Banned Books Week – coming up next week – is an annual celebration sponsored by the American Library Association which brings awareness to the importance of protecting the freedom to read what we choose, even when works may be unorthodox or unpopular. Unfortunately, many books have been challenged or banned in many schools and communities where individuals work to impose their own censorship ideas on others.
To inform our students about the importance of this right to access to books and information, the Mira Costa Library has a display of banned books and is holding a contest. Both students AND teachers can participate in the contest, which is based on a Google Form (so can be done from anywhere, and even on a mobile device) with 6 questions. It asks the participants to visit informative sites as they progress through it. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate of their choice. Entries are due by Monday, October 5.
So, visit the library display, but go ahead and start the contest below, or visit this link – bit.ly/BBWcontest – or QR code:
The first two weeks of school have seen non-stop activity at the Mira Costa Library. Students filled the library each and every day before school, during Snack, lunch, after school, during our first ever Office Hours on September 2, and for class visits. Despite much remaining textbook distribution during the first few weeks of school, I always change focus to the library teaching program as quickly as possible each year. I began teaching Freshman library orientations on Monday, August 31, just four days after school opened. Each of the 9th Grade English classes come for two-day orientation lessons. From August 31 to September 11, 17 9th grade classes – Ms. Hutchinson’s, Ms. Cons-Diller’s, Ms. Chen’s, Ms. Clarke’s, Ms. Vaughan’s, and Westerberg’s – all visited for two days each, and Mr. Holland’s students came for their first day on Friday, Sept. 11, for a total of 36 orientation lessons over these two weeks. (To provide these lessons for all 9th grade English classes, I will be seeing additional classes over the next two weeks.) In addition to these orientations, seven other English classes – Mr. Brown’s and Ms. Cabrera’s students – came for lessons to begin blogging on September 2 and 10. All told, as your teacher librarian, I taught 43 class lessons during these nine school days.
Here’s a summary of what I have been covering in the Freshman library orientations:
Orientations Day 1:
On Day 1, we play a guessing game based on an iPad image I display on the screen for them, in which each “app” represents a feature of the library. I describe the app, then students guess what it is. Once they do, I share a little more about that feature. In the process, students learn about how students who use the library more are better students, about me and my role as a teacher librarian, how to find books and ebooks, research resources, technology resources, the library’s few simple rules and our basic procedures, the after school program, clubs and other fun activities and events, accessing the virtual library through the library website portal, and how they can explore their passions at the library. Here’s the Prezi presentation file I use to run the game:
While it’s not self-explanatory without my commentary, I embedded it here so that you can see the iPad image.
I use a software tool called Socrative.com for the student responses. It’s one of the websites that I learned about as a member of the AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning selection committee. It is one of the top 25 sites our committee chose in 2014. The students enjoy being able to submit their answers via computer rather than on paper. I decided to go with it instead of the Google Form I had in the past since it offers a “teacher lead” mode which allows me to display just one question at a time and to see the student responses immediately and thus better check for understanding. It is also better assures that every student to responds to every clue.
Before we start the guessing game, I also ask the students to answer the question, “I wish the library would …” to give me input on what they would like to see in their library. I do what I can to accommodate all their requests. Many of them share what kind of books they would like us to have more of, and I always use that input when making purchases and modifications to the library program.
Orientations Day 2:
Day 2 of the orientation is a scavenger hunt. Students team up in groups of two and complete a Google Form gets them moving around the library looking for books, scanning QR codes as clues, and learning about how to use the library catalog and access the library website resources. Here’s the form we are using:
My goal with this activity is to have every student complete every activity and get a 100 percent. And, fortunately, most of them do! This is the second year I have used the Google Form as their means of input. I love that it can validate those questions requiring a correct answer and provide them with hints if they don’t get it right initially. I also love that I can give very little oral instruction; but by and large, the students read the instructions, and, helping each other along, work out any issues on their own.
