Library Connections

Entries Tagged as A Year in the Life

Reading Nonfiction for Enjoyment- Part I

September 19, 2013 · 381 Comments

I have to confess I do not read nearly as much nonfiction as I probably should. However, with the advent of Senior Projects and Common Core Standards, I have been obligated to find and read nonfiction to promote to my high school students and I am pleasantly surprised to find these books have come a long way since I was in high school.

Narrative nonfiction is what we are focusing on acquiring these days. Nobody wants to read the single topic books for fun.  What I am looking for is a true story with a factual foundation, lively characters, and a vivid setting. My logic is if I find it interesting, so will my high school clients.

One such book is Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I became aware of this book since the author is a Pulitzer Prize winner and this book is a National Book Award. It takes place in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai and follows the lives of two families. I could really smell the odors from the sewage pond in the slum’s center, see the brilliant colors of the women’s saris, and feel the desperation as these people struggle to survive. I got a glimpse of how they came to live in this place and why it is so hard to escape from these circumstances. It was so much more interesting to read than a country book about India.

I have come to learn the names of some authors who write nonfiction winners. Mary Roach (Stiff, Packing for Mars, and Gulp) takes icky, uncomfortable topics and spices them up with snarky comments - perfect for a high school audience. Simon Winchester (Krakatoa and Atlantic) takes us to far away times and places. I can also recommend Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers and Tipping Point) and Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse). I know that any title by these authors will be well researched and approachable for the high school student. 

Stay tuned for next month’s blog post,”Pairing nonfiction with fiction titles”.

Colette photo ColetteCrowther.png

Colette Crowther is the library clerk for the Napa High School library. She helps the 2,000 students find books as well as format their Word documents and search online databases. She is presently readin the book Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

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381 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life

Evolution of a BYOD Library

September 16, 2013 · 201 Comments

Picture a library built with 21st century learning in mind. You hear the wonderful hum of learning as light shines through the beautiful two story windows on to a large open workspace where teenagers collaboratively work on their own or school provided devices accessing the library webpage, the library catalog or the school databases. Some are reading a novel from the school FollettShelf or from the stacks. Some students sit on the couches and chairs perusing the magazines while other work quietly in the no talking study rooms. Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful place to students to congregate and learn? This was the vision the principal, library clerk and I had for the district’s first Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) library at American Canyon High School.

Cue music screeching to a halt. Picture the reality which is the same library now overfull with over 150 students who sit around the tables, couches and on the floor because all the seats are taken.  It is so loud that you can hardly hear the student asking a question across the circulation desk.  There are large groups of 9th and 10 graders (the only two grades in the school) playing Halo and Minecraft. The quiet study rooms are the hangout rooms. 

How did our dream of a BOYD Library turn into this hub of chaos?

When planning the library, there were a few factors we didn’t consider. 
First, the school opened with only 9th and 10th grade so the school was missing the maturity of the upperclassmen. Second, the library clerk and I had been at the middle school library.  In many ways this was wonderful.  The students knew us, they felt comfortable in the library, but they felt too comfortable.  At the middle school, we have many board games, like chess, for the students to check out and play. When they came to the high school they felt that any type of gaming in the library was fine. Finally, staffing was too low.  The district cut our librarian’s hours the year we opened, so the library was staffed with a 20 hour per week clerk and a librarian who was present 50% or the time, resulting in only one staff member in the library at a time.

This is not enough staffing to establish a school culture and it definitely wasn’t enough staffing when the library became the place to hangout. Very little learning was happening in our BYOD library. Students couldn’t study as it was too noisy, chaotic and there were just too many people for the space. 

So readers I ask you, was the fearless library staff able to create the library they first envisioned for American Canyon High School? How could it be done? These questions and more will be answered next month when you tune into Part 2 of “The Evolution of a BYOD Library”.

Have you created a BYOD library at your school? I’d love to hear about your journey. Please share with me by commenting below.


sandy biale photo SandyBiale.jpgSandy is the Teacher Librarian for three of the high schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District. In addition, she is part of the NLSLC eTeam and the District’s BYOD and Common Core taskforces. Sandy is implementing a digital citizenship curricula that will be used in all district high schools this year.

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201 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life

Reflecting On Our Summer Reading Program Now That We Are Back To School

September 11, 2013 · 257 Comments

I know It’s Summer But You Still need to Read
Everyone knows kids love summer - fun, sun and NO SCHOOL!  So there’s the challenge when you’re an elementary school librarian:  How do you get them to read?  I go to the library every summer to clean and prepare books for the next school year.  So, for 10 years now I’ve opened the library one day a week for the students.  Who knew it would be a success?

