A very natural part of being a high school librarian is being able to match books to students when they come asking. All of us feel very adequate in doing this when it comes to students who read the middle of the road popular YA books. Over the years I have been literally to my face told I was the “techie” librarian, which in a nice way meant I’m not necessarily the one who could help readers looking for books. It wasn’t said in a mean-spirited way, but rather meant to be a compliment. However, I took the hint–BEEF up on your YA Lit skills and be able to talk the talk; walk the walk. So in the last two to three years I have increased my reading and really focused on paying attention to readers and their interests. It has helped. I’ve noticed more and more students approaching me and asking for help in finding a book. They now say things like, “I loved that last book you suggested, so help me find another,” or “That book was so awesome, please tell me there is a sequel.” Self esteem restored!
Always looking for new ideas
I read with a great deal of interest where a fellow Alabama high school librarian, Nikki D. Robertson, shared about a “book shopping” activity she worked on with a class or two in her school. I had heard of this before, but hadn’t really given it a lot of thought. But when I saw her pictures, I was hooked on the idea. Thanks Nikki for the pictures. They really helped me embrace the idea. Nikki works in a high school that is large like mine (we have 2400 students in grades ten through twelve.) Considering how similar in size our schools are, I decided to give it a try.
I worked out a schedule with my collaborating teacher. Here is our schedule and basic plans:
- November 8 – Book Checkout Day
- Through Thanksgiving students will be reading and then writing a book review for their book
- December 2 – Visit class to talk about Reviews, Destiny Quest; Image citations in MLA Format; and Animoto or PosterMyWall as book trailer or book poster project. (Yes, we are giving the students a choice.)
- December 3 – Students visit the library to word process, copy, & paste their book review into their book’s record in Destiny Quest.
- December 4 - Students visit the library to search for and cite images they plan to use in a book trailer or book poster.
- December 5 – Students visit the library to build either a book trailer or a book poster.
- December 9-11 – Students visit the library in small groups to finish, tweak, modify, or get additional help in small groups.
- December 12 – Class presentation day! By December 12, I plan to have added the digital content (book trailer or book poster) to the Destiny Records for each book that was done.
My collaborating teacher (a teacher of a College Prep tenth grade group) had been sick all last week, so I didn’t really get to approach her about this until Wednesday, November 6. After hammering down a timeline, I gave her the blank index cards for students to complete a profile in class that afternoon. On the index cards, students wrote out the following:
- Last book read
- Favorite book(s):
- Favorite Movie(s):
- Favorite TV show(s):
- Favorite Video game(s):
- Hobbies and interests
Yes, we profiled them
A student delivered the index cards to me during first block Thursday morning. That gave me the school day Thursday and the school day Friday through lunch to get to the task of matching a few book choices to each student in the class based on their profile. Using the suggestions of my intern and co-librarian, I began using our Destiny Quest, GoodReads, and Novelist Plus (from DISCUS–thanks again SC legislators for funding it for SC Libraries!!!) to match books to students’ shared profiles. My co-librarian and our intern were slammed Thursday with several classes, so I really could not elicit help from them. We even gave thought to postponing the book checkout to Monday because Friday we were booked solid in the library during fourth block, their scheduled time to come view and checkout the books selected for them, and this would give me more time with help from them. Ultimately though I decided I could and would do it.
Thank you Oregon/Stanford!
I know that header sounds silly and unrelated, but it’s not. My bedtime is generally between 10 and 10:30PM. But my guys are such huge NCAA football fans, we were tuned in to watch this game. Well, they were. I was spread out in my favorite recliner busily matching students to books, making first a written list, student by student, and making a resource list in Destiny. I used the above mentioned resources, but there were those few students who still had different interests or just didn’t meet a standard type of book, and that made me have to work even harder. I turned to Wikipedia to learn about favorite movies and video games listed. As that game came to an end so very late here (11:30PM or so) I finalized my resource list in Destiny! Had that game been lopsided, my guys would have never stayed up to watch it, and I probably would not have stayed up working on my lists. I would have had to postpone the class getting their personalized set of books, and this wouldn’t have happened until possibly Tuesday, if then. See, I’m leading a workshop in a neighboring district Monday (so I wont be at school) and I leave for Hartford, CT for the AASL Conference early Wednesday morning. I needed to be ready Friday. So again thanks for an exciting game Oregon and Stanford! You really helped me.
Pulling & Packaging
I printed our resource list and engaged my two student workers first block with a monumental task. They had to pull all the listed books, then use my really messy crazy notes to make stacks of books. At first some stacks had five and six books, but as they compiled a stack for me, I gave another look at the index card and selected books, narrowing the list to three books per student. I really did not believe they would finish the task in a single ninety-minute block. 2nd block had all of us going to the arena for a Veterans Day program, and that would leave 3rd block and probably lunch for me to finish! By the end of first block, though, my two student workers had about 90% of the books stacked with the matching student index card on them. They double wrapped each set with it’s index card using rubber bands. I printed cute name tags, and we began tying them with a ribbon and name tags. One of my first block workers returned after the assembly (with teacher permission) and together we finished “wrapping” the sets and preparing them for the class. They were so cute! I was determined that the appearance of the books be nice, attractive, and have the special touch of a ribbon/bow, as I felt it would show my students that I really cared about matching their interests to books.
Because we had a full house in the library fourth block, I decided to haul the personalized sets to my collaborating teacher’s class. In the class I introduced our upcoming project in detail, shared some examples with them, and then set out to share with each student their personally selected books. The response was tremendous. After using my laptop to checkout their chosen book, I shared with students the books returned to the cart not chosen that were some of my personal favorite. I left the class to return to the library, and immediately had about five students from this class come in to trade out their checked out book with those I had quickly book-talked that were not chosen. LOL, I was surprised by that.
After these students write their book review, I’ll be crazy the week after Thanksgiving trying to finish the project. I will probably have to elicit help from my co-librarian and our library assistant then to really work well with this class on their image citations and book trailers or book posters. But I’m really excited and pleased at their reception of a chosen book and the upcoming project. If you are not seeing the embedded photo slideshow from this post, click here.
All pictures used in this post belong to me, and are located in my personal Flickr stream.