July 28, 2016

Schools and the Public Library Partnering for a Library Card Drive

As my district embraced 1:1, students were encouraged to use their learning device more and more.  As a librarian, I saw this as an opportunity to teach integrated technology and blended learning.  I wanted to provide students with access to quality online resources and collections.  In Ohio, we have Infohio.  It is a wonderful electronic resource that’s available to all students within our state.  Another local facility that provides access to electronic resources and ebooks is the public library.  However, users need a library card to acquire and use any public library resource, print or electronic.  So I set out to form a partnership between my school district and my local public library.  My goal - to provide every registered student in the district a public library card.  Here are the steps we took to achieve this goal:

1 - Get all parties on board.  I took my idea to the librarians at my local public library.  They loved the idea and were thrilled to be have a partner within the school system.  Next, we met with central office administrators in my district.  Sold on a platform to help students as we they move to 1:1, they loved the idea.  

2 - Get student information.  While my district supported our cause, they were unwilling to provide the public library with student names and birthdays.  While we tried to convince them that the public library protects their patron’s identity and information in the same way the schools do, but they were unconvinced.  We asked for an opt out option for families - all students would get a library card unless a parent said no.  They didn’t like this idea either.  So we all agreed to do an opt in option - parents interested in getting a library card for their child completed an online form to provide us with the necessary information (name, birthdate, school building).  Starting in March, the online form was pushed out by CO to all parents for a few weeks straight.  It was promoted to families as a way to help their child access electronic resources for 1:1.  The online form was pushed out again for a few weeks in April and May to promote the public library’s summer reading program, since all participants now need a library card to get signed up and participate.  I wrote these promotional messages and reminder CO to put them out often.

3 - Generate mass library cards.  Week by week, the forms began rolling in and the public library staff went to work assigning library cards.  The librarians at my local library worked feverishly to issue card after card.  Personally, I got cards for almost every student in one of my buildings.  I worked with the classroom teachers to email parents for permission and submitted student info the the public library.  We told parents the students need a public library card for summer reading and to used in class to access ebooks.  Then I taught many lessons showing students how to use their library card to find and download ebooks.  

4 - Distribute library cards to students.  When the library cards were created, the public library called me to deliver them to the schools.  They’d give me a bag full of envelopes, each stuffed with a public library card and labeled with the student’s name and building.  I received permission to take an hour every few weeks to distribute the public library cards.  Some I would send to librarians in other buildings, and some I drove personally to each building.  This was no small task considering our district has 15,000 students in 22 school buildings.  

In the end, I wasn’t able to provide every registered student in my school district a public library card.  But I was able to get library cards into many student’s hands.  Hopefully these students are using these cards to participate in the reading program over the summer, and will use them to access quality online resources with their device when in school.  As a librarian, it’s a small act that makes a big impact.  

July 20, 2016

The Challenge Continues . . . The 2009 Buckeye Book Award Winner

And the reading challenge continues!  As stated in a previous post, my librarian friend Ashley Lambacher of the Book Talker and I are hosting the Buckeye Book Award Reading Challenge.  Our goal is to read all the past winners from the children’s book category in chronological order from 1982 to the present.  I will read the K-2 picture book winners and Ashley will read the 4-8/3-5 chapter book winners.  Today I continue my challenge by reading the winner of the K-2 Buckeye Book Award in 2009, The Chicken of the Family by Mary Amato.

I had never read Chicken of the Family, so this award winner was new to me.  This book is about a gullible little girl named, Henrietta.  Her two older sisters Kim and Clare were always teasing her, but when they told her a big fib she fell for it.  They told her she was a chicken!  At first she didn't believe it, but the more information the girls gave her, the more convincing they sounded.  They told her she had long toes like a chicken and yellow legs.  On and on they went and she began to think she was a real chicken.  In the morning when she got out of bed she saw an egg and two feathers.  So she ran away to Barney's farm to find her chicken family.  To fit in, she flaps her arms and rolls in the dirt. When her sisters come to take her home, they work hard to convince Henrietta that she is a real girl.  The cartoon-like illustrations are bright, busy, and appealing to kids.  I shared this book with my four year old daughter and she loved it!  This adorable book is an understandable winner of the 2009 Buckeye Book Award.

Ashley, are you familiar with Chicken of the Family?  Your upcoming 2009 book is Found by Haddix.  I love this book and series, and everything Haddix writes.  To me, this is a true award winning book!

Would you like to join Ashley and I as we read through Ohio’s award winning books?  We welcome any and all who are interested in participating in this fun reading challenge.  For more information, click here.

July 7, 2016

Ways to Keep Students Reading Over the Summer

Every year, teachers tell students to read over the summer months.  They tell them summer reading keeps their skills sharp and prepares them for the next grade level.  Beyond talk, do teachers take any actions to motivate students to read of the summer?  Here are some ideas!   Over the years, I’ve cultivate a variety of ways to keep students reading all summer long.  

To provide greater access to books, each spring I allow students to check out books from the school library to take home for summer break.  It’s a waste for the books to sit on the library shelf all summer long.  The books should be in the hands of readers, taking them on wonderful adventures!  Students interested in participating need to return all their library books by a certain date and complete a parent permission slip.  Then the last few days of school, these students checkout four books from the school library to read over the summer months.  There are exchange days in June and August when the school’s library is open.  During these times, students return their books and get four new ones.  To provide excitement, I offer cookies and put out makerspace activities for students and their families to enjoy.  All books checked out over the summer are due back the first day of the new school year.

Little Free Libraries provide another way to provide students with increased access to books over the summer.  I run three Little Free Libraries for my students.  One library is located in my neighborhood, which serves the students who live near me.  The other two libraries are located in front of each of my schools.  Little Free Libraries are a book exchange.  Students give a book they’ve already read, then take a new book they want to read.  During the summer months, the books in these libraries move quickly.  They are a wonderful way to support reading outside of school, especially during the summer months.  For more information on how to start and manage a Little Free Library, visit my blog at http://thepageturninglibrarian.blogspot.com.  

To encourage students to visit the public library and participate in their summer reading program, I organize Teacher Tuesdays.  Every Tuesday during the summer, there is a designated time for teachers and students to gather at the public library.  Teachers visit with students, encourage summer reading, and make reading suggestions.  Teacher Tuesdays is a wonderful motivator to get students into the public library, checking out books, and reading all summer long.

Books on Bikes is another exciting way to provide increased access to books.  On an evening in July, some teachers and I rode our bikes through the school’s neighborhoods.  We visited with students, giving them free books and a popsicle.  I used Scholastic book fair points and funds to acquire books to give away to students.  Books on Bikes was started in Charlottesville, VA.  For more information, go to http://www.booksonbikescville.org.  

If students read over the summer, I reward them when they return to school in August.  I ask students to write down the titles of books they read over the summer, get their parents to sign the list, and return it to me by a certain date.  Students who did summer reading are invited to a summer reading party!  They enjoy extra recess, music, popsicles or ice-cream, and a free book of their choice!  This party is always a blast and a wonderful motivator to encourage kids to summer read.

Studies by Krashen (2004) simply state, ‘More access to books results in more reading.’  I truly believe that if you increase access to books and provide a little motivation, students will read over the summer months.  For the most part, these are easy ways to encourage summer reading.  Next year, I’d like to start a Book Mobile! I  welcome any information or suggestions to get this started.  Good luck and best wishes getting students to summer read!