Friday, May 30, 2014

Library End of Year Report

It's that time of year in the library that I find "fast and furious". I am very fortunate to realize that gathering statistics, pictures, videos, programming and more can be cumbersome for my final evaluation so I keep an ongoing document in my Google Drive with annual information to make my end-of-year-report a seamless and easy process. I also try to implement new ideas to challenge myself with modeling tools for others to view. In the past I have used Animoto, iMovie, Google documents, and other tools. This year I made 3 templates in Canva and imported them into thinglink. Once I had 3 good images I just linked this year's data and produced a channel. I embedded it on our library website so it will be available to everyone including our faculty, students, and parents. I do feel it's important to inform everyone about our library program. As Nancy Jo Lambert says, "You need to tell your story."  It does not matter the format, just get your story or end-of-year report out.  Do not spend countless hours in the stressful mode but highlight the main events and share it with your community. Much of the report is for me in reflection of the school year.  From this I can set goals for next year in what should I continue, what should I drop, what can I modify, and what new ideas can I implement.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

25 Book Challenge Finale

This year's 25 Book Challenge incentive reading program has been a success worth sharing with others in my PLN.  I have blogged about our program in the past and you can see a complete program design at this link.  It's actually a simple program that has gathered momentum with our main objective to keep our students reading throughout the year.  This year we had our 6th grade teachers that decided to post visual charts in the classroom indicating how many books each student read which was an awesome initiative to keep the program literally "in full view of our students".  Our 7th and 8th grade teachers choose to work with the netSchool database for students to enter their books and evaluate student progress.  The data is daily exported into an Excel spreadsheet for evaluation.  The advantage of the netSchool database over a Google form is that each student can edit and view their entries at any time.

This year's celebrations included:

  • 5 Books: Free ID and Lanyard (this was the least favorite celebration for our students and the lowest number of students participated)
  • 10 Books: Movie at the high school Performing Arts Center (the high school is within walking distance of our school)
  • 15 Books: Dessert and extra time in the outdoor courtyard during lunch
  • 20 Books: Soda floats and time out the classroom for the celebration
  • 25 Books: All inclusive day a Main Event
This chart indicates 2 years worth of student participation data.  The top bars begin with 5 Books Celebration and continues down to our final 25 Books Main Event extravaganza.  
  • We increased our final 25 Books celebration participation by 35 students
  • All celebrations except for the free ID and lanyard had an increase in student participation
  • Our school has successfully promoted a literacy program school-wide - it was not just a "library thing"
  • 6th graders had the largest number of students who achieved the 25 Books Challenge
  • This created an easy transition into our Summer Reading incentive
  • Our school expectation is for ALL our students to read
  • We started a weekly set DEAR time once per week with an altered scheduled 
  • Each celebration was greatly appreciated by students and faculty 
  • Many avid readers did not participate
  • 8th graders seemed to be the least interested grade in participating
  • We were unable to take students on the 2 field trips without parent permission slips (we made every effort including calling home for permission slips to be returned)
  • Students were not interested in participating for a free ID or lanyard
  • We were unable to reach 100% of our students in motivating them to read and participate 

As with any other school-wide program I'll set up a Google document for all involved to add suggestions and/or feedback.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer Reading FUN Begins!

 It's that time of year when we begin to plan our summer reading program.  With the success of last year's summer reading, our Library Advisory Committee decided to implement a similar reading incentive program. So basically here's our plan.  Full disclosure:  This is an incentive program and is not required. Plans can and do change while the program is in full swing as awesome ideas blossom. Our main objective is that we want our students to continue to read over the summer and encourage them to choose and share their books.

I wanted to come up with a thematic logo so I turned to canva and played with the banner above. It didn't take long to design and I love the variety of templates that I can tweak because I am NOT a graphic designer.  So we are including this logo on our website, bookmarks, posters (like the one below), Facebook, and Twitter accounts to promote our summer reading incentive program.

  • Our students are encouraged to read 5 or more books during the summer and log them into a simple feedback Google form.
  • In mid-July members of our Library Advisory Committee will meet and send out post cards to students who have read 5 or more books.  This will also be done in mid-August.
  • Our principal has agreed to sponsor an incentive prize to all students who complete the summer reading incentive. The Summer Reading incentive prizes will be given out at the beginning of the school year along with recognizing the students.
  • The program will be advertised through the school website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and the Library Remind account.  We will also "team up" with our PTA in promoting on their Facebook page.  An administrator also agreed to run names and reading data on our marquee throughout the summer.  I can easily provide this information virtually from the Google form.
  • Students will have the opportunity for me to post their book review on our social media accounts.  This will be an option in the Google form.
  • I will open the library to all students and faculty during the summer on days that I plan on working beyond the regular school year with my extended contract days.
  • I will also make myself available to answer questions to parents and students through email throughout the summer.  I want to encourage all students and faculty to access our library's eContent and I will share statistics through our marketing and promotional venues.
  • Students may include their summer reading in our 25 Books Challenge campaign during the school year.  This year we had 179  students who read and participated in this campaign! Our goal is to increase the participation for next year.    
  • We want our students to enjoy their summer but we all are too familiar with the "summer slide".  I describe it to the students as, "If you don't use it then you will loose it."  Those students who continue to read during the summer are more likely to return in August with higher retention of last year's lessons.
  • Those students who learn to read for pleasure are more likely to become life-long readers.  Let them read what they want during the summer with no lesson or criteria - just for pleasure.
  • If we keep our students in the routine of reading during the summer than the process should come naturally when the school year begins.  Plus, we want our students and faculty to use the library's eContent resources. This allows virtual access to the library 24/7.
I also look forward to sharing ideas in a Google Hang Out with some fellow library peeps.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

National Poetry Month School-Wide Poetry Collaboration Project

As indicated in prior reflections, inspiration can lurk in a variety of places.  That being said, I was inspired by the collaboration session at TLA 2014 with Andy Plemmons and Shannon Miller.  I mentally added “more collaboration” to my radar for the 2014-2015 school year.  But for those who know me best, I couldn’t wait for next year and reached out to other middle school librarians during April’s National Poetry Month celebration.  So here is the outline of this event.

