"If you want to find your happy place, just go to the library." ~ Lizzie K. Foley, Author

Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

How Does Your Boss See You?

I just read an article from SLJ called How Does Your Boss See You?  Proof that Principals Value Librarians.  It’s a great article, and the survey results they used were really inspiring.  I know my principal sees me this way — she tells me so.  And I know with the big push in my school for literacy this year, she’s really needing me to step up as a leader in our school and kick things up a notch.  I just thought I’d share my thinking after reading this.

As a school media coordinator, it is truly essential that we be seen as indispensable by our principals, as well as outside administrators.  I usually feel like I’m fighting a stereotype most of the time.  I think most people still think of story time and assume I don’t do anything.  I know a lot of teachers are under the impression I just read stories and piddle around with the shelves all day.  Although they’re quick to complain that I don’t have a single free slot for the next 3 weeks in my planbook either.  I’m solidly booked all day, every day, all year.  That’s just the way it is.

When people ask what I do, I usually reply, “I’m a teacher,” assuming that if I say “Media Coordinator” they won’t be familiar with the terminology.  This response, however, tends to be followed by “Oh, really?  What grade do you teach?”  So then I end up explaining that I’ve left the classroom and moved on to bigger and better things — I get to work with ALL grades, and the staff, helping to extend their classroom learning in fun, meaningful, engaging ways.

I do admit, most of the teachers use me as a drop-off.  They want a story and a checkout, completed in a half-hour.  It doesn’t leave much time for other things.  Fourth grade recently allowed me to begin teaching plagiarism and citing sources as they’re about to begin writing research papers.  Do I get to help with the research projects?  No.  They want the kids to do it in the classroom.  😦

But…  there’s hope.  We have successfully bridged the gap from “Library” to “Media Center.”  My principal knows I am tech-savvy.  She knows that I try to incorporate technology in my lessons whenever possible.  I use my SmartBoard religiously every chance I get.  I know how to make Prezis and Book Trailers, I know how to edit videos and photos.  I live for the great stuff I find in the blogs I follow, and share everything with my staff.  I am the school webmaster, and work with teachers individually to help them implement technology whenever they ask.  I will run to their rooms between classes to troubleshoot or make quick-fixes.

But what other aspects of my job are essential?  Reading, of course.  I encourage my students to read WHAT THEY LIKE.  I don’t worry about reading levels, or if their chapter book has enough pages or a high enough AR point value.  If you like graphic novels, please, by all means, check one out.  You’ve read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid  books and loved them?  Well, let’s try Vordak the Incomprehensible.  Your teacher won’t let you read Junie B. Jones books anymore?  That mean ol’ teacher!  Well, how about if I introduce you to some new friends — Judy Moody, Ramona Quimby, and Clementine?  Kids need to be encouraged to become readers.  Not just reading what their teachers say they have to for a test or project, but reading for the pure enjoyment of it.  This is how they learn about the world, beyond our little town of Goldsboro.  To encourage MY children to look beyond their own little worlds — there is adventure outside of Goldsboro, away from the gangs, away from the streetcorners…  There are people to meet, sights to be seen, interesting things to explore and learn about.  They need this.

The biggest thing, however, is just being a leader.  The school Media Center is the central hub of knowledge in a school.  We have all the answers to whatever questions the children come up with.  I need to make sure my teachers know this.  I attend their PLCs whenever possible.  Due to programming requirements, I can no longer regularly attend K and 1st grade meetings.  I need to get with these teachers at another time, sharing what I have that can help them in their classroom.  But bringing books, sharing websites, new web resources they can use in their classroom, offering ideas for ways we can work together…  Ways to help them be more effective, and to team up to lighten their load…  This is how I can show myself as a leader in my school and make a significant impact on the students’ learning.

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Dewey’s Classification System Explained

One of my co-workers sent me this cute PPT presentation today and I thought I’d share it.  It explains how Dewey came up with his classification system by thinking of himself as a caveman and how his view of the world around him would evolve.

DDS_caveman_new

I’m not sure who created the slideshow, but it’s great!  A big thanks to our anonymous benefactor.  Rex May did the cute cartoons.  And thank you to Amber for passing it along.  🙂

Ready for Programming to Begin…

Tomorrow is it.  October 1st.  The day all school-wide programs start at my school.  I’ve been dreading this since Day 1.

