Thursday, October 26, 2017

Genre Update 2017

I'm feeling very good about the progress we've made in genrefying the fiction section. All books (that are not checked out) have genre stickers on them and the books are organized in genre sections.

I used the color tinted label protectors from Demco.

We also scanned in sublocation so we can track down books easily if it is something I don't know off the top of my head. The genres we used are: Adventure, Classics, Fantasy, Graphic Novel/Manga, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Horror, Mystery, Sports and Science Fiction/Dystopian.
To add sublocation in Destiny, create the sublocations by clicking on edit copy, Other beside sublocation and enter the genre label.
Then to scan them in you go to Catalog, Edit Copies, Individual Update, choose sublocation in the drop down then the appropriate genre, and scan away. This process was the fast part.

I created a Buzzfeed style genre quiz so that students could narrow down their favorites if they don't already know. It is embedded below or you can go to the link here. I used to do a similar paper version at the middle school inspired by Mrs. Reader Pants. I shared this with our English teachers and a few came in with their classes so they could take it and get a quick tour of the new arrangement.

Response to genre organization has been very positive so far, especially for those that struggle to choose a book. In addition to the quiz I created a genre passport. I'm hoping some of the teachers will be open to using this to encourage students to explore many genres and broaden their reading choices. Feel free to use. It folds up like a little book with one cut above the cover art and a bit of tape.

My next steps are to follow all our series on, label the series number onto the spines, and order any missing titles in a series. I also plan to use the data from sublocation reports to do some ordering in weak areas and promotion for ignored and overloooked genres.

I'm happy to answer any genres questions. You can leave a comment or tweet to me @coxtl.

Formal Vs Informal Writing

At a teacher's request, I put together a lesson on the differences between formal and informal writing. This is a quick lesson (30 minutes) to help students remember to be more formal in their assignments for school.
I got the majority of this lesson from the Read Write Think website.

We started with a quick discussion of formal and informal. I used Ryan Gosling photos because I'll take any excuse to look at him. They definitely got the point that both outfits were fine, but had to be worn in the appropriate place. Then we rated sentences on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most formal. I pulled up the responses on Google Forms with the bar graphs to make sure everyone was similar in their rating and we talked about what made those examples either formal or informal. As a class we listed qualities and characteristics of both. Watched the quick Youtube video and then tried our own. The handout that I used is in the lesson linked above.
Students had to change informal to formal and vice versa. My favorite was this example.
"Man, I'm starving! I'm gonna get something to eat and then call you back." became...

This was a quick, but hopefully, effective lesson. 

Teen Read Week 2017

To celebrate Teen Read Week, I held a few competitions in the library. The first was the Book Face competition. Here are a few favorites.

We also had a Book Spine poetry competition. The public library had there's as well so I tweeted all of the student entries so that they could entered into a prize drawing for the public library. Here are a few favorites.

The public library sent in copies of their library card application and I shared those with our English teachers so that students would get their card. I made this promotional video to go along with it. Thanks to Tiffany Whitehead for the idea

What did you do for TRW 17?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Digital Citizenship Week 2017

Digital Citizenship Week is Oct 16-20th this year.  I started my preparation when I received an email from Common Sense Media with this link to their resources.
I clicked on their Quick Start Activities and looked in 9-12 for ideas. I downloaded a copy of their Digital Dilemmas, which are fictitious scenarios based on real situations with corresponding questions for discussion. This reminded me of another strategy that I recently saw on Cult of Pedagogy: Chat Stations.  You've probably already done something similar, but I love the way she explains this and it made it easy to share with my faculty. I also wanted to have some sort of accountability to keep them on topic so I created a Peer Evaluation using Google Forms, similar to this one shared on Alice Keeler's blog. I created this form asking students to evaluate their partner/group members on listening, quality of participation and frequency of participation. Once I had this put together I shared with the faculty and invited classes in for the lesson and shared if teachers wanted to use the materials in class.
I had the opportunity to do a test run on this part of the lesson a few days ago when a class needed to be covered for a teacher in a meeting.
I printed the Digital Dilemmas and spread them around the library. Students traveled in pairs and had 5 minutes at each station. I retyped the questions onto a handout so that students could turn in their thoughts to the teacher since she wasn't present for the lesson. It went well and their discussions were thoughtful and mature.

Thanks to Frank Baker (@fbaker, Media Literacy extraordinaire) I saw this article, Making Media Literacy Great Again, and loved the idea shared by the professor to show news memes and have students decide if it was BS or not. I couldn't find any suitable for high school and wanted to get non-political stories if at all possible, so I made my own using the Mematic app. Of course, I can't have students yell out BS so I changed it to Poop or Truth. I am going to share an image of the poop emoji and a "truth" emoji and ask students to save in camera roll on their iPads so that they can vote using their iPad screens.

