Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Speak Up, SCASL!

I was so inspired by the Texas Association of School Librarians' program called "Let's Promote Libraries".  With permission, I created a version for our state association, South Carolina Association of School Librarians.

I decided to call it "Speak Up SCASL". My goals for this program is to bring more awareness about what school libraries offer our students and teachers, highlight our impact, and advocate for school libraries. I'm looking forward to implementing this program next year as part of our Legislative Committee's efforts.

I put this together for our association's Fall publication. If you go to the link, you will also find where our current SCASL president noted the AASL standards related to each of the month's topics.



I made this graphic in Canva to advertise and share the program. I'll really push this on our organization's social media accounts as the summer ends, but I wanted to share it now so that others could do something similar in their state.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Round Robin Booktalks for Summer Reading Goals

This post inspired me to put together a lesson for my students. I started the lesson with a booktalk of my own. Then I shared this Scholastic Booktalk Tip Sheet and asked students to create their own 1-minute booktalk.
Here are the slides for that lesson.
I gave them this handout, so that they can plan out their booktalk, write down books they'd like to read, and set a reading goal for the summer.
After writing up their talk and pulling up the book cover on their Chromebook, we lined them up face to face on either side of some short bookshelves so they could share and rotate.


This post also had several great ideas for summer reading. I incorporated some of the ideas in my lesson by reminding them why it is important, sharing my summer check out form, helping them plan in lesson above, and sharing my social media accounts, where I plan to do some book giveaways and book talks over the summer.

I altered the lesson a bit with my upperclassmen and added a moment to share reading memories, time to explore some Best of YA lists, and asked them to create a Summer Reading Bucket List graphic on Google Slides or Google Drawing.

WHS Teacher Summer Reading Challenge

Summer reading is not only important for our students, but also our teachers. I've had some confess to me that they do not read so I wanted to give them a little push before the summer begins. It is so important for our teachers to have a rich reading life so that they can help our students create one.

I put together this Smore of Reading resources and shared the WHS Summer Reading Challenge with them. For the first ten teachers to commit to the challenge, I am putting together a prize pack inspired by others that I've seen on Twitter and Pinterest. The plan is either a reusable beach/summer inspired print bag or a plastic margarita style glass full of summer items like travel sunscreen, drink mix, Freeze pop popsicles, snacks, fliers for local summer reading events, public library calendar, our district summer lunch program, bookmarks, and pencils. I'll share the final product on Twitter when it is complete.
I shared this Smore on Monday and I have 9 already committed to the challenge.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Hair-Raising Book Club Service Project

I love to follow the work of Jarred Amato and his Project Lit students. One of the components of his book club that I love is his service projects. Seeing their work, lit a fire in me to organize service activities before the year ended.
I started a book club this year and while small in number, we've done some really fun things. We've Skyped with Steve Schafer and had two author visits, Corrie Wang and Nic Stone. We handed out books at our Serteen Trunk or Treat and had students attend Read Up Greenville.
During our latest meeting, we discussed service project ideas. We discussed doing a book fairy style book drop around the community, inviting community members and groups to join our discussions, planning Books and Braids with our nearby elementary schools, and collecting new pajamas and books around Christmas.
The project we decided to work on first is one inspired by this news story.

We didn't want to burden one barber or stylist so we wrote a letter to distribute to local salons, beauty parlors, and barbers. As donations come in, we plan to attach this coupon we made on Canva to a hair-themed book. 

We made a wish-list on Amazon for hair-themed books at all different levels. I reached out to the Project Lit and Future Ready Librarian Facebook pages for suggestions.

We will distribute the books and coupons to our feeder area schools so that our guidance counselors can give them to those most in need for a Back to School haircut.
We just shared the letter today so we all look forward to hearing back from our community soon. If you'd like to recreate this in your area and need a copy of something I've shared, send me a tweet at @coxtl and I'll be happy to help.
When school starts back we plan to collect donations of new combs and hair ties so that we can start visiting elementary schools for Books and Braids. This was their favorite idea so I'm looking forward to getting that started next year. What service projects do you do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Summer Reading 2018


