Looking @ How To Propose Library Lessons to Teachers

Looking @ How To Propose Library Lessons to Teachers - There are lots of great library lessons, but unless we can get teachers to bring students to the library, those lessons just stagnate in our file drawers. Here's how we can invite teachers to have their students participate in meaningful library visits. #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #librarylessons #teachercollaborationWe all come up with new ideas for school library activities—or we get them from other librarians—and many seem fun and educational for students. If the library is part of student scheduling, we can present a variety of these lessons at regular intervals, but for most of us, the biggest obstacle to implementing our ideas is how to get teachers to accept a lesson and bring classes to the library.

We can’t expect teachers to waste their constrained class time on something that is “just fun.” We must convince them a library lesson visit is relevant to what students are studying in the classroom. So, whenever I find or imagine a great lesson idea, I ask myself 3 questions:

  1. What subject curriculum standard does this best support?
  2. How do I make the lesson irresistible to teachers and students?
  3. Who are my most accommodating teachers in this subject?

SUPPORT SUBJECT OR CURRICULUM STANDARDS

If we expect teachers to bring students to the library, we must offer something that will enhance classroom activity, not take time away from it. Even if a lesson serves a good library purpose, it’s only useful if we can tie it to a subject standard. This is where knowledge of subject curriculum is essential, and to help me choose the best subject to support, I use my Library Lesson Matrix which documents topics being studied in subject-area classrooms during the school year.

Once I decide which subject is best suited for the lesson idea, I then fill in my Library Lesson Planner with the subject’s Standards. If you’ve not already downloaded PDFs of national standards for the various curricula, here are links to some of them:

NoSweat Library Lesson Planner Template - page 1The next step is to fill in the Library Lesson Planner with subject-area Understandings, Key Questions, and Objectives so the teacher sees at a glance how the lesson aligns to their curriculum. We can usually find those from scope & sequence documents or teacher lesson plans. These additional entries go a long way toward convincing a teacher that we’ve planned a lesson to enhance their classroom activities and engage students in worthwhile learning.

Only after doing subject entries do I add the library Standards, Understandings, Key Questions, Objectives, and so on. I follow the same guidelines I use for any Library Lesson:

  1. Focus on a single objective.
  2. Teach only what students need for the time they are in front of me.
  3. Give students an activity that allows them to practice what they’ve learned.
  4. Avoid anything that does not achieve the purpose of the visit.

My teachers appreciate having a role in the lesson presentation, so I try to incorporate that into my Instruction Plan. When students see us teaching together, they learn that the school librarian is respected by their teacher as a partner.

MAKE THE LESSON IRRESISTIBLE TO TEACHERS & STUDENTS

I read a lot of activity ideas on listservs and blogs, I hear about them at meetings, trainings, and conferences; what grabs my attention are hands-on sorting or game-type activities, unique handicraft products, or lessons that have students using technology. These activities also appeal to teachers and they’ll get students excited and engaged.

To inspire the teacher, I create a sample of the game or handicraft or print screen-shots of the technology so they can see what students will be doing. This extra step is the clincher for the teacher accepting the lesson…and often the stimulus for others to want a library lesson when the teacher shows the sample around! (I can use the sample during the lesson to model with students…that is, if I can get it back!)

An Organization Tools Sorting activity for Concept Attainment

Organization tools sorting activity

Hands-on activities are a necessary alternative to technology in schools with a large digital divide. I’ve written about my favorite foldables—the biocube, the basketweave for summarizing, and the versatile accordion book. I use a concept attainment sorting activity for my 6g Library Orientation and I also use a sorting activity for a 6g lesson on organization tools.

APPROACH THE MOST ACCOMMODATING SUBJECT TEACHERS

Once we create our Library Lesson Plan, we can seek out a “friendly” teacher in that subject and give them a printout of our Plan along with the sample activity. Even as a new librarian to our school, we already have teachers who are strong library supporters. If we’re really fortunate, we’ll have a few subject “buddies” who are always willing to try any idea for a library visit.

