Tag Archives: Education

Elementary Library Classes – September

Library activities got off to a quick start in September with the Grade 3s and 6s getting together for a period of buddy reading. They enjoyed sharing the Big Books for a change as well as lots of other favourites. Junior & Senior High students should all have their textbooks checked out now and are well into their studies

The first week was spent on welcoming the students back to the library and chatting about routines and the Responsible Reader program. In the second week we have had fun exploring books and their authors.

Kindergarten enjoyed the hilarious Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss. Say the title like a chicken and you’ll get the idea. I was impressed by how well this huge class of 27 five and six year-olds listened and caught on to library etiquette.

Grade 1 enjoyed the 63 year old, beloved classic  Petunia by Roger Duvoisin, about a silly goose who believes that just owning a book and carrying it around makes you smart. They will be bringing home a letter for you to read, with a colouring page from the book on the back.

Before we read it Grade 2 brainstormed why Meena might be The Girl Who Hated Books by Manjusha  Pawagi. Of course having to move them from the sink before brushing your teeth might be an inconvenience but once she got to know the rabbits she began to change her mind.

Grade 3 has been very excited about being able to borrow books from the ‘all ages’ part of the library, so we took a ‘tour’ and practiced how to tell if a book is going to be one you they might enjoy reading. They received ‘5- Finger Test’ bookmarks to remind them how to check whether a book might be so easy it’s boring, so difficult it’s frustrating, or just the right level to enjoy. You can download a 5-Finger Test here.

Since Grade 4 will be doing a science unit related to building this year, it’s fortunate that there is a lot of interest in building and construction in the class. In library class we checked out David Macaulay’s (See Mrs. K. for Username & Password) work and watched a video of him talking about his new book How We Work, which the students convinced me we should purchase for the library. We looked at other books on building things and those interested checked out the Building and Construction department in the library.

Grade 5 watched several student-made book trailers on Awesome Author Gordon Korman’s Chasing the  Falconers, the first book in his ‘On the Run’ series, as an introduction to his work. Korman wrote his first book at age 12 and has since written over 50 books. Some are funny, some are serious and all are chalk-full of action and adventure. All are page turners.

A fantasy series was this week’s choice for the Grade 6s. We watched the author Chris D’Lacey speak about his ‘Last Dragon Chronicles. (He showed us Real, Authentic Dragon Skin to prove that dragons Really Exist.) You can see the links I used to find out all about this author by clicking here.


Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Education, Library Class, Library Management

Suli Breaks on Education

Something to think about as school resumes here in Canada.

Suli Breaks

Resist the pressure to judge your students by their academic success. Honour that square peg who is trying to fit into the round hole of school life. Library workers are perfectly situated to try to identify interests beyond school and encourage their development.


Filed under Education, Poetry

The History of Education Technology: Infographic




Filed under Education, Technology

“Easy Street” – Decorated (Part 6a)

As an addition to A School Library Transformed – Part 6: Easy Street, I’ll show you some pictures of the area now that it’s decorated. I regret that there are no children in the picture – what’s a school library without the kids? – but FOIP privacy regulations do not allow it.

Easy Street from the circulation desk

The Canada and the World Island is on the far side of Easy Street. I replaced the plexiglass displayers on the slatwall stack-end with plastic ones because 2 got broken last year.

The border helps to camouflage the back of the ‘World’ Island stacks.

This side is against my office

Primary periodicals are on the shelves and I use the top sections for library class books and materials. I’m not sure if the donated tiered shelf is staying there or not, but you can’t have too much face-out display.

The smart board looks awful when I don’t have anything on it. The border helps a little. I often project a revolving slide show of reading pictures or photos of the students, but it’s a distraction when I have students working in the library. The thing beneath the smart board is just covered cardboard boxes, but I’ve submitted a request to have a trunk built, with a sloped lid for book display in which I’ll store the puppets.

My next request will be a stand/cupboard of some sort for the computer, ‘Sad Books’*, the ‘No, No, Never’ pail**, the Spacer*** box and other library class paraphernalia. The carpet, sponsored by a local business is awesome, but the space is a little too small for 25+ students once they get to about grade 4. Luckily there is a nice open space between Easy Street and the circulation desk were they can sit when we want to gather. All-in-all, I’m pretty happy with it and the kids love it, which is all that really matters.


* Sad Books are books that have had to be discarded because of their condition. There are examples of mouldy, torn, cut-out, dog-eared and other very sad books that I show the little ones so that they can see for themselves books that they can no longer check out (I try to choose tempting ones) because of improper treatment.

**The “No, No, Never” pail contains items that when revealed the kids love to be able to call out ‘No, No, Never’ or ‘Happy Mr. Wiggle‘ when they discern whether or not an item (sizzors, bookmarks, glue, book bag, etc.) should be used with library books.

***Spacers are numbered, 10x30cm strips of coloured corrugated plastic that our students are taught to use to hold the place of the book they are looking at. Other libraries call them different things. What do you call yours?


Read the whole series of the transformation of my K-12 library to a modified bookstore model here.


Filed under Library Management, Rethinking My Library

Free On-Line Video Learning at the Khan Academy

The Khan Academy has over 3000 videos on K-12 math, science and a few on the humanities. There are also practice exercises as well as activity tracking and other teacher resources.

