"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, May 22, 2017

Assessing the Impact of a Responsive School Library Program

I am at that point in the school year when we are called upon to reflect on our professional and student learning goals and examine the impact this goal work has had on teaching and learning.

Both my professional and student goal connected to the Responsive School work going on in my library as well as our school. My goalmates (yes, I made that one up) and I designed a survey instrument at the end of last year. The fifth graders took this short survey the third week of school and just took it again this past week. Only one student raised the question, "Didn't we answer these questions before?" I am not sure how many students made a connection to the survey of eight months ago and I am not sure what impact it would have on their answers. Something for me to consider moving forward. 

The answers to the surveys on their own tell one story, the answers compared tell another.

Fifth grade students feel less excited but generally happier about school. More students express feeling unsure and unhappy about school than in the fall. The first few weeks of school are full of promise for most students, so this is not surprising. These students have also just finished up standardized testing and are also starting to make that transition to moving onto middle school. Both events impact how they feel about school in general.

While this bigger school perspective was taking place, the students responses show that they feel the library is a welcoming and safe space, with a general shift toward this view across the spectrum. The percent of students strongly agreeing with this statement grew from 41% to 46%.  It feels good to know that this space took on greater meaning to students as the year went on.

Another significant shift in perspective occurred in how the students see the value or use of the library outside their class time. There was a jump from 67% to 80% in the number of students who see the library as a place they like to visit outside of the scheduled class time. This makes my heart happy.

The students and I have worked hard on establishing and following routines in the library and its important for me to see that this area has fallen off and that fewer students are feeling that the routines are clear. This tells me that I have not done as good a job with these older students, such as referring back to our school rules and routines when working with them. Something good for me to hold onto next year.

The one open response question asked students to share and explain a routine in the library. The students responses demonstrated their understanding of routines for entering and leaving the library as well as browsing and borrowing. A few other responses were quite cool. They are below.

Fall 2016
"Coming in the room and sitting on the rug should look like finding a good rug spot, it should sound like a level 1 volume, it should like you know what you are doing."
"Library routines should sound quiet feel happy and it should look peaceful"
"If you take a book and you find another one put the book that you took first back to where you found it."
"When I walk in the library door I just think of finding a good learning spot on the rug"
"Browsing and borrowing should be relatively quiet, and when you're in line, wait your turn :)"
"Meeting time looks like everyone is on the rug. It should feel exciting and welcoming."
"If you feel like you need a break then you can quietly go to the take a break chair and sit and regroup until you are ready to join the rest of the class."
"While browsing, you should be careful when putting a book back in the shelf."
"it should sound like listening to each other"
"One library routine is browsing and borrowing that should be at a noise level 1-2."
"browsing and borrowing should sound like everyone either whispering or using quiet voices and should feel relaxing."
"single file line along the non fiction book section at the end of class while you are waiting for your teacher to come get your class, you should be standing on a red star and the noise volume should be at a 1 or a 2 if needed"
"Entering the Library Safely and Quietly"
"Be respectful of all books and materials in the library"
"When you browse and borrow you should treat the books with respect."

Spring 2017
"when we exit we line up on the star spots while the timer runs"
"every one should be sitting in the dot spot"
"When you walk into the class you should quietly and calmly go to the rug and find a good spot where you can focus."
"browsing and borrowing should be fun, quite, and it should look like people are picking out books that they like."
"When you walk into the room, you immediately find a dot spot."
"In meeting time we always read the schedule and listen to the person who reads it."
"Coming in is quiet and quick"
"When you enter or exit, you are expected to enter/exit quietly. Voice level 1/0."
"browsing: quietly look for books, put books back spine side out.'
"You walk into the library silently and sit down on the rug in a good learning seat :)"
"Browsing-Quietly looking through what you want, putting a book back where you found it if you don't want it."
Browsing/borrowing ~ Quiet, with or without friends
"when leaving music play's which means you have two minutes line up on a star spot"
"when leaving music play's which means you have two minutes line up on a star spot you clean up and line up"
"When you leave the library, the teacher will give us a signal(such as turning off the lights) for us to quietly exit the library with our books. I saw people standing straight in line and silently heading out the library door."
"Don't talk if someone is speaking."
"Respecting that people like different books, so don't make fun of someone for liking a certain genre"

Answers to the survey by time period

Much information for me to work with here!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Maker Month: Building Knowledge One Experience at a Time

Happy MAYker Month!

There's something to celebrate every month of the year and in May its time to recognize all the ways we make (gain) knowledge through innovation and exploration. 

We started the library lessons by reading either 


With their creative brains sparked, the students chose where to begin building knowledge. They were encouraged to think about what they are learning when:
~ writing or telling stories
~creating with Lego
~building with Keva Planks
~playing card games
~doing puzzles
~creating games

Check out some scenes from MAYking Knowledge this week:

Playing Cribbage

Creating a game and game pieces

Writing Stories

Playing Bananagrams

Playing with Cards

Creating with Lego Pieces

Solving Keva Planks Brain Builder puzzles

Building with Keva Planks 



How are your students building knowledge?

We are more than one thing: fifth graders and the unfolding identify project

This is the bulletin board outside the library. It's an expression of the self created from things the fifth graders shared while participating in the Unfolding Identity Project. The Unfolding Identity Project was created by Elly Swartz as a companion activity for her book Finding Perfect. Like the character Molly, Elly wants children to understand that no one things defines any of usElly Swartz introduced this activity during her visit to our school.

What appears on the bulletin board are the aspects of the students identity that they share with classmates, teammates, band mates, and the like. 

In the project these are the words and phrases the students add in steps five through twelve. I thought these would be the appropriate things to share anonymously but publicly. I put out pens, paper, scissors and a basket for them to contribute these words and phrases.
In the subsequent steps the students delve deeper into themselves and think about who it is they share with close friends and family and then ultimately those things they keep to themselves. They do not have to share this process if they don't want, but many did and many students worked in pairs to talk through the process. 

After reintroducing the project,the students were invited to collect materials and work anywhere in the library.
I circulated to make sure students both understood and were feeling okay about the process. If a student felt comfortable sharing, I asked if I could take a photograph. Below are a few examples of how my fifth graders see themselves. Most students did not get to the final steps in the project, which I prepared them for and which I think is good. Finishing this at home will give them emotional space and time to be thoughtful thinkers about themselves.

The final project can be folded into a fortune teller which becomes a tangible way to see how these aspects of their identity are revealed in different layers and protected deep within.

This was an incredibly cool day in the library.