Students keen to get started on ther library books before heading back to class.
Creating with Loose Parts
Kindergarten students using iPads to capture their Loose Part literature responses.
The alphabet tree from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
A lot of thought went into showing the plot of this story and how best to capture it in one image.
Many thanks to the Teacher-Librarians from across the province who came to my Digital Creation and Learning Commons Maker Education workshop in Richmond last week. I appreciated all of the positive feedback. Here are the links to some of the apps and ideas that we discussed.
Martha Currie Teachers – Here’s the link to the catalogue. Scroll down to Martha Currie. Teachers can sign into the catalogue with their district log in.
Find the items you are looking for and click ‘Details’.
This will give you a ‘Hold It’ option on the right. Then save.The Teacher Librarian will see a little red flag that a book has been requested the next time they are in the catalogue. Give us some lead time : ). I usually pull those during my next scheduled Library Administration block and pop them into the teacher’s mailbox.
No one goes to the library to be prescribed a book. Allowing students to choose their own books helps create ownership – they are more likely to read them. When students ask for recommendations, I always point out at least five titles or a number of authors.
This doesn’t mean that I am not quick to suggest my favourite recent reads or new additions to the collection but time and again I see un-cracked books returned because the student took the book without buy-in.
Idea: I’ve been known to pull under-appreciated gems and add them to my shelving cart, where students sometimes gravitate to find popular books.
The time to get a new book is when you’ve finished the last one, not at 1:25 on Wednesdays. Ensure that the Learning Commons has frequent but not necessarily lengthy open-book exchange periods. Students will soon learn that the time is to be used wisely and it encourages students to look critically at their selections.
Avoid regularly scheduling upper intermediate classes for a whole class book exchange. The belief that it’s the only time they come to the library’ just doesn’t wash – if you build a collection with books they want – they will come.
The students that truly resist are likely not cracking the books they are forced to take out anyway – other, more individualized strategies are needed there.
Even though Melvil and I have basically broken up, Dewey did have one thing right…library books should not be levelled. Dewey’s system is the great equalizer – where students that struggle with reading would take out their non-fiction right beside everyone else.
One reader might benefit from the illustrations, another from the captions and a third from all the text cover to cover. Having said that, I do have a ‘Yellow Sticker’ section with beginner chapter books. We just don’t call them ‘Early Chapter books’ – they are simply the yellow sticker books. Yes, the students know, but it is less stigma.
Idea: Text Features are a must with any non-fiction. For more on this see my SlideShare on Elementary Non-Fiction Collection
There seems to be too much focus on helping students find that one ‘just right’ book. Rather, view the Reader as being on a continuum.
A developmental, trial and error process whereby books are sampled, a little absorbed, and exchanged – upgraded – to books that will hold attention longer. There is actually, no error in this process – each attempt brings the Reader more able to make critical choices and problem solve, and more able to narrow down the kinds of books that will hold interest.
You can bring in all the comfy seating, lowered shelving, open exchange you like but if the collection is not over-the-top high interest, the Readers will not come. Of course we all strive to develop a collection that reflects the diversity of today’s students but beyond that, what are the driving interests in your school community?
When I took over the library I could have been forgiven for thinking that the students were avid figure skaters, loved horses and were fascinated by Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In truth, they are none of these things. In our library, hockey, origami, humorous angst and Fantasy rule.
The non-fiction doesn’t have to cover everything. It can’t. It just has to be continually morphing to mirror the student’s interests. Build a collection where students are reading for information but perhaps more importantly, reading for fun.
Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back. Bye-Bye, Dewey. Hello, Chapters. I only have my intermediate fiction sorted by genre and it has made the world of difference. Circulation of novels went up, uncirculated books were discovered. Students love the arrangement.
It’s super easy for shelving and helping students find books during a busy exchange is much more streamlined: “Do you have any ghost stories?” “Why yes, check out the Supernatural section” Drops mic.
Reading reward programs, contests, district programs all have a valuable place in promoting reading. But to be sure, there is no substitute to encourage a reader better than the treasure of a well-matched book.
As students must have choice in what they read, prescribing books that may not suit their reading level or offering prizes in return for check marks, may help build the expectation of a culture of reading but it may not necessarily build Readers.
In the words of Elsa, ‘Let it Go’. Books will get damaged, chewed, drawn on and any number of things that must not be named. I’m all for students learning about responsibility but if the solution to a lost book impacts the ability of the student to be a Reader and the ability of the Librarian to teach, then the solution is, in fact, the bigger problem.
