Create a Differentiated School Library Orientation for ELL Newcomers

Create a Differentiated School Library Orientation for ELL Newcomers - Newcomer English Language Learners need a library orientation using very specific differentiation strategies based on WIDA-ELD Standards and Can-Do Descriptors. Read how I created a set of 3 Read-Aloud Orientation lessons with fun and relevant hands-on follow-up activities that meets their needs. #NoSweatLibraryA school library orientation influences our relationship with students for the entire school year, so it’s important to have an orientation with all students in the school, including our special populations.

Early on I realized that, even with customized grade-level orientations for ELA classes, Newcomer English Language Learners need a customized orientation with very focused differentiation.

So, I created a Read-Aloud Orientation plan using WIDA-ELD Standards and Can-Do Descriptors that met their needs.

3 GREAT READ-ALOUDS FOR ELL NEWCOMERS

A new school is an even more “alien environment” for ELL Newcomers (who also face a new city, state, country, and language), so I spread their library orientation across 3 weekly visits that help them get to know me better and gradually build their understanding of using the School Library.

I believe ELL Newcomers need to hear English spoken fluidly—not ‘fluently’, but ‘fluidly’—so the pacing and tone of the language becomes ingrained in their minds. For that reason I read aloud a picture book about the library at each of their 3 library visits:

  • Visit #1: Tomás & the Library Lady shares the Newcomers’ situation because Tomás and his family move from his home in Texas to Iowa. The local librarian helps him find wonderful books to read to his family, and this encourages our Newcomers to take their books home and practice learning English by reading to their own family.
    linebreak
  • Visit #2: The Librarian from the Black Lagoon addresses Newcomers’ fear of things they’ve not yet experienced and helps reduce that worry through humor, as well as preparing them to learn the do’s and don’t’s of the school library.
    linebreak
  • Visit #3: The Library Dragon highlights the joy and power of a library read-aloud. The words & phrases related to ‘fire’ preview synonyms & idioms for ELA and where students can locate different books in the library.
image of Tomas and the Library Lady picture book image of Librarian from the Black Lagoon book image of The Library Dragon book

ATTAINABLE HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES

Yes, students, especially ELL Newcomers, love read-alouds, but ALL library visits must be purposeful if we want teachers to use valuable class time to support our library program. I use follow-up hands-on activities that help ELLs meet English Language Arts objectives for ELL Level 1 students:

  • WIDA-ELD topic & academic language – word/phrase level Vocabulary Usage, sentence level Language Forms & Conventions, and discourse level Linguistic Complexity.
  • Can-Do Descriptors for performance tasks in Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading.
  • Differentiation strategies that offer sensory, graphic, and interactive support.

I chose these 3 stories because they naturally lead into activities that support classroom learning and help ELLs develop useful library skills. After the read-aloud, my modeling & guided practice activity has ELLs associate concrete visual stimuli with English language terms:

  • Visit #1 supports ELA concepts of story plot and compare/contrast
    • I Have, Who Has roundabout game begins with a student reading aloud the first plot question. I prompt “Who has the answer?” A student says “I have it,” reads their event, then their Who Has question. The game continues through the story, ending with the student who began.
    • Tomás and Me Venn diagram helps each student recall details of the story using compare/contrast by entering how they and Tomás are the same as or different from each other.Hands-On Activities for ELLs That Support Standards - These hands-on activities for my differentiated ELL Newcomer Library Orientations help English Learners meet English Language Arts Standards, ELD Standards, and Can-Do Descriptors, yet they're fun and easily attainable by students. And you can do them, too! #NoSweatLibrary
      linebreak
  • Visit #2 presents library expectations with a concept attainment task allowing table groups to collaborate on sorting 12 pictorial cards into YES or NO categories for actions that are OK or unacceptable. (It’s the same activity as the one for 6g, but with fewer and simpler cards.)
    linebreak
  • Visit #3 supports ELA recall of story details and similarities using a simple word search grid of story words related to fire, and supports ELD learning about idioms with fire-related phrases from the story.

The Venn diagram and the word search/idioms worksheets
can both be used as daily grades for the ELL teacher.

ELLS USE WHAT THEY’VE LEARNED

Next, Independent practice gives students an opportunity to use what they’ve learned.

