So Many Reading Projects…

…so little time!  That’s the way I feel as I’m catching up (after a summer of travel and reading, away from the computer) on all the exciting reading events coming up this fall!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the ways I want to share books with kids this year.  With our new open library schedule I’m not guaranteed that “captive audience” every week, so I’m going to have to be more creative in reaching the students with my reading message.

We all know that kids are social, so this year I want to try to make reading more social too.  Certainly books can be enjoyed independently, as a private and silent conversation between the reader and the author.  But books can also be read aloud and discussed and debated and reviewed and recommended – that’s what builds excitement for reading!  Think about the last time you were in a movie theater, and everyone in the audience gasped or laughed or cheered at the same time for something that happened on the screen.  Our kids should be having this same experience with books!

One of the ways I’ve been sharing books socially with students is through my Book Buzz blog.  It highlights books in our library collection that the kids might enjoy, authors who write for K-5 readers, and school-wide and local reading events our students can participate in.  They are encouraged to add their voices to the conversation via the comment section, which gives them an opportunity to write for a real audience.

 

 

 

 

This year I’d like to widen their scope a little and have them participate in some national, and even international reading events.  So far I have my eye on The Global Read Aloud Event Oct 1-26 featuring the books Charlotte’s Web and The One and Only IvanJumpstart’s Read for the Record on Oct 4 featuring the book Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, and the Harry Potter Reading Club presenting a live webcast from author J.K. Rowling on Oct 11.  There is something for readers of every age here, and this is only the beginning!

If you know of any other reading events suitable for elementary students, please leave me a comment!

 

What’s Your Slogan?

“Branding” is one of the buzzwords that media specialists are hearing a lot about lately, but because we are often locked into using our school name and mascot on everything we create, having a unique brand can present difficulties for a school library.  But what if we tied a slogan to our name, and used it on everything?

Think about marketing slogans that have resonated with the public.  I bet you can easily name the companies that use these taglines:

Have it your way.

Where shopping is a pleasure.

Expect more.  Pay less.

These slogans indicate that customer satisfaction is a priority, and that the needs of the consumer are being carefully considered.

So what’s your library slogan?

No one is allowed in the library without a pass.

You can only check out two books at a time, and if you return them late you have to pay a fine.

No food or drinks allowed.

There will be no emailing, games, or talking in the library.

Stop messing up the books.

“Oh no,” you say, “no one would choose any of those sayings as a tagline!”  Then why do I see these exact sentences (well, okay, maybe I’ve never actually seen that last one, but it’s been implied) in some form or another on nearly every library web page I’ve visited lately?  I won’t link to any of them here, but in my search for inspiring library sites I’ve looked at quite a few that feature a stern list of do’s and don’ts.  (Mostly don’ts.)  And most of them aren’t discreetly tucked away in a “Library Guidelines” corner; they are right there on the home page!

Yes, we need policies, and yes, we need to communicate them to our users, so a “No rules, just right” approach won’t work in the library.  But we have to “think outside the bun” and make an effort to show the many resources and services we have to offer our students, their parents, and the community.

Therefore, I hope these are the slogans that describe your library:

We never stop working for you.

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers.

That was easy.

And perhaps most importantly:

The choice of a new generation.

What’s My Real Mission?

All teachers have a philosophy of education.  Whether we’ve put it into words or not, it’s there in some nebulous form in the back of our minds as we prepare our lessons and interact with our students, and it determines how we approach the task of teaching each day.

I’ve recently been attempting to define my vision and mission as the library media specialist at my school.  The springboard for this inner dialogue was a statement I made in an email to a fellow book blogger.  I told her, “My mission is to match kids up with ‘just right’ books that will help them discover a love of reading.”

Really?

In the 22 years since I became a school librarian, a lot has changed.  There is much more emphasis on technology now, because there is so much more technology available.  Fortunately, it turns out that I am a not only a book-loving nerd, I am also a computer geek, so that suits me just fine.

But maybe I’ve been focusing too much on the technology side of things lately.  As the Technology Coach for my school, it’s inevitable that much of my time will be spent helping students and teachers learn to use technology effectively.  But as the Librarian, I need (and want) to concentrate on helping students fall in love with reading by introducing them to great authors and illustrators, by exposing them to award-winning books, by helping them to hone their book selection skills, and by encouraging them to share their favorite titles with one another and with the world.

Can technology play a role in doing all of this?  Absolutely!  Most authors and illustrators have wonderful web sites, our library catalog is available online to students 24/7 and includes eBooks as well as print resources, and our students are invited to leave comments about what they’re reading on my Book Buzz blog.

But there’s really no substitute for old fashioned story time sessions and face-to-face book talks.  Yes, I know students can enjoy books online; I’ve purchased a subscription to TumbleBooks for my school.  Yes, I know book trailers are all the rage right now; I’m following the School Library Journal Trailee Awards contest right along with the rest of you.  I just don’t want to lose sight of the fact that in addition to learning how to read, kids need to discover the sheer joy of reading.

storytimeSo I’m re-examining my library lesson plans to make sure I’m achieving a balance between sharing the Internet tools and the printed books.  Because in the end, computer content can’t replace human interaction, no matter how engaging the digital world may be. 

 

Photograph by John Lovretta. Click to enlarge.  http://www.burlington.lib.ia.us/youth/Cswelcom/storytime.htm
 

p.s. As an interesting side note, my original title for this post was “What is My Real Mission,” just as it appears now.  But as I proofed my writing before hitting the publish button, I realized that I had inadvertently typed “What is my Read Mission” instead!  Actually, I guess either one would have worked!

Passion + Persistence = Change

In an earlier blog post I mentioned a webinar that was offered back on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe entitled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology.  When the participants were asked to share their thoughts on what makes an educator a change agent, one consistent piece of advice was to be passionate about what you believe in and be persistent in pursing it.

If it’s true that passion can drive change, and I want to effect change at my school, then I need to be asking myself these kinds of questions:  What are my teachers passionate about?  How can I help them share that passion with their students?  And for that matter, what are my students passionate about?  And how can I help them explore and share that passion with others? 

I love this quote from John Ross at his TeachLearnTech blog:

A strong leader acts like a ladder or a scaffold, one that supports and helps teachers reach new heights.

So maybe if some of my teachers are a little afraid of heights, their passion and my persistence can make them bold enough to take a risk and make a change.

Putting Technology In Its Place

I just read two blog posts yesterday that echo some of the ideas I’ve been wrestling with lately concerning the place of technology in the classroom, and I’d like to share them here.

Background:  As my school’s Library Media Specialist and Technology Coach, I have a responsibility to provide appropriate resources to my students and teachers, and to make sure they know how to use them.  With so many useful (and free) technology tools available out there in cyberspace, I want to make sure I’m keeping up with them, using them appropriately, and sharing them with those who need them. 

However, I don’t want to become so focused on the “coolness” of technology that I lose sight of my ultimate goal, which is student learning.  I also don’t want my attitude regarding the importance of technology to become so overbearing that I alienate teachers who, for various reasons, are hesitant about using a lot of online resources or tech tools.  I need to balance my role as a cheerleader for Web 2.0 with my role as someone who assists users with what’s actually going on in the classroom.

Enter Jennifer Wagner and Joyce Valenza, two educators who are doing wonderful things with technology at their respective schools.  Continue reading