May is here and that means most students (and many teachers too) are looking forward to summer break. Our last day of the regular school year is May 31. I love that we are out before June arrives (well, not me, as I have ten more days to go beyond teacher workdays.)
Earning our paycheck…and break
No matter. It’s still a very tough time of the year to engage students. I frequently tell my colleagues we really earn our paycheck from just a few days during the school year: first day, each day before a long break, and the last few weeks of school. These are the days that really good educators separate themselves from the ones who perhaps made the wrong career choice or need to retire. So how will you fill the remaining days of the school year?
Again I say, those who can engage their students this time of year clearly are jam up teachers and educators. Which brings me to our summer reading kick off.
Unfortunately, we will stop circulating books this year on May 14. With 14 more school days, and all books being due May 21, this will be a challenge for those who are readers and USE the library. Oh, of course, we’ll make exceptions for our regulars. We know who they are–know them by name. Last week, on April 30 we had a drop-in catered breakfast for our top circulating students. These are the kids who check-out all year long and support (and probably drive) our reading programs. We had BoJangles biscuits and fellowship around books that morning from 7:30 – 8:20, the bell to begin first block. Each student selected a free book from a stock of probably 100 we had accumulated this year from Atlantis, a paperback subscription service we use. For those who stressed over their free book decision, I admit I let them take more than one. This is about knowing your students and which are really avid readers. And a reader is always extremely happy when rewarded with free books.
Ruta Sepetys signing my book at #TXLA13
Our school also promotes summer reading. Our English department annually sends a letter home for summer break reminding students of their upcoming English course “required reading.” While their lists are still under construction, there is always a mix of popular fictions and classics. There are also nonfiction options for the students who are not fans of fiction. This year’s rising tenth graders are being asked to read Ruta Sepetys‘ book Between Shades of Greyin preparation for her visit in September. We are delighted, as that is one of the books on our South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee list! Each summer we promote the reading of these books. I have summer reading kick-off contest in place. I need some ideas for how to engage our readers over the summer. Send them my way if you have some.
Let the Summer Reading Begin
Just in case you’re curious, here’s our summer reading kick-off contest.
2013 DHS Summer Reading Kick-off!
DO Judge a Book by its Cover
2013 Summer Reading Kick-off Contest
WHO? Sophomores and Juniors
WHEN? May 13-24, 2013
WHAT CAN YOU WIN?
Summer Prize Pack:
Book of your choice from the DHS summer reading list and a lunch date package valued at $25 (so you and a friend can have lunch and discuss the summer read!)
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
The library is displaying the nominated Teen Books that are in the running for YALSA’s Teen Top Ten! Before reading any of them, we invite students to come in and literally judge the books by their cover. Enter your votes IN THE LIBRARY. Vote daily!!
Do NOT vote for your favorite book
Do NOT vote for a book because you like that author.
Pretend you’ve read none of these.
Vote for the book whose design alone would entice you the most to read the book.
Simple as that! Voting takes place from May 13-24 lunchtime. All students who voted for the title with the most votes go in a drawing, so it’s really important to put your name and DATE on your ballot. Students may vote once a day each day of the contest. The drawing will be done live on the PM Announcements Friday, May 24.
Want to know more about the titles in our contest? Click here to read about them. The “projeqt” below shows the covers. Let the “judging” begin.
Found on flickrcc.net
I traveled to Fort Worth, Texas April 25-27, 2013 to the Texas Library Association Conference for the purpose of sharing the AASL 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. Here is my slide set used.
In my presentation, I started on this PowerPoint, then moved over to one of the winning tools, Projeqt, and finally planned to return to my Powerpoint. Hindsight, I wish I had just put the remaining slides planned after the “Projeqt” in the actual BWTL projeqt I created. I was so happy with my projeqt set, I never even went back to my powerpoint slides where how to nominate a site, how to get in touch with me, and the rest of the slides with other information were. Sigh. I don’t think my audience noticed. But I was really mad at myself when I realized I hadn’t included that.
A special thanks and shout-out to AASL BWTL12 Committee Chair Heather Moorefield-Lang! Heather allowed me to use her “Projeqt” from our ALA session. While in the end I created my own, I did base it off much of the one we used at ALA, including some of the videos.
