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“What Worked” Wednesday: Keeping Books Visible on Library Shelves February 11, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Library Space, What Worked.
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What Worked Wednesdays | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in TechI’m starting a new series based on several of the “ideas that worked” that I’ve previously blogged about, such as Cheap and Easy Library Decorations, our Library Treasure Store program for K-2 students, and the Whole Number Dewey modified library classification for elementary students.  Each post will include an idea that worked in my school library and how it makes my life less stressful, more organized, and/or more manageable.

Today’s idea that worked is:

Use shallow cardboard boxes to keep books
forward on library shelves.

How this idea lowers my stress level:

Books pushed back into the shadows of a shelf are one of my librarian pet peeves.  Elementary students probably think they’re being helpful when they do this, and I have no desire to spend valuable instruction time teaching them to leave the books where they are. 

"What Worked" Wednesday: How to Keep Books Visible on Library Shelves | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in TechTo keep my sanity, I collect small, shallow boxes and put them behind chapter books so they can’t be pushed back.  So far, I have about 25 shelves completed, and to my eyes it does make the books more visible.  It’s especially helpful for “first chapter books” aka easy readers, fiction novels, and our easy nonfiction books.

I plan to add more boxes as I find or get them until I complete the rest of the first chapter books section and the fiction section.  I haven’t compared circulation stats yet, but I’m wondering if they will increase or not with more light shining on the book spines.

Try it out, and see if you like the brighter look of your library shelves!

 

If you would like more library management tips like this one, as well as elementary and secondary library curriculum and makerspace resources, follow me on Pinterest!

 

Review: “Making Makers” by AnnMarie Thomas December 20, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Makerspace!, Reflections, Reviews.
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Mrs. J in the Library's Reviews | A Wrinkle in Tech

After reading “Invent to Learn” by Gary Stager and Sylvia Libow Martinez, I learned about LOTS of great makers and the kits they make/sell to encourage students to create and to learn.  One of those kits is AnnMarie Thomas’s Squishy Circuits kit that uses salt dough (like Play-Doh™) for electronic wires.  Last year, I bought a Squishy Circuits kit to try out, and though I don’t find suitable for our library’s makerspace, my young niece and nephew (ages 4 and 7) got endless enjoyment from it as they “made a party” on my living room tableSo when I saw Dr. Thomas’s new book, “Making Makers,” about how to introduce the children in my life, whether they are my students or my relatives, to the maker movement, I was excited to read it.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase an item after clicking on a link, I will receive a small commission.  See Disclosures & Disclaimers for more information.

Mrs. J in the Library Reviews "Making Makers" by AnnMarie Thomas | Mrs. J in the Library

Mrs. J in the Library reviews “Making Makers” by AnnMarie Thomas (affiliate link)

“Making Makers” is a slim book, only 145 pages.  Each chapter focuses on a certain aspect of makers and the maker movement; that aspect is then demonstrated with anecdotes of funny, often dangerous, childhood escapades of prominent makers.  As a primer to the larger maker movement, I think this book is an excellent place to start, and for educators, “Making Makers” may be a way to introduce faculty to the maker movement before reading “Invent to Learn.”

Dr. Thomas uses a narrative, laid-back style to tell the story of how the maker movement’s participants grew up.  She has interviewed over 35 makers and engineers in addition to reflecting on her own experiences as a maker and a mother of 2 daughters.  The result is a thorough, albeit not comprehensive, roll call of the “movers and shakers” of the maker movement.  What I found most refreshing and completely AWESOME, however, is that her interviewees represent a wide variety of racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds.  There is also a balanced number of male and female makers, though I didn’t count as I read.  This fact is especially noteworthy after the recent discussion of diversity (or the lack thereof) in children’s and YA literature, and Leah Beuchley’s poignant speech at the Eyeo conference on how the de facto “voice” of the maker movement, MAKE:™ magazine, isn’t really as diverse as they and their Maker Education Initiative claim to be.

In light of Dr. Beuchley’s speech and the related school library discussion of diversity, it was nice to read a book published by Maker Media (MAKE:™ magazine’s parent company) that represented makers and people from so many different backgrounds and life experiences.  We need more of those stories told, and I hope “Making Makers” is the start of a trend towards greater diversity in Maker Media’s products.  I also hope this book begins to broaden the definition of “making” to replace the current perception that it only includes electronics, programming, and 3D printing.