Last summer I started a summer reading program called Wren Reads. You can see the posts here, here, and here. It was a big success. After meeting with admin and English teachers we discussed participation. According to teacher feedback and an anonymous student survey, 90% read some or all of their summer book. We really wanted to increase those numbers. We thought there were two main obstacles keeping them from reading: 1. students didn't get their first choice of book  or 2. students were not able to get a copy of the book. Based on these issues, we decided to arrange the sign up a little different. Instead of having the teachers choose a book and then cutting off sign up when the group is full, I chose 18 books, booktalked them, students signed up for their preferred book and then we asked teachers to take one of those groups. This allowed us to have multiple groups for the most popular books. To address access, I'm ordering as many copies as I can for check out and I am offering them the option of ordering from me because I can get them at a discount from my vendors. To keep that process easy, I looked at the prices and chose a price that was in the middle. Most books were $7 and a few were $8 and $11, so I set the price at $8 and I'll use some of my funds to cover any overage. 
My admin thought that the program went so well with the rising Freshmen last year, that he asked me to offer it for rising Sophomores that were not in an Honors English course (those students already have assigned summer reading). I did give my teachers for the Sophomore group a little more say so in the book lists since this is their first time participating and I wanted to draw them in and make it a positive experience for them as well.

You can see the Sophomore book options here and the Freshmen book options here. I love using Elink to curate and share these lists. My library intern put these together for me this year. Many of these books are also on our state award list and some are just books that I loved and thought students would enjoy. 

For each list, I created a presentation for sharing. You can see them below. I have playlists on Youtube here and here. Some of them are not the best and I skipped and just book talked them instead.






I met with the rising Sophomores a few weeks ago and the rising Freshman last week. Our middle school is across the street so I packed up a cart and walked over.
 I grossly underestimated how bouncy the road was and had to stop every few seconds to pick up books that I was dropping like breadcrumbs across the street.

We used Google Forms to collect the student's choices. In Sheets it makes it very easy to sort by class, class period, book titles, etc for ordering and planning purposes.

I made signs for each teacher to put on their classroom or office doors. You can find those below. In addition, I created a shared folder in Drive with book discussion guides for those available and a list of general book discussion questions to help the teachers that are nervous about leading the discussion in the Fall. I'm lucky enough to have volunteers from admin, office staff, and teacher assistants, in addition to classroom teachers.




Another change this year is that I created a Remind group for both levels. I used the Schedule feature to put in links, quotes about books, book trailer links, etc. You can see all of the posts in this doc.

I'm planning a delivery day party for both groups where they'll receive their already checked out book or the book they ordered with a bow tied around it and a book mark inside with their name on it. I also made this Airhead graphic on which I'll tape a mini Airhead candy. I made those in Canva. We're going to take pics, sign up for the Remind group, play music and invite the local public librarian in to share details about their summer reading program. I'm hoping to turn this into a fun event instead of an assignment.


I'd love to hear about your summer reading plans. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter at @coxtl and I'm happy to share anything that I have.


Partnering with Adolescent Lit College Students

Image result for clemson tiger paw
This Spring I was able to see Penny Kittle, author of Book Love, speak. One of the takeaways for me was that she connected her students with college students for book discussions using Flipgrid. I loved this idea.
After working with a nearby university on a book grant that didn't come through, I suggested that we try this. I was connected with a professor that teaches an  Adolescent Literature course. 
We emailed a few times and spoke on the phone. I opened it up to our English teachers and had three people interested. We plan to have our students connect in October and again in November on Flipgrid as part of their literature circles. 
The college students are required to read The House on Mango Street, The Good Braider, If You Could Be Mine, The Hate U Give, and How It Went Down. They must also choose two or three from an optional list divided by theme. I went through the list to see which titles we had multiple copies of so that our students could read those along with the college students. This is the list:
Under the Mesquite-ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Long Way Down-4 copies
All American Boys- 4 copies
Boy 21 5 copies
Monster- 29 copies **
Girl in the Blue Coat-4 copies
Salt to the Sea-3 copies
Refugee 55 copies**
All We Have Left 4 copies
Full Cicada Moon- ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Home of the Brave-ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Between Shades of Gray 4 copies
Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda 31 copies **
Wonder 21 copies **
Out of My Mind 21 copies **
Turtles All the Way Down 3 copies
Every Last Word 4 copies
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 25 copies**
The Sun Is Also a Star 3 copies
Speak 71 copies **
We Were Here 3 copies
Out of the Easy 3 copies

I'm really looking forward to this collaboration. I'm hoping that this will be a good motivator for our students. 

I'm considering different frameworks for discussion like the Book-Head-Heart framework from Disruptive Thinking, the conferencing questions on Penny Kittle's site, or other frameworks for helping the students compose their Flipgrid responses. What method do you and your teachers use?

