Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Fair and Teen Read Week are Both a Memory

 2016 Book Fair
I really did myself in by planning a book fair one week and Teen Read Week the next. Unfortunately, both weeks were out of my control. We now schedule the book fair during the two days that the grandparents visit the school for breakfast. This has proven very lucrative for the library, and I like promoting a fund raiser that promotes books and reading. The grandparents like buying books for their grandchildren. It is a win win situation. This year we grossed $300 more than last at the book fair, and the library received a net profit of $1500 plus just over $300 in Scholastic dollars to spend on new books for the library. This is the only fund raiser that the library holds during the year. I also raise a few hundred dollars a year in fines which I strongly believe in. More on fines at a later date.

I always try to schedule Teen Read Week (TRW) during the week that YALSA has it on the calendar. I know that really isn't crucial, but it is what I like to do. Most of the TRW activities take place during the lunch periods. After the switch last year to three lunches, I had to rethink my planning. Actually, what I needed to do was simplify. With two lunches, the high school students could supervise and monitor my many games. Now I tap the older students to help me plan, but I am the one who has to take control of all the activities. That is not an issue if I only have one thing going on each day. 

Librarian, Natalie Juneau, vists from Jefferson Public Library

I think that it was very successful this year. I scheduled a public librarian to come and give book talks. All three of her sessions were well attended. My students tend to be public library users and almost all said that they had library cards. We always watch an episode of the Twilight Zone that fits the theme of TRW. Since the theme was Read for the fun of it, I wanted to find a funny episode. I chose one with black humor, and the tweens through the teens just loved "Escape Clause." We had some good discussion about the episode after all three showings. I think that this episode was beloved by more students than other one that I have shown during TRW. One student returned the next day telling me she went home and watched more episodes. She had heard of it, but never seen it before. We always play a guessing game based on books and movies as well as a craft. Daily, I had 25 to 35 students during 6th and 7th grade lunch, the same for high school, and about 10 to 15 during 8th grade lunch. That is not bad in a school of 600. Also, some students saved some money on fines, as we always have fine forgiveness week during TRW. I am still waiting on entry forms for our annual bookmark contest. The prizes for that contest are $20 Barnes and Noble gift cards. Though I might not get many entries, I always get some outstanding illustrations. 

Waiting patiently to play the guessing game

Transforming Ninja Star

You can see more pictures of the week on the library website here. As soon as the bookmark contest winners are selected, I will add pictures of the bookmarks on that webpage. During TRW, I like to get students to make some book recommendations. I have posted many of them here on the library website. Hopefully, I can add some more of those pictures next week. The kids liked selecting an appropriate hashtag to put with beloved books. 

2016 Book Recommendations

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Students Weigh in on Banned Books and the Freedom to Read

Every year, for Banned Book Week, I prepare a lesson for our 8th graders. It was always teacher directed with discussion until last year. The English I teachers and I created a lesson for the students that included research and writing. I pulled the materials that I wanted them to read, and the students would write a very short essay declaring their belief in the need for teens to be able to exercise their freedom to read what they want to or the need for certain books to be taken off the shelves of the library or pulled from the English curriculum. 

Above is the slide presentation that I have made for the students. Included in the slides are several videos that I thought would get the students thinking. There are slides with links to specific articles that we want the students to read and use for the concrete evidence to support their stance. A rubric is included at the end so the students know exactly what is expected. The teachers and I want the writing to have a real world application. We ask the students to post their short essay as comments to this blog post. Please feel free to place your own comment among the students. I am sure that they would be interested in having some feedback. 

Dear English I students,

There are many people out there who would like to restrict what books you can read at school. There are also many people out there who believe that the constitution grants you the freedom to read whatever you want. Please decide if you believe either that censorship in school is necessary or that access to books should not be restricted in schools. Use the resources linked in the slide show for your research to back up your beliefs. Write in a paragraph why students should either have the option to read what they want or why schools should keep some books off the shelves of the library or out of the curriculum in English. You will need to support your stance with at least two concrete details. Please follow the rubric and post your paragraph anonymously in the comment section of this blog and follow the directions on how the teachers expect you to sign your paragraph.