Finally, I appreciated the constant tension that Dr. Thomas talks about in her reflections on raising 2 daughters to be makers. The line between performing dangerous stunt experiments with foolish risks, and excited engagement in a learning activity with acceptable risks is often a precarious line to walk.  And it’s even more precarious for teachers.  Parents have a large amount of control over the amount of risk they introduce to their child.  As a teacher with 22-30 students in my care and potential lawsuits weighing on my mind, my comfort level with student risk-taking drops significantly. 

Still, I get the sense from reading that it’s perfectly normal to feel the tension between those two places.  Learning can, and should, be exciting and a little risky.  When did we stop teaching like that, anyway?  I’m just not sure our current education system and the wider society has caught up with those ideas yet.  Still, Dr. Thomas’s empowering message to parents and teachers is this:

We don’t get to pick our children’s interests, but we do get to influence how broad an array of experiences they are exposed to….[And] we get to choose how we encourage the endeavors and interests that they choose for themselves. ~Dr. AnnMarie Thomas in Making Makers

All in all, if you’re a teacher or librarian interested in the maker movement, I think “Making Makers” is required reading, and well worth adding to your professional literature collection.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. 

Merry Christmas, and to my teacher readers, I hope you have a restful break!

Book Tastings: 7 Steps to Promote Your Best Books! October 29, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Tablets & Apps.
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In light of all the fun that Halloween, *cough* I mean Book Character Dress-up Day brings, I thought I’d share a fun learning experience that I tried last year and have gotten to revisit again this year…Book Tastings!

Book Tastings: 7 Steps to Promote Your Best Books! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

My first book tasting set-up; P.S. – This was NOT enough books on each table…not by a long shot!

I’ve written before about how I don’t really do booktalks, at least not very often with such limited time in my schedule. Admittedly, I’m also not very good at “keeping up” with reading new children’s literature and the four-month backlog of School Library Journal that’s currently sitting on my coffee table.  And you can’t recommend what you haven’t read.
In the past 2 years, though, I’ve discovered that book tastings are a more efficient way to introduce students to both new books and some old classics.

Here’s my basic process:
1. Schedule a time  with the classroom teacher for students to visit the library for about an hour. (This is by far the hardest part.) Consult with the classroom teacher about the range of reading levels in the class and any specific genre he/she would like to highlight.
If at all possible, invite other teachers who work with struggling readers in that class, e.g. reading specialists, learning support teachers.

2. On each library table or area, pile about 30 *attractive-looking* books from one genre or topic. This is not the time to pull out Mr. Popper’s Penguins or A Wrinkle in Time with their original cover art (no matter how much you and I might love them).  Instead, set out the best of your updated-cover classics as well as newer books that you know students will like if they give them a chance.  Have an equal number of fiction and nonfiction genres represented, and mix of various reading levels. Fill the table with two layers if needed! Better to have too many than not enough in this case.

3. Students come with a list (or a blank sheet of paper) or a tablet/laptop if your school has 1:1 devices.  If using devices, show students how to login to Destiny Quest to access their account and add to “My List.”

4. Explain directions and start a timer for 7-8 minutes (can be shortened to 5 if you’re in a hurry).  Each student has 7-8 minutes to “shop” or “taste” the books on that table.  If they are interested in a book and they MAY want to check it out later, they either write it on their paper list, or add it to their “My List” in Destiny Quest.

5. Meanwhile, all the teachers in the room circulate and make sure the books that students choose are ones they can actually read.  If needed, they can recommend an on-the-spot Five-Finger Test or comprehension check.

6. At the end of the 7-8 minutes when the timer buzzes, students rotate tables and you start the timer again.  Repeat until all students have visited all tables.

7. If time and schedule allows, I let students check out 1 or 2 of their favorites now, and save the list for later in the year.

When I did my first book tasting, I bought Carolyn at Risking Failure‘s Book Tasting product on TpT.  It was well worth it to get me started, and now I can do it on my own with just some basic place-cards at each table to label each genre/topic.

Our Fall 2014 tables were: Realistic Fiction, History and Historical Biography (double table), Science & Scientists (double table), Art/Music/Artists/Musicians/Fun/Sports, and Mystery/Adventure.

Of course, I did try to sneak in some fantasy/sci fi books at the mystery/adventure table.  They are my favorite genres after all, but it was just a few!  The double tables were 2 separate stops on the rotation, and consisted of 2 tables pushed together.  Having 2 double tables allowed students to linger a little while longer on the nonfiction, and I could also showcase some of our excellent picture book biographies that our older students usually dismiss as too young or easy for them.