I don’t know what it’s like in other school libraries.  Quite honestly, when I was a classroom teacher, I didn’t usually stay with my class when they went to the library.  When I taught at Coats, I stayed a few times.   It was story-time and she used puppets.  Usually while she was working with the kids, I was in the professional loft gathering resources though.  I just watched as I did what I needed to do.  When I taught at W.T. Brown, classes didn’t go to the library — they only did checkout and it was flex so it wasn’t a “bring your class” thing — just a send the kids in pairs when/if they asked.  When I taught at Wayne Avenue, we had a fixed schedule and we dropped them off.  She did a worksheet-based lesson with them, then checkout.  And then at North Drive…  my assistant usually took them and dropped them off.  I think it, again, was just a story and/or a checkout.

Now that I’m the media coordinator, I have an entirely flex schedule…  With a few exceptions.  I teach reading to 2nd graders from 8:35-9:05 in the mornings, and in the afternoons I teach character education lessons to kindergarten.  We lost an assistant, and that same class lost a scheduled computer lab time, so to accommodate, I keep that class in my library’s computer lab one day a week for 30 minutes or so, allowing that teacher the opportunity to attend her grade-level planning meeting.  And I have 12 mentees that I work with.

I don’t mind doing any of this stuff.  I love working with the kids.  It just makes it hard for teachers to schedule time to come.  My blocks of time that are carved out seem to be the times they want the most.

And what about collaboration?  My teachers want to use the library as a drop-zone.  Ditch the kids and run!  I’ll get a teacher who wants me to work on a skill from time to time, but it’ll be, “What are you doing with my class today, cuz it would be great if you could give them a lesson on nuclear fission for me — I haven’t had a chance to touch on science this week.  Just read them a good informational book and we’ll call it done.”  Really?  Sorry, Hon.  If you want to plan something, I need notice.  If you didn’t give me a request when you signed up a week or two ago, then you’re getting the library skill or thematic story I planned for them, and a checkout.  And if you want them doing a PROJECT, you need to plan it WITH me.  It’s YOUR job to teach them this stuff.  It’s my job to kick it up a notch and make it interesting.

I’m excited about the mentees though.  I know all 12 of the kids.  A couple of them ride my last nerve…  But they’re all sweet (when they wanna be), and mean well (most of the time, at least).  A few are actually readers who’ll be glad about spending time every week with me.  Most won’t.  So, I want to do something interesting with them.  I want to teach them how to do things with the computers.  I want to teach them to blog.  I want to teach them to use animoto and photostory.  I can teach them to use the digital cameras and flip video cameras.  There are lots of things we can do to make their learning fun, and get them excited about coming to the library.  I’ll give them the chance to “show off” what they’ve done to their classmates when their classes come.  The kids love book trailers — they’ll be so excited to make them for books they’ve read and show them off to their friends.  🙂

So anyway…  it all starts tomorrow.  I’ve got 2 weeks’ of reading lesson plans done and the materials gathered.  I’ve got my first two weeks’ worth of character ed lessons lined up too.  Now to just keep up the pace for the rest of the year…  Only a hundred and how many days left till summer vacation?

Book Trailers

I don’t know about you, but I like love book trailers.  It’s so irritating that so many sites are blocked at school — I can’t find them during the day when I’m at work!  So, I come home and find them on youtube, then I save them so I can share them with my students.  There are great sites for this that make it so easy.  Zamzar is the one our county used to recommend.  I don’t think our tech person offered an explanation, she just told us that another site was somehow “better.”  Unfortunately, I can’t remember which they said for us to use.  Not that it matters, since I’m doing it at home on my personal computer…  But at any rate, there are several sites available for this.  Today I’m using KeepVid.

 

Do you make book trailers?  I’ve made trailers myself for about half the books on my Battle of the Books list.  Due to a lack of time (and the fact that I still haven’t even had a chance to READ all of the books) I’m using some that others have created.

 

I want to teach my team members to make trailers this year, too.  And to do book talks.  I’ve also got a group of 12 second graders that I’ll be mentoring.  Most of them are boys who aren’t particularly interested in reading, so I’m hoping that teaching them to do “cool” stuff with what they read will make it better for them.  I’ve already set up a blog for them to use to write about books.  I have a schooltube channel, and an animoto account.  I need to add photostory to the computers they’ll be using, as well, if I’m going to try that. I think they’ll like narrating their own book trailers, as opposed to just typing words like they’ll have to do with animoto.

 

Well, back to my search…

The research proves our impact!

This is not my work, just something that was shared with me to pass along:

VERY important article by Keith Curry Lance and Linda Hofshine, School Library Journal, Sept 1, 2011:

“Something to Shout About: New research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores”

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/891612-312/something_to_shout_about_new.html.csp

Laying off librarians has a negative effect on fourth grade reading scores (2004 to 2009): “fewer librarians translated to lower performance—or a slower rise in scores—on standardized tests.” Most important, Lance and Hofshine present evidence showing that the negative effect was due specifically to laying off librarians, not overall staff changes.