You can get a copy of the Slides here. Make sure to look in notes for links to articles and whether the meme is Poop or Truth.

To wrap up the lesson, each student will log into our school account on Checkology and begin the lessons on Filtering News and Information. You can get your own free account this year by visiting their site: I have 7 classes coming in this week for this lesson. Follow our Twitter feed for pictures. I hope you can use these ideas. Tweet to me @coxtl if you have any questions or issues with links.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Banned Books Week(ish) Results

Last month I shared my plans for Banned Books Week. After the first lesson and a hiccup sharing the hyperdoc, I changed the lesson so that all the information and links were on the station signs. Here is that document. Once that was straightened out the lesson went very well. I just taught the lesson this week so the celebration continued into three weeks of school and I was able to see lots of classes.
 Here are few pics of the green screen station, one of the favorites.

Students were asked to list risks and rewards of reading controversial books. Their answers, for the most part, were very thoughtful.
Here are the Founding Father tweets they created in Slides.
I hope that they left with a better appreciation for why librarians fight against censorship.

Loo Reviews 2017

A few years ago, Gwyneth Jones shared the amazing idea for Loo Reviews. I posted them at my previous school and wanted to bring it back this year.

I made these for faculty bathrooms. I also shared the wonderful infographic created by Todd Nesloney and Jennifer LaGarde along with Currently Reading signs for classroom and office doors.

This is the link to  the loo reviews I created and it is embedded below. Do you do loo reviews? I would love to see your signs.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Social Media Trick or Treating

This year I created a Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter account for the library. I made signs with the account information and posted them around the library. I didn't get many followers and was feeling discouraged.
I made finding and following our account one of the clues for a Breakout Box, but because they worked in groups and I only saw one grade level, the numbers only went up a little.

Ashleigh Torres (@lovereadlove) shared an idea on the Future Ready Librarian Facebook page that I'm going to try. She recommended that you offer a piece of candy to students when they show you that they have followed your account. I thought with Halloween approaching this might be fun.

I made this sign on Canva. We'll see how it goes and if I can get more student followers. This could be fun as a school-wide event, especially for Freshman to get them connected to all of our school accounts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Banned Books Week Plans 2017

Fighting censorship is one of our core values as librarians, which makes celebrating and recognizing Banned Books Week so important.

This year I put together a hyperdoc of activities for the day. I have 8 classes scheduled to come in that week and participate. I'll write a post to share how it goes, but I wanted to share this so that others might be able to use it in their schools.

Make a copy of the hyperdoc here.

Some of the stations require some set up so be sure to check each of them before doing the lesson.

1. Reaching Challenged Books: Risk Vs Reward: After watching the video, students will complete the T Chart listing risks and rewards of reading controversial books. You can print these on paper or share digitally using Google Classroom if you prefer.

2. I'm With the Banned: I purchased a green screen kit, but this could easily be replicated with a green (or solid color) wall, poster paper or even a background you create and skip the green screen component. I printed copies of these instructions using Chromakey in Keynote since our students have iPads. I also provided graphics from the ALA website for them to use as their background. You will want to have copies of challenged books or printed covers of challenged books for students to pose with.

3. Defend the First Amendment: This year's theme focuses on the 1st Amendment so I wanted something that linked the Constitution to the activities. Matt Miller shared this great activity on his blog so I tweaked it to be a Founding Fathers tweet. You'll want to make a copy of this document and share with the students either in the hyperdoc, on Google Classroom or even a printed version with a few different Founding Father pics.

4. I'll See You in Court: You can use this Right to Read Quiz I created on Quizziz. You'll need to go to the Quizziz site and assign the quiz as homework to get a code to enter onto your hyperdoc and share with students. You can only do this about 14 days ahead of time. I printed a few copies of the court case handout to place at this station so they could refer to it without toggling between the handout and the quiz.

5. Infographics Quiz: I printed these infographics (2016, 2015) from the ALA site in large poster size to have at this station. You'll want to make a copy of the Google Quiz for your class.

6. What Are Your Favorite Books?: I printed the 2016 Social Media prompts from ALA after seeing them shared on the Future Ready Librarians Facebook page. Students will answer with post it notes for as many of these prompts as possible. They look like this if you have a difficult time finding them.
Banned Books Week 2016 Social Media Prompts

7. What Do You Think?: Because my new favorite tool is Flipgrid, I had to put a Flipgrid response station in there. You'll need to create an account if you don't already have one and set up the Flipgrid topic. This is what I asked: After learning about Banned Books Week and completing these activities, why do you believe that we celebrate Banned Books Week? Why is the freedom to read important?

