Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Research process model

After a two-year process led by our librarians, our school is getting fairly close to adopting a common research process model.

Our intent is to develop a recursive model that may guide our students through the process of becoming effective researchers. 

We've incorporated four Cs that are important to our school:  to think Critically, Communicate effectively, Collaborate purposely, and to Create meaningfully as well as the Practices of Definitive Preparation and the philosophy of the writing process.

The model will be used K-12, but younger students will use only the verbs and the guiding questions.  We're hoping to come up with a graphic design that will better illustrate the recursive nature of the process, but for now we're concentrating on getting the wording just right.

What do you think?  Is the model clear and easy to understand?  Does it accurately reflect the process of research?  Have we succeeded in the right amount of detail--not too much or too little?  Your comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Little Free Library book drive

Our upper school book club members hosted a book drive with the sixth grade recently with great results.  We collected almost 2,000 books to benefit Little Free Libraries.  Probably more important, our upper school book club members started the seeds of a relationship with sixth graders who absolutely worship these older readers.

We have about 17 upper school students who regularly attend our monthly book club meetings at lunch.  They've been wanting to do a service project for a while, and finding Little Free Libraries was a happy serendipity. 

Over the winter break, one of our teachers built his own Little Free Library and plans to place it near an urban community center.  About the same time, I got approval from my neighborhood's HOA to place a Little Free Library in our community center. 

Our book club had the idea to collect gently used children's books to stock these libraries. Each book club member was assigned to a sixth grade advisory and the upper school students went to sixth grade advisory meetings several times to promote the book drive and encourage participation. 

Both the upper schoolers and the sixth graders are happy with the results, and we hope to be able to sponsor our own Little Free Library next year.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rounding up readers

In the last post, I bemoaned the fact that we have readers in our middle and high schools who never darken the library door.  In this post, I'll share what I'm doing to try to round up these readers.

In no particular order, here are a few ideas that I'm trying:
*Display New York Times bestsellers that we have in the library for middle grade readers and teens (see photos).
*Go to Barnes and Noble on a regular basis to grab lots of brand new books to minimize the lag time from when the books hit stores to when students check them out (I check reviews in the store using my phone).
*Simplify checkout by eliminating the library card.  Students now self-check using their lunch number.
*Email the middle school and high school reading/English teachers to ask for help in spreading the word about great books and friendly policies in the library such as no fines.
*Beef up the digital eBook collection.
*Make school-wide announcements asking students to save their cash and come to the library to request the book they want to read instead.
*Recruit students to recommend books for our library blog.
*Greet every student who comes to the library.  Engage them in conversations about new books and reading if possible.

What other ideas have worked for rounding up readers at your library?  Please share!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Epic fail

Not long ago one of our high school English teachers brought his class to the library for research.  Covering two large tables near the back of the library was a display of new young adult books.  One girl walked over to the table and started pointing out books.  "I've read this one, and this one, and this one.  Oh, and I've read the sequel to this one."

To say that I was surprised was the least of it.  While I had seen the girl before, to my knowledge she had never been in the library on her own.  I didn't know her name, and I didn't think she'd ever checked out a book. 

"You sound like you're a huge reader," I managed. 

"Oh, yes, I read constantly, she smiled."

"Where do you get your books? And who gives you suggestions on what to read next?" I queried.

"I pretty much live at Barnes and Noble," she replied.  "The people who work there know me by name."

Epic fail, as the kids say. We have kids in our school who love to read but never come to the library. Ouch.

So I set out to see what I could do about it.  After talking to lots of teachers and kids, here's what I'm finding out:

Some Reasons MS/HS Readers Don't Come to the Library (in no particular order):
1.  I'm too busy/my schedule doesn't allow time to come when I'm at school.
2.  I didn't know the library had the books I wanted.
3.  I thought checking out books was mostly for the younger kids.
4.  I go to Barnes and Noble when I'm at the mall.
5.  I get lots of Barnes and Noble gift cards for my birthday, etc.
6.  I'm afraid I'll lose library books.
7.  I thought you had fines in the library.
8.  I thought you had to return library books in one week.

Stop back by next week for part two of this post about the things I'm doing to try to get more middle school and high school readers to check out books from the library.

Have you experienced something similar in your library?  I'd love to hear about it here!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Reader's Bill of Rights, Daniel Pennac

Have you read Daniel Pennac's wonderful book on creating readers, Better Than LifeIt was published in the '90s, and it's a gem. 

The front cover features a quote by Regie Routman that sums up the essence of the book well. "Anyone who loves to read and wants our young people to develop a similar passion will savor Better Than Life--an enchanting, beautifully written, and wise book."

"The Reader's Bill of Rights" is one of the best and most quoted parts of the book.  Many versions exist online, including an illustrated one that has changed the original wording, but I like Pennac's version the best.

If we are to develop the love of reading in young children and teens, it is critical to allow them the freedom that these rights afford. 