“We found that 19 of the 26 states that gained librarians saw an average 2.2 percent rise in their National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade reading scores. Meanwhile, 9 of the 24 states that lost librarians had a 1 percent rise … the increase in scores of states that gained librarians was two times that of states that lost librarians. Scores remained unchanged for 6 states that gained librarians and 12 that lost librarians. Three states that lost librarians had an average decline of -1 percent, and one state that gained librarians experienced a -0.5 percent decline in scores.”

” … the magnitude and significance of the relationship between librarian staffing and test performance was reduced only very slightly when taking into account overall staff changes in schools … Whether a school had a librarian remained an important factor in reading test performance, regardless of what was happening with overall staffing numbers.”

Correlation between percent change in school librarians and percent change in reading scores for all students: r = .567.  Correlation when controlled for percent change in total school staff: r = .562 (partial correlation).

Teacher Intervention in Bullying Prevention

Bullies are becoming an increasingly prevalent problem in our schools.  Many schools respond to this situation by implementing zero tolerance policies, but are they working?  Are school-wide anti-bullying programs an effective measure against peer victimization?  Educators need to look at their school dynamics, consider their student population, and make informed decisions.

What is bullying?

Bullying is the physical, verbal, or psychological abuse.  In an educational setting, it usually occurs in the “unowned” areas, such as hallways and restrooms, where adult supervision is minimal.  Examples of bullying behaviors include name-calling, racial slurs, hitting, spreading rumors, or social ostracism.

Who becomes a bully?

Is a bully a kid with low self-esteem?  Is he the biggest kid in the class?  These are our stereotypical associations, but research actually shows this is not usually the case.  Bullies tend to be seen as “cool” kids. They have a high self-esteem and many friends.

Who becomes a victim?

While bullying is often associated with such personality characteristics as shyness, sometimes it is a temporary predicament brought on by transitional factors such as moving to a new school, or delayed pubertal development.

Is being bullied a natural part of growing up?

No, it is not.  Bullying is not a character-building experience our children need to live through and learn from.  It lowers their self-esteem and increases their vulnerabilities.

Are boys more likely than girls to be bullies?

No, they are not.  In fact, there has been much research done in recent years on the so-called “mean” or “alpha girls.”  These girls tend to be psychological bullies.  Their bullying often involves damaging reputations or social ostracism.

How should educators intervene?

The first thing we need to realize is that one size does not fit all in this situation.  There are three groups to consider, all with different needs.

  • The bully needs to learn to control their anger.  They need to accept responsibility for their problems and learn to acceptable, healthy ways to deal with them.
  • The victim needs support to develop their self-esteem and a positive self-image.  They need to know it is not their fault that they were targeted by the bully.
  • The by-standers that observed the bullying taking place need to be educated on the proper responses.  They need to know that it is not okay to watch these kinds of things take place without doing anything.

Teachers need to be sure they never ignore a bullying incident.  This shows the bully that their behavior is unacceptable as well as helping the victim to feel less defenseless in the situation.  These incidents can serve as a “teachable moment” in which they can discuss with the class what happened and what could have been done differently by everyone involved (not just the bully and/or the victim).

Perhaps the most powerful lesson we can teach our children is a respect and appreciation of diversity.  By accepting the differences in one another, the students will find fewer faults and learn tolerance.  How can we teach this?  Through literature, movies, studying history, learning about other cultures, talking, writing, collaborating, and interacting.  By creating 21st Century learners.

Project-Based Writing

I was reading a newsletter I subscribe to today and came across a link to a blog post about using Project-Based writing with “tweens.”  This is the article:

http://tweenteacher.com/2011/09/06/the-power-of-teaching-something-you-know-nothing-about/

This is just the sort of thing that gets me excited!  When the kids are enthusiastic and excited about learning, it doesn’t seem like “work.”  The learning becomes authentic and meaningful.  As a result, the children learn better,  with greater depth, and are able to apply their skills.

Another “perk” of such assignments is the curriculum integration.  This teacher is working on a writing assignment.  But the subject isn’t writing, it’s science.  They could be incorporating math skills, as well, as they are researching and coming up with solutions to the question at hand.  They’re going to be integrating technology.  They’re working with others in cooperative groups.  They’re assigned roles and responsibilities.  These are students who are working as 21st Century learners.

Are the kids focused on their writing?  Yes.  But it’s elaborately disguised as an intriguing assignment with all kinds of exciting bells and whistles thrown in.   Are they learning to write effectively?  Yes.  And in such a way that they are more likely to be able to repeat, as opposed to being taught a set of skills in isolation and then having to learn how to apply them.

This is the kind of educational practice our students need, and deserve.