Freshman Library Orientations Underway!

Library Orientation

It’s been a super busy week at the Mira Costa High School Library! We are still in the midst of getting textbooks to late-enrolling students and those switching classes, and we also have some new textbook titles arriving, I have also been training several new volunteers and one student aide, people I depend upon as a staff of one to keep my library running. Despite all this activity, I always switch focus to the library teaching program as quickly as possible, and I began teaching Freshman library orientations on Tuesday, September 2, just five days after school opened. Each of the Ninth Grade English classes come for two day orientation lessons. Eight Ninth grade classes – Mr. Holland’s, Mr. Wheeler’s, and Mr. Westerberg’s – all visited for two days each, and Ms. Cabrera’s students came for their first day on Friday, for a total of 17 orientation lessons this week. To get all the Ninth graders in, I will be continuing orientations for the next two and half weeks. Here’s a summary of what I have been covering with them.

Orientation Day 1

2014-09-02 14.33.51On Day one, 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.

This year I am trying a new 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┬áselection committee. It is one of the top 25 sites our committee chose and is promoting this year. 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 did last year since it offers a “teacher lead” mode which is enabling 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 working better to assure 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. I also get frequent requests to simply get more books, and I will definitely be doing that this year! In fact, I have a goal to add a new database from EBSCO that will radically increase the number of ebooks we offer. Here are a few responses I got this year that are going to more difficult to fulfill!

  • have round, small tables so groups of friends could study together easily (I am hoping to get some new furniture soon!)
  • have more staff and be open longer hours
  • have iPads
  • have more computers

Do know that I listen to all the requests and fulfill all that I can.

Orientation Day 2

Library orientationDay 2 of the orientation is a scavenger hunt. For the last three years, I have had students team up in groups of two and complete a sheet of questions that 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 a link to last year’s form: last year’s form.┬áMy goal with this activity is to have every student complete every activity and get a 100 percent. For the several questions with only one correct answer, I would check their responses for accuracy then help them through correcting them if necessary. I have been wanting to go paperless with this form for a while, but I couldn’t figure out how I would be able to quickly check whether the students got those several questions that only have one right answer. This year I was determined to take this activity paperless. With some inspiration from two of the model activities I experienced at the Google Teacher Academy I attended in July -Jon Corippo and JR Ginex-Orinion’s Google Iron Chef activity and Lisa Highfill’s HyperDocs activity – I created a plan that began with this Google Form:

One of the features of this form is that, in the case of two questions for which there is only one correct answer, I used “validation.” This feature allowed me to check for the correct answer and to return a hint if the student entered anything else. For example, if they don’t enter the correct call number for the most recently-published book for the topic in the QR code clue they scanned, it prompts them to be sure to sort their catalog results by date and to include the letters as well as the number. The students couldn’t submit their form unless they got these questions right. Since my goal was for every student to get everything right and thereby learn the skills of searching our library catalog, this validation worked beautifully. Of course, some of the students asked me for help when they found that their answers were wrong, but I was pleased that most of them headed the prompt and tried again on their own and corrected their own errors. And, although I had each student submit his/her own form, they were working in teams of two so they were able to help each other through a lot of it.

2014-09-03 08.43.27The 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.) I gave the students very minimal oral directions for these activities; instead, I encouraged them to read the directions carefully and help each other figure out what to do before asking for help. I was pleased how many students worked out how to complete all the activities on their own. They also clearly were enjoying themselves as they found books on their interests and shared about them in their slides. At the end of each period, one of the students ran 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 will be promoting use of our GAFE accounts and Google Classroom to our teachers this year, so the Freshmen will already be set up for it.

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 thought on “Freshman Library Orientations Underway!

  1. Fantastic orientation Jane! I’ve had to postpone orientation this year due to the library reconstruction. Your program has given me some new ideas to try as we move into our “new” library. Might you report on this and the use of the tools you incorporate in a session at the conference in Feb.? Just a thought.

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