Do you connect with any nearby colleges or universities? If so, how?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Summer PD 2018

Last year I created and facilitated a summer PD course on the importance of independent reading. You can find the details here.
I'm lucky enough to have a library intern right now and I wanted to do a student survey with her since I feel that they are a great insight for me into what the students need and want. So she created this reading survey for the students. Teachers posted in their Google Classrooms and we had over 450 responses.
You can see the raw data here. My intern, Miss Windsor, was kind enough to do a little data analysis on it, which you can find here. She is still sorting through it all. It is meticulous work. I also added some of my thoughts and comments on the side. Their responses prompted me to design another PD course for this year. It is obvious that there are areas we need to improve upon.

Here are a few things that stood out to me that I shared with my teachers so that we can use to try to reach our reluctant readers.
  • 32% said they did not like to read. 
  • When discussing the last book they read and enjoyed a good story/plot and interesting were the most frequent answers followed closely by it related to my life. 
  • When discussing the reasons for abandoning a book, students most likely mentioned that the book was boring, confusing or a genre that they didn't like.
  • 45% reported that they read 0 days outside of English class.
  • When choosing a new book to read the top three answers were browsing in the library/bookstore, recommendations from friends, and movie adaptations.
  • Yet 37% NEVER recommend a book to others.
  • For the majority of students, the last time reading was fun for them was in elementary school.
  • When asked what teachers can do to make reading more fun the answers in order were: choice of what to read, time to read in class, lit circles/book clubs in class, and encouraging a variety of genres.
  • The obstacles listed by the majority of students as preventing them from enjoying school reading were assignments attached to the reading and books were not relevant to their lives.
  • The most popular genres were action/adventure, mystery, horror, and fantasy.
I shared with our teachers in the hopes of encouraging them to participate in the summer PD I have planned called: Building Your Classroom Library. *I just couldn't think of a creative theme this time:) 
The course is a self-paced course in Google Classroom. I've submitted it to our district in the hopes that it will be approved for renewal credit like my course last year. 
These are the 5 tasks;
1. Evaluate your classroom library. Teachers will open this PDF of an article in Kami, read, highlight important details, and use pg 63-64 to evaluate their own classroom library. 
2. Read a literacy PD book such as Disruptive Thinking, Reading Unbound, 180 Days, Book Love, Readicide, etc and respond on Flipgrid.
3. Read the research article in Kami, highlight details and use the commenting feature for Aha moments.
4. Listen to this Donalyn Miller podcast, then use Soundtrap to respond to the podcast. 
5. Create a Donors Choose project requesting books that will address weaknesses in their classroom library. 

As soon as the district approves the course, I will be anxious to see how many teachers (if any) will participate. Honest reflection is difficult, but I hope that by going on that journey together we can do what is needed to improve our practice and reach more students. I hope to help them improve and build their classroom libraries. Classroom libraries and school libraries go hand in hand. Access! Based on student responses, I feel that students need help choosing a book, something I can address when they come into the library. My intern and I plan to make some kind of handout/infographic to help with that. Students need to hear more book recommendations from teachers and peers. I can help teach book talking skills and continue to model and share when they visit me. It may be time to reevaluate the assigned texts in the room as well as looking closely at what type of assignments correspond with reading. We need to make time for reading in class and protect student choice. These are best practices frequently hailed in books and articles, but sometimes it means more when you hear it from your own students. At least I hope it will!

Monday, April 23, 2018

NLLD 2018

Part of my responsibilities as Legislative Chair for SCASL is to attend the National Library Legislative Day in Washington, DC in May.
I know from attending in previous years that it means more to bring my students' voices to the legislators than my own. I'm amplifying my students' voices by bringing "Why I Love My Library" postcards. I shared the template with our state librarian listserv and I have responses from 8 different school of all levels in different parts of our state. They are really sweet.
I created a Fligrid for student videos responses to the same prompt. You can see it here. I have videos from five different schools. I've selected some of my favorites to feature. I created a QR code to the videos on a card that I'll be sharing with the legislative offices. I made the background in Canva and inserted the QR code, then I printed on cardstock to take with me.



Finally, I had an idea inspired by Flat Stanley. I'm going to be taking nine books with me to DC. One from each of our districts plus two for our Senators. I'm going to be documenting the book's journey to DC and to the legislator's offices. There I'll be asking the staff (we usually meet with staff, not the legislator) if they'll have the legislator sign the book then mail back (I'll provide stamped, addressed envelopes). Because we meet with staff, I thought this might be a good way to have something go in front of the legislator himself and he'll at least here that school librarians came and have us on his mind. It will also be fun for the students to watch the journey and learn about government, their legislators, and how advocacy and lobbying work.
I opened this up on our library listserv and had volunteers from each district send a book to me. I've enjoyed seeing which books they selected to make the journey. I'll post pictures on Twitter and write an update after the NLLD event on May 7-8.