Just as we need time to ponder a teachers’ ideas for us, the teacher needs time to consider ours, and giving them the Lesson Plan lets them do that. Supportive teachers will give an honest response on the efficacy of our idea and, if yes, convince their teaching partners to try it. They can also help us refine our lesson presentation to be even better and more relevant.

MAKE IT WORK

Once we convince a teacher to let us do our lesson, we want to implement the best delivery. If we give a slide presentation, make it illustrative and minimize text. Use the Notes feature to create the dialogue/script and print that out as a prompt during the presentation.  And keep it short–fewer than a dozen slides–so students have plenty of time for the activity. (See Modeling Digital Literacy for a full explanation and a handout.)

We want to minimize downtime, so have activity items or craft supplies already on tables and have computers ready for login. Borrow extra wastebaskets and put next to tables to minimize student “travels”. (My custodian always has a half dozen or so extra wastebaskets for teachers to borrow.)

Finally, after the lesson, ask the teacher for input on ways to improve. When we do that, teachers will want to bring students year after year for our lessons, and will come to us to ask when they can schedule library visits into their lesson plans!

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You can download my Library Lesson Planner template
as a Word document and as a PDF from my FREE Librarian Resources page. 

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Looking @ 12 Great Tips for Your School Library

Looking @ 12 Great Tips for Your School Library - Here are 12 tips and tricks that can help manage and promote the school library...and the School Librarian. Remember, the most positive Library Promotion we can do is through our actions rather than our words! #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #organization #inspirationDuring my years as a school librarian I’ve picked up a few pointers from colleagues, from my listservs, and from racking my brain to find solutions to a problem. Not only do these tips and tricks help with using and managing the library, they are also good library—and librarian—advocacy. Remember, the most positive Library Promotion we can do is through our actions rather than our words!

Let me share the best of these tidbits with you.

FOR STUDENTS:

  1. During School Library Media Month in April, create a patron called “Winner! Winner!” and check out a few dozen books to that patron. Re-shelve the books (still checked out). When a student checks out one of the books, a pop-up message says “This item is checked out to Winner! Winner!” The student ‘winner’ gets a little prize like a bookmark, poster, or acceptable snack item. (Idea from Michelle Burger LMS, Beach Elementary School, Portland, OR)
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  2. When students need help locating something, I use a laser pointer to direct them to the location. By pointing to the aisle and the sign on the end of a bookcase, I can quickly guide students when I’m busy with others at the circulation desk or in a different area of the library.
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  3. Help students track series books with signs showing the covers of books in order. I make them with a slide presentation app. When printing out, use options for multiple slides per page, then laminate and tape the signs to the inside backs or uprights of shelves.image of signs for fiction series books
  4. Decorative signage, even a “fun” poster, can be purposeful and placed where it relates to content. Here’s mine:
    • DK Eyewitness books come with posters, so I wrote Dewey numbers on the posters and put them on the ends of related bookcases or on the wall at the end of that aisle. The colorful posters invite students to find those books on the shelves and serve as a location reminder for students.
    • At the end of my 973 aisle are posters of the Statue of Liberty and Texas cattle brands; both posters draw students to the aisle with U.S. and Texas History books.
    • On the ends of the Spanish Fiction bookcase is a reading promotion poster written “en Español”—both a locator and language practice.

FOR LIBRARY MANAGEMENT:

  1. To remove permanent marker from whiteboards, shelves, tables, etc., go over it with a dry-erase marker. When dry, just erase with a dry cloth or dry erase spray cleaner and a cloth.
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  2. Use yellow highlighter to write “Original” on the master of a print document; it keeps you (and others) from using it and the yellow doesn’t show up when you make new copies.
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  3. To keep mouses and cables from being taken off computers, secure a plastic self-locking tie around cables and a piece of hardware on the back of the CPU case.
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  4. To keep track of pieces of A/V/D equipment, take a digital photo of the item with all its accessories. Create a document with the photo and label the accessories. Print & laminate it, then attach to the main piece of equipment so whoever checks it out can see all the parts to be returned.
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  5. I purchased letter-size acrylic self-stick sign holders and put them inside the windows of the library doors. Various printed signs facing outward alert students and teachers to that day’s library activities and, facing inside, I put reminders for students as they walk out the door. I store the signs right in the holders, and since they’re open on 3 sides it’s easy to change signs.
    image of library door signs
  6. In my state, education law precludes teachers being financially responsible for items used by students. So, for books or other items that students will use in the classroom, I created a “Classroom Number [X]” user account for each classroom. I check out items to that account to track them and document circulation, then discharge them when returned. If items are missing I do notify the teachers and they usually find them; however, if an item is still missing at the end of the school year, I just charge it to Missing Items.
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    I also use Classroom user accounts to check out items that are barcoded but permanently in classrooms, such as projector screens, TVs, whiteboards, and presentation carts. This allows me to keep a permanent inventory of these items in my system without associating them to teachers who may come and go.