@TXLA Another fabulous conference in the books! Wonderful speakers! Amazing authors! Incredible programs! Awesome librarians! #txla13
That was one of the tweets I read this morning. I arrived home late last night, weary and worn from my two day whirlwind at the Texas Library Association’s Annual Conference. The conference began earlier in the week, but I couldn’t snag the days for the entire conference, so just scheduled myself to attend Friday and Saturday, the last two days. I was an invited guest speaker, giving a breakout session on AASL’s 2012 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.
Texas, the lone star state & yes. that’s a star made cowboy hats! #TxLA13 by lonestarlibrarian (Flickr)
As you can tell I did not take many photos. I think I walked around more star struck than anything!! When I agreed to come and be a guest speaker, I had no idea the sheer size of this conference! In conferring with my shuttle mates on the way back to the airport Saturday afternoon, I found out that TLA (or TXLA, as some called it) is the largest library conference behind ALA Annual. Yeah, it was definitely LARGE. For general sessions there was a humongous ballroom set up to seat well over 3000, and then another location to serve as an overflow room. WHAT? Yeah, they have to have overflow rooms since everyone attending cannot fit into the general sessions.
Just two days
I didn’t arrive until LATE Thursday evening. I worked Thursday, and then booked it over to Charlotte Douglas to catch my direct flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. Despite the issues surrounding airports with traffic controller layoffs, both of my flights took-off and landed on time. My only travel issue was upon return, when I could not remember where I parked my car. All I could remember was “long term one” and somewhere CLOSE to the entrance. LOL, yes, I walked up and down a few rows in the RAIN looking for my car. My electronic key’s battery was weak, so I couldn’t just “flash” my lock lights. I had to walk around a good bit in cold and dark all alone. That was a little unnerving.
TxLA’s slate of speakers floored me. To discover my friends and rock star librarians (Joyce Valenza, Buffy Hamilton, Shannon Miller, and more) were speaking too put me in such a tizzy! Being a guest speaker too, I was in GREAT company. I must thank Mary Woodard of TXLA for inviting me AGAIN. Buffy had two sessions and Joyce had two. I attended one of each which I will share here.
The Flipping Librarian
I went to Joyce Valenza’s session titled “The Flipping Librarian.” She absolutely flies through her material, and her handout is essentially her libguide on the topic. Since I already understand the concept of the flipped classroom approach, the biggest take away from this session are some of the tools used. I can’t wait to create and embed playlists in some of my virtual spaces using MentorMob. It is going on a nomination for AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning too, cuz I’m going to nominate it. Another I liked from the session was “Digital Libraries to School Libraries,” which lets librarians identify digital content, generate metadata, and ADD it to their OPAC so it can be searched in their system. How cool is that?? Another idea/takeway: Use google hangout to archive discussion/instruction in flipped classroom. Maybe Google hangout should be a BWTL too!
Buffy Hamilton talks about MakerSpaces
How could I do it justice? As usual her session was very thought provoking. Her ease with the topic amazed me, and she gave PLENTY of different examples, from small scale to big scale (where libraries have purchased EXPENSIVE 3-d printers to use in a “makerspace.” Her tip for those just beginning the concept: Start small. Here is her slide set. Be sure to use her embedded links.
Her other session is also on slide share, and you can read her reflections and see her content over on her blog.
Shannon Miller at the Mackin DInner, April 25, 2013. #TXLA13. Original photo by Cathy Jo Nelson
Shannon’s visit to Fort Worth was sponsored by Mackin, where she was slated to speak at the after hours dinner. I luckily snagged an invite to the Mackin Dinner. She did a very informal speech using no powerpoint or slide, but rather a simple yarn necklace with 10 notes. She was fabulous. Her speech was about making yourself as librarian indispensable and vital in your school and community. Shannon shared 10 ways to make inroads with your school and community, tips that implemented can go a LONG way to making you indispensable in your school. I tweeted some of them as she spoke, so check out my twitter feed for Friday, April 25, 2013. Here are a few I was able to tweet:
Join Twitter; cultivate a PLN
Model and teach digital citizenship to students, faculty, and community
Be a collaborator! Work to develop collaborative working relationships in your school community.
Make inroads with admin; be their friend as well as TL. Develop a relationship.
Be linked to student learning. Be linked to your standards. TLs have a birds eye view to plugin here!
Be at every table plug your skills on at every meeting in your building.
Be inspiring to students, teachers, & community Be creative; show the power of connected learning.
