Thursday, November 29, 2007


I am on a medical leave right now recovering from surgery, but the last blog session with the grade sevens was our best. It was the best writing that we had produced and I believe it was because the students did their writing in a document program and then pasted it into the blog entry form. Students wrote with capitals and used better punctuation. Best of all we could spell check their work. I would certainly recommend this method of blogging.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blogging With Students

I am blogging with grade seven students during a library class. It has been a slow and painful process, but today it felt like it was getting easier. I will find out tonight when I approve the students' comments.Techno question: Why has it been so painful?Answer is:1) I didn't provide good enough instruction into the process. I had not considered some of the problems we ran into. Students writing in a text message style. Students not having a book to write about. ( I may have rushed into a process without understanding it adequately.)2) I think students want to play with the computers and don't see the computer or my time with them as serious work. Students are keen to change their desktop, knowing it will disappear when they log out, and they want to play games.Reg Block told me yesterday at our meeting that students don't like to blog. He also said to persevere. And so I will.Today I had students use a rubric to evaluate 4 blog posts I had found on the internet and put together on a web page. I was pleased with those students I talked to, who saw what good writing looked like. We also reviewed what the purpose of blogging is.Tomorrow we learn to put an image into out blogs. Should be fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Away For A Time

I am at home recovering from hip surgery and am away from the school and the library. Before I left I needed to plan some activities to take the substitute teacher into November and December.

1) Our Flat Stanley letters had just started returning when I left. I think I may have been more excited than some of the students when the letters and pictures arrived. All the responses were excellent, from the pictures to the letters and gifts that people sent to the students. I can not thank these people enough for their hard work and for the parents who picked family members and friends who would take the time to respond to these student letters.

2) I pulled together a variety of books written by Patricia Polacco and some online resources, to be used by the substitute teacher with students from grades one to five. I love Patricia's books and hope that students will enjoy their introduction to her work and the reading comprehension strategies.

I am hoping to do some reading and ordering for the library while I am off. So far I have only got to the reading part. I am particularly wanting to explore young adult literature as I feel this is section of the library we need to build up. I just finished Sherman Alexie's book The Diary of a Part Time Indian. I was moved and touched by this extraordinary book! Wow! I can hardly wait to share it with teachers and students.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What's the definition of success?

I saw glimpses of what I want to have happen in the library this week and it was wonderful. The hard work and planning are paying off. I can see us building on the work of one week in the next and see where we could go in the future. (It would be easier with a scope and sequence or continuum of skills. I have found several examples from other school and need to do some work in this area.)
1) Students were excited about this last batch of books that arrived. Some students are bringing me the names of books they would like me to order.
2) All the students from grades 1 to 3 are participating in my first planned unit on Flat Stanley.
3) I felt some small success with the grade sevens and their blogs and am confident enough to try it with the grade eights.
4) In some classes I am seeing students choose to take out the books which I introduced to them two weeks ago. As one student brings in one of these book another student signs it out. Students are excited and tell me about reading them at home.
5) There are several students who are making more appropriate reading selections for their ability and age. In one case a young boy is choosing to take out books rather than magazines which are to hard for him to read. I hope I have been a using a light touch in encouraging and presenting books and magazines to him which meet the criteria of "the right book". It has been a pleasure to see students sign out books which have more depth than the ones they first signed out this year. I am pleased with the number of books the younger students are signing out and returning. However, not all students at the older grades are signing out books.
6) As I learn the names of students and clarify the expectations for the library it becomes easier to "teach". I so want students to see the value of what we do in the library.
Is this the library program I hope to develop? No, but I can start to see the possibilities and for today that is my definition of success.

Small Steps

During the last class, I worked with students in small groups on their blogs and comments and found success with this approach. I plan to build on this strategy for the next couple of weeks. I will also open the questions for students to respond too and not stress the commenting part of the process until students are more comfortable with the process.I feel enough confidence to try blogging with the grade eights.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Using the Comprehension Strategies in the Library

I am reading the book Reading is Our Business by Sharon Grimes and loving it. (Carlene recommended the book to Donna, who told me about it.) During the last couple of years I was part of a group of teachers who were working hard to incorporate the comprehension strategies into their teaching and as I read this book it was a pleasure to see how I could incorporate that work into my current teaching assignment.

I like the way she sets up her library, the routines she uses and how she teaches students to self select "just the right book". I knew the 5-finger rule, which is 5 words on a page which the student can not read, means the book is to hard. But I didn't know the Goldilocks strategy, in which the reader looks at the spine of the book and asks themselves, "Is this book too big, too small, or just right for me?

