You are currently browsing the archives for April 2007.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 15 entries.

Question, Fact, Think

  • Posted on April 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM

The previous blog post was about my systematic steps in organizing one brief mini research activity with kindergartners. There are many professional writers who disparage the "How I done good" type of writing, but I think librarians can cut through the nonsense to see what is usable to them. I will never pretend to be an expert (meet me and you'll know!), but I will share the practicalities of how we are doing this stuff when we are really busy and actually have practical activities to complete. Hopefully then you will try something and share "how you done better." Then I can improve, also. This is one of the interactive aspects of web 2.0 tools – wiki's, blog commenting, etc. Interact. Share. Make improvements.

In fact, I hope periodically to irritate other people so they are forced to comment and interact to convey their point of view. We grow through dialogue and conflict. If we were all the same, we wouldn't need different publishers. Experts in our field may purport that all activities need to be lofty while I see the many steps along the way occuring out of sequence, randomly, repeatedly, and as needed by the child.

How many people realize kindergartners don't understand the difference between a question and a fact? I actually incorporate this teaching into a storytime early in the school year. The kindergarten teaches rave about it's usefulness. Usually I share a fiction story about a rabbit/fox/duck then I share a simple nonfiction book. I have printed and laminated big cards with the words: Question, Answer, Fiction, Nonfiction and then several questions and answers. Because I am easily bored and don't like to do just one topic, I have questions about ducks, rabbits, and foxes intermixed. I have students stand up to hold the question card on one side of me, the answer card on the other.  I'll lay the cards face down on the floor and choose students to pick them up one at a time and sort themselves into Q & A. After they are sorted, I'll suggest to those still waiting that usually questions and answers go together, so I'll pick one at a time to match these and move those children into small groups. Then we'll see if we can divide the duck questions in one part, the foxes to another, etc. Sometimes we have answers that don't go with any question and we make them stand behind my chair making distracting motions so we can keep saying together "Don't get distracted. Stay on task." Sometimes we have big questions that we don't know the answer yet and we'll set those students to one area tapping their heads saying "I wonder."

Lots of motion, interaction, thinking, and participation. They don't forget the concept that questions need answers and some don't have any. Whenever we research group topics, we can repeat our chants "Don't get distracted. Stay on task." They also realize that research is active and can't be found only in one place.

Emotionally they learn to be involved and care about solving the problem. When we complete mini-topic research activities later in the year, they are eager to learn, ask questions, and practice phrasing answers to questions. We spend much of the year restating the question and the answer. Students love every opportunity to come to the library as the class expert individually or in small groups. The principal has watched them race down the hallway to the library. Not a bad thing to see excited people heading your way. After they finish an activity and they know exactly what they are going to say when they re-enter their classroom, the students are so proud of themselves. The kindergarten teachers know to pause as they re-enter and give them 15 seconds to share before they burst and every child listens carefully so they are ready for their turn.

I have even had small groups approach me afterwards and say "There's something funny about that research because the gorillas and the chimpanzees experts said they build nests everyday and only birds build nests, but not every day." This gave us the chance to "prove" our research and say, "A-HA! I learned something new today!"

These are all the baby steps that must occur before the large problem-based activities. It's like learning how to hold a pencil must come before writing. Learning how to think about research must occur before the grown-ups get overly-focused on whether this is the highest level of thinking possible. I challenge you. Thinking is occuring in our library. Look at your program. You know its happening for you, make sure that your students are cognizant of their thinking and learning process.

Research with the little ones

  • Posted on April 27, 2007 at 7:25 PM

You can find lesson plans, webquests, and activities on the internet, in books, & in magazines. For some teachers and librarians, this isn't enough because it doesn't convey a sense of how to organize mini-research moments & how important small activities can be. While students need to freely choose topics and participate in research like David Loertscher's Ban those Bird Units, they must still have experience completing the small steps of research in a systematic manner like the Super3 or the Big6 while incorporating Jamie McKenzie's questions.

While I understand the need for changing our big focus on research problems to writing better questions than focusing on simple topics, I live in the real world where I still need to teach the beginning basic steps. Yes, Jamie and David, this does involve "moving information" initially because students learn to match information answers to questions. Research can be viewed as completing small steps on a topic as well as large projects with a problem-based focus. My students in kindergarten need to recognize these basic concepts first: You should ask yourself questions while you are researching. Librarians help you find better answers faster.  Sometimes the answers are in books, in media, on the computer, and sometimes there are no answers yet. 

This week Kindergartners at my school have been researching animals. In previous years we would incorporate a field trip to the zoo to heighten our excitement. We would use the computer to link to specific animals found at the Nashville Zoo and ensure that each child was an expert zoo guide. Then when they toured the zoo, they could tell others facts about "their animal." After they returned, the students would add details to their original graphic organizers and drawings to illustrate their animal's setting and other facts gleaned.

