Diverse books has been on my collection radar since I came to RHES, but because of the necessity of curating and budgeting for resources for the new science and social studies Georgia Standards of Excellence as well as a lack of time for an in-depth needs assessment of our diverse books, it was put on the back burner. While I have purchased a few titles here and there, curating diverse books has not been on the top of my to-do list. Not anymore! With my book fair coming up and the very anticipated monetary funding it will bring, I am excited to start building my to-purchase lists full of diversity.
Libraries are an important market for featuring diversity. When we include diverse books on our shelves and promote these books to our patrons, we are doing three super important things.
First, we are giving visibility to diverse books and the communities they represent, something that theorists such as Vygotsky agree can positively influence student's self-identity or perceptions of others, especially while they’re young.
Second, as the American Library Association explains, libraries can include substantial collections of material about different cultures, which helps to frame discussions, provides a basis for factually accurate debates, and demonstrates that diverse groups are complex and influential within society.
Lastly, libraries make books accessible to all people, including those who might not normally be able to read, but would benefit from diverse literature.
Where to Start?!
I'm not going to lie. It was daunting going through 14,000 copies in our library, but between my amazing media clerk and me, we were able to make a firm list of books that represent people of different races, nationalities, and a variety of backgrounds. I can't say I am proud of the list, because although I think the diverse books we do have are of sound quality, there is an overwhelming disparity between the breadth of our collection and the number of diverse books. I added our books to a resource list in Destiny so all of our teachers have access to the list of books. The books went into a special display in our library to bring attention to books our teachers and students can check out. Now I am on the mission of building our to-purchase lists.
Here are some resources I have been using to build our lists:
What books do you think are essential diverse reads?
This may sound weird to many, but I cannot stand silence. What librarian says that? As a classroom teacher, I always had background music playing, usually Pandora, for concentration, improved behavior, and just a general "feel-good" component of our classroom. When I became a media specialist, it was natural for me to want to play music in the background to try to recreate the feeling of comfort, relaxation, and welcoming nature of my classroom. Pandora was amazing because it offered song selections based on songs or artists you listen to, like The Piano Guys. I paid the $4.99 subscription to not have commercials. While Pandora was awesome in its' own way, I tried a free trial of Spotify and fell in love with collaborative playlists and all that Spotify has to offer. While it is a tad more expensive ($9.99/month), I feel like the ability to compile my own playlists is worth it. My main reason-I do not have to worry about my playlist accidentally playing a song not appropriate for the library or a song with words, as I do only use instrumental music.
At the middle school level, I love incorporating more than the Piano Guys like music scores and game scores because the students feel connected more to the music. It also generates some good rapport building when they say they like the music or start talking about games/movies they're interested in. The more I know about each student, the more I can help with reader's advisory. If I know what type of movie or game a student enjoys, I can help pick out that 'just right' book that might pique their interest. The other part of that is if students feel like they can talk to me, they feel more comfortable being in the library and participating in the programs I offer. Everything I do in the library is designed around students' interests, needs, and wants (well...and curriculum), so I love building relationships so I incorporate all of that into our library programming. All of that, I truly believe, starts with the music I play in the library.
So if you've been thinking about playing some Skyrim music, go for it! You never know what unmotivated turned motivated student you may have just ignited a relationship with because of a song!
Our first Bagels, Books, and Bytes of 2018 was Epic! One of my favorite technology resources out there for elementary students is Epic! ebooks. We've been using Epic! in our library since last year, but this year, I have just fallen in love with the collection component and the ease in which I can share collections of books to our students and staff. I have been modeling how to use this awesome tool by using Epic! for informational literacy skills during our projects (thank you HyperDocs!) and keeping an ebook station open all day, every day. Our students know how to use the app, but I really wanted teachers to learn how they can use it in the classroom as well.
Epic! is so amazing that I could not go into 2018 without our teachers knowing about it, so I made sure this was our first topic of Bagels, Books, and Bytes in the new year. Overall, I got great feedback from teachers stating they want to use Epic! more in their classrooms and I helped several teachers sign up for their own accounts. At the very least, I have had teachers emailing me to ask me to curate collections for their classrooms to push out to students.
Want to know more about Bagels, Books, and Bytes?