It is up to each Librarian how they choose to handle this ubiquitous issue and there are lots of creative solutions. I have an ‘Oops’ program that works for us and there is another one here. Being too much of a Book Warden can damage relationships.
Cataloguing Indigenous Resources
Dewey unveiled his cataloguing system in 1876 and although it has seen many modifications over the years it still reflects the influences of it’s designer in a number of areas.
The ‘correct’ placement of resources that support the layering of Aboriginal content in our new B.C. curriculum appeared limiting and somewhat divisive. In short, I would struggle to direct an Aboriginal student, curious about their living culture, to the 971 history section, sandwiched and segregated, somewhere between World War II and the Aztecs. Optics matter.
Despite my efforts at sorting and labelling, placing Indigenous Creation Stories next to Little Red Riding Hood in 398.2 Folklore and Fairytales seemed equally as jarring.
After consultation with Surrey colleagues Kim Perry; Teacher, Lynne Powell; Helping Teacher, Lise Tilden; Aboriginal Education, and helpful direction from Heidi Wood; Aboriginal Helping Teacher, I rearranged and re-catalogued to reflect what seems to be more respectful placements whilst still preserving the integrity of a workable comprehensive library.
Here are the highlights:
These are considered to be non-fiction. When I am asked for a Space unit, I am pulling How the Raven Stole the Sun as well, so 523.7 is a logical choice. Similarly, How The Robin got it’s Red Breast goes in the bird section, Cloudwalker on the environment shelf, Mayuk with the bears.
Includes stories that reflect true events or story of an Elder or the author. I have included here traditional stories as well as more contemporary works. The contemporary First Nations titles pictured below were designated Dewey 970 History of North America. I have placed them in Courage 179 and Wisdom 170.
Stories that are for entertainment or a teaching have been placed in Fiction. Some of the Txamsen Stories for example. However, some of these were not in a format or reading level that would work at our school in the picture book section. They are now in 813 Fiction.
The labels are not ideal but they are easily identifiable. Titles that are not First Nations but are Metis or Inuit have a solid red label. Students are able to find these at a glance. Eventually, I will have these labels only on authentic Aboriginal texts. I am still working through these.
The biggest shift was the exodus out of the history section and involved moving all the non-fiction two shelves over. It seemed to me that even a book delineated as describing past traditions was, in fact, describing current traditions. It wasn’t history. I evaluated every book, weeded a few, and placed the rest in 305.897.
The 305s – my favourite section – ‘Groups of People’ – the section we all fit in, in one way or another.
I am sure as we use this system, it will morph and evolve, resulting in an organization that perhaps more accurately reflects the community the collection serves.
Updated April 3rd ’18.
Notes on some of new Strong Nations titles:
- The Great Blanket of Moss – Aleck. Moved from 398.2 to 582.16 Trees
- Why Ravens and Wolves Hunt Together – Aleck. Moved from 398.2 to 599.773 Wolves
- Raven Returns the Daylight – Helin. Moved from 398.2 to 523.7 Sun
- The Sun and the Moon – Aleck. Moved from 398.2 to 523.7 Sun
- Sky Woman – Corneau. Moved from 398.2 to 551 Geology
- The Great Trade – Aleck. Moved from 398.2 to 598 Birds
- Tlingit Storytellers – Helin. Moved from 970.004 to 808.5 Storytelling
- The Woodpecker – Corneau. Moved from Easy to 598.72 Woodpeckers
- The Game – Corneau. Moved from Easy to 796.34 Lacrosse
- Spirit Bear – Helin. Moved from Easy to 599.78 Bears
- Cedar The Tree of Life – Boreham. Moved from 971.004 to 585 Conifers
We began the leap from a traditional library model to a library learning commons in September 2012. Here’s a top 10 list of some of the most striking benefits of a Learning Commons that we have observed:
1. Physical LC: The space is open and inviting with no divisive stacks. There is space to create, to read, to build and to collaborate. Check out our transformation here.
2. Virtual LC: We use social media and digital student portfolios to share work and maintain a website that directs staff and students to the virtual learning commons. Continue reading
At Vanier, an ever growing number of students bring a personal device to school. In the Learning Commons we use those digital devices to increase the circulation of books, particularly among upper intermediate students.
Reluctant readers are able to read, they may just have trouble settling in to a good book. Finding your child’s ‘just right’ book can sometimes be tricky. These common traits of books that appeal to all kinds of learners might help guide your young reader’s choices. One might just be the perfect book to hook your child into becoming a life long reader. Continue reading