This year there will be no field trip so I needed to find a way to create a sense of excitement and a new experience. As most of you do, we chose to use small group research with one child coming from every class to study together, write, draw, and then return to their room as the only expert on that animal in their room. 

Since librarians are the experts on materials available, I located 28 different animal books written at 1st & 2nd grade levels to serve as beginning resources and located low reading level internet sources with photos. I created a spreadsheet with the names of the different animals & a specific twenty minute time over a period of 3 days for them to come to the library to research with me. The teacher team looked over the list and chose not to study groundhogs since the entire class was already an expert. They chose a substitution from my extra list.

I emailed this file to the teachers, but also printed off individual copies so they could keep track in their rooms when the next child was supposed to leave. The kindergarten team leader collated a master list for me to check off the names of the students who actually were present. The day of research there are always changes so flexibility is the key. By developing a list of 28 topics for class sizes of 22 at the maximum, I enabled teachers to help students who were more "teacher needy" to be in a smaller group so we could focus on learning, not behavior.

I suggested a variety of ways to match children with the names of the animals. Teachers could write down the animal name on the board and have students put their name beside the animal and negotiate conflicts, the teacher could draw craft sticks with the child's name to choose, the students could draw their name from a hat, or the teacher could assign them.

As the groups began coming to the library, I worked with each to build excitement, generate thought questions, read the book, access the computer, and using a sheet of paper (with the only words being My name is… My animal researched is… ) take notes in our unique kindergarten way. 

For many students as soon as they raced to the table they grabbed a pencil and began looking at the animal on the cover and started drawing. For others who were convinced they weren't born with artistic talent, I had to suggest they look at every picture in the book until they found a way to draw their animal while we were reading and talking. The art teacher popped in with one group and reminded them how to look at animals as shapes – ovals, rectangles, circles, trianges, and lines. For the truly insecure we reminded them that no one else in their class knew about their animal so they were counting on them to indicate if the animal had legs, flippers, fins, or wings.

After reading and talking about their animal, I asked each one how they were going to share the new stuff they'd learned. Most chose to write random words and phrases on their paper like "builds nests", sharp claws, burrows, etc. At the end of twenty minues they raced back to class proudly with their paper to work with the teacher on how to share orally with the whole class.

The main reading, and technology standards we were addressing include:
Recognizes that information comes from written materials.
Begins to use library/media center.

Uses teacher-approved sites to access Internet information.
Discusses information obtained from Internet sites.
Participates in a teacher-led discussion on the helpfulness (relevancy) of the material.
Recognizes that the obtained information needs to be organized or processed (teacher guided).
Discusses how to organize the material to share results (teacher guided).

Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug

  • Posted on April 25, 2007 at 1:03 AM

Opening a package of new books is one of my very favorite activities. You can study the reviews, the catalogs, and the images yet when the box arises you have to caress the cover, admire the font, and revel in your ability to choose the perfect title.

Sometimes you need a little surprise in your life – a little Jack in the Box. That's when I find myself relying upon my 3 subscriptions a month with Junior Library Guild. I am constantly amazed at the quality of their selections, plus I copy that months' handy guide with suggestions for use to post on the teacher's lounge refrigerator. I don't count on JLG to order all of the books I need, I just like to see what their picks are in a few specialized areas.

One title that shocked and delighted me this week was Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug. I love wordless picture books even though I despise publishers that don't "do the right thing" and put a natural cover with a title on a book. I opened my mail while preparing for afternoon bus duty and I read with an open mind. I found myself laughing out loud at the absurdity and approachability of this title. I immediately put the book in 5 different readers hands to get their reaction before I even left my bus duty post. Each person commented on a different subtlety; yet we all agreed on our favorite scene.

Fuse#8's review of this title was Spot On! If you haven't yet discovered this blog, you need to pop by. A Fuse #8 Production focuses upon children's literature, children's librarianship, and book reviews. I hope that you will visit regularly after their indepth review on Bow Wow Bugs a Bug.

As much as I love Fuse #8, I do need more than one review a day. Thanks to SLJ, I am stocked for every hour of my day.

Semblance of Order

  • Posted on April 24, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Look in for the definition of "shambles" and you'll read disorder, a place of ruin, a place of carnage, etc. Look at and you will find Chris Smith creating an oasis of order in the internet shambles. Chris contributed answers  and his outlook regarding the very useful site For those of you who are not currently subscribed, visit once and you may find yourself creating order amidst the onslaught of 2.0 information.

For busy school librarians, what is the number one reason they should visit your site

You mean there are some school librarians that are not busy …. no.