8. Share Your Work: For the final station I created a Google Drive folder, linked it on the active hyperdoc and asked students to put their green screen photos and T charts into the folder so that I can share a few favorites on social media.

I hope this hyperdoc is useful to you. If you run into problems recreating it or have questions send me a tweet or message on Twitter. @coxtl

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy Calls: School to Home Connection

I originally read about the daily positive phone call on the Shelf Consumed blog, which is no longer active online. I recently saw a version on Twitter called #goodnewscalloftheday, which I believe might be from the Kids Deserve It folks.
This is a task that I continued to implement with my change of schools. I wasn't sure how high school parents would react, but it has been great.
I try to call 5 parents/guardians per week to brag on a student. It can be for helping me in the library, showing enthusiasm for reading, manners, or anything that catches my attention. This is a great way to be intentional about seeing the good in our students and recognizing the small things.
The reception from parents has been amazing. I think there were even a few tears after the initial fear of receiving a phone call from a school number.
I hope that this practice boosts up my students, puts parents at ease and builds a positive library to home connection with our library program.

Do you make positive phone calls home? What is stopping you? I promise that it only takes a few minutes per week.

Free Books for Summer Lunch

This blog post from Donalyn Miller fell into my lap just as we were planning summer reading events. This was a great reminder to try to make access to books as easy as possible for our students. Our district decided to offer a free summer lunch program again this year so I partnered with our Family Services department to purchase books for a free book table at those lunch locations.
We were able to give away over 1,000 books this summer.
Here are my children helping me restock the table.

With the help of the Beta club at Wren High we were able to give away hundreds just at our location.
I was lucky enough to snap a pic of our first customers at Wren High.

Here are some of the new titles we purchased with the help of Family Services.

I hope to continue this next year. Some of the left over books and recent donations are going towards a library Trunk or Treat for our Sertoma club. Instead of candy, you'll get a free book at our car. I'll share pics later.

Breakout Library Orientation

One of the Freshman Academy teachers asked if I would put together a Breakout for students to learn more about the library. Here are the clues and instructions if you want to use anything that I made.

Clue #1: Word lock
Students are asked to find the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award display and use the brochure and book titles to fill in a crossword puzzle. On the printed puzzles I highlighted the letters they will need to spell WORDS to open the lock.

Clue #2: Key
Students are asked to download the Destiny Discover app and log in using their student id and password. Then they will use a picture hint (pig and barn) to search for animal farm. When they locate the book on the shelves they will find a printed paper key for their group.

Clue #3: 3 digit lock
Students will scan a QR code and complete the reading interest inventory survey on Google. When they submit the survey the 3 digit combination is in the message posted after submission. These answers will help me and the English teacher with readers advisory.
Here is a copy of the survey if you want to make your own.

Clue #4: 4 digit lock
Students will use the Wren High social media poster to find and follow us online. There they will find an example of a #booksnap and instructions for creating their own. After creating they will post to a Padlet wall. When they post I will hand them the black light flashlight and they have to figure out to use it on the clue instructions to reveal the combination.

I put pencils, lanyards and other prizes from vendors in the box for a prize.

My first group comes tomorrow so watch our Twitter feed for #booksnap examples and pics.


Obviously any new librarian is going to make changes to create a library space that they love. Here are a few pics of changes I made this summer with links to items I purchased.

Here is the circulation desk area before:

Here is how it looks behind the desk now:

The students were amazed that I removed the security gates:

I hated those things. The doors are so much more open and inviting now and the gates didn't work well anyway. Not to mention the message of distrust it sends as soon as you walk in.

Here is the side room that now houses the Fiction. This is after I moved shelves against the wall instead of in rows to remove any hidey holes. It is also after the painters painted the walls gray and stacked the organized and weeded fiction into haphazard and backwards stacks. That was a low point. The pic on the right is what it looks like now.

I was lucky to come to a library with new tables and chairs.

I commissioned a local company, Palmetto Ink, to create a few vinyl decals. The one behind the circulation desk, the one above the entrance to the side room and this one above the nonfiction.

A few things that I did purchase include:
These Jupiter stools on Amazon. Modeled by my children.

These egg chairs from Amazon.

A charging station from Amazon.

A few bouncy chairs for the computer stations.

And an expensive, but nice loveseat from Demco.

I love the seating options and so do the students.