Some parents arrange a play date, pack a lunch and meet at the school playground that our students call ‘the park.’  I keep some balls and jump ropes in the library for them to use.  I play music, and it becomes a game to some of the kids to figure out what type I’m playing each week.

Reading is Fun
However, the point is to read.  It’s so much fun to suggest a new series to a child or find the perfect book about snakes or spiders or princesses for another.  I love telling the students about the new books I’ve read that they’ll be able to check out when school starts.

So everybody wins here.  Reading in the summer gets the students invited to the reading assembly when school starts.  A party, a puppet show, a book and a Popsicle can make any child smile.  I get to read books and see the kids during the summer.  The library is utilized instead of sitting idle.  I like to think the kids are coming for me and the books, but do you think it might really be for the homemade cookies I bring?

My favorite book this summer:  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.

What Did you Do in Your Library This Summer to Get Kids to Read?
Did you initiate any programs in your school library this summer to draw students in and keep their attention on reading and the library as a resource? If so, I’d love to hear about your summer reading program.  Please share with me in the comments below.

Lorrie Moore photo LorrieMoore.jpg

Lorraine Moore was born and raised in Los Angeles and moved to Napa Valley with her husband in 1977, where she raised her two daughters.  She started working for the local school district in 1988 as an instructional assistant and noon time yard supervisor.

 

She added library clerk to her job duties in 1994.  Working in the library is still the best part of her day!

Lorraine runs a summer reading program at her small school that is in its tenth year.  Last year she had over 500 circulations and partners with the Napa County Library’s summer program.  She is one of the more experienced clerks and often is asked to mentor new hires.

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257 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life

What High School Freshmen Know and What They Want to Learn

September 10, 2013 · 201 Comments

Here at St. Helena High School, the faculty hit the ground running when the bell rang on the first day of school and no one has taken so much as a water break since then. All incoming freshmen received new Chromebooks, and circulating those and troubleshooting problems has been a time-consuming process, leaving little time for luxuries like recommending books or even displaying crucial library information on the walls!

I did, however, get a chance to tabulate the results of our annual TRAILS (http://www.trails-9.org)research skills quiz, which we give to incoming freshmen at both the beginning and the end of every school year to see how much the incoming class’s research skills improved during their first year of high school. TRAILS is a valuable online assessment tool that we have been using for several years to pinpoint where we need to focus our energy. Examples of these focus areas include order of research steps, searching library catalogs, narrowing topics, best resources for specific topics, etc. The results help us determine which skills to focus on during the students’ freshman year, and, based on the freshman class’s Spring results, what to emphasize for the now-sophomores.

What we learned from last year’s TRAILS quizzes is that the freshmen (now sophomores) improved by leaps and bounds in the use of Boolean operators, recognizing potentially less-than-credible sources, recognizing topics that are too broad, or not broad enough, and use of an index in a book. The skills/concepts they didn’t quite grasp were primary v. secondary sources, and copyright/plagiarism issues. I plan to explore these further this year, probably using the UCLA ppt at http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/col/bruinsuccess/, which is interactive and kind of fun. Of course, I will also use Joyce Valenza’s ppt located here www.tlc.fcps.net/media/601855/plagiarism%20lesson%20ppt. ?

We also ask our students what research skills they would like to learn. What did this year’s freshmen ask to work on? Same as last year’s, in this order: Proper MLA format/works cited; effective Google searches; searching library catalogs, finding and determining credible sources, and doing faster research.

So we are ready and focused to begin research this year! I hope this post and the resources I have shared have been interesting and helpful. I would love to hear what your focus is for your students this year. Please share it with me by commenting below.

Susan Swan has been the Library Media Specialist at St. Helena High School since 2006. She has a degree in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, on the Board of Trustees for the St. Helena Public Library, and is an ardent bibliophile.

 photo SusanSwan-1.jpgShe took an outdated library and over the years has upgraded the copyright date by ten years! Library use has shot up and it’s now the place for SHHS students to congregate. When her attention is not on a book or focused on Words

With Friends, she enjoys yoga, travel, and spending time with her family.

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201 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life

Back to School Time Equals Textbooks, IBMagnet, and YA Lit…Oh My!-Cathy Willis

September 09, 2013 · 371 Comments

Checking out those pesky textbooks
It is two weeks into the start of the new school year. We went from having the classes come through by subject to having the students pick up their textbooks before school started.  Less than half of our eight hundred students showed up. Hopefully by the end of the week I will be done and on to the fun! Thanks to our new textbook management software, Destiny Textbook manager, I can run textbook reports and chase down those students that don’t want to pick up their textbooks. 

