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Category Archives: Librarian Life

Videos help with time management

Even with two full-time librarians at a high school for 2,500 students, there are times we can’t get to every class, especially when trying to marry our schedule and the teacher’s timeline. The easiest fix is to send ourselves digitally and that might be in the form of a video tutorials, which we generally use Screencastify for, a Google extension that allows you to record using your computer’s video camera or broadcast your screen.

This was part of a lesson I gave each year to a group of students for a particular teacher:

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in edublogsclub, Librarian Life, Research

 

Routines

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a policies and procedures type girl. There’s a reason that I’m a ISTJ also known as the duty fulfiller. So it won’t surprise anyone that I have routines. Not only to make me sane, but to make our household run smoothly, and work manageable. Here’s a basic outline of a typical day:2017-06-02 07.56.25

Clearly this isn’t everything and it shouldn’t be because life is isn’t always organized, but it sure makes it easier. In a separate post about my love of folders, I share an image with Martha Stewart’s quote that “life is too complicated not to be orderly.” This perhaps was my personality from birth and why I became a librarian. It’s also why I have baskets and bins around my home andboards on Pinterest that I continually re-organize. I’m also lucky enough to have married a man who also believes in organization, tidiness, and schedules. He was also born with it and probably why he joined the military and is self-employed: an intrinsic motivation for order and a get-it-done attitude that comes with it.

Likewise, it’s also why we have policies and procedures for everything in our HS library. Students know what to expect. My favorite line is “Miss, I know X, but…” to which my reply is “Yes, you know X, so…” Because we see between 20-60 kids or more each period, nine periods a day, plus before and after school, routines make it more manageable. Then, we can focus on the students and staff.

Maybe that’s why I find routines comforting and necessary. They allow me to take the thinking off of certain items and be able to really ponder the more important aspects of life. Routines are the opposite of making my life mundane, they enrich it by allowing me to focus on what matters.

 

 

 

SLJ’s day to shine: librarian love

It is the best and worst kept secret. The fact that School Library Journal changes venues each year for it’s annual Day of Dialog but never increases its footprint means that they like things just the way they are. But, once a librarian experiences Day of Dialog, they have torn feelings: do I tell other librarian colleagues about the most amazing professional day of our life so they can enjoy the same awesomeness or do we keep it a secret so that it’s mine, all mine (cue villainous music)? Yet, here I am, writing about it because it’s hands-down my favorite professional day of the year.

2017-05-31 17.44.32The format is simple– opening, lunch, and closing keynotes by engaging authors with something to say. Then, four ingeniously organized panels of authors and illustrators centered around a central idea. Interspersed within that are a few breaks for vendor time while publishers panels stump for their top five picks from their publishing houses. Then, putting the cherry on the sundae, there is an announcement by The Boston Globe/Horn Book on their award-winners.

I have come to love each portion of the event for its varied purposes: you can only keep up with publishing so much before it’s nice to have a little help, you can only love so many authors and illustrators before falling in love with more after each panel like the capacity to love each new child as they’re born into your family. You imagine yourself one of the moderators engaging them in dialog, especially the ones who just have a knack for it (I see you Deborah Taylor!). And, you also enjoy collecting galleys for giveaways for your students. Because, well, we know that librarians give it away for free…

So if you ever find yourself in need of somewhere to go to remember why you’re a librarian, be sure to take the day to attend Day of Dialog. I was able to spend a train ride from Albany catching up with fellow colleagues, see IRL the librarians I admire from social media, and laugh, cry, and sigh with prolifically talented authors and illustrators. And even as long as the day was and I devoured Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds like Thanksgiving dinner on my solo train trip home, I can’t help but appreciate the hard work and dedication of my professional magazine in bringing valuable insight into the publishing world.

 

In it for the kids

This post originally appeared in the Times Union Books Blog

It was evident from the moment our chartered bus from Albany to Rochester dropped us off on the Nazareth College campus that the Rochester Teen Book Festival is in it for the kids. There are signs around the venue’s various classrooms, opening ceremony in the gym, and in informational booklets that priority is given to teens– this means that if there are one hundred seats in a gym, you bet your butt that all one hundred will be given to teens first. Adults are last to be admitted and last to find a seat. And that is how it should be at a teen book festival- the adults (many of which are fellow middle grade and YA book lovers themselves) play second fiddle. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way because seeing the excited faces of the forty-three teens we brought on the cross-state adventure were all that should be needed.

A Saturday event dedicated to readers.

Bring in twenty authors where you have rolled out the red carpet is exactly what should get your blood pumping. As students scattered with their buddies across the campus to see their rock star authors in the flesh, I found myself listening to a graphic novelist who amazed us with some live illustrating, then a professor leading us in a workshop about graphic lettering, followed by the last two sessions with male YA authors that could captivate anyone with their oratory skills in addition to their amazing literary talent. Plus, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the food truck Macarollin’ for some lobster mac and cheese.  Phew!