I also purchased a vacuum and green screen kit, but that isn't too excited to look at:) I have a few big frames on the way too. I'll share when I have pictures made and on display.

YAhooligans 1st Quarter 2017

A few years ago I teamed up with my two middle school colleagues to offer Book Boot Camp to our middle school teachers. The idea spread to all levels and has continued since then. The high school level is called YA Hooligans.
This year we decided to offer YA Hooligans each nine weeks for tech credit of 7 points. Teachers are required to read one YA novel and try one tech tool. This nine week we selected Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham and the tech tool is, Flipgrid. I fell in love with Dreamland Burning this summer. It has a great mix of mystery, history and current events. All of the teachers have come back and told me how much they are enjoying the book.
Image result for dreamland burningImage result for flipgrid logo
I shared this article when I emailed the faculty to offer this renewal credit opportunity. I love this article from Todd Nesloney and my fav, Jennifer LaGarde.
I have 8 teachers and 1 teacher's assistant signed up for this round. I'm happy to report that they are from all different subject areas. I love this program because it helps teachers push themselves to read if they are not already readers, exposes them to great YA titles that they can discuss with their students, and helps them earn renewal credit in a way that connects me to them.

The tech tool was an easy choice for me this time. I love Flipgrid. We took on Flipgrid's Back to School challenge and created a grid for all of our faculty and staff. This earned me a free subscription for the year. Yay! And helped me share some tech with my new faculty. I used it as part of an APA lesson and this summer's PD Camp Readamorra.

I'm also planning to use it with Banned Books Week lessons and Teen Read Week. For YA Hooligans teachers are asked to create a Flipgrid account and use the tool with one of their classes.

I love continuing the YA Hooligan program and look forward to a great year of reading with my new faculty and staff.

Lit Circles with ELA Classes

I wasn't sure what to expect at a high school for independent reading assignments in the English class. Luckily most of the teachers bring the students in and have them choose books for lit circles or book clubs.
For some of the teachers they wanted books pulled that had two or more copies so that students could team up to read and discuss together. That explained why I had so many books with multiple copies when I was organizing books this summer.
Here are a few pictures of students coming in to select a book. I organized the books by genre to help them.

We do have one teacher that uses a system similar to AR. I'm not a fan, but I am trying not to burn bridges before I cross them. For her classes I referred to a list of every book we had that had a quiz on this website, pulled the ones that I thought they would like and organized them by genre. The students in these classes are not in Honors or AP so many of them do not like to read. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to find something they liked. She has expressed interest in trying lit circles after Winter break. I'm hoping that she will and I will do everything I can to make it a success.

Forensics Crime Scene Project

My school is lucky enough to have a teacher that offers a Forensics course. And I'm lucky because she is a reader!
She came to me with a project idea that I wanted to share. She is asking that her Forensics students read a crime novel and recreate a model of the crime scene. She asked me to compile a list of novels for them to choose from. I knew some off the top of my head, but also I asked on Twitter and in the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group for other titles that might work.
This is what I have so far. I will share the results of their work later this year.

Getting a Handle on My New Collection

Coming into a new position I knew that I wanted to really focus on the collection this summer and learn what we have and what we need to focus our funds on.
There was a HUGE nonfiction section here (71%). I ran a Titlewise analysis on Follett and found that 54% of the collection is considered Aged. Only 19% are from 2012 or newer. The average age of the entire collection is 16 years, with fiction being 12 years.
Not only was nonfiction old, but it wasn't used.
I am a vicious weeder and this collection needed it. I weeded A LOT. I won't publish the total here because I know how sensitive some people are to discarding books, but I will point out that NO ONE has asked for anything that I removed. The only remarks I have received have been positive.

  • The library looks so clean.
  • The library looks so open.
  • I love the changes you've made.
I posted more pictures on our Twitter feed if you want to see the library in progress. It was quite the project. I even lured my work out group in one morning to make trips to the dumpster. We definitely burned calories that morning! Just looking at these pictures makes my back hurt.

If you know me, you know I love genrefication. I organized that way in my last library and I intend to do the same here. Right now, fiction is still by author's last name because I'm waiting on my tinted stickers to come in. Once they arrive we will start that process and follow all of our series in Fictfact.
The other two high schools in my district are also organized by genre in the fiction section and I wanted to maintain some consistency with them.
These are the genres they use:
Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Scifi/Dystopian, Mystery/Horror, Sports, Adventure/Survival, Urban, Realistic, Classic and Picture Book.