Friends, old and new
My sweet friends: Carlyn Foote, Buffy Hamilton, and Joyce Valenza. https://twitter.com/technolibrary/status/328232287776935937
Wow that sounds so harsh! My friends are NOT old. They are just experienced. At TXLA I reconnected with Sue Fitzgerald, my librarian friend and predecessor at Dorman High. Sue looks wonderful!! I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo op with her. I think she came to my session too. I spent a good bit of time Friday with Carolyn Foote, who I met for the first time in Atlanta at ISTE 2007 (NECC then.) The last time I saw her was in San Antonio-ISTE 2009. We copresented with Joyce Valenza at the first Educon in Philadelphis that January. Much of our friendship has been virtual and online, so it was WONDERFUL connecting face to face again. Carolyn presented at TXLA, but it was on Thursday before I arrived. Read about her session (iPads in the library) on her blog.
Nancy Jo, Cathy Jo, and Carolyn-new friends a TXLA. Picture from https://twitter.com/lambertn/status/327963063879864320
I also made a new friend. Nancy Jo Lambertattended the Mackin Dinner event and sat beside me. Shewas one of the TXLA award winners, being named a 2013 TASL Librarian MVP Award for her most AWESOME library website. We laughed at the “Jo’s” sitting together!There is so much power in connecting with like-minded school librarians. The networking at conferences like this is SO addictive. At times it is hard to choose between hanging out with your PLN and attending much needed PD through wonderful sessions. And TXLA13 had SO MANY to choose from.
Speaking of sessions…
Want to see the handouts that are available now? Click here. I’m sure more will be added in the days to come. My own is not listed here yet, though I submitted it. I was told then it would be added after conference. I will be posting my session material on my blog soon.
Okay it is difficult to explain how many authors were at this conference. This picture might do it a little justice though. You can tell from the author signing schedule there was a lot of competition for attention. This is yet another reason I walked around star struck!! Just look at the author signing schedule and activity posted in the Exhibit hall. I usually do not stand in line for author signings, but I decided to pay for and get Ruta Sepetys’s book Out of the Easy because she will be visiting our school in September. Most of the authors also had time in their publishers booth AND in panel sessions throughout the conference. What a treat to actually talk to Ruta Sepetys face to face! I attended several of the panel sessions of authors too.
Three of my TXLA13 photos (collage created at Big Huge labs).
Neil Gaiman – Last General Session
The view from my seat during the closing keynote by author Neil Gaiman. (Photo by Cathy Jo Nelson.)
Listening to Neil Gaiman close the conference was the very best treat. I heard from veteran TXLA attendees that this was the first year they had a really BIG NAME closer. There was speculation as to whether or not folks would stay. I have to say the room was slam full (and remember the general session ballroom looked to hold about 3000 people.) Neil Gaiman definitely made folks stay for the closing and his closing speech was so worth it.
Great sessions, visiting authors, book signings, and more. The power of TLA and TASL coming together annually to put together such awesomeness has inspired me. I know SCLA and SCASL have worked together before Maybe it’s time to revisit that idea. This conference was just awesome. I’ll close with these two tweets, one by a middle school TX librarian, and one from Neil himself that she retweeted. Sums it up perfectly!! Magical. Yes, Neil, it was.
Screenshot of @TxBookiemonster (Amy Toombs) Twitter feed.
So you’ve decided to blog. Congratulations! I have to say I find the experience quite rewarding! It’s just a great place to be reflective, entertain, to wonder, rant, express joy–to all around show your passion to the world.
You’ve asked for some constructive criticism so I’ll do my best.
The site itself
Your blog is very much like a garden. You have to take care of it. That means keeping it fresh, and on an infrequent basis, weeding. Your sidebar is a place to store widgets and more, and they speak to your personality, beliefs, passions, likes, dislikes, and more as much as the “you” in person does. It should also be representative of you and your readers. So periodically comb through that information and rake out links and widgets that are dated, dead (yeah, surprise, bloggers will eventually abandon their site), or no longer in alignment with your passion. (I probably need to take care of that tonight on my own.) Don’t be bashful. Change your theme daily until you find one that works for you!! It’s your space so you should play dress-up until you are happy with the look and feel.
