How do you library?

So, as the year gets into full swing and I am designing my lessons, one questions keeps echoing in my mind; how much time should I focus on basic library skills? In this era of Library Media, fewer than 1/4 of my standards support these skills – knowledge of the sections of the library, using the OPAC, text features, library procedures, understanding the difference between nonfiction and fiction, how the Dewey Decimal System works, and literature genres, just to name a few. In most curriculum maps I have seen, these items are taught, reinforced, and allegedly ‘mastered’ within the first few weeks and then aren’t looked at again until the next school year.

The reason this question keeps surfacing is I’m curious: am I doing my students a disservice by not properly teaching and reinforcing this throughout the year? I mean, we have a lot of standards to focus on and while some of these basic skills are supported in other areas, many do not and are instead considered ‘ongoing standards’. However, I am not necessarily retesting these skills throughout the year. I am nearing the end of my focus on library skills and ready to jump into new exciting STEAM projects and worry is creeping into my mind that I am not doing my job as a media specialist.

How often should I be refreshing students on these skills? Should I have mini-lessons throughout the year to spot check that students are keeping these skills sharpened? This last week, my lesson ended up being a skills check via Kahoot and I was shocked at how little had been retained already from the previous several weeks. How can I possibly feel that this has been a mastered subject?

I will admit, I have been trying a different approach in my lessons this year. I have been trying a more ‘self discovery’ method of teaching in which I provide tasks for students to complete by problem solving . Providing them with information that they have to apply. For example, when discussing parts of the book, after a self-guided introductory lesson on the iPads, students worked in teams to assemble a book from scratch with no guidance. All they had was the information they learned from the intro and discussion with each other.

The students have enjoyed the hands-on approach to things because I’m not ‘talking at them’ quite as much but I am concerned they are missing relevant pieces. In the ‘Build-a-Book’ lesson I referenced, very few of the end products looked the way they were supposed to. So, while fun, was it as effective as it should have been? I do think that the Kahoot skills check did provide me the opportunity to highlight the important information they may have missed but shouldn’t the actual lessons be providing that and not a follow up?

I am excited for the next chapter and phase in my year since I will be delving into STEAM for the first time, but I don’t want to fail my students on the basics. I want to balance everything and provide a thorough but not exhaustive education. So, as I end this post, I want to invite your opinions on the topic. How often do you teach and review these skills. How important do you feel they are in the grand scheme of things?




Changes, changes, changes 

I know. It has been a long time. Nearly an entire year. I started my blog last year in hopes that I would be able to chronicle the amazing things I had planned to launch in my high school library throughout the 2015-2016 school year. I was excited, motivated, and enthusiastic after spending 3 amazing days immersed in planning with my cohorts in my district. However (isn’t that such an awful word? So full of disappointment! ), I found quite quickly that the year was not going to go as I had dreamt. Without divulging the ins and outs of the year, let it suffice for me to say that this school year nearly broke me as an educator. I lost my confidence in my capabilites and doubted my place in education. The year weighed on me in such a way that I couldn’t let myself step out of my comfort zone and push myself or my student population to grow. I closed in on myself and began just trying to keep my head above water instead of fighting the current and moving forward. I ended the year heartbroken and disappointed in myself and left with one resounding thought….I needed a change. 

So, I struck out and was blessed to be offered a position at Greenland Elementary School in Northwest Arkansas. I finally have a job in the area of Arkansas I have been wanting to be in, I am back in the Elementary, and I have a schedule that will allow me to have both fixed and flexible classes without sacrificing anything. While I am still shaken from the experience of the last year and I am working to banish the negative voice in my head that is telling me that I don’t have a voice worth listening to, I am going to cast my line and use this forum as a reflection point for myself. I hope I will be able to make new connections with educators everywhere, learn from these new voices, and maybe a kernal of something I write about will be used by someone somewhere. 

So, I have written a mission statement. Last week at a PD session with Cassandra Barnett,she challenged us to take our school mission and revamp it to reflect the specific challenges for the media center. I embraced this to create the following statement: 

I am ready to embrace more project based learning, STEAM education, makerspaces, and cultivating new relationships with the teachers of my district and follow in the footsteps of so many amazing media specialists. But more than that, I hope to carve out my own path; a path that runs parallel to my inspirations, crosses with my growing PLC and over, around, and through the challenges along the way! This is a year of change and growth. I am excited and nervous. But then again, who isn’t?