bound to spark ideas for other bulletin boards and displays.

Thanks to School Library Monthly, I added these dates to our calendar:

October: National Reading Group Month – sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association

February: Library Lovers’ Month

May:  Get Caught Reading Month

Let the Programming Begin!

In addition to these dates, I input dates for our local literacy programs (READissance and Bulldog Booklovers Club).  With this done, I can begin to plan programs and activities to ensure that the library has a major celebration each month.

What Other Events Do You Celebrate?

Have you found a great source for dates of special celebrations? Please share!

Photo attribution

Photo used through a Creative Commons License

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

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