Remember you are sharing your comments with the world! Have fun with this. Ms. Kahn

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Getting Ready for TRW 2016

When October nears, I know that it is time to plan for Teen Read Week. We have been celebrating this YALSA sponsored festivity in the PFTSTA Library from the first year I was there back in 2006. We started very small with one or two activities until it has grown to be a big deal at our school. However, I have developed a game plan that we use yearly for this activity so that I don't have to start from scratch each year. When I ask students, if we should make changes they let me know that they like things just the way they are. Some of our events are passive and can be completed any time during the week, but we also have a special event each day during lunch which requires active participation. Sure the regulars visit the library, but this is also an opportunity to have visitors who don't usually walk through the library doors. That is a very good thing. Visit the library website for more info and pictures after the fact. Want to know what we are doing? Read below.

Looking for fun? Read a good book!
Teen Read Week October 11th —14th

Text Box: Look What’s Happening @ PFTSTA Library for TRW 2016

1. Annual Library Book Mark Contest: Two winners, one from middle school and one from high school, will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, and their bookmark reproduced to give away to the PFTSTA community. You can visit the library for a hard copy or open here: to print out from the web.
All bookmarks are due in the library by Wednesday, October 26th at 2:30PM. 

2. Visit from the Jefferson Public Library: Teen librarian, Natalie Juneau, will be in the library during lunch on Tuesday, October 11th to talk to you about great books available in the public library. You will have a chance to ask lots of questions.

3. Now showing in your libraryVisit the common area outside the library at lunch on Wednesday the 12th to watch “The Escape Clause” an episode of the television show The Twilight Zone. In this episode, considered full of black comedy, a man wishes to live forever and forges a deal with the devil to make it happen. A treat will be served.

4. Fun of it Guessing Game: On Thursday the 13th, visit the library to get a clue about a book or movie that is fun to read. If you answer the clue correctly you will receive a prize. If you miss one, you will have a chance to try again.

5. Get Crafty: Visit the library on Friday the 14th to create paper stars made from the Sunday comics. The instructions and materials will be provided for you.

6. Fine Forgiveness Week: You may return any overdue book/s during Teen Read Week without having to pay a fine.

7. Guess the Number in the Jar: See if you can figure out how many Laffy Taffy candies are in the jar. To win, your answer must be closest to the correct number without going over. Guess the correct number of candies in the jar and win the jar of candy.

8. Vote for Teen’s Top Ten:  Help select the top ten best books of the last year. Vote for up to 3 of your favorite books:

Voting ends Oct 15th.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Being a School Librarian and Why I am Good at What I Do

I just started my 26th year as a school librarian. and lately, I have been reflecting on my work. I worked for 12 years with grades K-6 and the last 13 with grades 6-12. I have supervised several pre-service librarians and talked to many library science students over the years for their class assignments. One of the major reasons that I think that I am good at what I do is because I have been doing it a long time. I am not one of those teachers who learned how to teach one way and have kept at it the exact same way year after year. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I have tried to keep up with current best practices throughout my career. Since I have taught from pre-kindergarten through high school, in terms of skills, I know where the kids came from and where they need to go before they graduate. A lot of this I have learned through experience and the many years I have been teaching. In a recent social media post on a librarian group, a librarian asked others to post about the class that provided the most help for them as a librarian and what class they didn't have but needed. I laughed when I read that. I have not been in school since 1993 when I finished my +30 hours beyond my master's degree. Yes, I learned a lot from my professors while in graduate school, but I am way beyond that. I have learned so much more from the mentors that I have had over the last 25 years and at the many, many conferences that I have attended.

Another reason that I think that I am good at what I do is because I know how to collaborate. As a librarian, it is crucial that I work closely with the teachers in my building. For me to teach information literacy skills to the students, I need to incorporate what is being taught in the classroom into what I teach in the library. With ten years in my building, I have developed great relationships with my teachers who come to me when they know that what I can do will support what they are teaching. I make sure new teachers at my school know that I am willing and available to work with them, too. This has been a lot of fun because I don't teach in isolation, and I get to partner with some outstanding teachers. I have learned a lot from them over the years especially in English and science.