How it works for students

Students can make use of our extensive video library, practice exercises, and assessments from any computer with access to the web.

  1. Complete custom self-paced learning tool
  2. A dynamic system for getting help
  3. A custom profile, points, and badges to measure progress

Coaches, parents, and teachers

Coaches, parents, and teachers have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing on the Khan Academy.

  1. Ability to see any student in detail
  2. A real-time class report for all students
  3. Better intelligence for doing targeted interventions

This resource is new to me. If you have any experience with it, please share.


Filed under Online Resources

Why We Need Teacher Librarians

So it is global: A brand-new state-of-the-art high school library will open without its teacher-librarian. The West Australian states, “…the number of teacher librarians employed by the Education Department has dropped from 174 in 2007 to 140 this year”.

I love my job. I love being in the library where I get to know kids from preschool to Grade 12 and sometimes throughout that entire span of their lives and beyond. I love to dig deep to try to provide services for students and teachers that will help them teach and learn, make then want to read and of course make them love and value libraries. I want to help them all in any way I can and be available and effective to help them succeed.

But I’m not a teacher. I don’t have the training, time or expertise to help them in the way that a teacher-librarian with full-time technical or even clerical help could. I’ve always felt this way. I would be thrilled to either earn the qualification or work under a teacher-librarian because I truly feel our students need the guidance that curriculum teachers do not have the time or necessarily the skills to provide.

In a recent article at Wired, Clive Thompson writes of a research project led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan to discover just how tech-savvy students really are.

Specifically, Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.

But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. More often than not, those kids went for the bait and also used the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Pan grimly concluded that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit—they’re putting too much trust in the machine.

I have seen the same thing time after time in my school. Walking through the computer lab on my way to deliver some books to a classroom, I asked a student what he was looking up. He was writing something down from the results page of a Google search; had not even clicked on a link.  He told me was working on a Grade 11 Biology assignment and needed the birth date of a prominent scientist.  In the second line of one of the search results he could see “Born:” and a date so considered his search finished. I asked him how he knew it was the correct date and with a puzzled expression, he pointed at the screen and said, “It’s right here.”

“Just out of curiosity,” I said, while his teacher was busy helping another student, “Let’s click on a few of these links and see how they compare.” Luckily, despite not really caring when this scientist was born, the student indulged me and we looked at three of the result links. Sure enough, one out of the three sites disagreed with the other two. Since I had to get the books to the classroom before the end of the period, I was not able to stay and discuss website evaluation or primary resources with this student. I could only hope that my little demonstration turned a little light-bulb on in his head that in the future would lead him to be somewhat skeptical about what he saw on the Internet.

More from Clive Thomas on Why Kids Can’t Search

Consider the efforts of Frances Harris, librarian at the magnet University Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois. (Librarians are our national leaders in this fight; they’re the main ones trying to teach search skills to kids today.) Harris educates eighth and ninth graders in how to format nuanced queries using Boolean logic and advanced settings. She steers them away from raw Google searches and has them use academic and news databases, too.

But, crucially, she also trains students to assess the credibility of what they find online. For example, she teaches them to analyze the tone of a web page to judge whether it was created by an academic, an advocacy group, or a hobbyist. Students quickly gain the ability to detect if a top-ranked page about Martin Luther King Jr. was actually posted by white supremacists.

I can chance by a student for a ‘teaching moment’ as above and I can pass on helpful resources like the Computer Literacy page on Frances Harris’ website, but I don’t Teach. I am not a teacher. To be exact, I am classed in my district as administrative staff along with the school receptionist and business manager.

In the U.S. especially, a lot of research has been done to show the crucial role that teacher-librarians play in academic success. I don’t understand why priority has not been placed on ensuring that students are given this important resource. Does no one but me care that we’re bringing up the next generation to be less than adequately armed to make their way intelligently in the world?

Would we want our doctors to learn everything except how to make a diagnosis?


Filed under Library Management

Beyond All the Other Benefits, iPad is a Money Saver for Schools

The Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, “…has distributed iPads to all junior and senior students, as well as teachers, administrators, librarians, and counselors”, and is documenting their pilot project in The WIFI–Eanes ISD iPad Pilot Project, chronicling the rollout and the innovative ways the iPad is being used. I’m adding the link to my sidebar to follow this project as I’ve just received an iPad on loan to investigate it’s potential uses in my library. Yes, I want 30 ASAP and perhaps I can convince administration when I show the very interesting list posted in The Swiss-Army Knife of Education, where the writer looks at…

“…some concrete and tangible examples of how the iPad is going to save our district money. And we’re not talking just about lack of paper, we’re talking about technology that we bought in the past, may have allocated for in the future, but will never spend again because the iPad has quickly rendered it obsolete. What follows is a list and cost of items that we won’t buy anymore because of the iPad and possible others that we might not buy again.”

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Filed under Technology

Technology in Schools Faces Questions on Value – NY Times

Technology in Schools Faces Questions on Value – NYTimes.com.

“The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies. “

“Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.

“Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.”

“Some backers of this idea say standardized tests, the most widely used measure of student performance, don’t capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop. “

More at the link, or click on image.

Via Scoop.it! 21st Century Libraries


Filed under Technology