This week I have enjoyed assisting and watching my reading students work together in collaborative groups as they research the decades in our middle school library. They are creating Powerpoints, Prezis, brochures and posters on a decade they have selected to research. They have spent this week using laptops, trade books and their phones to pull up and cite interesting information to be presented Thursday, December 17. They have been enthusiastic as they research facts and decide which person will speak first, second, etc. I allowed the students to choose their groups, no more than four per group , and they have worked well distributing tasks to each group member. Our middle school librarian, Mrs. Anne Cox, has been a huge help with finding books for us and assisting us with any technology questions we have. This Friday, we are doing a trial run of all presentations in the library in order to prepare for our event next week. We are inviting Social Studies classes, parents and administrators to come and see their presentations in the library.
Our school library is really a hub for the building. Students are in and out constantly, classes and teachers are consistently using materials, and the community even uses it for events. Recently, a teacher from our school was interviewed by a local television station, and where did they decide to interview her? In the library, of course.
The library is sort of the face of the entire building. Students often have signings for colleges in the library. Teachers have baby showers for other teachers in the library. Clubs have meetings in the library. It’s kind of like our school’s town hall. This makes me also consider the importance of the appearance of the library. Some libraries I have been in this semester are in dire need of organizing, which makes the library an unwelcoming place. It’s the one place we want and need students to go, so it must look appealing. I think that emphasizes the importance of neatness, upkeep, and organization. If we keep the library attractive, people, including students, will continually want to be there.
We used the library this week to prepare for COMPASS testing. All of the computers were already reserved, and I needed them so that my students could take practice tests. Therefore, I had to use the school laptops, housed in the library. This made me realize how much of the librarian’s job is actually focused on technology. She has to constantly put out technological fires, so to speak. I think that many librarians, especially veteran librarians, probably don’t feel adequately trained in the technology that they actually have to maintenance and use on a daily basis.
Professional development must be important to the school librarian so that she isn’t left behind. I know technology is one of my weaknesses, so I get a little nervous when I think about the possibility of becoming a school librarian and being responsible for the purchase and maintenance of technology in the school building. Librarians must be versatile in their skills and their ability to learn.
I have recently discovered the inconvenience of not having access to the library. Our library is currently closed during 3rd block everyday because a class is working on an online class and needs access to computers in a quiet setting. Now, no other students can use the library during that block. I didn’t realize how much I relied on the library until this happened recently.
The library is where we go for information, to work on projects, to type papers, to find research, to read, and without it, my plans have a major kink in them. I don’t think many people do realize how important and useful the library is until it’s unavailable. It’s kind of like what Scout said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “I never loved reading until I thought I would lose it. One doesn’t love breathing.”
As I sit and reflect on all of the experiences I have had this semester I feel that I have broadened my realm of understanding of what happens in a library. While observing my own children in their library I learned that it is a multifaceted calling. You deal with different issues at the different grade levels and you must be able to adapt to all of them. As I visited our own public library I saw that it is not only the librarian that makes it possible to introduce books to the community but volunteers add so much to the library atmosphere. Our public library offers so many great programs that students do not know about and would greatly benefit from. I began my own form of advertising for these programs while I taught my students. I got to spend a lot of time in my own school library and it was amazing to see all of the inner workings. While our librarian was out due to surgery I got to step in for a bit and see how the systems works and how books are logged and ordered. This semester has been eye opening and it has showed me that I know absolutely nothing about what a librarian does within a school and just how vital they are.
The book fair is here!!!! I enjoy this week in the library world immensely! I have been able to help our librarian set up the book fair and I have witnessed just how much goes into planning this thing!! As a normal teacher I just imagined it came already set up and poof there it was! No way!!! It takes much more than that to get this thing going! It is amazing the amount of work goes into it!! We try to tie book fair to the end of the year as to get Christmas presents for students. Our AR leaders get to pick free books from the fair for their continued effort in getting those points. My students are pumped about this week, more so than I am! It is awesome to see the students respond to this every year and the excited a new book can bring to them. Our librarian advertises for this event well in advance to build the anticipation up.
As I was observing my librarian one day we got to talking about the Espresso Book Machine. It is a print on demand (POD) machine that prints, collates, covers, and binds a single book in a few minutes. This would allow students to come in a print out books that the library may not have. As we were talking we realized how much more this machine could do. Instead of using the machine for checking out books we realized that most users saw a rise in users publishing their own personal stories and books. In their experience everyone from little kids who wrote their first-ever story to young adults and adults that wrote up their very own novels could finally see their stories made “real” by taking their manuscripts and publishing them into a real book that they could hold in their hands. We thought can you imagine walking in to your library with an idea in your head and then, maybe after gathering some help and ideas from others at the library you transform that work from your head to a piece of paper or computer screen. Now, once you have that finished story idea you can take it a step further and instead of just publishing it online or emailing it to people that you would want to share it with, you can publish a physical copy, bound in whatever material you want (hard cover or soft cover) with whatever image you desire as your cover, and you can leave with that physical book in your hands. How inspiring could this be for students!! You are opening unlimited doors and giving students an outlet for their creativity right in their own library. Talk about re-igniting passion for reading!
I was reading an article the other day about incorporating the library as a class or elective. As I was reading about the library as classroom concept it got me really excited. There’s a lot of overlap with the library and literature class and I think that it’s important to note that this idea of reinventing the library as a classroom space that inspires learning, innovation, and community could not be done without experimenting. By incorporating the library back into an elective rotation you are opening up a multitude of avenues for your school building. This could provide more resources for students and teachers to utilize in class. In addition to libraries offering these new and exciting tools, just by having a space that encourages you to play or engage with others is amazing. That’s really what the purpose of a classroom is; it’s designed to become a hub for connecting with others, sharing ideas, experimenting with putting things together, having the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, all the while having someone there that can act as a guide. Some of my favorite classes were with teachers that allowed us as students to be creative and think outside of the box. By adding more library interaction I think we are giving students another opening to branch out in their thought process.
Reading group is continuing with expository text and Native American unit. We began reading “The Hopi”. We are going to compare and contrast this text with “The Trail of Tears”.
In the library we are preparing for yet another book fair. This one will be our Holiday Book Fair. Students have been working on an art competition in the library this week as well.
This was a short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
In reading we continued reading “The Trail of Tears”. Students are learning how to navigate the expository text and how to find those cause and effect relationships.
In the library students have been working on AR goals as the end of the nine weeks begins to approach. I have become aware of how often library books are misplaced, this seems to be a major issue with students. I find books that have lost their borrower daily! It seems the librarian spends a lot of time tracking lost books and repairing damaged books as well.