The last task in the Scavenger Hunt gives the students instructions on how to login to their district Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account, then navigate to Google Classroom, join the library orientation class, and find the assignment to edit a whole-class Google Slides file sharing their passions, a book or ebook they found on the topic, and their photo. Here’s a link to what the slideshow looked like before they started it. (For each class, I filled the teacher’s name and class period.) The students clearly enjoy themselves as they find books on their interests and share about them in their slides. At the end of each period, I had one of the students run the completed slideshow and each of the students shared their own slides orally. They left the library with a number of skills, new to many of them. They left knowing:
that students who use the library more are better students
that the library is a place to visit both for academics and to explore their passions and interests
how to browse the shelves and use our online catalog to find books
how to login to our library computers using our Guest account
how to use QR codes
how to log into their GAFE accounts
how to use Google Classroom to access an assignment
how to edit a shared Google Slides file and add an image
I plan to display of some of the students’ responses to the slide show question about their passions and books they found about them. Do come by to see them!
One final question on the form asks students what they learned during their orientation. Here are a few of the responses so far:
“I learned that the library is a great place to find books for independent reading that interest me since there are plenty of books to choose from here. I also learned how to look up books on the catalog and also that the library is great for studying independently and also in a group.”
“I learned about the online library that we have at Mira Costa and how helpful the library can be for so many things other than books.”
“I hadn’t thought of trying to read more on some of the passions I had; normally I would prefer to simply read what has been recommended for me. In the future, I plan on broadening my choices, though I’ve always been interested in many genres, and I’ll probably try to fit reading into my busy schedule. It can be a good way for me to relax. Thank you.”
“During this orientation, I have learned that the library is a safe and resourceful place for students to achieve academic success. The library is easy to reach on our school campus, and it is here to help the students with whatever they may need.”
“I learned that the library has so much to offer when it comes to helping my academic career. I am so excited to get to explore all these resources during my high school years.”
“Today I learned how to use Google Accounts in more depth. This will help me in my future learning because I can now collaborate easier in group projects with google accounts.”
“I learned that my school has a magnificent library that is always helping everyone and I’m looking to learn a lot more.”
Those who know me or have been reading this blog know that I am a big promoter of student blogging as a way to build a positive digital footprint and portfolio, develop their informal writing skills, share about what they care about, and learn digital citizenship and digital literacy skills. This year, Mr. Brown is having all his English students (12th and 10th graders) blog, and Ms. Cabrera is having her 12th Grade Philosophy Seminar students begin blogs. To launch these projects, the students came into the library for a lesson on the value of blogging; things to know before starting, including privacy concerns and respect for intellectual property; and how to set up blogs and get started. Here is the slideshow I used for the bases of the lessons. The first several slides focus on the value of blogging:
The Library Club is meeting on Tuesday during lunch. New members are welcome! The club shares books but also supports special event and program planning at the library. In addition, we meet after school the first Wednesday of each month with our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” network of library clubs from around the United States via Google Hangouts on Air to discuss books. Mira Costa has been participating in this network since it began in November 2011. We had our first meeting for the year on September 3. It was a “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Book). Each participant shared a book and promoted it to the group. Our next meeting will be October 7, when we will be discussing Jandy Nelson’s Printz-Award-winning I’ll Give You the Sun.
That photo of Jandy Nelson is one I took when I was fortunate to meet her at the American Library Association Conference in San Francisco last June. Write now, Ms. Nelson’s travel schedule is uncertain, but she has agreed to attend our virtual meeting if she is home. Either way, I know we will have a great discussion of the book.
The Geeks Club is meeting during lunch each Friday, and will also make themselves available at other times to help students, teachers, and event parents with technology support. They are also going to be supervising the running of our new 3D printers and helping to launch our maker space with the 3D printers at the heart. We have done demos of the 3D printers a couple of times during lunch so far, and we will be having a training for Geeks Club members and anyone else interested in designing for and running the printers. The training will take place next Thursday, September 17 from 3pm – 5pm:
Join the MCHS Library Club and our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” network of school library clubs from around the country for a discussion Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, Wednesday, October 7 at 3pm. Mira Costa is acting as moderator for this month’s discussion.