Wordiness is a significant problem I have, and I can see you might have it too. I don’t apologize for being wordy, and you shouldn’t either. But I have had friends tell me they start a post of mine, and after seeing how long it is, decide to return later to digest that mammoth amount I have put there–that it is just too much for quick reading. Many of my devoted readers read from a service (like Netvibes, Feedly, etc.) Those services work great for the short posts, but not so much for linger ones. If it requires a reader to scroll, there’s a chance they’ll never read it completely at all. Only your most loyal readers will patiently scroll on to read in full. The impatient ones will will mark it to come back to or read later, and then that’s a big IF they decide to come back. Dangerous ground and risky business. Better hope you have devoted readers who are loyal.
Since I know I’m wordy, I tend to chunk mine, and use subheadings. I took that suggestion from guru blogger Sue Waters. Sue is one of the primary bloggers over at The Edublogger (http://theedublogger.com/) and this is a worthwhile blog to subscribe to, read, and follow–and while you are at it, follow her (@suewaters) on Twitter too. She’s awesome and full of great blogging advice for the educator and for the educator wanting to blog with students.
I would also suggest adding visual interest to your posts with some pictures. Best case, use your own. But if you don’t have a picture to match your post topic, head on over to places that offer creative commons licensed content. I don’t always do it, but we should aslo provide an attribution to give credit to the picture source. We are librarians and therefore we should be modeling ethical use and respect the property of others. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a formal one. That is why original artwork is usually best. Pictures are not the only way to add flash and pizazz, you can get that with embeddable content too (youtubes, slideshows, etc.) Start noticing shared content that offers an embed code. Blogs are the ideal playground to learn about embedding.
Don’t assume your readers are aware f everything. Hyperlink anything that has additional content elsewhere. Hyperlink to content and PEOPLE. My own blog received a nice ping today because you linked to it. THANKS. Not only did my blog tell me, but it drove your readers over to my blog. Smiles.
The Comments Feature
Moderation is Key
I noted today that you are running comments as moderated. I think that is safest, especially in the k12 arena. You can try out unmoderated. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I am STILL keeping it moderated. This is one of the ways to keep spam off my blog. There are other ways too in the dashboard.
Spammers are savvy these days, and they will find a way to get onto your comment page. Beware. Notice URLs for those that leave comments. Often times spammers simply try to get visitors by commenting on blogs. If their site seems fishy or not in alignment with your post or reason for being a blogger, mark them as spam. Just be vigilant and check each one out. It’s okay to go back and “unapprove” a previously approved comment. Eventually you’ll get a feel for the spammy ones.
Commenters often want to extend the conversation around the topic of your post. Don’t be afraid to interact with them there in your own comments. Sometimes you will get push back on ideas. Don’t take it personally. Just agree to disagree.
I’ve tried to pattern myself after Doug Johnson and his handling of vistors who comment on his blog. He ALWAYS eventually will email a personal note of thanks along with a response or reaction, and post that same sentiment on his blog in his comments. It’s nice to be acknowledged, and visitors appreciate knowing their thoughts were valued by you as the post author.
If a response to a comment becomes very long, consider it as a new post. Sometimes that happens.
Lack of comments
Don’t get discouraged or take it personally if no one comments. It doesn’t really mean people aren’t reading. Many just lurk long before they are ever ready to comment–it’s just so public! It takes a lot of nerve to jump in with a comment. Remember how nerve-racking it was the first time you decided to publicly comment on a post out there? Different posts will generate different interest. I always tell myself many posts were written for my own reflection. No comments is okay. Some posts just get more attention than others. I’ve also discovered the way to get comments is to comment on others’ blogposts. Often they return the favor or direct their readers over to your posts.
Construction Criticism Done
Now that I’ve exploded with wordiness….
Okay that’s all I can think of tonight. I hope you find this more helpful than critical. And just as I suggested to you, since I knew this was too long for a comment, I decided to make it my own blog post. So GLAD to see you join the blogosphere. I can’t wait to learn from you.
Image: ‘Rosie the Blogger’
Found on flickrcc.net
Image: ‘Thank You’
Found on flickrcc.net
YALSA has released the 28 titles nominated for their title of 2013 “Top Ten” Teen Reads. I’m playing with ways to promote them. Of course I’ll pull together a book display at school. But getting ready for TLA this week reminded me of Projeqt, one of the 2012 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, so I made one to go with these nominations that I’ll use at school.
I can also use these as I showcase to students what a “book trailer” is–I have a teacher very interested in having her students create book trailers. Some of these a re directly from the publishers, and then some are fan made. I tried to select SHORT ones, so I may not have chosen the very best. After doing this, it has made me want to go ahead and set up (and READ) some of these titles too.