One thing that my husband may disagree with is my ability to listen. Okay, I do hear him, but I don't always listen. At work, it is critical that I listen. As I build a collection that serves my patrons, I need to know what the kids are reading and want to read, and I need to know what kind of information that the teachers are requiring the students to find. If you walked among the stacks of my library, you would see the print collection heavy in fiction. I have done that on purpose because when the students chose to read for pleasure, they want books in print. As I add to the reference and non-fiction collection, I am buying more and more electronic resources. Our school has a one to one laptop program, so I know that all of my students have computer access.

I spent twenty years working at the elementary level before I graduated to middle and high. I understood how to best serve the little ones. When I switched levels, I got to work at a school with one of my favorite librarians who has amazing rapport with teenagers. I learned so much from her and how to manage this age group. I now know that I love working with the older students. I think another aspect of my personality that works very well in my position is the fact that I really like the kids. I love the idea of teaching them over seven years and watching them mature. I like the idea of having the responsibility of getting them ready for next phase, which at my school is college. I like talking and being with the tweens and teens. They keep me young.

Another area that is one of my gifts is my strength in using technology. This ties in very closely with my interest in lifelong learning. I finished graduate school in the early 90's. I certainly used computers back then, but the possiblities of technology that can be utilized in the classroom has grown exponentially since then. I may be on the older side, but I have harnessed social media and many electronic tools to get my job done. I am often asked how I learned to use computers. Mostly, I taught myself because there were no classes available. I also have learned so much from others both adult and student alike.

Lastly, I am a really good thief. I don't consider myself that smart, but I am really good at seeing what other librarians or teachers are doing and taking their ideas and modifying them to fit my situation. So many people out there are offering top-notch programs in their libraries and sharing their programs via blogs and social media. This sharing has offered me a chance to develop my own top-notch program. I use this blog to share what I do with my patrons, and it is very fulfilling to hear back from other librarians who have found what I do can be modified for their library. Let the sharing begin because it works both ways.

The reason that I think this is an important post to write is not because I want to brag on myself, but because I think reflecting on our strengths and even weaknesses can help us be better at our jobs. I want to continue to work towards building the best library that I can. Making changes and improving what I do on a daily basis makes my job interesting and exciting every single day. I like going to work and hanging out with teenagers, and though many of my friends talk of retirement, not me. I plan to be around for as long as I can. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ten News Sites to Find Paperless Current Events

Open here to read the blog post for Whooos Reading
Periodically, I will write a blog post for the Whooos Reading blog. They ask teachers across the US to contribute to their blog with information about edtech, libraries, and tools to support learning in the classroom. This blog post is all about finding current events and newspaper articles online. These are sites where you can send your students or you could select specific articles for them to read and all content areas could find use for these web tools. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

How a Build-Off Builds 21st Century Skills

Caught reading in the PFTSTA library
Lately, I seem to write more in this blog about makerspaces in the library over books and reading. Yet, reading is still a focus in my library. You can catch pictures of students reading in the PFTSTA library by visiting the library on Facebook or Instagram and please follow us, too, so you don't miss any of the action. Back to the makerspace--it is so engaging, and if it is the robots, Lego, and a 3D pen that draws the students into the library, then I am all for it.

The three teams early in the creative process
About a week and a half ago, some 7th grade boys came to me and said that they wanted to do a Build-Off. Never heard of it, I told them. They wanted to create teams and have each team build a structure and then have me and a couple of 6th graders serve as judges to determine a winner. Okay, I thought this was a great idea. I suggested that they come up with a set of guidelines for the structures and rubric for the judging. Three teams were formed with two students on each team. They would each build a catapult that was going to be judged on structure (did it hold together after firing), style (how did it look), and distance (which catapult sent the ammunition the farthest). These catapults were built using Lego. The students worked during their lunch period only and had a week for construction. Last Friday was the day set for the competition. On Thursday, one of the team's catapults fell apart. That team could not rebuild fast enough to make the competition on Friday. On Friday, we selected two 6th graders at random and set up the arena for the competition. One team had it on style, but the other team shot their ammunition further which got them the win.

