I was thrilled to find out that I was a finalist for our state's Teacher of the Year award. I believe that I am the first librarian to ever receive this recognition in South Carolina. I'm so proud to represent school librarians and all teachers. Part of the competition is to have a lesson recorded for five minutes and a panel watches and asks questions about the lesson before judging. I knew exactly which lesson I wanted to have them visit to record. One of our SC YABA nominees is Glow by Megan Bryant. This book is about a girl who buys an antique painting at a thrift store. When she gets it home she realizes that it glows. She is intrigued and wants to find out more about the painting. Her story is interwoven with the story of a girl that gets a job painting the dials on watches for World War I soldiers. As the story progresses we realize that she is one of the Radium Girls.
For this lesson I created 8 different stations and had students complete as many as they could and submit a Flipgrid answer for each station. This activity is a #fliphunt. There are many other examples online. It combines a scavenger hunt with the Flipgrid tool.
The stations are below. You'll need black lights, black light flashlights, and invisible ink. I'm happy to share all the materials if you need them. You can see pics of the stations below including the three that were in the black light area for maximum glowing. It was a fun lesson. We're going to do it again next year with all of the Freshmen and they'll all be reading Glow. Megan Bryant has also agreed to Skype with us. Yay!
This year our book club participated in several literacy service projects.
Our Books and Barbers program gave away hair cut coupons and books for the first day of school. Our Books and Braids with Spearman Elementary went really well. Our students visit the afterschool program students, read to them, and braid hair or paint nails.
For midterms and finals I invited the SC Dog Therapy Group to our school. It was a huge hit and fun stress reliever.
We were so proud to give over 25 bags with new pajamas and a book for students in our area in need. This was our first annual Bedtime Story Pajama Drive. I look forward to doing it again next year.
Tomorrow we're going over to Wren Elementary to visit with a class that we've been reading Wishtree with and discussing on Flipgrid. We're going to plan our own Wishtree and tie our wishes onto the tree together. Here is our fabric scraps ready to go.
After seeing this idea on Twitter, I implemented it in the library. I already had this cart, but I went out and bought things that students frequently ask for like pencils, lint brush, sewing kit, deodorant, socks, band aids, etc. Now they can get what they need without embarrassment.
This year some of my favorite reading promotions has been:
1. Unwrap Your Next Read I created a Google Form with reading interest questions for our faculty and staff. Anyone that wanted to participate could take the survey and I would choose a book for them based on their answers. Then I'd wrap the book up for the winter holidays. They could take it home for the break and return it with a short review for a book display.
2. Skype visits. This year our Forensics class read Blood, Bullets, and Bones and Skyped with Bridget Heos. Our book club Skyped with Megan Miranda for The Safest Lies, Katie Kennedy for Learning to Swear in America, and we had Marie Marquardt visit us in person for her books. A visit with Tiffany Jackson fell through, but our students still enjoyed reading Monday's Not Coming. In addition to authors, we Skyped with the book club from Richland Northeast High School a few hours away. We talked about Speak and Hey, Kiddo. My students loved talking to a group at another school.
Next year we already have six Skype visits lined up for our state's Young Adult Book Award nominees! 3. YABA Voting The Anderson County Election Commission came through for me again this year so that we could vote on real voting machines. I love combining their visit with promoting books and getting students registered to vote. It pairs nicely with the new Civic Engagement Center that I set up in the library with voting information, Selective Service information, legislators contact info and other government-related information. This project was even included in a book recently about addressing life skills in the library program.
4. March Book Madness This event is always fun because it gives me a chance to book talk and share new books with the students. I also love finding out which one they choose as the winner. Our school chose Fifth Wave as their favorite.
5. Summer Reading I've already visited our middle school to get our rising freshmen signed up for their summer reading. It was great sharing books with them and telling them about the importance of reading over summer break. These are their choices this year. I'll be working on rising sophomore sign up very soon.
I have had the pleasure of serving as our district Teacher of the Year this year. That comes with many perks and responsibilities. One of the perks was attending the SC Teacher Forum in November. This was a great opportunity for us to network with teachers from all over the state, hone our leadership skills, and learn about the State Teacher of the Year process. My favorite part was the friends I made in those few days. I was also excited to hear from our current State TOY, our State Superintendent of Education, and the National TOY, Mandy Manning.
I was thrilled to find out that I was a recipient of the I Love My Librarian Award this year as well as the SC School Librarian of the Year. This has been a year of recognition and excitement. I wish every teacher could feel celebrated like this. It is what we deserve all the time, but don't normally receive.
I'm trying to use the platform I've been given to promote libraries and public education. I organized a Hill Day for our district's teacher forum. School teachers of the year, teacher cadets, and student middle school leaders visited our legislators in Columbia to share our concerns about school funding, teacher salaries, testing, mental health, and more. The Palmetto State Teacher's Association helped make it happen.
The Speak Up SCASL advocacy program has been going on all year this year with different themes each month. This has been a great way to highlight the amazing lessons and programs going on in school libraries across the state. #speakupSCASL #SCASLLeg
This year SCASL and the South Carolina Library Association planned a SC Legislative Day since NLLD corresponded with ALA this year. Three of the congressional visits took place in school libraries. It was a great day of advocacy.
I've been trying to preach the gospel of school libraries everywhere I go including our state's tech conference Edtech, the SC Library Association conference, Anderson County Council meeting, CERRA Teacher Fellows conference, and other speaking engagements. I've even traveled to Columbia to testify against a public education bill that would have been very harmful to public schools. In addition to speaking, I helped organize a SCASL member spotlight event for the School Library Month and made one for each of the librarians in my district.
