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

Posts tagged ‘reading’

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.

Advertisements
Image

Banned Book Week

image

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…

Books I Grew Up With

This is a trending topic on Twitter, but I’m hesitant to participate.  When I think back on my childhood I know I read.  A lot, in fact!  But what did I read? I remember Cordouroy and Paddington from when I was young.  More importantly, I remember that my mom, older sister, and younger brother would gather together at night to read bedtime stories together.

As I got older I read the classics like Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, and A Tale of Two Cities.  I read these at home, books I owned, not at school.

I don’t remember reading much in middle school either…. Flowers for Algernon, Of Mice and Men, and The Diary of Anne Frank were all assigned in my 8th grade English class.  On my own I read a lot of King and Koontz.

By high school I read very little beyond what was assigned.  Unless you count magazines…  I wasn’t a big fan of most of what was assigned.  Catch 22 and 1984 were tolerable.  I despised most of the other books.  Through self-selection, I developed an appreciation for Faulkner, however.  I read The Sound and the Fury in both the 10th and 12th grades for self-selection assignments.  I mimicked his style for a writing assignment in a college writing course.  How can you not like reading about families way more dysfunctional than your own?

But the book I grew up with?  The one that made the biggest impact?  The one I loved the most?  The one that somehow shaped me into the reader I am today?  I really can’t say.

If forced, I’d probably have to say the big treasury of stories we read from at night.  My time with my mom, sister, and brother.  More for the experience than the stories themselves.  I always loved those times and cherished spending that same quality time with my own children as they were growing up,  no matter what it was that we read.

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).

Wordle

While looking online at the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) website today, I came across a link for a PPT presentation listing 52 ways to use Wordle in the classroom (and tips!).  This was fabulous!!!   It is shared with Creative Commons permission and can be viewed at the following link:

https://docs.google.com/a/wcps.org/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_157dpbsg9c5&ncl=true

They’ve done a fabulous job coming up with fun and inventive ways to use this tool.  Kids love it, it’s so easy.  Just think…  Put a story, or the first page or two of the new novel you’re introducing, into Wordle and use that with your intro to draw them in and make them wonder…  Use it with their essays so they can see what their focus was on — were they all over the place or did they have just a few main ideas?  What were the key points in a presidential speech?  AMAZING ideas that span grade levels — there is something for everyone!

Encouraging Summer Reading

The key to being a successful learner, is reading.  Students need to read what is required of them in English, but also in history, science, and even math.  The problem is, when reading becomes a chore, students lose motivation.  We often find in the schools that when students enter their upper elementary years (particularly the 4th grade), interest in reading for fun often drops off substantially as students transition from learning to read into reading to learn. 

When summer vacation arrives, many students will go the entire 8 weeks without touching a book.  This, for many, is even an outright goal.  We need to encourage them to embrace reading self-selected materials over this time.  It is their best chance of avoiding the dreaded “summer slide” and to actually even become better readers (though we might not want to mention that part).  This is the students’ time to read what they want, simply for the joy of experiencing something that interests them.

What can we do to motivate and encourage our students?  Here are some great ideas!

1) Invite students to give Book Talks to the entire class. Who influences kids the most? Their peers, of course, so providing children opportunities to pitch books to classmates can be incredibly effective and powerful.

2) Introduce kids (and especially those reluctant readers!) to a book series. This will inspire them to seek out the next book, and the next, and the next.

3) Provide your students and their families with the “Latest and Greatest” in fiction and non-fiction for the grade level you teach. I’ve had students come back to me the next year, and there are x’s by several book titles (they used the reading list I gave them as a check list!)

4) If teaching older kids, set up a Facebook page all about books. Students will then be able to share with their classmates (and you!) updates on what they are reading and post their book reviews.

5) Start or end class with a Read and Tease. This means you read a few enticing lines from a book (it can be the opening words, or midway through). For my students, I’d give a dramatic reading of the opening paragraph and then place the book on the rim of the whiteboard. At the end of class, at least 2 or 3 students would ask to check it out.

6) Advise families to take children to the library and bookstores on a regular basis. Send a letter home or an email with a list of neighborhood libraries and bookstores. Possibly include some inspiring quotes or a bit of research, giving some evidence to why reading is so very important.

7) Encourage your students to register for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. You can even make it a homework assignment. Scholastic also offers creative suggestions for classroom lessons using the Summer Challenge. Once a student does register, she will be able to enter a contest with prizes by simply logging in her reading minutes. Consider sending the Scholastic link to parents where they can download reading lists and get some tips for supporting their child’s summer reading.

Kids need to become lifelong readers early on. Be an advocate, guide and a reason for a child discovering the book that hooks him, inspires him to keep reading, and to continue seeking more and more enriching text. Developing strategic, savvy, critical readers is one of our great charges (and challenges) as teachers. It’s also one of our greatest rewards.