Thursday, March 19, 2015

Testing, redux!

After reflecting on the testing situation, and talking with wise friends, I am rethinking testing.  I now think it can be viewed as an opportunity - for solidarity with colleagues, we are all in this together, for demonstrating the spirit of team player, showing administrators we can work and play well with others, and for collaboration experiences.


I am always working for more and better collaboration experiences, and I discovered that testing opened that door.  My teachers had less time to cover what needed to be and when I offered to help out and be a part of their teaching some were thrilled.  A second teacher in the room, as I working on embedding myself in classes when the library space was closed.  Once they realized that I wasn't adding more time to their lessons, but supporting their teaching I was welcomed back; this is building that relationship I want.  Sometimes we need to step back and not push our own agenda, just be that extra set of hands.  I am anxiously waiting to see if we progress toward the next step closer to collaboration ...

There are  many resources available, to assist you as you move to a more collaborative environment.  Here is one I really like.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
Helen Keller

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reflections on Innovation

I went to a wonderful one day conference, an educonference, yesterday.  We learned about some great innovations in technology and ways to use them with students. Or rather, to collect these resources and allow students to create their own learning!  It was an exciting day, learning about Makerspaces, one word for a vast spectrum of ideas, watching students demonstrate their thinking with technology, hearing what new things are happening in other school libraries. 
Now it is the day after, and I am reflecting on all of that.  I guess my first question should be, what exactly do I want as an outcome of this?  What should I offer?  Who should be involved?  How can it be funded?
Thinking outside the box
Here are the steps I plan to take:
  • 1. Create a survey for students, learning what they would like to have.
  • 2. Create a steering committee of interested students, and go through collected data to formulate a plan of action.
  • 3. Take plan to administration and determine follow through opportunities.
  • 4. Set up Makerspace model and see what happens!
  • 5. Reevaluation after a period of time.
That sounds so matter of fact, so opposite of the creative ideas behind makerspaces, but seems essential for success.

What do I hope to gain from this endeavor?  A new space in the media center for students to have a creative outlet, a place to safely "push the envelope", a haven for students who feel out of step with others. 

How about you?  Are you reflecting on innovation?  What do you see as the future of your teaching and learning space?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tested by testing!

The end of the second week of testing, and I am so distressed.  It has totally disrupted library use, denying students who need to access resources, denying students who need a safe place to be, denying opportunities for teaching and collaboration.
Because wishing it will not make testing go away, I am trying to reflect on what can possibly be the learning piece in all of this.  What can I do to make this experience count for something positive? 
The best thing I can say about losing this time is that I have been able to get some things done that are long overdue - budgeting, book ordering, even cleaning off my desk.
What is the positive outcomes for my students?  I really can't think of any.  I will be searching for an answer for a while, I think.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Signs of Spring?

Some people can tell spring is coming when certain birds arrive, or when they begin to see grass again, I know when I once again find myself proctoring the standardized test. Here I sit, watching students slog through a test that they took on this one day at this one time could potentially keep them from graduating with their peers.
      I am trying to use this time to make my final book order of the year.  I'm looking for some good books beyond the few trending titles; books for the discriminating reader.  If you have one with good circulation in your library, drop me a note, and I will post a list. 

This is the book that is "hot" in my library right now, we are using it for Battle of the Books and students are coming back raving!  "I cried more at the end of this than Fault in Our Stars!
Even better, one of my students discovered this book and shared
it with me. 

It might be wishful thinking on my part, but it seems as though
I have more students reading for pleasure.  If not, more students
than ever are stopping at the circ desk to talk about what they
are reading. This is such fun; I am working on a way to use
this energy to share books using social media.

Ah well, these are the things I think about when proctoring,
everything I would like to do if I could only find the time!

How about you?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

What happens on a snow day, really

A snow day, yay!  How did we get it?  I bargained with Mother Nature, of course.  I promised that I would do certain things if we got to stay home, boring, mundane things that were overdue -- but necessary.  How did I really spend the day, why I did them, of course.  I don't want to jinx snow days for everyone else. So I worked on everything I promised, and I cooked as I always do on a snow way.  I mean, what if the power goes out and I don't have a big pot of spaghetti sauce done?  And I sat in my comfy chair with my warm blanket in front of my fireplace and I read.  Actually, I had to read the boring, mundane things I had been putting off.  But that was okay, I was in my  pj's in front of the fireplace, drinking hot chocolate.  And for a while, I just stared out the window, enjoying the show put on by Mother Nature.  So that's my snow day, what is yours?

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I read, you read, what about your students?

What makes a reader?  Many books and articles have been written on the subject, studies have been done and yet it seems to get more difficult all the time for students to actually check out library books.  Is it time, everyone is so busy all the time -- is reading the thing that gets dropped?  Is it technology?  Do we want pictures instead of words?  Are there no good books left?
I like to think that a lot of it is based on enthusiasm. The best thing is if the reader has a passion and zeal for reading -- these individuals will make the time to read, and demand that books are made available to them.  If this is not the case, then the "book seller" AKA teacher or librarian must be the one with enthusiasm, and be persuasive enough to entice one into at least trying out a new title.
Once in a while passion and "selling" are combined in a friend who will not rest until they share a great read with someone else.
I have a few choice books I offer to various reluctant readers:
  • "I Hunt Killers", a mystery about a teen age boy whose father is a serial killer (behind bars) and whose town has a series of murders, which he is convinced is a serial killer.  Has his father taught someone knew, is it the boy himself, or is it something else?  The plot moves fast with great characters, and enough plot twists to keep you engaged throughout.
  • 13 Reasons Why", a realistic fiction story of a suicide. A boy receives a box of cassette tapes (13 sides) which the girl who committed suicide sent to share the 13 things done by others she felt led to her suicide.  While it sounds like a real downer, it is well done and can lead to many great discussions.
  • "Cinder" a sci fi fairy tale retelling of Cinderella.  This is one of the most unique variations I have seen, with lots of action, fast paced, and not too girly.  Because it is the first book of a series, it is great for that reader who doesn't want to go through the effort of learning new characters and settings with each book.
Do you have any "go to" books you pull out when you are trying to reach a student?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lexie or love reading levels?

I love to read!  It is my escape, my refuge, my adventure.  I have wonderful friends in the series books I read and favorite places I visit in stories I love.  So why is it I am avoiding 3 books I must finish?  Because these are books not chosen by me; these are books I am required to read.  No really, I am working with a class and need to read what the students are reading so I can write the comprehension quizzes (here's where collaboration starts, folks!)  I have been doing everything I can possibly think of NOT to read these books.  Why?  Because they are not books of my choosing.  When I found myself cleaning my bathrooms before I got started reading, it made me think, "Is this how students feel when they are told they must read a certain book, one in their lexile range or in a required genre?"  The light bulb came on and I realized how those students feel, the one's who are at risk so teachers  select books for them?  Books that will be just right?  I am not looking to start a debate about the merits of self-selection versus correct reading level, but I am concerned about student engagement.  I did read my three books, I finshed them, even.  But I don't look back and think about the characters I met, I don't wonder about will happen to them next.  They were an assignment, pure and simple, and that is sad.
So here's the discussion starter: what do you do when students come to you with a lexile range and say I have to get  a book at this level?

Just sayin', have you read "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller or "Book Love" by Penny Kittle?