Poetry Picnic 2018

I rejuvenated an idea that I used at my former library, the Poetry Picnic. Here is my original post with the site that gave me the idea.
I changed some of the stations to adapt for high school and added a few more.
You can find all the stations here:



I had several Freshman Academic Enrichment classes and one English teacher to sign up. The favorite station was Pop Sonnets. If you don't have this book, I highly recommend it. Here are a few pictures.


Some of their work was very thoughtful. I kept my favorites to put on display.

SC Read In 2018

Each year our state association, SCASL, and the SC State Library plan the SC Read In at the State House. You can read about it here.
Students parade to the state house where there are brief speakers about the power of reading, drum line performances, the Cocky Express from USC, followed by reading on the statehouse grounds.
We had over 2,000 participants this year and a few recognitions by local press.


I shared a letter template on our state listserv so that schools could invite their legislator to meet them while they were at the State House. This is a great opportunity to advocate for reading and the impact of public and school libraries.

School Library Month 2018

I didn't wait for anyone to celebrate me this month, I simply celebrated it myself and let everyone else in on it as well. I took this as an opportunity to advocate for school libraries. I sent an email each week and gave out prizes.

For the first week of the month I sent this email to my entire staff and our superintendents:
April is School Library Month!
I'm a bit early, but I wanted to share before Spring Break.
To celebrate, please contribute your favorite memory to this Padlet wall and you'll be entered into a drawing for a prize package of books.

I'll be sharing facts about school libraries throughout the month, but here are a few facts about our own school library.

I made the infographic in Canva. I loved finding out the reading memories of the staff. I stole this idea from Colby Sharp's presentation at SCASL this year.

For the second week this was my email: 
I hope that when you hear "school library", positive thoughts and memories come to mind. Please share your thoughts on this Answer Garden.
After you post, email me and I'll enter your name into the prize drawing. Thank you to Mrs. Barbusca, Ms. Oliver, Mrs. Selman, Ms. Moye, and Mr. Chapman for adding to the reading memories Padlet.

Here are a few facts about the impact that school libraries have on student learning.
Image result for capstone power of libraries
For the third week I shared this email:
Please enjoy this short video from Jason Reynolds sharing his love for libraries.
Add a "shelfie" to the Padlet wall for another entry in the book prize drawing. Pose with a favorite book or the book you are currently reading.

If you're not already convinced about the impact of school libraries, here are a few stats from over a decade of research:
  • students earn better standardized test scores in schools with strong library programs
  • strong library programs are linked to higher graduation rates and mastery of academic standards
  • benefits are the strongest for the most vulnerable learners like students of color, low-income students, and those with disabilities
The strongest school library programs:
  • align to school and district priorities
  • utilize librarians as instructional and technology coaches
  • expect collaboration between librarians and teachers

"Why School Librarians Matter: What Years Of Research Tell Us - Kappanonline.Org." kappanonline.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 27 Mar. 2018.


For the final week this was my email: 
One more article worth sharing for School Library Month. One of my literacy heroes, Donalyn Miller, so eloquently shares why reading and access to books changes lives.
This is why being a librarian isn’t just a job to me, it is a passion. It is an honor to serve the students and staff at Wren. 

Thanks for playing along with the School Library Month drawings. Special thanks to Mrs. Teal, Mr. Chapman, Mrs. Weatherford, Mrs. Barbusca, Ms. Oliver, Mrs. Bertram, Mrs. Selman, and Ms. Moye.
After a random number drawing, the winner of the library prize pack is Ms. Oliver! Please stop by and pick up your prize.
I recognized and rewarded my top ten library patrons: STUDENT NAMES

The teacher prize was a chalkboard basket with books, hand sanitizer, sticky notes and pencils. The student top patron came in and choose a book from my prize book stash.

I also asked each of our district's librarians to complete a Google Slides about themselves, modeled after Scholastic Librarian Spotlights. Then I shared them on Twitter.

A few weeks ago, our Assistant Superintendent asked me to write up an article highlighting some of the programs and lessons I'd planned this year. It was weird writing in third person, but I did write it up and send to her. She shared as a press release for School Library Month and it was published in our local paper.
There was also a picture, but it didn't show up online. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Just the sharing of this article on our state association Facebook page reached over 900 people. I don't consider that a win for me, it is a win for school libraries.

