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New Page for Elementary Library Makerspace Resources! November 17, 2015

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Makerspace!.
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As the maker movement gains momentum and becomes more mainstream in education, there are more and more teacher-librarians who ask me where to find the best resources, and where to start.

So Colleen Graves and I have been collaborating on a page of Awesome Elementary Library Makerspace Resources, which is cross-posted on Colleen’s blog as well.  (If you’re not following her, you should be!)  It’s a work in progress, so expect some updates in the future as we add new resources and recommended materials.

Elementary Makerspace Resources | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

Check it out, and feel free to offer suggestions in the comments!

Book Tastings: 7 Steps to Promote Your Best Books! October 29, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Tablets & Apps.
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In light of all the fun that Halloween, *cough* I mean Book Character Dress-up Day brings, I thought I’d share a fun learning experience that I tried last year and have gotten to revisit again this year…Book Tastings!

Book Tastings: 7 Steps to Promote Your Best Books! | Mrs. J in the Library @ A Wrinkle in Tech

My first book tasting set-up; P.S. – This was NOT enough books on each table…not by a long shot!

I’ve written before about how I don’t really do booktalks, at least not very often with such limited time in my schedule. Admittedly, I’m also not very good at “keeping up” with reading new children’s literature and the four-month backlog of School Library Journal that’s currently sitting on my coffee table.  And you can’t recommend what you haven’t read.
In the past 2 years, though, I’ve discovered that book tastings are a more efficient way to introduce students to both new books and some old classics.

Here’s my basic process:
1. Schedule a time  with the classroom teacher for students to visit the library for about an hour. (This is by far the hardest part.) Consult with the classroom teacher about the range of reading levels in the class and any specific genre he/she would like to highlight.
If at all possible, invite other teachers who work with struggling readers in that class, e.g. reading specialists, learning support teachers.

2. On each library table or area, pile about 30 *attractive-looking* books from one genre or topic. This is not the time to pull out Mr. Popper’s Penguins or A Wrinkle in Time with their original cover art (no matter how much you and I might love them).  Instead, set out the best of your updated-cover classics as well as newer books that you know students will like if they give them a chance.  Have an equal number of fiction and nonfiction genres represented, and mix of various reading levels. Fill the table with two layers if needed! Better to have too many than not enough in this case.

3. Students come with a list (or a blank sheet of paper) or a tablet/laptop if your school has 1:1 devices.  If using devices, show students how to login to Destiny Quest to access their account and add to “My List.”

4. Explain directions and start a timer for 7-8 minutes (can be shortened to 5 if you’re in a hurry).  Each student has 7-8 minutes to “shop” or “taste” the books on that table.  If they are interested in a book and they MAY want to check it out later, they either write it on their paper list, or add it to their “My List” in Destiny Quest.

5. Meanwhile, all the teachers in the room circulate and make sure the books that students choose are ones they can actually read.  If needed, they can recommend an on-the-spot Five-Finger Test or comprehension check.

6. At the end of the 7-8 minutes when the timer buzzes, students rotate tables and you start the timer again.  Repeat until all students have visited all tables.

7. If time and schedule allows, I let students check out 1 or 2 of their favorites now, and save the list for later in the year.

When I did my first book tasting, I bought Carolyn at Risking Failure‘s Book Tasting product on TpT.  It was well worth it to get me started, and now I can do it on my own with just some basic place-cards at each table to label each genre/topic.

Our Fall 2014 tables were: Realistic Fiction, History and Historical Biography (double table), Science & Scientists (double table), Art/Music/Artists/Musicians/Fun/Sports, and Mystery/Adventure.

Of course, I did try to sneak in some fantasy/sci fi books at the mystery/adventure table.  They are my favorite genres after all, but it was just a few!  The double tables were 2 separate stops on the rotation, and consisted of 2 tables pushed together.  Having 2 double tables allowed students to linger a little while longer on the nonfiction, and I could also showcase some of our excellent picture book biographies that our older students usually dismiss as too young or easy for them.

Have you ever done a book tasting in your library or classroom?  If so, I’d love to hear what your “menu” looked like!  List your topics/genres in the comments, and any other ideas you would like to share.

TL Blogging Challenge #5 – Booktalks February 17, 2014

Posted by Mrs. J in the Library in Books, Reflections.
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booktalks

Pixabay and MS Office Clipart

I’m not really a huge booktalker.  I realize that’s almost blasphemous as a teacher-librarian, but honestly, it’s about limited time.  After teaching 20 classes, managing 6 sessions of RtII, supervising TV crew, ditching the Dewey decimals, managing the Android tablets, and ordering fantastic and exceptional books, there isn’t a lot of time left for dedicated booktalking.

Here’s what I do instead:

  • Personalized book recommendations – During almost every library class, I offer to help anyone find their next book based on their genre preferences and past reading.  This takes 3-5 minutes per student, so I can’t do it for everyone, but the ones that take me up on the offer get my undivided attention.
  • Book tastings – In September, the four 5th grade teachers and I collaborated for the first time in several years.  We schedule book tastings in the library with 7 library tables of books, 1 genre per table with a mix of fiction and nonfiction.  The library was a mess for days, but it was worth it!  The classroom and several learning support teachers came with their students to help with choosing and evaluating reading levels.  By the end of 90 minutes, each student left with a list of 7-10 books they wanted to read this year.  Many checked out one or two that day.  I’d like to repeat the tasting again for the spring, but I think it might have to wait until after PSSA tests.
  • RtII literature circles – When over 60 students need to choose new books for literature circles, the gifted teacher and I decide on a few choices, and I booktalk them to the students before they vote for their favorite.  Lit circle groups are organized by student choice of books.

And that’s about it.  I used to do more booktalks when teachers did monthly or quarterly book projects/reports on a particular genre.  Book projects have fallen out of favor in our school in the past few years, and perhaps that’s for the best.  Though students were forced to read a variety of genres, inevitably the genres that were less-respected by teachers such as humor, poetry, and science fiction were overlooked.  Besides, I prefer students to read what they want, instead of what their teacher wants them to read.  I’m a reading rebel like that!

I sometimes wish our teachers and public schools could be more focused on reading for fun or for enjoyment (Rosenblatt’s aesthetic stance) instead of almost exclusively on reading for information or learning (Rosenblatt’s efferent stance).  Booktalking was always a great way to promote reading from an aesthetic stance, and it introduced students to books they might not have read otherwise.  I think students would be more likely to become lifelong readers and learners if we could.

For more information about Louise Rosenblatt’s instructional stances, check your local public or college library databases for “transactional theory of reading” or “reader response theory.”

Rosenblatt, J. M. (1991). Literature — S.O.S.! Language Arts, 68, 444-448. Preview available on JSTOR.

The TL blogging challenge is from Cybrarian Jen at Where Books and Technology Meet.  I’m going to try it out, but instead of daily posts, I’m going to try for 1-2 posts a week.  Follow and learn with us!  The participating blogs are listed in the comments of her post.

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