Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Making Ourselves Indispensable

Serving as member and chair of our state library association's advocacy committee the last few years has really opened my eyes about the importance of working advocacy into our daily lives. A few things that I've read lately have renewed my advocacy efforts this year. I've been thinking about how I can make sure the library program is indispensable, no matter what technology changes may come.

Just like other school districts, ours is investigating a 1:1 initiative. Everything is in the planning stages at this point, but I'm already thinking about how this will change our library programs. I'm reading blog posts and articles about it and considering proactive steps for me and all the librarians in my district. One post that really struck me was Doug Johnson's, The Librarian Bonus. I forwarded this post to all of our librarians and our district administrators. I feel like a 1:1 initiative is the perfect opportunity to discuss a change to the job description allowing for more instructional technology duties to be included. Many of us already fulfill this need for our schools. An updated job description would allow us to recruit librarians that are comfortable with technology and push all of us to step up our own efforts in this area. For our elementary librarians this could be a chance to revisit flexible scheduling.

A 1:1 initiative could be seen as threatening if you are an old school librarian, but I see this as an opportunity. We can make the library program more mobile. I'm envisioning an entire folder of library apps that would be standard on all devices. Students could have Follett's Destiny App, Enlighten ereader app, Easy Bib, Overdrive for public library ebooks, YALSA's Teen Book Finder, and many others. One of the AASL preconference sessions was on this topic, A Library in Every Pocket. I wish I could have attended, but I did check out their resources and recommend the same to you.  I'm looking forward to more learning from those that are already in a 1:1 school.

We have a librarian meeting with our district administration next month so I'm sure these questions are on all of our minds. I am excited to discuss the possibilities as a group. We recently started a book study together. One of our high school librarians recommended the book, Being Indispensable, after attending a state library supervisor meeting. I ordered the book and as soon as I started reading and noticing the exercises included in the chapters I thought it would be helpful if we read this together. I asked the others if they were interested and after a few positive responses, Monique set up an Edmodo group. We've only just begun because a few are waiting on the book to arrive, but already I've crafted a mission statement, core values and a tag line for the library program. It has been great to hear the opinions of the group as we go through the assignments together.

I would love to hear from you if you are in a 1:1 school. How did it change your library program? What advice do you have for us if our district decides to implement 1:1? Have you updated your job description to include more technology responsibilities? How do you make yourself indispensable?

Comics Corner Grand Opening

Today was the grand opening party for our new Comics Corner.  You can read all about the plans in my previous post. 
The kids had a great time exploring the new comic collection, eating popcorn, taking a few free comics and trying for prizes. I should have printed more Minecraft Steve and Creeper Cubees.
Here are a few shots with the photo props and my bulletin board city backdrop. I love the Superman stare. 

This is the table of free comics and Marvel themed candy I found at the dollar store. On the right is the prize table and homemade scratch off tickets. On the left is one of the students enjoying the comics. That's me popping popcorn and sporting my sister's pop art Boom shirt from Target. 

We had a great time celebrating reading. I have already had one teacher approach me about using Comics Corner time as a motivator for one of her math students. Yay! I love my job.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Creating A Comic Book Corner

Our graphic novels and manga are so popular that I decided to expand our offerings even more this year. Very soon we will have our very own Comics Corner.
In preparation for this I cleaned out an area in one of my office/closet areas. I heavily weeded the professional books that were housed there to make room for the comics. I knew that my students would be an easy sell, but not the teachers. In preparation for those that might question my sanity I put together this Smore flyer with lots of research about the benefits of comics. ABDO publishing has many excellent resources including a downloadable flyer and links to research if you're interested.

The comic book bins were very tempting from ABDO, but we have a local comic book store, Borderlands, that I wanted to support. The owner's son is even a student in my district. He put together a list for me using his comic expertise and discerning judgement as a dad. I highly recommend visiting a comic book store near you so that they can help you chose comics if you're not familiar with them yourself.  I ordered Star Wars, Avengers, My Little Pony, and Archie, to name a few.
I wanted to generate a lot of excitement with the kids so I purchased a cardboard cut out of Iron Man and put up a sign that read, "Comics Corner Coming Soon." Needless to say, that worked!
I used some of my Scholastic book fair money to order a few bean bag chairs and I found some really colorful bins at the dollar store for storage. Monique used Comic Life to make a Word Wall and Graffiti Board poster for the area. Students can use the handy dictionary, sentence strips and markers to share words they learn and quotes they like as they are reading.
I wanted the grand opening to be an event so I bought Marvel themed candy to give out and the comic book store donated some comics and a few sketches from local artists to give as prizes. I'm enlisting my assistant principal to pop popcorn that day with our PTSO's popcorn machine. Monique was kind enough to give me some of her left over scratch off tickets so that I can determine the winners of the prizes. I printed several comic book Cubees from Cubeecraft for more prizes. Finally I made several photo props for the students to use during the celebration. There are masks, word bubbles and superhero logos.
I've spoken with our self contained special education teachers about using this space as an academic reward for their students. I believe this will be a big motivator for them and the reward is something that will help them enjoy reading. The space will be available any time the library is open.
I am looking forward to our grand opening. I will share pictures soon.

Do you have comics in your library? I would love to hear how you use them with your students.

Virtual Book Club: See You At Harry's

Last week my little book club had the chance to do something really big. We participated in a virtual book club chat with other middle schools and the author of See You at Harry's, Jo Knowles. All of the middle schools and the author's home state of Vermont are on this map. This was so much fun for me and my students.

View Middle School Virtual Book Club in a larger map

Tiffany Whitehead put together this Padlet so that our students could discuss the book. 

We started our meeting off with ice cream, of course, and Padlet discussion questions. We also made a list of potential questions to ask Jo Knowles. Then it was time for our Google Hangout to begin.

I was very nervous that our network would block the chat, but I tested it twice a few days before and everything  went well.

Jo Knowles was so gracious and sweet. I loved hearing about the experiences in her life that inspired the story. She ended the chat with excellent advice for our students to read as much as they could and never give up because it took her ten years to publish her first novel. 

Our next book is The Wig in the Window, one of my favorites this year. We have a few more chats planned so that our students can discuss the book before our author chat in January. My group will be all sixth grade girls so I anticipate lots of giggling and fun.