I try to offer a professional development session once a month in person for teachers in which I provide nummy goodies like bagels, donuts, fruit, and COFFEE. I try to keep the presentation short and sweet with the ability for teachers to stay around for a bit if they want to ask more in-depth questions or collaborate on a project. I usually gauge what topics to cover from surveys through Google Forms or from listening to teachers needs and wants at meetings, data teams, or in the lunch room. Teachers are no obligated to come, but I do make sure I include times most of our teachers can attend. For example, our teachers are required to be at school by 8am and the students are dismissed to class at 8:20-8:25am so I usually do a BBB from 7:45-8:15am so teachers do not have to arrive too early and they have time to stop by the restroom on the way to class. This works with our schedule because our teachers have such sporadic planning times and lunch times throughout the day and teachers prefer not to stay after school this year since our school day was pushed back. I also advertise, advertise, advertise so teachers know and remember that I am doing a BBB and what the topic is. Instagram, Twitter, Email, and printed invitations in teacher mailboxes. If you have any questions on starting something like this at your school, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd love to help!
Librarians have always been on the forefront of information technology, from tablets and scrolls to microfiche and now we an obligation to continue this tradition by being aware of and learning new technology tools to enhance the learning opportunities of our patrons.
I believe this is a main reason Leading Beyond the Library and Facilitating Professional Learning are an essential component to the Future Ready Librarians Framework. By pursuing my Google Certification, I am able to support my Future Ready Librarian goals and the district's goals for deeper learning with the use of technology integration, curating digital resources and tools, and empowering our students as learners. By understanding G Suite apps and how they can be applied to our classroom and our library, I can help facilitate professional learning as well. What I liked most about the certification process is that it allowed me to learn Google more in-depth and how it can be applied for deeper learning. While I learned a little from the Level 1 training, it was mostly information and skills I previously knew. Level 2 took what I already knew and made me apply it more in-depth. I also learned aspects of Gmail I did not know, which was awesome!
My goal is to now be able to offer G Suite professional development to teachers as an option for our Bagels, Books, and Bytes sessions or for teachers on an individual basis while also incorporating it into our library programming to lead by modeling.
Curious why else you should consider getting your Google Certification? Check out what Kacey Bell says:
Interested in Google Certification?
I found Kasey Bell's Level 1 matrix and information extremely helpful. Check out her info here.
To go more in depth with G Suite for Level 2, check out the Google Training website. I bookmarked anything I may have needed more information on during the test (like shortcuts for Google Sheets).
Side note: Make sure you register for the exam the day before you want to take the test. It can take 24 hours for the test to be ready.
Looking back on 2017, it was an amazing year! So much went on in our library I can't begin to recap everything but here are some highlights:
In addition to the library programs I have offered throughout the year, I was also able to meet some pretty exciting professional goals:
I truly believe setting goals and keeping track of progress has helped me achieve so many of my goals for 2017. Going into 2018, I am reminding myself of the goals I set for our library at the beginning of the year, but I think I am going to narrow down my focus to three important wedges of the Future Ready Librarian Framework.
On a more personal note, one of my goals this year is to read more. My goal this year is 25 books other than picture books! What books do you think should be on my must read list?!
I would love to hear what your 2018 goals are! Let's work together to be accountable and lift each other up on our journey. Comment below or find me on Twitter!
For the month of December, Robin and I decided to change our format for #GaLibChat from a live Twitter chat to a slow chat with 12 days of resources gift for our PLN. Check out what we came up with below:
A little late in the game, but I can't go into an amazing 2018 without covering some of the best of 2017.
If you've been around me long enough, or maybe even a minute, you know how much I love going to conferences. Going to a good professional development session or in the case, days of them, can do an educator a lot of good like rejuvenating their spirits, sparking a new interest, teaching new strategies, or helping connect with other educators. GaETC is one of my favorite conferences to go to because it helps me connect with educators around the state of Georgia and is always full of great ideas and strategies I can bring back to my library and our teachers.
Here are my top takeaways from this year:
Virtual & Augmented Reality
Virtual reality has been on my radar for a while, but I was excited to see how far it has come since buying my first Google cardboard for our middle schoolers 3 years ago! It felt like virtual and augmented reality was everywhere in the exhibitor hall and in many of the sessions. I went to one session in particular that got me super excited about how we can use virtual reality in the classroom.
#1 app: Google Expeditions helps bring lessons to life! The teacher can use Google Expeditions to bring history alive, show 3D scans of the brain, visit exotic biomes, and more. At the very least, it helps make learning more visual and engaging. Each expedition comes with a script the teacher can use to guide the students through a virtual field trip.
#2: Nearpod offers engaging virtual field trips! You can create your own or use one of the many already made virtual field trips/lesson plans. While you don't need headsets for this to work, it makes the experience more effective (after participating in a lesson at GaETC). It's been a game-changer for lessons in our library and now that I know about the VR trips, I can see so many applications to our curriculum.