There are a few changes to this list I plan to make. I am not going to have an Urban section. The more I thought about it I feel like this segregates the collection. I even posted on the Future Ready Librarian Facebook page to get some other opinions and most of the comments verified my concerns. I also will not have a Paranormal genre. I feel like this isn't as popular as it was a few years ago and I'd rather integrate those books into another genre. I'm still deciding about having Mystery and Horror together. I had them separate in my last library. I might have to wait until the books are separated to see if I have enough to justify two sections.

I can already tell that I need more Sports books and Romance. This is just from student requests when they are roaming the stacks. I have been observing their browsing habits and just like my middle schoolers, the high schoolers will benefit from genre organization. The readers have their favorites and are fine, the nonreaders just roam aimlessly through the stacks. They will benefit the most from having the books by genre. I can't wait to get started. Hurry up PO!

Finally, I have inherited a grossly bloated DVD collection. So far this year, no one has checked out any of them so I have a feeling that I'll be cutting that collection way down very soon. Also they were cataloged as Fiction so it is messing with my collection analysis. That has to change and soon.

I am the type of person that just dives in and gets things done so the fact that it will take me all of this year to get the collection how I really want it is driving me nuts. I feel like I'm off to a good start though.

Teaching APA With a Hyperdoc

I was excited when one of the social studies teachers contacted me about collaborating. The entire school's focus this year is on writing and this teacher wanted to expose her AP Human Geography students to APA. The vast majority of my college courses have used APA so I was happy to help.

I put together a Hyperdoc for the lesson. The link will allow you to make a copy and edit as you please and it looks better than the squished embedded version below.

I created this set of flashcards for the Quizlet Live game and had it pulled up in a tab and ready. On the Hyperdoc above I linked to a copy of the Google Quiz for in text citations so feel free to play along and make your own copy to edit.

You'll need these citations printed on different colors for the citation unscramble stations. At the end of those slides you'll find a picture of the "answer". I put each set of citation pieces and the image of the correct answer in an envelope. As the group moved around they had about 30 seconds to put the citation in order then open the image in the envelope to check their answers.

For their final task they were asked to reflect using Flipgrid. Here is ours. Flipgrid has a free version so I encourage you to try it if you haven't already.

It ended up that the teacher was absent on the day, but we rolled with it with the substitute since the lesson was ready and it went well. Many of the students expressed that they were most nervous about creating citations so I offered to help when they reached that point of their research. This was a fun, engaging lesson. If you have any questions and want to duplicate it, please let me know.

Wrapping Up Summer Reading

I detailed my summer reading plans in two blog posts: here and here. Scheduling the summer reading discussion was more difficult that I expected. We were finally able to work it into the schedule last week (third week of school). I think that the discussions went well. Luckily I saw our SRO on the way and reminded him, but everyone was present for the meetings. I have a suspicion that at least two of the teachers did not read their books, which I am baffled by. Hopefully they knew enough to keep the discussion going. Overall, I was very pleased with how everything went and hope to do this again.
Here are a few pictures from our meetings. My principal came down with the intention of taking lots of pictures, but he was drawn into the discussion for The Hate U Give.
The Freshman Academy guidance counselor discusses Ghost by Jason Reynolds.

The School Resource Officer discusses Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat and she sent extra bookmarks and swag to hand out to the group discussing Between the Notes. Awesome!

I pulled out one prize book for each group that connected to the book they were discussing so that the teacher could give that book to someone that really contributed to the meeting. I brought extra for my group, because it pays to be in the librarian's group:)

After the discussion I asked the teachers to give the students a quick survey about the program. Here are some of the highlights and information that will help me improve for next time.

  • 90% reported that they read all of or part of the book for their group. The survey was anonymous so I feel that their answers are accurate. 
  • 87% of surveyed students gave the book a 3, 4 or 5 rating when asked if they would recommend the book to other students. 
  • Overwhelmingly, students reported that they enjoyed the format and liked getting to talk with a teacher that they didn't already know. 
  • Other comments included "this format was short and sweet", "it was good because there wasn't a long, boring report", "there were lots of books to choose from", "it was fun to hear other opinions", and "good conversations".
  • A few recommendations were to use a book pass instead of watching trailers so they could read a few pages and to be more diverse in book choices.

I also asked teachers to complete a survey, but only received one response. I did a few thank you emails and heard from others that it went well. I think their link was overlooked because it was in the same email as the student survey.

I shared some of the survey results with administration and asked if they would like to do this again and meet after Winter break. I'm waiting on their decision. If not, I hope to do this again next summer. Maybe with the entire school this time.

For upperclassman, I created Summer Reading BINGO cards. I wasn't here to do much advertising and it showed because I only received two completed cards. Hopefully, it will be better next summer when I am here to get the program going.