  • Visit #1: Rather than confuse ELLs with navigating an unfamiliar environment, I hand-pick and lay out on tables a variety of picture books for students to browse, just as Tomás’s librarian chose books for him.
    linebreak
    We have quite a diverse language population, so I display our bilingual picture books (in Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Japanese, Khmer, Vietnamese, Arabic, Persian, Tagalog) along with a selection of English picture books with stories from or about other countries and cultures. This helps ELLs feel more at home in our school library, and I encourage them to choose a book to check out and take home to read to their families, as Tomás did.
    linebreak
  • Visit #2 also gives students time to browse for books. I still have books laid out on tables, which some prefer, but now that the library isn’t such a scary place, I show them the adjoining bookshelf sections of bilingual books, picture books, and graphic novels. Students choose at least 1 book, and at checkout they receive a special ELL bookmark of library information of their learned policies & expectations.
    linebreak
  • Visit #3 reinforces ELA compare/contrast and helps ELLS have pride in learning a new language, while retaining pride in their home language and culture. Students use English word/picture card prompts for things and events in the library and write the terms in their home language on the reverse side of the card. Then they affix tape and take the card to the proper location in the library and tape the card up to share their home language with the rest of the school.
    linebreak
    Other students love seeing these cards and it gives them a conversation starter with ELL Newcomers in their classes. Plus I love having the “Welcome” and “Hello” cards in several languages (and alphabets!) displayed on my library doors every year!

A FINE BEGINNING…

The 2 Library Dragons!This set of library lessons is a positive and productive library orientation for ELL Level 1 Newcomers. They especially like Visit #3 about The Library Dragon because I have a huge stuffed dragon that students can sit with during the read-aloud.

After these lessons students feel very comfortable talking to me and using the library, so ensuing library visits are every other week like other ELA classes. Although we’ve had different ELL teachers through the years, they all look forward to beginning the school year with their Newcomers in this way.

If this set of lessons appeals to you, the full package of the ELL Level 1 Newcomers Library Orientation lesson plan, printouts, and worksheets are available at No Sweat Library, my TPT store. ELL Level 1 Newcomer Library Orientation pin image

line of books laying down - indicates end of blog article

Join my mailing list to get a brief email about new posts on library lessons & management. You'll also gain access to my exclusive e-Group Library of FREE downloadable resources!

Create Customized School Library Orientations for Each Grade Level

Create Customized School Library Orientations for Each Grade Level - A School Library Orientation establishes our relationship with students for the entire school year, so School Librarians can create customized orientations for each grade level in our school. Here's how I customize my first visits with returning students to rejuvenate their interest in the library. #NoSweatLibraryWe all give a School Library Orientation to our lowest-grade-level, new-to-the-school students so they can learn about their “new” school library, but how many of us have one for our returning students?

A library orientation customized for each grade level is a powerful way to connect with students and teachers at the beginning of the school year. I discovered very quickly that the effort I expend on higher-grade-level orientations generates multiple benefits throughout the rest of the school year.

ADVANTAGES OF CUSTOMIZED ORIENTATIONS

  • Rekindle interest in the library – The first library visit influences a student’s attitude toward subsequent visits during the remainder of the school year. Since so many schools now have a high level of student transience—mine is 34%—we also need to introduce the school library to a lot of brand new higher-grade-level students.
  • Highlight new reading choices – New grade level = new subject content + increased maturity. Customized orientations can align with the new grade’s curricula and the changed interests of students, especially topics or formats they may not have noticed before.
  • Establish silent sustained reading to the end of the period – The beginning of the school year is usually free of any benchmarks, testing, etc., so teachers are more willing to give us a whole class period for our orientation. In my case, ELA teachers want students to check out a fiction book, and because my library orientations focus on reading and narrative literature, students have time to become immersed in their book.
  • Stimulate teachers to consider more library lessons – My ELA teachers appreciate that I structure my orientations to support their curriculum, so they allow me to give a Library Lesson at the start of each new unit of study. I also have unique orientations for Social Studies, for Science, for World Language, and for Art classes, which has encouraged those teachers to plan other Library Lessons throughout the school year.
  • Use the same orientations every school year – With so many demands on a school librarian at the start of school, not having to create first-visit lessons is a time-saver and alleviates stress.

WHAT TO DO; WHAT TO AVOID

The key to a successful “returnee” orientation is to give students a stimulating, interactive, hands-on activity that is completely different from their previous grade‘s orientation. It should also revive prior knowledge and give a new perspective on the library and its resources.

Customized Not-Boring Library Orientations for Returning Students - Returning students have already heard library policies & expectations, so don't repeat them. Instead, prepare a bookmark and a brochure of that information for the different grade levels, and spend library orientation time at more productive--and FUN--pursuits! #NoSweatLibraryDon’t bore returning students with rules and procedures they already know. Summarize information on a Library Bookmark to be picked up at checkout. Give top grade level students a Library Brochure with resources for larger projects and planning their future. These two library info tools save time to allow for longer, more complex activities with higher-grade students, yet guarantee any new students learn our library expectations and can ask us specific questions later on for clarification.

A new school year brings excitement but also apprehension. To relieve new-grade-level uncertainty, provide a familiar structure to returning student orientations. Of the four segments for my Library Lessons—direct instruction, modeling/guided practice, independent practice, and sharing/reflecting—I keep 3 of them the same as what students have already experienced:

  • Direct instruction for returning student orientations is a review of safety procedures for fire drills and code Red—they’re too important to omit—and showing students the bookmark or brochure about library policies & expectations that they’ll receive at checkout.
    a
  • Independent practice during any regular book checkout visit includes students browsing the shelves and choosing a fiction book they can enjoy reading. Since this is the reason the teacher brings them to the library for an orientation, I’m diligent to give students plenty of time to fulfill that purpose.
    a
  • Sharing/reflecting for any regular book checkout visit is our standard checkout procedure where students read quietly while I invite each table to check out their selections. I encourage students to reflect on their book choice as they begin reading their new book so their book choices improve and their sustained reading time increases.