#3: Google Maps and Street View helps students visualize and understand the world around them. There is so much that Street View has to offer beyond the Google Maps directions.
If you have not visited the Street View webpage, do it now! There are so many options for virtual field trips here. What a great way to introduce or expand on your lessons to make the places your students are learning about come alive! The gallery option allows students to explore on their own or your could send students the direct link to a virtual field trip through Google Classroom or by QR code (try Google Shortner for a quick QR code generator). It's a long link to type out so make sure you are prepared when sharing with students or teachers.
As part of the Future Ready Librarian Framework, though, we should be challenging students to become creators rather than consumers of information. Google Street View allows you to create street view 360 degree images as well! To do this, you can use the Google Street View app or use a 360 degree camera, which you can use to capture an image and upload at a later time. This is our favorite way of using this tool!
Suggested idea: Capture 360 images of your community buildings. Have students to write descriptions for the buildings and upload the images to Street View. We live in a transient military town so I could see this being used to help families learn more about their new community and surroundings.
Breakout EDU has come across my Twitter, professional articles, and in my PLN's for a few years, but 2017 seems to be the year that it has really taken off. At the First District RESA Media Collaborative, I was able to participate in my first Breakout and since then I have been hooked! I made sure to fit a few Breakout sessions into my schedule. My favorites were the digital Breakouts because they were much more cost effective and easier for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms.
If money was not an option, I would love to have something like Escape the Bus. In 45 minutes, you had to work together in a team to crack the codes and escape the bus. It really was all about critical thinking skills rather than knowing specific knowledge, but I can see this being able to translate to the classroom by having it as either a teamwork building activity or changing the codes to include knowledge of the subject content. Some of the Bryan County tech team and I made it out with 7 minutes and 43 seconds still left!
If you've never heard of Breakout before this post:
Breakout EDU brings critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity together as students find and solve a series of challenging puzzles that involve various locks and coded messages that ultimately leads them to unlocking a final box. The puzzles have been created to cover over 16 different subject matters, as well as giving teachers a way to customize puzzles for their own content. But what if you don’t have a Breakout EDU kit yet? Then try the digital versions that they offer! Computers are all you need as kids solve puzzles and virtual locks to complete the tasks in the allotted time. With Breakout EDU, students become the masters of their own learning as they work together to solve the puzzles, and teachers are able to observe how learners approach problem solving and apply their knowledge.
To connect with other educators who love Breakout EDU, try searching for groups on Facebook.
Some of the best moments for collaboration or conversations on education can come from networking opportunities during conferences. I've met lifelong friends and collaborative partners, local and global, through my involvement with conferences like ISTE or GaETC.
This year was extra special because I felt like I was able to connect more with our Bryan County technology team as well as meet many of the wonderful individuals who are helping to build our #GaLibChat PLN. It's amazing that it takes us going to a conference across the state to be able to connect! It's understandable considering the amount and depth of the hats we wear at each of our school locations so I appreciated the moments we could talk about ideas on how to apply what we were learning to our Bryan County curriculum or school improvement plans.
As for #GaLibChat, I was so glad I was able to connect with our GLMA representatives to spread the word of our PLN and how we can work together moving forward to help library media specialists across our great state become more empowered. Side note-all those #GaLibChat buttons were from yours truly. Another great PLN I have joined through Twitter this year is #TECHtalkGA, which has been a great resource for me learning new technology and advocating for the needs of Coastal Georgia schools.
One of the things I love most about attending conferences is presenting. I really love being able to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with other educators to show how easy (ok...and super hard) project-based learning can be BUT I also love getting feedback from others outside of my 'people.' It's always nice to see how other grade levels, content areas, districts, etc. could use the project and offer their own input to make it even better. It's the heart of collaboration as educators.
This year I presented on my experience with gamification and how I have applied it to our library. I really started to learn about game-based learning and gamification in the classroom during my specialist degree classes. Check out the presentation below if you would like to learn more about what I have been doing with gamification. If you'd like to connect to work on something together or if you have any questions, I would love to chat! Connect with me on twitter or email.
In full disclosure, narrowing my thoughts and learning from GaETC into one blog post is an injustice to the conference and its presenters. It’s like describing Disney World to someone who has never been; you can try, but to truly grasp the magic you must go there yourself. For those of you yet to attend GaETC, save the date for next year: November 7-9, 2018. I hope to see you there!
School Librarian in Metro Atlanta