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?


  • 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:  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.



“Remembering the Titanic” from the PDF available from Highsmith at

“Always, always, always consider the source” from Technology Rocks Seriously’s Scribd. document.

Three for: Awesome Ideas for Library Displays

Is there a support group for Librarians Who Lack “Display Panache”?  If so, I need to join.  Until I can find that support group, I rely on Pinterest, Flickr, and Google to provide me with ideas.



Google Search

Now, finding time to create these awesome displays is another problem.  Fortunately this semester I have some talented and willing service learners to help!

Image attribution:

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.

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?

Preparing for the Conference

Advocacy for School Libraries & Education on Prezi

The South Carolina Association of School Librarians‘ 2011 Conference is almost here!  The official conference dates are March 10-11, but pre-conference sessions are the afternoon of March 9th.

Conference is a time for renewal, reflection, networking, learning, and growing.  As the SCASL Advocacy Committee Chair for 2010-2011, I am excited about an announcement we will be making at conference.  As a member of the SCASL IT Committee, I am excited about the unveiling of our new website. Oh, I might as well just say it:  I am excited about conference!

Tracking Conference Happenings

Unfortunately, many South Carolina school librarians will be unable to join us this year.  Once again the economy has made its presence known:  some school districts will not even allow teachers to take professional leave days.

Those of you unable to attend, use this hashtag to search for conference blog posts, tweets, and photos:  #scasl11.  Several of us in attendance will be sharing news and updates over the next few days.

It’s All About Advocacy

As Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never, never give up!”  Click on  the image at the top of this post to watch an amazing Prezi created by Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian. And prepare to redouble your efforts to ensure that our children benefit from strong school library programs led by certified school librarians.

Advocacy: School Library Newsletters


Planned:  monthly library newsletter to keep our school community abreast of library happenings and resources

Reality:  one, perhaps, two newsletters a year

Fix:  create a template that will simplify the process of creating the newsletter

Searching for Exemplars

Because I tend to be a perfectionist (I know, those of you who know me well are shocked), I wanted to locate some exceptional school library newsletters for inspiration.  I was surprised that my searches provided very few results, however, I did find several that provided me with food for thought as I worked on our template.

The first two examples are from slideshare allowing you to go through the entire newsletter if it is multiple pages.

To view two other newsletters, click on the links below.

Hillside Middle School Library Newsletter

The Dean Librazine

Widespread Problem?

Are other school librarians also having difficulty finding time to create a monthly/quarterly/once a semester newsletter?  Is that why my searches on Google and Libworm produced few results?  Or are school librarians just not posting the newsletters online?

As we advocate for our programs, we need to strive for transparency.  In today’s connected world, that means posting information online for our communities to see.

BSHS LMC Media Matters

Below is the January 2011 issue of BSHS LMC Media Matters. It still needs some tweaking, but if I were to try to perfect it anymore, it would go the way of past issues that I had every intention of finishing (but never did).

Please Share

If you know of any other online school library newsletters, could you post links to them in the comments section? 

Out of My Element

Image Attribution:

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

My husband and I joined Anytime Fitness gym last month.  My daughter and son-in-law have been members for a while and raved about it, so when we had a recent health wake-up call, we decided to take the plunge.

I went in the first day  to complete the paperwork and work out just a bit.  The only other gym I’ve belonged to was Shapes, a Curves-like place with additional cardio equipment like bikes and ellipticals.

Anytime Fitness has top of the line equipment – and lots of it.  I recognized treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals.  But how to use these technological wonders?

Then there were the other – things.  Strange contraptions with seats, handles, cables, foot rests, weights, etc. litter the floor.  I was extremely intimidated by all of it my first day.  If not for the friendly owners and a personal trainer’s help, I doubt I would have attempted to use any of it.

Who feels out of his element in a school library?

I don’t often find myself feeling as out of place as I did on that first day.  I started wondering if our school library ever makes anyone feel as uncomfortable as the gym made me feel.  Probably.

How do students and teachers  using their school library for the first time feel?  Are they instantly at home, do they approach the shelves with trepidation, or do they just seem to throw up their hands and pretend disinterest rather than risk appearing ignorant of library ways?

We attempt to familiarize students with our library through orientation in their English II classes, but as I found out Wednesday, one time of being shown where things are does not equate to understanding how to use them.  Our students complete Scavenger Hunts during orientation that require them to circulate through the library, using the print and nonprint resources.  But is that enough?

Current Approaches

We make an effort to greet students and faculty with a welcoming smile (and a personalized greeting once we know a patron’s name) and a pleasant, “How can I help you today?” We have created some signage (I need more in this new library space) to help guide folks to the areas they seek.  We are working to create another inviting seating area that encourages students to relax with a good book or magazine.

We circulate when students are looking for materials or using the computers and offer help when we feel it is needed.


What else can we do to put our patrons at ease and help them feel not only welcomed, but at home in our media center?