Such uniformity means I need only customize the modeling/guided practice segment of each grade’s orientation and allow returning students to fully engage in, and enjoy, their new group activity.

TRY DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES UNTIL SUCCESSFUL

We may need to try several orientation activities before discovering those that work best for each particular grade level of students:

  • In-the-middle grades need reminders about what they learned the previous year, presented in a fun new way.
  • Our highest grades need to see the library in a new way, a different perspective. They are the perfect “guinea pigs” to try out big changes in organization, materials, facility arrangement or technology.

Even after settling on the perfect lessons, be open to a new activity that might prove more engaging or relevant for a certain grade level. If you are a middle school librarian, the following ideas, which I’ve tried at various times, might work for you.

Seventh graders enjoy interactive game-like tasks that allow them to talk or move around. Library Bingo, Library Jeopardy, Scavenger Hunts, and Breakouts are all activities that refresh their library knowledge while constructively fulfilling their need for socializing. I do a Scavenger Hunt.

image of 7g Scavenger HuntMy 7g  Scavenger Hunt reviews various library locations, features new formats of reading materials students may have overlooked, and introduces books related to grade-specific subject content, like topical Dewey books for their first two Science units and the Special Collection of fiction & non-fiction books to support 7g Social Studies. It does get noisy, but students have a fun review, don’t get bored, and the Hunt sheet is handed in for their daily grade.
(Clipboards for students to write on are invaluable for this activity.)

The key to a successful scavenger hunt is to have the same number tasks as library tables. Each group begins with the same numbered task as their table number, which takes students to different library locations and avoids jostling and overcrowding.

Eighth graders prefer sophisticated tasks that entail analysis and application, and provides guidance but not overt supervision. Speed Dating Fiction, Progressive Dinner of Tasty Reads, Breakouts, Playlists/HyperDocs, and Viewing Book Trailers with QR codes are all popular with this age. Using QR codes to view Book Trailers finally captured my 8th graders attention; I give details about it in an earlier post.

How to Create a Video BookTalk - Slide prompt for showing 8g ELA students how to create a video booktalk, a preview of their coming classroom activity. #NoSweatLibraryI briefly show students how easy it is to make a video book-talk using copyright-free pictures and an online video creation tool, then play my 40-second sample. Since the first ELA project is a video book-talk, teachers appreciate my “sneak peak” to get students excited to do their own. Then they use QR codes to watch book trailers which provide an introduction to new reading choices appropriate to 8g maturity and curricula, like our selection of high school State Reading List books and the Special Collections of fiction and non-fiction books that support 8g Social Studies.

PROGRESSIVELY BUILD YOUR ORIENTATION REPERTOIRE

I know you, too, can reap the benefits of customized library orientations. If you are a new librarian or starting at a new school, you can begin as I did: I created an orientation for our lowest-grade-level students—6th graders—but presented it to all the grades. The next year’s incoming 6g got that same orientation, but I created a new orientation for the next higher grade level and presented it to both 7th & 8th graders. Then the third year, the incoming 6g got the original orientation, new 7g students got the second orientation, and I created another new orientation just for our highest grade level 8g students. Other than a couple adjustments for 8g, I give the same 3 orientations every year and it’s always a new experience for each grade level of students. If you have more than three grade levels, just keep going until you have a unique orientation for all the grade levels in your building!

My success with Customized Library Orientations means I never have to convince the English Language Arts teachers to bring their classes to the library at the start of school. In fact, they seek me out to schedule their visits the week before school begins!

 

Get my 7g Library Orientation or 8g Library Orientation through my NoSweat TPT store, or save with the 678 Orientation bundle.
This 1-visit Orientation product is customized for 7g ELA classes. A Scavenger Hunt reviews the School Library and features new materials especially appealing to 7th graders. This 1-visit Orientation product is customized for 8g ELA classes. A Book Trailer activity refreshes student interest in the School Library and features new materials especially appealing to 8th graders. Bundle of my 3 Common Core & NSLS aligned Library Orientation Lessons for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades that promote Reading and support English Language Arts study of narrative literature. Includes Library Lesson Plans, slide presentations, editable docs or PDFs of student Activity worksheets & bookmarks, and 4 mp4 videos. #NoSweatLibrary #libraryorientation #ELA

line of books laying down - indicates end of blog articleJoin my mailing list to get a brief email about new posts on library lessons & management. You'll also gain access to my exclusive e-Group Library of FREE downloadable resources!