Sunday, November 2, 2014

Learn From Your Mistakes - I Did With New Book Club Successes!

Over the years I have learned to evaluate the successes and failures when it comes to our library programming. Interesting enough I came face-to-face with two situations that made me rethink how I was conducting the student book club.  Our first book club of the year was in simple terms a "flop".  Second, an article came through my Twitter PLN from an Edutopia article (one of my favorite blogs) It's a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes of the Learning Process. Merging the two events made me rethink what went wrong with this year's book club and how I could learn from these mistakes.  As stated in the article I am choosing #4, "Those I learned from and shared my new knowledge with others,"  as my plan of action.  

So after soul searching and reflection we have completely changed the book club process with an overwhelming success and here's a few tips of advice and strategies that might help others.

  1. Consistency - Choose a date and time and stick with it.  I was moving the times back and worth from morning to lunch and it was confusing to everyone.  Lunch seems to bring in a larger crowd so I'm sticking with the lunch time.  I may also choose a particular day of the month such as the first Thursday of the month is Book Club Day.  
  2. Marketing - As with any project marketing and advertising is crucial and cannot wait until the last minute.  Flyers (both paper and online), video advertisements, postings on Twitter and Facebook, and an announcement on the school marquee were some of our promotion strategies.  The video advertisement was produced by one of my student aides and played in the ELA classes which gave leadership and ownership to the students.
  3. Empower the Students - Although I feel I am late to this game, it's better late than never.  Since we had little interest in the librarian facilitated book club I changed strategies and released the entire process to the students.  A group of 8th graders picked The Book Thief to discuss, set the date, promoted the meeting, used a Google document to organize their discussion questions and book trailers, and completely ran the entire book club. Attendees included an excited 8th grade ELA teacher, our principal, an assistant principal whose favorite book is The Book Thief, and roughly 25 8th grade students during a lunch meeting. The 8th grade book club had never seen this many students in the past.  
  4. Choose a High Interest Book - In the past the book club books included newly released  high interest books.  This time the students picked an established novel that many had read thus enticing a larger audience.  I will take note that a few students who attended had not read the book and the conversation motivated them to add a new title to their must read list.  
  5. Let Them Be Heard - I was amazed at the student lead discussion and all I can say is, " WOW!"   I could not have planned a more perfect discussion if I had rehearsed the dialog.  Let the students drive the conversation.  
  6. Include a Treat - I'm always thrilled when students give up their 30 minutes of social time during lunch to talk about books so I try and bring a treat such as cookies to the event and it humbles me when they are appreciative of this simple gesture. 
  7. Invite the Faculty - Who said book clubs are just for the students?  You may find administrators and faculty members who will eagerly join the event to talk about books.  
  8. Be Enthusiastic - Enthusiam is congatious and promotes more enthusiasm.  No matter what library program you are trying to promote the students and faculty can quickly pick-up if you have your heart and sole into the event.  
It's been a week and I'm still getting positive feedback from those who attended that new book club format was a huge success.  It brought a diverse group of students and faculty together to discuss a mutually adored book.   The enthusiasm from the event has encouraged me to ask for more volunteers for the remainder of the year.  So each month, we will continue to have students volunteer and drive this event.  My role as the facilitator of the event is to help promote through our website and social media accounts, seek volunteers, and make sure the monthly event stays on the calendar.   


"It's a Mistake Not to Use Mistakes as Part of the Learning Process."Edutopia. N.p., n.d. Web. 02
            Nov. 2014.


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