National Library Card Sign-Up Month.
I saw it on a calendar, and my heart skipped a beat. It was my chance to finally really collaborate with my public library in a meaningful way! My students love free wi-fi and the new teen space at our public library is something to behold. Our students even painted the mural occupying the giant wall during the library's construction. If there was ever a time to invite the PL crew over, it was National Library Card Sign-Up Month!
Via email, we quickly drafted a plan: the public library would come during all lunches on every Wednesday in September. My library advertised it to the school starting during the beginning of the school year Open House and never let up. We lit up social media. We were plastered on the tvs throughout the school. We had posters! We were in the announcements.
And I don't think a single student signed up for a library card.
Why? Well, one reason is that the vast majority of our students couldn't sign up without their parents, and parents weren't taking off of work in the middle of the day to come sign up for library cards.
Another reason: the students felt the public library was invading the school library's turf. I was shocked! I said we'd planned it together and the school library had advertised it. But since I proctored classes during lunch time and I wasn't sitting WITH the PL crew, students assumed things.
I wish this could be a different story. A tale of reaching the masses of students and every one walking out with a plastic library card in hand. It's not true.
We did do some powerful things. We put the public library into the heads of the students. We showed a bridge between school and the real world. We demonstrated that different libraries co-exist without it becoming a war between the Greasers and Socs. So, we'll keep trying with new ideas in the future.
For the record, our PL crew was amazing to work with. I am so proud to have them serving our community.
Oh, back to school season!
It's a great jolt to the school library's summer laziness when all the students return and suddenly circulation is back in full swing. I love it! Everything is at its best.
Students are polite and kind.
Teachers are polite and kind.
LIBRARIANS are polite and kind.
Enthusiasm peeks around every corner. No one cares if you have a box of books that hasn't arrived yet or if the library shelves aren't just so. We're all on our best summer sun-kissed behavior.
This year marks a lot of "let's try it" initiatives for me and my school library. The first to demonstrate immediate positive results is introducing book walks/book passes/book speed dating.
No matter how you organize your book pass, don't lose sight of your purpose for doing it: to introduce students to a host of books they might read and to encourage conversations between and among students about books. (Miller, p.113)
What a great opportunity to have nearly every student in the school come through the library right away! Teachers were on board to try a book pass instead of the "regular" checkout experience of turning the children completely lose like a pack of feral wolves and hoping they made good choices. The library was excited to establish the library's three expectations - effort, listen, and no put downs - and get some new and old books in front of so many faces.
You know the scene: tables of carefully curated books. Ours were separated by interest and tailored to the teacher bringing students in and their purpose. Fortunately, our teachers are great at planning in advance so we were able to switch books on a period to period basis with our fully loaded waiting book carts.
Students saw books they may never have seen otherwise, tried new things, and honed their personal reading tastes. They also saw a library staffed with people who care and listen to them. They saw adults working together to support their success.
Was it perfect? No. In fact, we had a student loudly proclaim that he hates reading choose to fill out his log rating all books a 0, with no interest, no appropriate vocabulary, no stamina, and no fluency. But, he DID fill out the entire log, so he put his hands on many more books than the students actually studying each book to answer all of the questions. We're counting it a small victory. The log we had students use was from
Then, the book pass experience lead to other experiences: MLA citations, how to use our databases, showing classes how to renew their own books on their iPads, and planning ahead for Banned Books Week activities to span the classroom/library divide.
All in all: the book pass activity was a great way to begin our year. Will we repeat it on a regular basis? Probably not - but I do have an idea brewing for before Christmas break that looks a lot like a White Elephant gift exchange.
So what's the book I quoted above? It's called "Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids" by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. It got my library fire roaring. I'll wind up sharing a lot from it this year, and I encourage you to grab a copy. I got mine from Amazon. It's all highlighted and written in because that's how I respond to learning. I hope you love it too!
Who knew Jane Austen would be the one to credit with one of my favorite library activities this school year? You see, her birthday was on Sunday, December 16. Ms. Austen's been around our school a lot this year - our One Act team did "Darcy & Elizabeth" as their show. When I found out that one of our classes was finishing up "Pride & Prejudice" and getting ready to take a final over the book during the last week of school before Christmas break, a light bulb went on above my head.
Fortunately, the teacher is quick to collaborate and tries new things all of the time. He loved the idea of having a tea party, and the date was quickly decided upon. I stalked Amazon, dollar stores, and begged for cups and saucers. I designed name cards on Canva using one of my favorite Jane Austen quotes:
My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.
All of the preparation was well worth it! Everything pulled through - from the linens arriving on time, to beautiful "silver" serving trays at the dollar store, and finally the cups and saucers being provided from a variety of folks.
However, nothing could have been better than when the students were physically here. I taught nineteen high schoolers how to brew a cup of tea. They experimented with three different kinds of tea: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, and Candy Cane. They added lemon and sugar. They snacked on dainty biscuits as conversation flowed about anything and everything - mostly just questions about tea and how their friends were preparing it. A student played harpsichord music on his phone to complete the atmosphere. Everyone was calm and enjoying each other's company. Snapchat was BUSY!
It was so nice to be able to give students the experience to sit and chat, try something new, and - dare I say - relax. Later, they went over the study guide for their test tomorrow. When students left, some asked if they could take their name tags with them. (Of course I said yes!)
What I hope they take with them from today is the value of just sitting and being with others. Present in the moment and being open to something new - even if it's something you think isn't your thing.
We've decided that we must find an author with a passion for coffee for next semester. Perhaps a modern author with different musical tastes. Let us know if you have any ideas!