I feel I know the strategies well enough to teach them to the primary students, I am not as sure how to use them with students in the older grades. However, I like the idea of older students sharing their book picks with the rest of the student body.

When I read how Sharon teaches I wondered how much time she has with students. The way my schedule is set up in half hour blocks leaves little time for flexability and to get all the things done that she does with students.

I'm not quite finished the book, but I know that it will be pivitol in determining what my library will look like in the future.

I would recommend this book to other teacher librarians.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ordering Books

Students were excited about the baskets of books we had put out and they were excited when I told them about the series of books I had ordered. I hope that by purchasing the books they want to read that they see themselves represented in the library and that the library becomes important in their lives. Seeing their excitement made me feel better about ordering books that I didn't feel were real literature.

So my goal this week was to order as many of the books students had requested in their surveys as possible. It was harder than I thought. I admit that I am an Amazon junkie, and that I had not considered that ordering books from organizations which take purchase orders would be that different. Ordering from Amazon is quick and fun. The process I went through this week was neither. A friend tells me I have unrealistic expectations of these businesses.

I am preparing an author study on Patricia Polacco and was looking to create a list of her books so I could decide which books I wanted to use with each grade and then to create my list to order from. I couldn't print the list I had created from their web site and the spread sheet I created was six pages taped together. In the end I copied and pasted 48 entries into a document. There has to be an easier way.

So, it looks like ordering books is one more thing on my list of things to learn. No one can say it is dull and boring in the library!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Putting the Right Book in the Hands of Each Student

I have been surveying students about their favorite books, authors and book characters and this information has raised some questions for me. I have also asked students what they want to see purchased or changed in the library.

1. Why is it that younger students favorite books are about TV shows and movies or movies stars? Is it because they are not aware of other books? Are the books I want students to be reading more of to hard for them to read?

2. How do you move students into reading more "literature"? Are author studies one way of introducing students to other kinds of books?

3. Does our library collection contain the kind of books that older students want to read? How do we include the kinds of books they want to read in a library which is used by younger students? Should I create a young adult section for older students and if I do, am I censoring what younger students read?

I certainly want to support students reading regardless if they are reading books that are not my favorites. In fact I am looking forward to learning about authors and books I don't know. This week I hope to start putting out containers of books by series. Geronimo Stilton is a favorite character and author. I also need to make sure we have the complete sets of these series and let students know when new books have been published and have arrived in the library. This will help met the requests of students in what they want changed in the library.

I need to explore the books which older students are reading. Deltora Quest looks like an interesting series.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My First Week in the Library

It's been an interesting first week . I found that while I have big ideas, for the role I want the library to have within the school, which I have talked about and planned for. I completely forgot to think about some of the day to day items of working in a library, like deciding how many books students can take out or putting out the date due stamp for students to stamp their books. My answer to students' questions about these matters, is to ask, "What did you do last year?"

I am pleased with the few changes I have made to the library, it feels more open and I hope with the addition of the couch and love seat that it has a welcoming feel for students. I plan to change some of the shelving in the library and hope to find shelving in the school division.

I have begun a process with some staff and a parent of weeding through our nonfiction. I had not considered that we would not all share the same beliefs about what books to keep and which to get rid of. Certainly using the guideline of looking at materials more than ten years old is a good one. However in our library, if we weeded out any materials older than ten years, it would mean we would have little left. In the beginning we discussed each book and looked at it's age, content, and format. You certainly learn a lot about the collection and each other as you work through this process. Interestingly enough, I was able to sell three of the books that I had pulled from the collection. Some of the books pulled from the shelf where published in 1946!

The section which took the most serious weeding was the biography section. Many of the people highlighted were no longer well known or part of the curriculum. It was easy to see how "Googling" the person would be more useful and provide more up-to-date information.

This week I will be working at setting up student blogs. I look forward to seeing how students respond to this tool and what unforeseen elements will arise!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goals for the Bready Library

I am reading Literacy, Libraries and Learning edited by Ray Doiron and Marlene Asselin. Part of my development of a strong library program is to set goals for the Bready Library. I am also influenced by the school review that Bready underwent in 2005. The two goals I have selected are:
1) To put the right book in the hands of each student
2)To provide students with the information literacy skills using the big6 model of research. I want students to have the ability to ask important questions, locate information on the internet and in books, evaluate the usefulness of that information, synthesize that information and then to share their discoveries with their community

Monday, July 9, 2007


Welcome to the Bready School Library Blog. I have just moved to Bready and into the library. This is an exciting venture for me and I am looking forward to learning more about libraries and technology.