I received this request today–contact from my blog. I probably should have titled it something else, like:
Shhh, I’m a Quiet Librarian
Quiet Jobs for Quiet Librarians
Unquiet vs Quiet Library Jobs
Please read the request:
Hello, I have a MLS and my background is in public libraries. However I am considering changing to school libraries. I don’t feel like I’ve really found the best library fit for me-has not been easy. What are the things you enjoy about being a school librarian? What are the things that you don’t like as well? I was especially thinking of private schools since I believe the people would be more respectful. My personality-I’m very much an introvert and looking for someplace quiet/peaceful. I’ve considered getting into cataloging or acquisitions. This might be better for me. I found working with the public can sometimes be difficult. I’ve had experience as a children’s librarian and also reference. If you don’t mind my asking do you have suggestions on things I can do to help me to understand where would be a better fit for me?
By Kamil Porembiński
Now the request kind of took me off guard, and I was processing during a busy lunch! After reflecting I’m not sure I answered all the questions asked, but did try to paint a picture of what it’s like working in my job as a high school librarian. Hee’s what I said.
In a school library, you have to be willing to set perimeters (rules, expectations, etc.) and then consistently use them. You have to do this with students and teachers too. Otherwise they will walk all over you.
You have to promote your program, and come up with innovative and interesting ways to get students and teachers using the library. The library is a learning hub as well as a place to explore interests through a variety of mediums (books, papers, magazines, and yes, even computers and Internet ) Meanwhile you’re also teaching with and for classes. You teach a wide variety of topics, but work to include information literacy ( location and access of information, utilization of information, plagiarism, web evaluation, and much more.) You do a lot of curriculum related tasks, lesson planning, and even project design, helping teachers breath life into projects, increase rigor, and make the learning more authentic for students. There is quite a bit of project based learning going on in the school library realm.
You also have to push yourself to know about the new technologies, and try to find a way to implement them in a school setting, harnessing them for learning, which where today’s students are at. It’s about staying relevant to the students of today. So you not only have to be up to sped on current and evolving technologies, but also the pedagogical practice of teaching.
Another part of the job is promoting reading advocacy, and that is what most laypeople think–all we do is get kids reading. It’s an important part of our job, but most definitely not all there is to do. Along with reading advocacy comes the task of creating, managing, and maintaining an up to date, relevant collection. This is probably the hardest and most guilt ridden part of the job, as many schools have severely reduced or in many cases eliminated funding for library collections. Often this is a direct result of those decision makers seeing the Internet as an adequate replacement, when in fact this is far from the truth. You must continuously provide newer resources, and evaluate those offered, ensuring they are still current, meet the needs of the curriculum, and are diverse in content. There is a very big difference in quantity vs quality in a collection.
There are also basic expectations that vary from school to school that most faculty and staff must take on. Consider morning duty, afternoon, duty, and yes even lunch duty. I have a “”homeroom” of students I am responsible for as well, though at my school we only meet every six weeks or so. All are asked to take leadership of or assist with the sponsorship of clubs and organizations (and this is in addition to the library responsibilities and does not include additional pay.)
In my teaching context, and yes the school library position is in the teaching context, I eat right here in the library daily, as I cannot close the library during lunch. We manage with the help of an assistant, but often our lunch is interrupted for service to patrons (students or teachers.) I could close the door and go to a lounge to eat, but I choose to offer uninterrupted service, which is why my lunches are often discarded half eaten, or ignored until very late in the afternoon. I just value the offered service of my program more than my need for a lunch break.
I love what I do and enjoy all of the challenges a school library position brings. The good I can say is that no two days are alike. But that can sometimes be a bad thing. As far as whether a school position is a good fit for you, I dare not say. I’m skeptical that an introvert can do it well, but it’s hard to judge. You have to be strong for your program and market your skills. You have to let the decision makers know what your strong points are and really bring them to the table for the sake of learning, not only in the library but also for the school as a whole.
Sorry if I could not be of more help. I hope I’ve shed some practical light on this role as you contemplate a position. I am going to post this on my blog anonymously, and see if any of my readers can offer insights.
After rereading this, I realize I have only scratched the surface of what I do. I failed to include any reference to staff development and teaching/leading teachers as well as students. Nor did I include that working at other levels is vastly different. I left out the importance of connections and PLNs. I failed to mention personalized learning through these avenues as well. Quiet? I have yet to see it be quiet in the library—unless we are closed for testing, which I might add has also become an inherited responsibility as a direct result of working in a school setting.