What are you using to checkout your textbooks? I’d love to hear.  Please share with me in the comments below.

Waiting for IB news
I am so excited for the new changes ahead for our school district.  We are still awaiting information on whether we will become an IB magnet school.  All the new buzzwords are floating through my head: IB, PBL, BYOD, CCS, Lexile proficiency bands, narrative non -fiction. I can’t wait to get started. I will keep you posted with our status on becoming an IB magnet school when we receive it.

Cross your fingers for our good news to come soon.

Starting YA Literature Reading
I slacked off this summer with my middle school and YA literature reading and need to get started again.  With a new school year comes a new crop of 6th graders and I can’t wait to introduce them to my favorite authors and watch them as they develop their own opinions of their work. My favorite new title is Moonbird by Phillip Hoose.  If you haven’t read this yet grab it off the shelf you won’t regret it.

We have just finished AR testing our students for Accelerated Reader. Now it’s time to get our all of our new students setup with Destiny Quest accounts and start library orientations. By the way have you read

What does back to school mean for you? What types of activities have you been doing to prepare your students for a successful school year? Please share your back to school activities with me in the comments below.

Cathy Willis has been the library technician at Harvest Middle School for the past 11 years. Prior to heading to middle school, she worked for five  years at a K-6 school. Cathy was part of the NVUSD Textbook and Library Manager implementation projects and currently the  textbook team leader.

 photo CathyWillis.jpgShe collaborates with administration and Library Services for collection development for all district middle schools.  On top of this Cathy is the district data queen for Read 180!  She has a passion for motivating children to read and loves to do Reader's Advisory with her middle school students. 

Her husband is a retired airline pilot… a good thing because she loves to travel!!

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371 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life

Textbook Distribution and our Tech Hero Antonio Green

September 04, 2013 · 97 Comments

This was not what I would call in any way shape or form a very “good day”! But then I am not sure if textbook distribution is ever perfect or even good for that matter. Wouldn’t we love to be one of those school districts with textbook rooms at each site and designated textbook clerks instead of library staff doing double duty?

This year’s issues included new staff and admin and later than usual master schedules! The August rollover to our SMS, Aeries, and onto Destiny is always fraught with unexpected mishaps. Ever year, we promise to write it down and swear that we will remember every little nuanced step… and then WHAMO……something else goes wrong! This time we had duplicate schedules in a few databases, and a school that failed to rollover… Yes, I did have a major meltdown which included tears!
However this leads me to the real point of this blog… Antonio Green. Just typing his name makes me smile and calms me down.

Over the past few years, Antonio has quietly saved and instructed us with patience and what can only be termed as real fortitude! Even though Antonio is brilliant, he always makes us feel that we are part of the solution rather than the problem (which is usually the case). Every time he fixes one of our devastating mistakes, I thank our lucky stars for Follett tech support and remind everyone that the support we pay is worth every dollar!

Textbook distribution is not anyone’s favorite time of year. We meet; we plan; we form travelling teams and we rush about with scanners and laptops. It still is an exhausting experience and one that we are pleased occurs on a grand scale once a year! However we do have Antonio, our ace in the hole, and this time we will document the entire process! In closing, once again, Antonio, thank you!!!

 photo KateMacMillan.jpg

Kate Macmillan's office provides library services to a 35 K-12 school library consortium representing three school districts, the local County Office of Ed’s curriculm library and three private/parochial schools.  She has been a public library commissioner and currently serves on the California Department of Education’s Recommended Literature Committee and is a board member for the local public access television station.

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A Year in the Life. Voices from the Education Trenches

August 20, 2013 · 117 Comments

Napa Valley School Library Consortium has a novel and sometimes controversial method of managing a 360 square mile county-wide consortium composed of three districts, two private/parochial schools, the adult education school and the county office of education’s  curriculum/assistive technology library.  Now in its ninth year, we have left behind the initial growing pains and morphed into a model able to provide services in unique ways to a variety of different school libraries. . When I look back, I am amazed and humbled by the collaboration and partnership that has emerged among these very different districts, sites and staffs.

Join us for an interesting and possibly crazy year as we implement BYOD at our middle schools and remaining high schools and continue with the IPad project for K-2. We expect  acquisition and use of online resources including eBooks for K-12 in the  library and classroom will increase dramatically.

Just in case we get a little complacent, Common Core State Standards; Project Based Learning (PBL) at selected elementary sites and the new transitional kindergarten are just a few more things to add to our schedules.   We will be very busy……!