Staff Easter Egg Hunt

After seeing this idea on Twitter, I shared with my partner in crime, Katie King, and we put together a staff Easter Egg Hunt.
First, we created pictures of the Easter bunny using the Capture the Magic app and had them shared the Friday before the egg hunt began, just pictures with no explanation. There are teachers still convinced that was me in a suit:)
We hid eggs with a little note inside all over the building on Friday afternoon, then had these up on Monday morning and shared via email.

Teachers had the best time looking for eggs and bringing them in for prizes. We gave out restaurant, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks gift cards, Jeans Day passes, and in the golden eggs there was a Duty Free Week pass. Of course, I had to throw some books in there as well.

This was a fun, easy morale booster before Spring Break. We will definitely do this again. I might extend it to students if I have enough prize books because several students saw it on Twitter and were very disappointed that it was only for staff.

Another morale booster that Mrs. King and I started this year is a take on "You've Been Booed" and similar games. I found a very "unique" wizard statue when I was cleaning this summer. It was simply too interesting to get rid of so I started putting it admin offices as a joke this summer. When it finally ended up back in the library, Mrs. King and I decided to start sending it around to teachers with a "I'm Magical" sign for the door and instructions telling them that someone thinks they are a magical teacher and to send the statue on to another person with a treat (candy, drink, etc), and a copy of the "I'm Magical" sign, and Keep It Secret! It has been hilarious tracking it around the building. Only Katie and our admin know who is behind it, and now you:) Shhhh!

Encouraging Student Civic Engagement

Shortly after the Parkland school shooting, as students at Stoneman Douglas began to gain attention for their gun control efforts, I made a display about the 2nd Amendment and teen/children social agents. I included a poster of our state and federal legislators with their addresses and a stack of voter registration applications.
I loved this display showcased in School Library Journal.
Students in our school worked with our administrators to plan a walkout event for March 14th. They had a banner made for students to sign and then send to Stoneman Douglas, they read the names of the victims in the auditorium (weather and safety concerns kept students inside), and had a student speak about the importance of being aware of current events and being engaged politically. Students ran the show with staff helping with details. I made a business card sized handout for them with our legislators' names and numbers on it. I already had this information handy because I'm the Legislative Chair for our state library association.
I'm proud of the students' efforts and their willingness to be civically aware and active. For our Loo Reviews during this time I shared books with teens as social change agents, like Moxie, The Hate U Give, I Am Malala and more.

My Hero, Jane Goodall

One of my science teachers asked if I would be willing to put together a lesson about Jane Goodall for Women's History Month. Boy, would I!!
Jane Goodall is one of my all-time favorite people in the world. I admire that she pursued her dreams despite the many obstacles in her way.
For the lesson, we started with listing all of the female scientists we could think of, read the picture book Me Jane, and watched a short video introduction of Dr. Goodall, then we read an article about her life on Newsela. I asked students to highlight important details from the article then summarize by creating a tweet style summary on Google Slides.

We discussed her important discoveries then did a few activities to go with it. I asked students to stand on either side of a line and, without using words, communicate to the other group that this is your territory and they should not cross the line. After a few giggles, we then watched a video of chimp territorial behavior.
Then we used plastic cups and straws with hole-punched holes to simulate using tools to gather and eat termites. Rub the straw on your hair and give it a try. After trying it, we watched a video clip of chimps using tools.

For our final activity, we did chimp vocal "charades". Students used a common vocalization chart to mimic a call after pulling from a list including pant bark, pant grunt, pant hoot, wimper, scream, food grunt, waa, and hoo. Students tried the vocalization and the rest of the class tried to guess the vocalization. After a few brave souls tried it for themselves, we watched a short video clip of a researcher discussing their communication system.
You can find all of the video clips I used here.

One of my life-long dreams came true a few days ago, when I was able to see Dr. Goodall speak in person. She came to an event at Auburn University in Alabama. Since she is 84 and it was only a four hour drive, I gladly paid the ticket price to see her. She hooted her greeting, shared how her mother encouraged her, told the earthworm and egg story (if you've read her bio, you know what I mean), shared the books that changed her like Dr. Doolittle and Tarzan of the Apes, gave her voracious reading credit for being able to impress Dr. Leakey when they met, and shared her hopes for the future of our planet. It was an amazing experience.