Have you ever done a book tasting in your library or classroom?  If so, I’d love to hear what your “menu” looked like!  List your topics/genres in the comments, and any other ideas you would like to share.

TL Blogging Challenge #19 – Glows, Grows, and Professional Journals July 3, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, PSLA, Reflections.
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TL Blogging Challenge #19 – What is one thing you wish you were better at.  Just one!  Why?  What could you do to improve in this area?

GlowsandGrowsAs part of my reflection process, I have a section in my lesson plans for “Glows and Grows.”  My favorite professor at Messiah College, Dr. Anita Voelker, taught me that phrase, and I use it to focus on both the positive things that happened in a lesson, the glows, and the things that I need to work on next time, the grows.

Professionally, one of my all-the-time “grows” is keeping up with professional reviews for collection development.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say I am 4-5 months behind in reading School Library Journal, the one professional journal I subscribe to in print, and I rarely read others like Library Media Connection, Teacher Librarian or PSLA‘s Learning and Media Online.  It’s just not a very high priority on my ever-lengthening to-do list; there are too many other things that I feel are more important than reading reviews.  Plus, sometimes, I think the print journals often mirror what I’ve already read in my Feedly RSS reader.  (See the PLN links on the right to see who I follow by RSS.)

When I first met my New York Giants-loving husband, I often used football games to read SLJ.  I could read the articles and all the reviews in a single issue in the span of one football game, and it was always nice to curl up on the couch with my hubby while catching the main highlights of the game.  I’m not a huge football fan, so this worked well for me.  This past year, though, the Giants had such a terrible season that it wasn’t even fun to watch.  So my SLJ-reading time didn’t happen a whole lot, and I never really caught up since then.  I’m now in the middle of reading the March 2014 issue, and I haven’t gotten the July one yet.

My dream solution would be to have online reading options as well as integration with the major school library distributors like Follett and Mackin.  I want to read SLJ‘s articles and reviews on a computer or tablet, and when I like a review enough to add it to a buying wish list, I could just “check” it somehow within a SLJ digital edition (or app) and it would automatically add that title to the list on my Follett Titlewave account (or Mackin account).  Right now I just circle a review of a book I think our library should have, or I might mark it “maybe.”  When I look up the book in Follett’s Titlewave collection development tool, I read the other reviews of the book within Titlewave, and then decide if it should stay on the buying list, or if it gets cut.  My materials-reviewing time could be cut in half with digital integration like the above idea. 

Still, barring that dream of seamless tech integration, my plan for next year is to try again with the football-watching-SLJ-reading time.  Additionally, I might try reading SLJ at school, during my lunch hour or any spare moments of my day.  I don’t know what to take “off my plate” to make time to do that, but it’s a possibility if I (hopefully) have the same semi-fixed schedule as last year.

The blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet.  I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.  Follow and learn with us!  The participating blogs are listed in the comments of her post.

TL Blogging Challenge #14 – Library Treasure Store June 13, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Reflections.
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TL Blogging Challenge #14 – Share a topic/idea from a lesson you teach.  What is one thing you did with students that you will (or will not) do again?  Why?

LibraryMoneyPic

Click to download a FREEBIE Library Money printable!

Okay, this isn’t exactly a lesson; it’s a between-two-units activity or program.  For several years now I’ve had a “treasure store” for students in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.  Each cycle when students bring their library books back, they can earn up to 2 plastic coins.  Students earn 1 coin for bringing back 1 book, and 2 coins for bringing back 2 or more books. Click the image to download business card-sized library currency for your library!

Students collect their coins or tokens in snack-size plastic zipper-top bags with their names on them.  We use address labels to write their names and stick the labels to each bag.  The bags are stapled to a heavy-duty foam presentation board, the tri-fold kind used for science fairs.  It’s a compact, collapsible system with one board per class, and it prevents any loss/theft.  Students are putting the coins in their bag almost as soon as they receive them.

TreasureCoinBoard

Class treasure coin storage using a foam tri-fold presentation board

After I finish one of the units I do in each grade, I open the “treasure store” for a whole class period.  One change I make for 2nd graders is there is only ONE treasure store early in the year.  After that, bringing books back to the library is an expected responsibility.

Library Treasure Store | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

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