So when we got back on the bus after my colleague, Kristen Majkut, counted, recounted, and triple-counted as the captain and all-around Wonder Woman of this trip, I settled in with a smile as we learned one of our students won a raffle drawing, another was given the sketches from her visit with the graphic novelist, and the students lovingly petted their new purchases… books. And you think reading is dead? These events serve as constant reminders about the nature of reading for teens. Plus, we have others to remind us too, since we were joined on the bus by YA author Eric Devine. Hours were spent talking about writing, other books, readers, and the target audience: teens.

So, if you’ve never been, mark it on your calendars for May 19, 2018. If you’re a librarian or teacher, bring your teens. If you’re a parent, bring your teen and their friends. If you’re in neither category, donate to the event which each of the twelve years it has been running is a runaway hit with its intended audience. Teens.

 

I trust you

There is no sweeter three words that those three words said to a librarian– this is when you know you’ve hooked another reader, not that they weren’t a reader before, but because you finally understood what they liked and scored big on the last few recommendations that ultimately led to I trust you.

This student was a reader and clearly always has been and a few months back came into the library looking for a book for class. We didn’t have that book and we began talking about getting it from the public library. This led to a brief conversation in which I had to reach out to her branch librarian, but that she could check back. In the meantime, could I recommend something else? She seemed easygoing enough and decided to let me recommend something else. Usually this is also successful because I have earned the trust of the teachers in recommending substitutes for highly-sought books or books to adjust for a reading level in the past.

I started with my usual questions about books she read recently that she liked and who she was as a person to get to know her a bit better before we set her up with something she seemed happy to check out. Then, I saw her a few days later and before a “hello, how are you?” came out, she began to discuss the recent recommendation I had given her and how excited she was to continue reading it. She said she needed something else. She preferred to stick to series books (because who doesn’t love to get hooked on a group of books where you can live in a world for just a little bit longer?) and preferably a series where all the books have been published so she doesn’t have to wait. I lobbed a fast one. I told her I was sharing a series that wasn’t her “usual” but believe me, it was worthwhile.

And that’s when it happened. She finished the series within a week and a half and came in two days before our spring break for another recommendation. My usual line is “what are you in the mood for?” and that’s when she said “it doesn’t matter, whatever. I trust you.”

*heart melts into a puddle on the floor*

NapoleonDynamite

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in edublogsclub, Librarian Life

 

Assessments for reading: “Miss, this ain’t English class”

In this week’s suggested post topic around assessments, I’m going to connect with what I know best: reading and libraries. Specifically, finding an engaging way to assess reading rather than a book report, log, or journals. So I want to share what a science colleague and I have been doing for the last several years.

She became hooked on the Alane Ferguson forensic mystery series and came in to pick my brain about a way to incorporate reading into her forensics classes. I quickly shared dozens of ideas and pathways to get there asking questions about what product she wanted and what the objective was. What it became was a mix of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills over the course of three to four weeks, twice a year. And our favorite line was spoken to her after our first attempt way back when when the student asked why they were reading in science class saying “Miss, this ain’t English class.” The process?

  • Come to the library for a book tasting where they get to interact with a diverse 2017-03-07 08.48.57group of fiction, nonfiction that included the graphic novel format and had a forensic theme. They would spend five minutes at each table and circulate until they found a book they wanted to check out.
  • They had two reading logs to complete throughout their reading time.
  • During this reading time (outside of class), science teacher would meet for brief intervals during a work day and ask them about how they were enjoying their book and sharing something interesting about hers to gauge their engagement. This was informal and not graded and provided an avenue to connect individually.
  • Students filled out a book profile card (similar to a dating profile) for their book to get down the basics and refresh their memory in preparation for the final activity with was book speed-dating. This preparation day included a brief video that modeled speed dating.
  • The following day, students would spend the forty minute period sitting for six minutes at a time one-on-one with a classmate sharing and questioning each other about their books. They’d be scoring their likelihood to want to read the book their classmate described and on the classmate’s “presentation” of the book. As the timer rang, they’d rotate again.

So, there are alternatives to a book report. Students must own their reading and be able to intelligently share out about their book to classmates. Their grade was based on their individual presentations to the classmates in a timed speed-date. An alternative to a book report? Absolutely! I’ll take these over a test about a book to show comprehension any day.

 

Keeping them all to myself

In a tongue-in-cheek address to this week’s #edublogsclub challenge that talks about ‘giving it away’, I’ll start with my need to keep it all to myself. With books that is. For many years (and I still struggle when a read is just that powerful), when I closed the book on a fabulous read, my next thought was literally, I want to keep this all to myself. I wanted to believe that the author wrote it just for me, that the book would sit only on my bookshelf, that it was mine, all mine. But it’s a preposterous thoughts because good books are meant to be shared and it’s kind of my job.

So in honor of my narcissistic belief that my favorite writers are writing just for me, I’m going to give some books away. I will send* a book box of sorts (within the United States) with one of my favorite books and a recently-reviewed galley with a bookish gift for good measure to the first person to answer correctly in the comments below: what porcelain item is on my personal bookshelf?

TruthKeepingBooksaSecret

Believe it or not, I didn’t actually create this, but I know I’m not the only one!