So I now ask my readers to respond to some of the other questions I failed to answer. Thoughts??
Sometimes great ideas are of the simplest concepts. This was shared with me recently, and so I asked permission to share it here on my blog. I am so hoping to do this in my own high school library. It was created by Jenny Cox, school librarian in the coastal area of our state, Kensington Elementary Schoolin Georgetown School District.
After bombarding her with questions about it, I decided to with permission use her response directly in my post. Here is the inspiration and “how to” straight from the source:
It is not my idea originally. I saw something similar on Pinterestand tweaked it to look more like a Red Box. The Pinterest post used a rolling cart. I wasn’t crazy about how it looked so I used a bookshelf. I had a small shelf in the media center set up with paperback chapter books that 3rd – 5th graders use to swap paperbacks that they personally own, one for one. I keep what they bring, they keep what they take until they are ready to swap it again. The old “swap shelf” didn’t really stand out and was used by a handful of students. So when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I thought I would try it. More students are swapping books now because the Read Box is more eye catching and placed right near the circulation desk. I do require students to show me the paperback they bring in before switching so that I can make sure it is appropriate and not damaged, slightly worn is okay. Sometimes, I let kids just take a book from the shelf if they don’t have any at home–that gets them started. Then they have one they can bring back for a swap. Once I had a student bring me his Bible and asked to swap it for a book because he didn’t have any paperback at home. Of course, I gave him a book and gave him his Bible back too!
I used Scholastic dollars to purchase the initial set up “swap books.” I only use paperback chapter books for this. I even have a few parents who come and swap for their children. Teachers love it too! My principal was super excited about it.
I just decorated a three shelf standard book shelf to look like a Red Box with red butcher paper. I printed some book covers from Google Images, cut them out and taped them to the bottom to resemble Red Box movies. Then added the caption “Save a dollar, read a book.”
I have had a ton of comments on my Read Box from anyone who comes through the media center! I also post on FB to request paperback books that any of my FB friend’s children might have outgrown or no longer want.
Hope this helps!
P.S. I also have a swap shelf for teachers. They bring novels and other reading materials that they are finished with and swap them out too. This is in one of my smaller library rooms where I keep teacher materials.
Yes, Jenny, this helps a lot! You have really set my mind in motion! I too have a free swap area ( a carousel with a sign) in my library. I keep it up for those students who for whatever reason need a book but have “library issues” (like fines, overdues, etc.) The free swap is a “borrow on the honor system” set of paperbacks, and students can make a donation or borrow (and hopefully return) a title from the rack, no questions asked. We like it, and it helps those who really need a book be able to choose one. We also get donations from one of our high school clubs that do a book drive each year. Maybe you can contact the local high school and see if they do a book drive or similar project with a club. It could be a source for some free books to add to your collection for this project. Your answers were very helpful. I may re-invent our carousel into a “ReadBox.”
Not only that, I’m thinking THIS is a perfect mini-grant waiting to happen. I’m on it! Thanks for sharing and graciously responding to my gazillion questions. I am so inspired!
Cross posted over at the SCASL Blog
“ReadBox” by Jenny Cox. LMS, Kennsington Elementary, Georgetown School District.
Our library book tournament has made it to the last round of our Library March Madness, with the finalist competing for DHS Library Book of the Year at Dorman High School. Vying for that title are two books in a single series, respectively book 1 and book 2. Hunger Games, seeded at #6 matches up against Catching Fire, the #1 seed in our March Madness Tournament.
We hops students will drop by the library to cast finals votes this week. We will be naming our champion THIS FRIDAY, March 29, 2013.
We are asking students to put their names on their ballots, as there is a reward for owning votes. The reward plan has not been completely decided yet, but for sure there will be a drawing based on ballots. We will celebrate the winners of our March Madness Tournament perhaps the Friday we return from our Spring Break, April 12, 2013.
Today many of my SC library friends engaged in a healthy discussion about the books that have mostly pictures, are roughly 32 pages (give or take), and have been maligned by teachers as “easy.”
The conversation began with an innocent question:
If you are in an Intermediate school, 4th and 5th grade, do you have an Easy Book section with E on the spine?
Here are the takeaways from this crowd sourced “wonder.”
I had an E section but it was called Everybody Books.
We have a E “Everybody” section. Many of these books are good read-alouds that support standards, especially science and social studies.