The two catapults right before competition
What I thought students learned during the Build-Off are the 21st century skills that are so critical for these students' future success. First was collaboration. The team members had to work together as they were allowed only one entry into the competition. The team that did not compete had some collaboration issues which prevented them from rebuilding their broken catapult with speed. The second skill was critical thinking. I watched as one team added an archway that allowed their catapult to launch with more force, but every time they tested the catapult the arch would break apart. It took days, but they finally found a way to make it stay together. Problem solving was also needed to figure out how to make the arch stay in tact, but each team had many other problems to solve along the way before the actual competition. Work ethic is a skill that the teachers assess for all students in our school. For this competition, the students had to eat lunch quickly in the cafeteria so that they could have 30 minutes in the library to work. Every day for a week, they ran into the library grabbed the materials and were on their way. I love seeing this dedication to getting a project complete. I see them as future engineers and know that work ethic will be essential for them to succeed. Creativity is another 21st century skill that was utilized in this activity, and each of the three catapults had a different look which illustrated the creative minds of these students. 

I know that future ready skills is the new buzz word and that 21st century skills is a term that has become passé. However, with either term, the essential meaning is that educators are helping to train and teach students for careers and jobs that might not yet exist. It is our job to assure that students will be ready for whatever comes their way once they graduate and move on. In the library at lunch, even though the students might not be engaged in a formal lesson presented by a teacher, there can be many different kinds of learning happening every day. 

The boys who designed the Build-Off think the next step is to have 6th graders make something that they will judge. So far, the decision was for the new teams to design some form of transportation with wheels that will be judged on style, speed, and distance moved. No one has yet stepped up to join a team, but I don't doubt that it will happen. What makes this activity super cool to me is the fact that it was totally student instigated and student led, and the students were so totally engaged. Really my only purpose was to serve as a judge which really wasn't necessary because other students could have taken on that role.
They may have come in second, but they had a blast while competing

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Librarians Can Support the College Admissions Process

SLJ Teen Live August 10, 2016

Interface to navigate the online conference

On August 10th, I spoke on a panel during the annual SLJ Teen Live online conference sponsored by School Library Journal. In the past, the focus of this one day conference was on young adult literature, books and authors, but this year a number of sessions were included dealing with teen programming in school and public libraries. The session in which I participated was called College and Career for the Under-served

I spoke to the 250 attendees over the phone and manipulated my slides on the computer
The college application process has been an area that is near and dear to me. I have been developing quality resources for my seniors for many years. I believe that as librarian I can help support the counseling department at my school in a big way. My school is small with 600 students, and the class of 2017 has only 30 students. Our counselor must assist students with the college process, but she also has to service all the other students in the building, too. For the first time our school will have a part time counselor to work with the middle school students, but the full time counselor will nonetheless still have a full plate. 

Class of 2016 with principal Zapico and assistant principal Higgins
Patrick Taylor Academy is a college prep public school, and we pride ourselves on the fact that 100% of our graduates since the first graduating class in 2009 have entered a four year college or university after graduating. Many of these students are the first in their family to go to college. Also, many of these students cannot attend college unless they get hefty scholarships. 

Where do I come in? First, I can provide print material. There are many wonderful books out there with info about colleges, scholarships, and how to write great essays. I have some of those books in my library. My counselor has purchased new versions of those books for the library. However, there is a huge problem with these books. I can't get many of the students to check them out. Students don't want these print resources, so I have created electronic tools as a substitute for these print sources. The wonderful thing about these electronic sources is that they never go out of date like the books. 

Webpage on the library website

The library has a very robust website which I created in 2009. I am not sure when I added the section on Getting Ready for College, but it was a number of years ago. I have divided this page into several sections including: Louisiana specific sites, searching for the right college, college rankings, finding the best college fit for you, test prep, scholarship opportunities, college essays, and blogs about the college search process. The informational links that I list on this page are updated by the sponsoring organizations. This means students will always be getting information that is current. Sometimes, these websites will become inactive, and I do have to check periodically and delete those links. When I come across a new useful site from my counselor or on Twitter or Facebook, then I can add to the list. This page is a whole lot easier and cheaper to edit than books on the library shelves, and  I can share these resources with everyone in the senior class at the same time. 