Over the next year you’ll hear from a very different cast of characters.   Learn about the successes and frustrations that are part of our library world and probably very similar to yours…..  We look forward to giving you an accurate picture of our libraries and insight into the remarkable people who staff them. We hope you’ll take the time to follow us as we set out on another year in our library life.

Meet the "A Year in the Life" Blogging Team

Kate Macmillan
Kate's office provides  photo KateMacMillan.jpglibrary services to a 35 K-12 school library consortium representing three school districts, the local County Office of Ed’s curriculum library and three private/parochial schools.  She has been a public library commissioner and currently serves on the California

 

Department of Education’s Recommended Literature Committee and is a board member for the local public access television station.

Cathy Willis
Cathy has been the  photo CathyWillis.jpglibrary technician at Harvest Middle School for the past 11 years. Prior to heading to middle school, she worked for five  years at a K-6 school. Cathy was part of the NVUSD Textbook and Library Manager implementation projects and currently the  textbook team leader. 

She collaborates with administration and Library Services for collection development for all district middle schools.  On top of this Cathy is the district data queen for Read 180!  She has a passion for motivating children to read and loves to do Reader's Advisory with her middle school students.  Her husband is a retired airline pilot… a good thing because she loves to travel!!

Michelle Holguin

 photo MichelleHolguin.jpgMichelle has been a Middle School Library Media Specialist for 15 years. She is the St Helena USD district liaison to the Napa Valley School Library Consortium.  Michelle also administers her school’s website, Scholastic R180, Scholastic Reading Inventory and Reading Counts!, as well as her district’s Textbook Manger and Library Automation System.

She loves technology and is a member of the NVSLC eTeam.  Michelle is a huge fan of Follett’s Destiny Quest! She teaches every student how to use it on the computer and on the app for finding books as well as using it for research projects.  Michelle was an important part of our Follett Webinar: Meeting the Common Core With One Search.  She will be presenting with the eTeam this October at CUE  Common Core and Digital Resources.

Shawna Falk

 photo ShawnaFalk.jpgShawna Faulk has been an elementary school library clerk for about 18 months.  She may be the newest library clerk, but she has been able to network with more experienced staff and has attended every available training to increase her skill set! Shawna has LOVED books for as long as she can remember and has been a library volunteer for the past 9 years.  She has 3 school-aged children that also share her love for reading. 

In her elementary school library she hopes to provide an environment that encourages students to learn, explore, and discover the hidden treasures in books.  As Dr. Seuss said, "The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Lorraine Moore
Lorrie Moore photo LorrieMoore.jpgLorraine was born and raised in Los Angeles and moved to Napa Valley with her husband in 1977, where she raised her two daughters.  She started working for the local school district in 1988 as an instructional assistant and noon time yard supervisor.

She added library clerk to her job duties in 1994.  Working in the library is still the best part of her day!

Lorraine runs a summer reading program at her small school that is in its tenth year.  Last year she had over 500 circulations and partners with the Napa County Library’s summer program.  She is one of the more experienced clerks and often is asked to mentor new hires.

Sandy Biale
sandy biale photo SandyBiale.jpgSandy is the Teacher Librarian for three of the high schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District.  In addition, she is part of the NLSLC eTeam and the District’s BYOD and Common Core taskforces. Sandy is implementing a digital citizenship curricula that will be used in all district high schools this year.

 

She is completing  her masters in Educational Technology in August and she wouldn't think of having any other profession.

Susan Swan

susan swan photo SusanSwan-2.jpgSusan has been the Library Media Specialist at St. Helena High School since 2006.  She has a degree in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, on the Board of Trustees for the St. Helena Public Library, and is an ardent bibliophile.

She took an outdated library and over the years has upgraded the copyright date by ten years!  Library use has shot up and it’s now the place for SHHS students to congregate. When her attention is not on a book or focused on Words With Friends, she enjoys yoga, travel, and spending time with her family.

Collette Crowther

Colette photo ColetteCrowther.png

Collette was born in Virginia, grew up in the Virgin Islands, and attended S.U.N.Y. Maritime College. She sailed as a Second Mate until she returned to shore to raise a family. Collette started working in her children’s elementary school library as a volunteer and discovered how much she loved it. 

 

She went on to take a part-time job at a middle school library and has been a full-time clerk in the Napa High School library for the past six years.

Breanna Haywood

breanna photo Breanna.jpgBreanna is a bilingual Library Clerk at Redwood Middle School in Napa, CA. She also works on-call as a Library Associate for the Napa County Library. Breanna obtained a Masters in Library and Information Science from Drexel University with a concentration in Youth Services.

 

She's a foodie who loves Latin American literature and traveling the world.

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117 CommentsTags: A Year in the Life