FOR TEACHERS:

  1. image of Library Pass for Teacher/ClassroomLaminated Library Passes – At the start of each school year I create a Library Pass for each classroom teacher. (4 passes fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.) Since they’re laminated, teachers use a dry-erase marker to write student names and their purpose for being sent to the library. When students return, the teacher just wipes off the pass. Attaching a magnetic or stick-on clip allows the teacher to attach it to the wall near the door.
    (I also create 6 numbered & laminated passes for me to send students to their locker for overdue books. All 6 fit on a sheet of letter-size paper.)
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  2. Teacher’s CAB: Classroom Accessories Bin
    When I arrived at my school library I found several dozen black plastic magazine bins. Since we have an online magazine database service, I don’t keep print copies so what to do with all these bins? I realized they would be a good way to dispense small items that teachers use every year. I labeled a bin for each classroom and distribute them at the start of the school year; teachers turn them in at the end of the year and I place them atop the bookcases for the summer. They’re very popular with teachers, who keep them handy by their desks. The items in the bin are:

    • a teacher dictionary
    • TV remote control
    • my Quik-flip Teacher’s Guide to the Library
    • their laminated Library Pass mentioned above
    • their room’s color-coded plastic hall pass with extra inserts
    • blank USB drive to back up important documents from classroom computer (purchased in bulk by the principal)
    • select teachers get a digital camera to share with other hallway teachers

    When I dispense the CAB, I also include a Classroom Inventory sheet listing the A/V/D equipment in their classroom and any barcoded teaching materials checked out to them for the year.

I hope your find these tips and tricks helpful in your own School Library. If you’ve discovered other great ideas, please share them with the rest of us in the comments below!

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Looking @ A Customized Library Orientation for Teachers

Looking @ A Customized Library Orientation for Teachers - Since teachers have the most influence over whether students use the school library, it makes sense to create a customized library orientation for teachers. Read how featuring materials for topics of study in each subject area serves as an invitation to collaborate on student library lessons! #NoSweatLibrary #schoollibrary #libraryorientation #teacherprofessionaldevelopmentAt the start of each school year, we have School Library Orientations for students, our goal being to encourage them to use the library and its resources. This does generate interest among regular readers, but it rarely puts us at the top of most students’ list of where to go for information or guidance on school assignments. How might we overcome that disconnect?

When we ponder what predisposes students to use the school library as a primary resource for learning, the answer is obvious: teachers have the most influence over whether students use the school library! If they regularly bring students to the library for class assignments, then students learn that the school library is the first, best place to go for answering questions and solving problems. So, just as we do with students, we need to familiarize faculty with what we can offer them and provide a library orientation for our teachers.

WHAT TEACHERS NEED

The twofold purpose of a faculty library orientation is to convince teachers we have exactly what they and their students need for any curricular activity, and to encourage them to collaborate with us on their lesson units. As when planning student library visits, we don’t inundate teachers with everything; we just offer what they need for their immediate upcoming task. Accordingly, our faculty library orientation need only show teachers our helpful library resources for their 1st grading period’s topics of study.

We must first determine what the school library has for each subject. Using subject-area curriculum guides or lesson plans, make a list of library resources that can enhance upcoming topic activities:

  • professional teaching materials
  • a cart of books for student use
  • online subscription database features
  • topical periodicals or realia
  • a particular library lesson.