The Reader's Bill of Rights, Daniel Pennac

1.  The right not to read.
2.  The right to skip pages.
3.  The right not to finish.
4.  The right to reread.
5.  The right to read anything.
6.  The right to escapism.
7.  The right to read anywhere.
8.  The right to browse.
9.  The right to read aloud.
10. The right not to defend your taste.

Happy reading, friends!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Old dogs can...

I have a sign in-sheet in our library now. That may not seem too strange, but for me it's a little like admitting our library is quiet (see previous post).

In my former job as a library coordinator, I remember (with a bit of a red face) that I encouraged our librarians to get rid of sign-in sheets. I thought that signing in might be a barrier for kids to come to the library. Maybe it would send the message that we don't really want them to come.

Our head of upper school recently suggested a sign-in sheet here. Our building is huge--over 300,000 square feet and four floors. Sometimes an administrator on the third floor is looking for someone. It's handy for them to call the library (we're on the first floor), and I can look at the sign in and see that the student was here last block, for example.

What I have realized is that signing in is not so much a barrier, but that it's simply a procedure. It only takes a minute, and our kids don't mind it. It hasn't cut down on library usage.

What I didn't expect is that it has a couple of benefits. First, it helps me learn kids' names, which is great. It's also good data to use for promoting the library.

As I count the names on the sign in at the end of each day, I realize that I have underestimated how many students use the library. Yesterday I was excited to see that 92 students came to the library on their own. With 400 students in upper school, 92 is great. That doesn't count the classes who came with a teacher, and it doesn't count the kids who forgot (or just didn't) sign in.

This morning an administrator remarked that the library must be pretty empty with the upcoming holidays.  When I told him that 92 kids came on their own yesterday, he was amazed.  

A sign-in sheet is a little thing, but it's nice to know that old dogs like me can still learn.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Save the date--Naomi Nye

If you live in the Dallas area, I hope you will join us for the Parish Literary Festival on Thursday, January 17 from 4:00-5:00 in the main library.  Parish Episcopal School is located at 4104 Sigma Dr., Dallas, TX 75244.

Acclaimed poet and author Naomi Nye will be featured speaker at the event.  Books will be available for purchase, and Ms. Nye will sign books at the close of the event.

The Parish Literary Festival is free and open to the public.  If you're in the area, I hope you'll come and bring a friend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What happiness smells like...

Here's a conversation I overheard from two middle schoolers entering the library this morning:

Student one: "Aahh.  The library smells like happiness."

Student two:  "No, that's just a vanilla candle."

For a split second there I was in librarian's heaven.  Because you know what?  The library does smell like happiness.

Happy day in the library to all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dia de los Muertos connections in the library

Our library has looked particularly festive for the past couple of weeks due to a project by one of our Spanish III teachers on Dia de los Muertos.
The teacher brings her students to the libray to research Day of the Dead and the associated customs. Students choose an artist or performer and create an altar to this person that accurately reflects elements of traditional altars. Students come to the library to give a presentation on their altar, and the difficult part is it's totally in Spanish!

All their altars and a beautiful one dedicated to Frida Kahla are on display in the library for the week prior to Dia de los Muertos.

In additions to great connections with the Spanish classes, the displays have generated a lot of traffic for the library in the way of parents, administrators, teachers, and other students who want to see these beautiful projects.

Do you have similar connections that you'd like to share here?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the beginning...leads in the library.

I was thrilled when one of our new middle school English teachers came to me recently and wanted to connect their classroom learning on writing leads to the library.

After the class arrived, we recapped what they have been learning about leads.  Leads come at the beginning of a piece of writing.  They are designed to hook a reader, set the tone, and/or provide background information.  They may vary in length and style.  All types of genres have leads, and the writer should keep the audience and purpose of writing in mind when crafting the beginning of the piece.

Next I read the one-page prologue from Kay Honeyman's The Fire Horse Girl (Scholastic, 2013) because it so beautifully talks about how the author carefully chooses the first words of a story.

Then I read leads from 4-5 books.  Although these varied from period to period, a few were as follows:
Brain Jack, Brian Falkner (suspense)
What Jamie Saw, Carolyn Coman (repetition for effect)
Notes from a Midnight Driver, Jordan Sonnenblick (humor)
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, Rick Yancey (author speaks to readers)Full Tilt, Neal Shusterman (one sentence lead)

I also included two informational books about Issac Newton.  One was a standard series biography with a pretty standard lead.  The other was Kathleen Krull's much more interesting lead to her Issac Newton book from the Giants of Science series.

Afterward, students were given a few minutes to find a good by going to the stacks and perusing books of their choice.  Then they partnered up, shared the leads they found with the other person, and decided which they felt was the better lead. 

Finally, they paired up with another duo to make a group of four.  After reading the four leads aloud, they selected the strongest from the group. We reconvened the class, and the student who had selected this lead read it to the large group. 

The kids were engaged, and they seemed to enjoy sharing what they found. Best of all, several students wanted to check out some of the books.