Test Prep Livebinder
One tool that I use constantly when I create lessons for my students is Livebinders. I have also used this tool to create a resource to help students as they prepare for the ACT, SAT and AP exams. All the links that I share with my students are free. I know that there are some great resources out there for test prep that cost money, but those can be a hardship for my students. The wonderful thing about Livebinders is the fact that you can copy my binder with test prep here, and then edit it to fit the needs of the teens with whom you work. I share this binder with the students taking ACT prep and ask the counselor to share with our students also. 

Scholarship opportunities Livebinder

The other Livebinder that I have created is one with scholarship opportunities. At the outset, I would use the counselor's weekly newsletter to find scholarships to add to the binder. Eventually, the counselor would just CC me on any emails that she sent to the students about scholarships. I have divided this binder into several sections, but the main sections that students will find helpful are the ones for the national and local scholarships. When I first created this binder, I tried to add the deadlines to each scholarship. This turned out to be a major undertaking because I had to make those edits on every single scholarship each year. I finally decided to give an approximation of the deadlines because I found out that most scholarships close around the same time each year. So I can list that a scholarship deadline will be mid-March or early January and remind readers to check the website for the exact date. Scholarships come and go, and I do need to check this resource periodically to make sure all links are still good. This is a great resource to share with parents. As with the test prep binder, feel free to copy this one and edit to the needs for your library. 

Paris won a Gates Millennium Scholarship in 2014 and attends UNC at Chapel Hill
The other job about the college application process that I take very seriously is assistance with writing essays. During my tenure at Patrick Taylor, I have helped three students receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship. I take great pride in this because of the competitive nature of those grants. Sometimes there is time for me to work one on one with students writing their college or scholarship essays. When there is a time crunch for either me or the student, we have used Google docs to make the editing process work. I love using Google Docs that way because I can make comments, but I can also make suggested edits. Students certainly don't have to follow my suggestions, but if they choose to do so, they can. I find my students have a hard time writing about themselves. Sometimes they get too pompous and explain how they are going to save the world, sometimes they don't tell the story that explains how much they have accomplished. I can help them with this, and I am happy to do it. Over the last couple of years, the counselor has required students to get an adult reader on campus to review their essays before submission. I think this is a great idea. 

Last but not least, I can serve as a sounding board for the students. I am able to listen as they throw out their options and what they are thinking are the best choices for them. I can offer them encouragement and maybe give them some ideas that they had not yet thought about. 

Mark on the left is attending RIT 
A quick story to end this post: A member of the class of 2016 applied to a number of colleges because the counselor requires the students to apply out of state even for those reluctant to leave home. Mark was all set to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a two and a half drive from his home. He visited campus bought his sweatshirt and wore it to school with pride. He was going to receive money from TOPS (Louisiana scholarship program) that would pay most of his costs for school. Then he receives and email from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He had gotten in and was given a huge scholarship. He crunched the numbers and discovered that it was $9000 cheaper to attend RIT than ULL. Now the Louisiana legislature is set to cut TOPS funding which means he would have been responsible for even more of the cost if he had attended ULL. Mark and I talked a lot about the college process over the last year, and I hope that I had in a small way helped to get him out of state for school. 

On Friday, the counselor asked if I would talk to the class of 2017 during the Thursday enrichment hour on September 8th. She wants to attend a workshop that day. I am thrilled about the chance to talk to the seniors as a whole about all the resources that I have curated just for them. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Full Week of School, Done

PFTSTA Library is often filled with readers at lunch
It never ceases to amaze me. One minute I am enjoying summer break, and the next thing you know I am immersed in a new school year. I realize now that there was more that I could have done over the summer to prepare for the new year. I had only a handful of books ready to order, so I have been frantically preparing a book order. As I began orientation, I noticed updates that needed to happen on the library website. Most of those are now complete, but I haven't visited every page and know that there are more to do. Students are clamoring to know when the clubs that I sponsor will begin. I made signs on Friday advertising the high school book group and the new this year 8th grade book group. In the past, the 8th grade was with the middle school students, and then last year, I added them to the high school group. We made changes to the school lunch schedule this year, so 8th grade will have their very own group. On Monday, I met with the high school students.I have a large number of freshman in the group, and I am hoping some of the upper class-men will rejoin. I have been trying to poll the returning 7th graders to see who wants to remain in the middle school group. The group is capped at 30, and I have to see how many spots we have for the new 6th graders. There are all the calendar dates that need to be added to the library Google calendar. I am still negotiating a couple of author skype dates that I am trying to schedule. Actually, it is good that I didn't firm up those dates before school started because of the changes in our daily schedule that I didn't know about.