In a few days, many of our state's teachers will be going to Columbia for a rally for education called All Out May 1st. I can't attend because of a school trip, but I wanted to contribute. I made a template for a letter to your legislator, a postcard to use to write your legislators, a voter registration card, and I organized a story time on the steps of the State House. I'm excited that the story time slots filled up quickly and the book choices look great.
Our partnership with the students in a Young Adult Literature course at Clemson University has begun. You can see a bit about the inspiration here.
Our first class connection has begun with Ms. Moye. One of her classes chose a book from this list.
The Clemson students have read these books and started posting questions in Flipgrid for our students to respond to. Each of our students took a pre-assessment about reading motivation and will be assessed after the discussion are complete to find out if their reading motivation was influenced by this project. Obviously, my hope is that these discussions encouraged our students to read, but I'm interested to see how they respond.
Since this group is well underway and actively responding, we've decided to start another class. They'll be choosing from these (plus The Sun is Also a Star and Bootcamp).
I look forward to hearing their contributions and responses on Flipgrid and seeing the results of the pre and post assessments regarding motivation. According to the Clemson faculty working on this project, there is a great deal of interest in this project because it hasn't been studied yet. I'll share the results here as we progress through this collaboration.
As soon as I received the SC YABA nominee list last year, I went online to investigate having an author from the list come to our school. I was excited to find out that Marie Marquardt, author of Dream Things True, Radius of Us, and Flight Season lived near Atlanta. I contacted her and we arranged for her to come have lunch with my book club, talk to our AP Human Geography classes, and give a keynote that would be open to the entire school.
Before her visit, I made this Elink to share other books related to refugees.
I also made a loo review of her books to advertise in the faculty bathrooms. You can see all of my loo reviews so far this year here.
Most of my book club members read Flight Season and a few read Dream Things True and Radius of Us. The AP Human Geography students read either Radius of Us, Dream Things True, or Refugee by Alan Gratz for part of their summer reading. They all were required to read Outcasts United. Those students had a lot of questions about immigration for Mrs. Marquardt. We enjoyed hearing about how her graduate research led her to start writing fiction about the topic she was studying and her inspirations for the characters in her books. We had a wonderful time talking to her. Several students stayed after to personally thank her and one of our ESOL students loved chatting with her in Spanish. Thank you for a great author visit!
You can read all about our summer reading program here. We just had our freshmen summer reading discussion this afternoon and they went well. A few quotes from teachers:
"I LOVED LOVED my group today. They were AWESOME! They ALL read the book, had great insight, and asked if we could do more of that this year. They liked that they got the books before they started state testing because most of them read the book when they finished testing. AND....they re-checked it out to get a refresher before the meeting. I was super impressed! Thanks for coordinating!"
"My girls LOVED the book."
"Today was great...I needed to be able to do something positive with students and today happened at the perfect time."
A few quotes from students:
"I like how the teacher read the book as well and could talk about it."
"I (liked this format) because all I did was talk and I had to do no work."
"it was very easy to use and not stressful"
"it was fun talking about the book"
A few stats from the student survey they answered after the meeting:
90% read all or part of their book
97% gave their book a 3, 4, or 5 star rating
The vast majority liked that I came over to the middle school to show book trailers and have them select and get the book before the year ended.
Our sophomore book groups required some adjustment. We could not figure out a way to meet face to face with the various schedules so we used Flipgrid to record videos and have the students respond in the topic for their book. Classes have been coming this week and I grossly underestimated how self-conscious the students would be to record themselves, even though the responses are not very personal. I'm going to have to meet with the teacher and re-evaluate before we plan for summer reading next year. I also had a hard time getting teachers to come in and record their initial video so I had to step in and do several myself. Not what I was hoping for!
One of my teachers is using the article, Blind to Failure, in her classes and she wanted to build some prior knowledge before they read. I thought a hyperdoc might do the trick so I made this one using Google Drawings.
You can see the full Drawing with instructions and links to the side here. You'll need to make and link your own Fligrid if you use this with students. The teacher will be assigning this in Google Classroom and making a copy for each student so that they can type the 3-5 things that they learned about Mt. Everest.
The service projects for our book club have been going very well.
We had 9 haircuts donated for our Books and Barbers program. Seven went to one of our Title 1 elementary schools, where the guidance counselor gave them to families in need. Two stayed in our school, where they were given to students that wanted to participate in ROTC, but were unable to pay for a required haircut.
We handed out hundreds of books during our summer lunch program.
Our first visit for Books and Braids was also a success.
It was so much fun to read to the little ones and give them some one-on-one time and let them practice their read aloud skills. Our plan is to visit monthly.
Another idea in the works for next semester is working with the 5th grade at the elementary school across the street. We hope to read Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, discuss the book with the 5th graders using Flipgrid, and culminate with planting a wishtree of our own.
I hope to show them that incorporating reading and writing will not take away from teaching their content, it doesn't have to be time-consuming, and it can be fun. I also made this chart showing the many options for reading assignments (more than novels/textbooks) and writing assignments (more than essays).
Our instructional technologist is going to co-teach this with me and show them how to take a photo on the Chromebook, save it in Drive, and upload it to a Google Slides presentation. And possibly a few more Google tricks if we have time.
We have this scheduled for October. I'll let you know how it goes.