What: The event began in a Google document that was shared with other Texas middle school librarians outlining a simple celebration for each school to write a school-wide poem and on a mutually agreed date we would share a school word cloud, have students recite some of the poem, and answer questions from each other about our school through a Google Hangout (GHO).

Sue Fitzgerald - Pike Middle School
Jamie Eikenberry - Wilson Middle School
Sandra Carswell - S.C Lee Junior High
Sonja Shultz - Mike Moses Middle School
Michelle Cooper -Henderson Middle School
Tobi Sheon - Copperas Cove Junior High
Lucy Pomore - Hector P. Garcia Middle school

Process:  I along with others used a smore and Google form and asked students, parents, and faculty to participate in submitting 5 words each to the poem that began Pike is.  It was a challenging time with testing but I was proud to have received 148 lines to our poem.  After fixing a few spelling mistakes (awesome was our most misspelled word) I copied and pasted the poem directly from Google sheets into Wordle - easy process.  After clicking on the remix and saving a variety of Wordle screenshots I produced an Animoto that included some of my favorite lines from our poem.  

Google Hang Out (GHO):  Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances only 3 of us were able to participate in the GHO.  Technology issues, opening of a new school, and teaching prevented 4 from participating live but we were still able to share their projects in the GHO.  We spent 15-20 minutes sharing our poetry, learning about a school miles away, and participating in a collaborative activity.  It was awesome.

Problems We Encountered: I’m sure you can guess we experienced technology issues in a practice GHO a few days prior but during the event all went well.  It was difficult to coordinate 7 library schedules and we ended up with only 3 libraries during the GHO.  Others were kind enough to send an Animoto or project that we shared live in the GHO.

Reflection:  Everyone agreed (including the students) that this was an awesome event and we should look for more collaborative opportunities in the future.  For anyone interested in other projects please reach out to your PLN or send one of us an email.  Open the door and let the opportunities into your library program.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Lesson From EdCampNov8: Moderator for Symbaloo and Learned About Blendspace

It was an awesome day attending #EdCampNov8 hosted by my district.  I was surprised to see so many travel long distances to learn and connect with others.  We had an arrayed of educators including teachers, IT Coaches, administrators, librarians, and more.  I was honored to facilitate the Symbaloo session (I love using Symbaloo) with fellow district librarian Kelley Valdez.  Incredibly I came away with a new appreciation for another curation tool called Blendspace (that's the beauty of EdCamps you can talk about other tools in a session).  Although I had a Blendspace account for over a year I had not utilized it's potential.

Blendspace is a curation tool like Symbaloo but I like that I can add text, pictures, and videos to the template.  It has a drop and drag format with searchable tools built right into the site.  I spent very little time making this lesson so the learning curve is low.  There is the ability to vary the look and color of the template and it was easy to add additional rows. It can be linked or embedded like symbaloo but I like the play feature that turns it into a slideshow.   I see functions such as collaborators and quizzes that I did not use but thought they would be useful to my teachers in the classroom.  This is definitely a tool that I will share with others along with using Symbaloo for curation.

Author Deborah Wiles to Chat With #TXLChat

Sometimes I feel like my PLN (Professional Learning Network) has active tentacles always lurking for the next opportunity or connection.  When the “sparks” fly, it’s your obligation to take action. If you even has the slightest inclination that “something great” might occur from a connection you must:
  • Recognize the opportunity.
  • Initiate the progression.
  • Follow through with the connection

Here’s the unfolding of our next #TXLChat on May 13 @ 8:00 p.m. CST.  Through Twitter I was able to connect with author Deborah Wiles.  After a few tweets back and forth, Deborah and I began DM (direct message) communication.  It wasn’t long before I asked her if she would be interested in participating in #TXLChat and her answer quickly came back that she would LOVE to connect with librarians through the chat.

I was able to meet Deborah in person at TLA in San Antonio as Andy Plemmons and I stood in line to get her new book Revolution signed. I do believe Revolution will be release later this month. After having Andy in my PLN for some time it was good to put a face with all those awesome ideas that I follow.  There were many other incredible libraries in line while waiting for Deborah’s new book that promised to attend this Twitter event. 

I am very excited to co-moderate #TXLChat with Cynthia Alaniz (Nerdy Book Club member) @utalaniz, Sharon Gullet @sharongullett, myself @sue_fitz, and host our guest author Deborah Wiles @deborahwiles. You have time to read Countdown or any other book written by Deborah before the event.

More information on Deborah can be found on her website.

If you are new to Twitter just search YouTube and many tutorials will appear that can help you get started. 

Whether you want to lurk or participate please join us in this Twitter chat on May 13th.  Remember to use the hashtag #TXLChat when participating.  We hope to see many of you soon!

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