Bookmarked for 2016-17
The 6th and 7th graders flock to the library before school and during lunch. At lunch, our makerspace materials are out for use. Students asked for them before school, but I don't think that 20 minutes is enough time to begin any projects and get the materials put away before 1st period. Last year, the library got funding from a grant for the school to build a mini-makerspace. I have more money to spend for this year. The students love the two Sphero robots, and I am going to add the new SPRK+ from Sphero and a couple of Ozobots. The Little Bits are also highly popular. I am going to see about adding more kits to what we already have. One of the gadgets that has been used by all ages from 6th to 12th grade is our 3D pen. We purchased three of them. Unfortunately, two of the pens got clogged and are impossible for me to fix. I know that the kids loved using them, but they are just too fragile. For the price, it is just not feasible for me to keep replacing them.

6th grader makes her first creation with a 3D pen
Orientation for 6th and 7th students is complete as well as for new 8th and 9th graders. We only have eight new 10th and 11th graders, and two of those are students who left and are returning to our school. Soon I will be starting lessons on our new tool for creating citations, Noodle Tools. I haven't spent much time learning the ins and outs of Noodle Tools, so I was thrilled when I got notice of the webinars that they will offer. I will attend one on Friday for newbies. I hope to be more confident after the webinar, and I can begin creating the instructional videos explaining how to use the tool.

Building with the Legos
For some reason, it seems that a big part of my job is putting out fires. Actually, I love problem solving, but when there is a class in the library, or several kids are asking for help at one time, or the phone starts to ring it can be hard to get any one task completed. I don't think that I would have it any other way.

Orientation for 7th graders

Saturday, August 13, 2016

To Open or Not to Open the Library, the First Day of School

Engrossed in a good book

School opened for students on August 11th, so I have now logged in two school days of the new year. On the first day, I began the day helping 6th graders all who are new to our school find their classrooms. At the change of each period, I was  in the hall helping to guide the students to where they should be. The district asked schools to post on social media using the hashtag #JPPSS1stday. I ran around the building taking a few pictures to post on Facebook and Twitter. Then when I had a few minutes, I worked on the library catalog and getting the library ready to open. Also, seniors, who are taking online classes, were scheduled in the library. Oh, I am the school's laminator queen, and I had piles of posters and papers to laminate for the new year. 

First book check out for 2016-17 school year
He is gearing up for the Fantastic Beasts movie by reading the book first
The district guidelines allow librarians to wait two weeks before opening the library to classes, though administration asks that librarians check out books as needed during that period. I like to have a soft opening the first few days letting in the regulars, and then try to schedule orientation for 6th and 7th graders as soon as I can. This year, it was raining during lunch the first two days of school. I got a call from the principal on the first day to explain that the students could not go outside and needed to have somewhere to go when they finished their lunch. She asked if I would open the library for all lunches. That meant I would have students walk in who have not gone through orientation and do not know my expectations when they visit the library. 

I love seeing students reading together
Let me say this, I am thrilled to be back at school. I really love the kids and love having them in the library. BUT, it has not been a great opening. My desktop computer is not working. This is the computer hooked up to the scanner for me to check in and check out books. Though I can scan books by checking them out on one of the iPads, the wireless didn't seem to be working. So that was not an option.  I can also use my laptop, but if I have to type in the barcode numbers, it is too easy to make a mistake. We added 100 students to last year's enrollment. There really were not quite enough tables and chairs in the building for the classrooms last year, but we managed. As teachers received their class rosters this year, they were clamoring for more tables and chairs for their classrooms. That left the library with two tables and about 15 chairs. The district claims that they have purchased enough tables and chairs for the school when the building opened three years ago. That just isn't true. How am I going to teach classes in the library without furniture? There is not enough seating for the students when they visit at lunch. With technology not working correctly and no furniture, I am not a happy librarian. On top of that, the school server wasn't working on Friday. When I logged off my laptop at the end of the day. I thought that I would be able to open my orientation powerpoint at home. I just tried, and I can't get to any of my documents. My back up external hard drives won't open the document either. 