Continue to add each grading period’s resources throughout the school year as a valuable planning tool for lessons, for unexpected teacher requests, and for purchases. (I have my lists as tabs on my Curriculum Matrix document.)

We may not have materials for every subject teacher need, especially as curriculum standards change or are refined into various types of lessons. School librarians get numerous materials catalogs through the mail, and we can organize vendor catalogs by subject so teachers can easily browse catalogs for purchase ideas.

Finally, the days before school begins are packed with professional development and preparing for students, so teachers need to see we respect their time. Don’t schedule a single teacher orientation, but rather, set up a self-paced visitation that is available throughout the day.

HOW TO SET UP THE TEACHER ORIENTATION

  1. Just as we capture student interest with a “hook,” we can hook teachers with food, especially desserts and sweets! If you don’t want to do all the preparation, ask the PTA to help provide goodies. Captivate teachers with a colorful personalized invitation and give the orientation a clever name (mine is “Desserts and Dewey”). Many online tools allow us to quickly customize a document with graphics for each subject.
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  2. With students we focus on a single objective; we need to do the same for teachers. To fulfill our objective to show teachers what we have for them, create a thematic display of selected physical materials on a table for each subject area. Include professional items in different formats as well as student-use materials.
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  3. Just as we give students a meaningful activity to practice what they’ve learned, give teachers an activity that directs them to other bookshelf materials after they’ve examined their table materials. We can create a “Dewey map,” or better yet, create a short scavenger hunt for teachers customized to their subject topics—I call mine What “Dewey” Have For You? (This can actually serve as the basis for a student scavenger hunt: merely combine some locations from each subject area for a longer hunt.)
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  4. To show teachers we are responsive to their curricular needs, let them browse bid vendor catalogs for purchase requests that we’ll add to the library collection. Provide highlighters/markers and/or sticky notes so teachers can indicate needed material they haven’t found through browsing their subject bookshelves.
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  5. Spotlight digital library subscription resources that support first grading period topics. Designate certain library computers for a subject’s relevant services for the first grading period, and facilitate exploration into articles or features with a brief “how to” or WebQuest. (This can serve as a basis for student WebQuests.) Group like-subject stations so those teachers can sit together to collaborate.
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  6. Let teachers experience how you customize a Library Lesson. Set up a station with a short slide presentation or video about copyright and offer a copyright chart, with guidelines for fair use of print and digital materials. Make it a single sheet, printed on both sides and laminated, to take back to their classroom as a quick yet effective reminder during the rest of the school year. If we already have a Library Lesson for a 1GP topic, offer a copy of the Lesson Plan document to invite collaboration and a library visit. (Be sure your LP shows their Subject Standards!)

MY TIME SAVERS

  • My personalized invitations include an “orientation lesson guide” to give teachers a preview of what they’ll do, and it allows them to work independently through the lesson whenever they choose to visit the library during the day.
  • For subject signs on tables I use the plastic magazine holders I’ve set up for vendor catalogs. I have colorful graphic sheets taped to the sides to identify the subject, so I just grab them and place in the center of the appropriate table.
  • To one side of the catalog container I put teaching materials like DVDs, kits, or idea books. To the other side, I offer a sample of a dozen or so books that are helpful for students. I include a topical list of other books for a classroom bookcart, and to promote teacher collaboration I suggest they begin a project with the bookcart in the library because there’s more room for students to spread out. (I keep these lists updated with new purchases because I use them to compile topical bookcart materials.)
  • Within pertinent subscription services, I bookmark articles or create folders so teachers or students (or I) can rapidly find needed resources at a later time.

LONG TERM BENEFITS

A successful faculty library orientation results in an increase in lesson collaborations and scheduled class visits. We won’t have every teacher participate every year, but many return periodically to check out new materials, especially after a standards, curriculum, or textbook update.

With more teacher-scheduled Library Lesson visits we overcome that disconnect between student orientation and student use. Students become more familiar with library offerings and more comfortable seeking out the librarian and library resources.

If you’ve not yet had a formal teacher library orientation, I encourage you to plan one now. Showing teachers that we consider them a primary partner in library services goes a long way to making the school library—and the School Librarian—a valuable resource for the school.

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