Dust from the Book Fairy

Archive for February 2008

I know that collaborating with my teachers is the ideal situation to teach kids research skills, information literacy, etc.  But I’m on a fixed schedule, library classes are planning time for my teachers, and I have SO much trouble getting them to work with me.  I did get to work on a collaborative project with a teacher last year, but she was an interim and left.  Sigh.  I know this sounds like a lot of excuses.  And it is mostly that, just excuses.  I own that I am having trouble with this part of my job and I want to do better.  I think an opportunity just fell into my lap.

The reading coach came to me yesterday and asked if I would be willing to drop in on teachers’ half day curriculum planning sessions for a bit if she covered my classes for me!  Would I!  I am so excited about this–I’ve been unable to figure out a way to make that work with scheduling, but I’d love to get in there for at least a little bit of time.  Here’s hoping it actually happens.

I just discovered LibraryElf. It will check your library card account for you and email or RSS reminders when things are due, overdue, when holds come in, etc.  Check to see if it works with your library.  You can put several cards on your account (so, if you have a card for all your kids, you can have them all on there & get reminders for all of them).

This happens at least once a day.  Child will ask my Amazing Assistant a question.  Amazing Assistant answers.  Child will turn around to me and ask the SAME question again.

Me: Didn’t Amazing Assistant just tell you the answer to that question?

Child looks confused.

Why?

This week, one of my little ones wanted a particular book.

BF: What’s the book about?

Kid: It’s brown.

BF: The cover’s brown?  What else was on the cover?

Kid: It had a dog on it.  You know, the one ___ had.

BF’s wonderful library assistant, holding up a book she’s about to shelve:  Is it this one?

Kid: YES!

I dare you to top that in a “reference interview” class in library school!

So I had this great idea for a 5th grade lesson. . .

We’ve been working on nonfiction books, leading up to research skills. Indexes, guide words. (I know, it sounds boring as snot, but we’ve been mostly playing games with it, the idea being that they’ll use it for Science project research later on this year in their classrooms).

I had two thoughts:

    • I wanted to get them to realize that they could post comments on the library page, because it’s through edublogs. First incorrect assumption I made: they knew what a blog was.
    • I wanted to remind them about Kids Infobits, a database we have access to from Gale. Second incorrect assumption: They remembered using this last year & remembered the difference between a random webpage and a database.

      So I posted the assignment on the library blog, and walked them through it during class. They were to use Kids Infobits to read a bit about an author they liked. Any author. Then post a comment on the blog telling us which author they read about, why, and anything they found interesting.

      Problems to think through before next class of 5th graders:

        1. They do NOT know what a blog is or how it works. (WHY did I assume they would!?)
        2. They don’t seem to recall ever using Infobits before.
        3. I’ve got some kind of weird security setting on edublogs (or maybe it’s the default). It kicked out some of their comments.

          Some initial decisions/thoughts:

          • I need to break this down a bit more, since we’ve only got 30 minutes for “lesson,” if I give them a reasonable amount of time for book selection.
          1. I think I’ll take my next class of 5th graders through the blog on the Smartboard, and we’ll practice writing a comment together. Probably on a book review post, or something like that. That should be enough for 1 lesson.
          2. Next lesson, remind them about Kids Infobits, what it is, and have them just play with it. See what sort of information they can find about an author, with a partner. Record their thoughts on paper.
          3. Third lesson, post their findings as a comment on the assignment post.
            • I’ll have to backtrack a bit with my guinea pig class, but I think they’ll be okay with that. I let them know that they were test-driving this activity anyway, so they might not be surprised. Their frustration levels with the concept was a little much.

            Random musings:

            I’d love for all my kids to have their own blogs eventually. Write about books they’re reading. Get their teachers to let them use it for class assignments. We have pretty good technology access in the school. Or maybe a wiki would be better. . . . something interconnected, where they can see what others in the school are writing about. I haven’t brought this idea up with admin yet though. I actually haven’t discussed the posting comments part with my principal either, but since they’re all doing it anonymously, I didn’t think of that as a possible need till just now. But the district did just get blogs unblocked this year, so maybe I should tread a bit more carefully.

            UPDATE: Later classes went much better. I broke the lesson down into 2 class periods. In the 1st one, I just showed them what to do on the TEL part and they took notes on their author, on paper. In the 2nd one, I showed them how to post a comment, they finished up their notes and posted a comment.

            What is this blog going to be about?  A lot of things.  Sometimes it might just be a vent, a rant.  Sometimes it might be a book review of a book I simply HAD to read to my students today.  But, mostly I want it to be about teacher librarianship.  What is that?

            The teacher part:

            Looking over my lesson plans from my first few years of teaching, I was much more consistent at reflecting on my practice in the classroom.  I made notes about what worked and what didn’t, students to watch or wonder about, ideas for future lessons, etc. almost every week.  Since moving from the classroom to the library, I don’t reflect in any organized or useful way.  I’d like to get back to that sort of beneficial, organized reflection.  But the teaching in the library isn’t as organized.  I think blogging about my teaching would improve my reflections, and make it more regular. I also hope that any readers might feel moved to comment on my meager reflections, accomplish the collaborative  element to reflections that I don’t quite get in my daily isolation as the sole librarian in my school.  Although LM_NET goes a LONG way toward fixing that feeling of isolation!

            The librarianship part:

            That includes quite a bit nowadays. . . it sure ain’t just stamping books and issuing overdue slips anymore!    Well, blogging–web 2.0.  I want my students to have experience with web 2.0 technologies–what better way to prepare myself for imparting that than to do it myself? I already READ a lot of blogs.  But, other than my school library’s website, I don’t contribute to the well of knowledge out there.  So here’s my first contribution–so far, just dreams about what I want to do.

            More reality soon.