Do I sound like I am whining? I hope not. 

Using good time management and getting homework done during lunch

Back to my original focus of this post--when should the library open for the school year. I just can't see waiting two weeks before having students visit. The students are already in Destiny, so the library management program is really ready for check outs when school opens except for setting the calendar, which I fixed for the new year on Friday. The sooner that I hold orientation means the students are prepared for using the library. Teachers aren't ready for library collaboration during the first few weeks of school which gives me a bit of time to get some of the library management tasks completed. The teachers are waiting for the laptops to be given out to the students before working with me because so much of what I do with the students involves technology. 

Another student who found a good read on the first day of school 

Anyway, despite all my difficulties, the library did open the first day. I have orientation scheduled to begin next week and a visit for pre-testing with senior project students. The library is part of the school's academic program, and if the teachers have started teaching then I need to make the library and its resources available for anyone who needs them. I may grump, but the library doors are always open. 

These 7th graders were happy to get the new Sphero working for our makerspace

All the opening issues aside, I am looking forward to a good year. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gearing up for my 36th Year of Teaching, 26th in a Library

There are only a few hours left of summer break for 2016. I start back to work on Monday, and our students will start on Thursday. Am I ready to go back? Yes and no. This has been a wonderful summer of rest and relaxation. I did not attend any conferences this summer nor did I spend hours making preparations for the new year. However, when I do reflect on the summer, I realize that my mind was never very far from the library. 

I read. I am always reading something and though I don't like reading two print books at one time, I usually have one print book going and one audio book. I review books for both School Library Journal and School Library Connection. This means that I don't always get to choose what I read, but I didn't review much this summer, though I have 5 books by my bed to review right now. I am on the committee for the state library that selects the books for Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice (LTRC). At the beginning of the summer, we narrowed our list down to 40 books for the 2018 program. I have been trying to read from that list before our next meeting in a week. Unfortunately, I can't share those titles with you because they are still on the consideration list for LTRC. Of course, I had to read the new Harry Potter as soon as it came out, and you can read my review here. 

Register here for this event
At the end of the school year, I was asked to be on a panel for the SLJ Teen Live conference. It is next week on August 10th. I am speaking at 1PM CDT on the College and Career panel. I was thrilled to be asked. When I agreed to speak, I knew my focus, but I did not know what I wanted on my slides. That took quite a bit of preparation which of course was done over summer break. I am eager to share what I do in my library for the seniors.   

This is how I am listed on the speaker page for SLJ Teen Live

I have been watching how Facebook (FB) has been evolving as a very useful professional tool. All summer long, I have been reading my feed and learning new things to use in my library. I follow several authors, probably should do more and many publishers. I am also a member of several librarian groups where I have posted questions and responded to others' questions that have given me some great ideas for my library. Some of the groups I like include ALA Think Tank, The School Librarians Workshop, and Fellowship of High School Librarians. We also have a closed group for the librarians in my school district so that we have a place to vent but also share information. There are also communities on FB centered around educational technology. I am part of a Breakout EDU group that is a fabulous place to get more information about this program. So much sharing going on with this Facebook page to help teachers, it is amazing. I just joined a FB page for users of Symbaloo. I use Symbaloo with my teachers and students and really can't live without it anymore. I am so glad that the FB page was created because I know that I have more to learn about using this tool with students. 

I also gave myself time to re-energize. I took two trips, visited with many friends, purged stuff from the back of my closets, and walked everyday. I think having time away from school and work is important. During the school year, it is hard for me to unplug. I made myself do it this summer, and I am glad that I did. I am ready to go back, and I can't wait to hear what my students have to say about the book that Rowling did not write.

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