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Showing posts from 2019

Scheduling Virtual Visits with Authors

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Putting authors in front of my students at Taylor has always been a goal of mine, and I have been lucky over the years to have had many authors visit our school since 2008. Getting authors to visit in house is not always possible for many reasons, so I have supplemented face to face visits with virtual visits. Skype use to be my method of choice until my school district blocked it. Since then, we have been using FaceTime quite effectively. So far everyone who I have scheduled for a virtual visit has some Apple device that allows us to use FaceTime. 

I was early on the bandwagon for skyping with authors, and I could always find an author who had time to talk. Now, it has gotten more difficult as more librarians and teachers are asking for these virtual visits. I have such a small budget that I would rather spend library money on purchasing the author's books for my students to read than for paying the author. Not that I don't think their time is worth something, but my budget i…

Banned Book Week 2019

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Every year, I do a lesson for Banned Book Week with 8th graders. They read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson around the same time, and of course, BBW fits nicely with that book. I created a slide show for this activity years ago that I edit and update yearly. I wanted to share the lesson if anyone would care to use it. After my presentation with some great videos (there are four  videos embedded in the slide show) and lots of discussion, the students are put into seven groups. Each member of the group will read the same three articles about the freedom to read. I found the articles on the Gale Databases and the Internet. I have put all the folders with the articles in Google Drive so that the students could make a copy of each article and annotate each article individually. Last year, I made paper copies for annotation, and that was truly a nightmare. The students' job is to find four key facts that support the idea of  the importance of the freedom to read. They begin reading in th…

Creating a Newsletter for the Library the Easy Way

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My school has an additional 75 more students than it had last year. With 800 students at the school and only one librarian, me, it is hard to spread the word about what is happening day to day in the library. I have signs and book displays around the library. I put notices about the library in our daily Paw Prints that is read out loud in study hall and emailed to students and parents. I also send email blasts about the library to faculty and students.
The problem with an email or a notice in Paw Prints is that once it is published, I can't update it. Then when I have more info, I have to write another notice. I certainly can do that, and really try to say something about the library everyday in Paw Prints and every month in the school's newsletter for parents. But I want to limit my email blasts because I would like the stakeholders to actually read what I send. I get emails from companies and causes daily in my in box, and I ignore most of them because they send sooooo many…

Creating a Digital Breakout for Library Orientation

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Last year I used Google forms to create my first digital breakout for a lesson on finding copyright free images. I had wanted to blog about it but never had a chance to do so. I decided to start off the new year with another digital breakout for my annual library orientation with 6th and 7th graders. I think that this could easily be adapted for younger or older students. It was a great success and so easy because I did not have to drag out boxes and locks that needed to be set up for each class. All the students needed was an iPad. 


I gave my usual introduction to the library with a slide presentation. The last slide had the URL and a QR code for the breakout. I explained that the students would work with a partner and one iPad to complete the breakout. Many did not know that the camera app can be used to read a QR code. You don't take a picture of the QR code; you just frame the code in the camera and a window will appear with the link. You tap that window for the URL to open i…

A Good School Library Program is Critical to all Students

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I am about to embark on a new school year. It will be my 29th year in a school library. Moving from a classroom teacher to the library was the best thing that I ever did. First, I love working with every student in a school; next, I get to design a program that I know builds on the skills that I have taught the year before that the students were with me; and by the time that they leave my school, the students are prepared for their next step whatever that may be.

Writing about why a library program is critical to my students is not because I need to justify what I do everyday, but it is because not everyone in education believes that libraries serve a need. Some believe that since English teachers teach literature and literacy, it is not important for a librarian to do the same. Well, I was not a very good student in elementary school or high school. I loved literature and learning new things just not in the confines of a classroom. With access to a school library and a public librar…

End of the School Year Always Bittersweet

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When May rolls around I gird up to do what is needed at my school. Most of those tasks do not really relate to the library. The seniors graduated this year on May 11th. I coordinate senior awards night, plan graduation, and help the students with their val and sal speeches for the graduation. For a long time, I was also AP coordinator, and that was a total nightmare because all of these tasks fell within the same few weeks. I would finish school totally wiped out needing my months off to regroup. 
During senior awards night, I give out something special to all graduating members of the high school book group, Bookmarked. Actually, over the last few years, there have been no seniors in book group. Students would join early in their high school career, but by the time that they became a senior, they would chose to get involved in other organizations. I understand, but I have come to realize that the students who do remain in Bookmarked until they graduate are pretty special kids, to me…

Celebrating National Poetry Month

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I like to celebrate Black History Month, Women's History Month, and National Poetry Month in the school library. April has arrived, and it is time for poetry. 
One of the things that I used to do was send an email blast out to all students and staff with a poem every day of the week. The poem would be the body of the email. I would occasionally get replies back with comments about the poems, so I know that they were being read. Now, instead of the email blast, I find a poem that I like that is posted on the web and add the link to the daily Paw Prints that is sent to all students and teachers and parents who have signed up for it. I decided that I didn't want to flood in boxes with email that wouldn't get read. Anyway, I use poems from the Poetry Foundation or Poets.org or even link to one of the poem generators that I have listed in this Symbaloo. Then I print out the poem and post it on the door of the library. By the end of the month, the doors are filled with poems. S…

Teen TECH Week 19 is Now Over

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Birds of a Feather Flock to the Library Teen Tech Week @ PFTSTA Library March 25-29
I know that Teen Tech Week (TTW) and Teen Read Week (TRW) may not be long for this world. Both of these initiatives have been sponsored by YALSA for years, and I can hardly remember a time when I did not celebrate them in my library. In the future, it seems that YALSA wants to promote more activities for teens year round rather than just for two weeks every year. In my library, I serve tweens and teens all school year long. I like the idea of having a special week in the fall and one in the spring to highlight what the library has to offer. Even if these weeks are no longer sanctioned by YALSA, I expect to plan and execute a week's worth of fun twice a year anyway. Certainly, I can do that, but without other libraries doing the same across the US, sharing on social media does not have as big an impact when I am the only one sharing.





TTW had a national roll out on March 9th, but that week I was out of…