We call them “Everybody” books because they aren’t all that easy to read. There are several picture books in our “E” section that have lexiles in the upper hundreds. I hate to call them “Easy” because they aren’t all that easy to read. We call them “Everybody” because if you can’t read the words, you can enjoy the pictures. Therefore “Everybody” can enjoy those books.
I use E for Everybody books – if I were starting new, I would use P for picture. Picture books are NOT easy books – some of them are on 4th, 5th, 6th grade levels!
Very well stated! I totally agree with what you’ve said and that is how I promote my “E” section – easy is not part of the vocab here. And for what it’s worth, I despise the term “Chapter books”. Makes me want to scream. Why teachers use this when sending the kids to the Learning Commons is beyond my imagination.
Found on flickrcc.net
All of these are fantastic support from some great SC voices. As a high school librarian, I want to add my support for these books as well. These books are a GREAT way to introduce a topic in any classroom or content area. They can be the perfect segue from topic to topic or activity to activity in any classroom. These books also tap into the inner creative side for some, and we all know there are plenty of students who do not respond to dry text, but will respond to stories or pictures that make connections, evoke feelings, and allow for the appreciation of literature, dramatic readings, and in its purest form, the appreciation of art. Just think of the possibilities too, as you prepare for Common Core, and providing varied texts and formats of information.
Levels can be misleading
It’s funny that this came up. Years ago when Lexile became all the rage, I had a teacher friend in my school ask if I would pull some 1100 level books for her. Her daughter had to have one the next day for her English class (at a neighboring elementary school) and hadn’t had the chance to get one. So I said I’d pull some together and they could come right after school together to browse through the books pulled. Imagine her shock and indignation when in the pile of books there were a couple of picture books. She immediately tossed them aside, saying I needed to put them back, as her daughter would be in trouble if she brought such a book in. While the fifth grade daughter selected something more appropriate to what her teacher wanted, the mother, my colleague, was amazed at the variety of books that seemed to be from a wide range–> small books to thick books, easy books to longer works and even classics. But each book met her criteria of being in the lexile range requested. I demonstrated how to use our Destiny catalog to search Lexiles, and told her she could use the catalog to narrow down choices once in the Lexile range. I wanted the Mom/Teacher to take the book and teach the teacher a thing or two about Lexiles and vague assignments. Alas, she wouldn’t do it. But you rest assured she told everybody in our middle school about her experience with Lexiles.
There are many I find favor in. Patricia Polacco, Chris Van Allsburg, Mo Willems, John Scieszka, and many more…these authors are found in my high school collection. And yes, many classified as Easy.
So without further adieu, here is one of my favorites!! Actually, ANYTHING by Mark Teague. I could list many, but I think I’ll just feature one that I have used before.
What can you address in a classroom with this book appropriate for high schoolers?
Different Points of View (reality vs. what we manifest in our minds)
Differing views through colors (Visual literacy/Art appreciation)
Imagination and perception
Letter writing and audience
Newspaper article writing and audience
I’ll close with this reflection. Just as we cannot judge books by their covers, this is a reality for levels too. No matter the intended audience, the level may vary greatly. A book, despite a low level or lexile, might be the prefect choice for adding variety, providing choice, creating a mood, or modeling/demonstrating a concept. So don’t be dismissive of these well loved books just because they are labeled Easy..
Morgan, John. ”Caught Reading.” http://www.flickr.com/photos/24742305@N00/6475675533
14 November 2011.
We decided to do a “March Madness” book tournament at my school, basing our “Sweet Sixteen” on the top circulating books for the calendar year, February 2012 – February 2013. The idea was shared from a neighboring library school intern at Spartanburg High. We picked it up and ran with it, modifying it only slightly! Our sixteen titles were seeded based on circulation statistics form Destiny after tossing out books with inflated stats due sto class projects and required readings from certain courses in the curriculum. We wanted to the tournament titles to be the most popular books based on “student” choice not requirements from classes. SCORE!
So here we are today naming our Final Four.
The Final Four match up like this:
Catching Fire vs. Mockingjay
Legend vs. Hunger Games
I am amazed (and at the same time dismayed) to have an entire series in our final four. Next year when we plan our March madness, if two books in a series make it to the Sweet Sixteen, the entire series will be a single team. That way we don’t have competitors from a single series like this year’s final four. It would be very difficult for me to choose a winner.