The reason would be to save time by hopefully being able to find k-12 teaching and learning materials more quickly and therefore not having to work through your lunch hour … but I bet you still do ;-(

OK … the real number one reason we are all doing anything in this k-12 world of ours is to give the students an even better experience than they get now … but that goes without saying (ummmm .. but I just said it, what a strange Blog this is)

Tell me about your collection of free multimedia resources at

Not so much a collection but a compilation … it's BIG, comprehensive, cross curriculum,  and has evolved successfully mainly because of the suggestions and contributions received from those in the k-12 community.  In fact it used to just be the k-12 community in international schools across S.E. Asia but now it is worldwide and all types of schools. Over 10,000 visitors a day visit Shambles from around the world … hopefully an indicator of its relevance and usefulness (they can't all be my mum)

Who do you admire the most and suggest readers visit their sites?

If those reading this are librarians or in the k-12 information arena … then I'm going to change the question from "site" to "internet resource" then the answer is easy …. it is the listserv LM_NET  … I really do admire the guys/volunteers who quietly work in the background ensuring it all runs efficiently … but don't forget to switch on the 'Digest' option otherwise you'll drown in emails

In 2006 I was also blown away when I discovered TEDtalks …. what wonderful presentations for feeding the mind (but for older students and big people) … we should be grateful to BMW for funding the online presentations allowing them to be available for free … money well spent.

Have fun.
Chris was created & is maintained by Chris Smith, currently residing in Chiangmai, Thailand. Chris has worked in Jamaica, England, Hong Kong (24yrs) and now Thailand. Read more about Chris at

While I wait for the next Shambles newsletter due out May 3rd, I can explore the many sections of including:

  • Web Site of the Day,
  • Games,
  • Podcasts,
  •  the Blog Forest,
  • E-learning,  
  • Interactive W-Board,
  • Safe Web Searching,
  • Professional Development for Teachers,
  • Advice for Parents,
  • Education Websites,
  • Applications & Utilities,
  • Calendars & Events, 
  • Country Information,
  • International School and much more.

There are theme blogs linked throughout the site with  links to videos to help with the teaching and learning of web 2.0, teaching themes, IT skills, and Information Literacy skills. On Chris' site he asks and answers the question I hear from many of you:

So why use Blogs rather than the regular webpages on Shambles for this particular growth?

  • mainly because of the social aspect of Blogs which allows visitors to leave comments and suggestions on any or all postings
  • also for the ability to subscribe to individual Blog pages using RSS in order to be automatically informed of new additions … and eventually save you time

Podcasts produced by at include series: Shambles ASIAcasts, LIBcasts, TECHcasts, HEADcasts – all under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial licenses.  Go have a listen and see what you've been missing.

Planning Philosophy

  • Posted on April 20, 2007 at 10:06 PM

Due to glitches in this blogging software, I had to post this information separately:

One of my wonderful teachers, Tischann Nye Morse, expressed herself so well via email and agreed to share here:

There's so much more, but this is a good start!  It's always something and usually many things at once which makes it very difficult to accomplish what you plan to do during your planning time.  Being a "public servant" means that your time is considered "public property" and is not given the respectful distance it deserves in order for you to calmly and rationally set about accomplishing the things that need to be done.  Add on the endless amount of spur-of-the-moment decisions, assignments, and time-wasters that are placed on us by administration, district, faculty, students and parents.  It is a wonder we are able to accomplish as much as we do without going completely insane.  A good teacher is an expert at prioritizing and accomplishing things in miniscule moments of precious time.  And doing it with a smile, because you never know who is watching.

So true, so true. Hopefully sharing lists like these validates your gut sense that you are doing all you can to reach out and encourage collaborative planning. Perhaps more parents need to know what really happens during planning time.

What is planning time?

  • Posted on April 20, 2007 at 4:52 PM

Many librarians are frustrated when trying to schedule collaborative planning time with teachers. We have the best interests of all students and teachers in mind. We have much to offer. What prevents us from meeting regularly? Is the problem us? Don't the teachers want to meet with us? Is there something else preventing planning?

In my school we are very fortunate to be able to schedule all members of a grade level to have simultaneous planning time. All 5 rooms of first graders, for example, attend related arts (P.E., P.E., art, art, or music) at the same time. This enables the counselor, reading specialist, administration, and librarian to meet with them during that 60 minutes. (Several times a month there are extra music and guidance classes, too.)  I meet with grade level teams, then have the flexibility to meet with related arts teachers during their planning times to let them know what happened at the grade level meeting.

Sixty minutes a day sounds like a productive amount of time, but you should know I have never witnessed every teacher getting their full 60 minutes due to student lagging, delays starting, early stopping, and frequent changes. In addition, the teachers have a tremendous list of other hidden duties that you may have forgotten exist. I asked teachers in an informal email to list some of the activities in which they engage during those 60 minutes. Here's their first list and as responses come in, I'll revise this.

The top ten most frequently occurring activities listed were:

  • Phone conferences with parents (takes forever due to only 1 phone line out of the building for all classrooms)
  • Meetings – Attending IEP/S-team meetings for students
  • Plan with teammates re: behavior and academic progress of students
  • Email parents
  • Photocopy seatwork needed
  • Plan lessons for the following week
  • Gather library materials, books, & videos for lessons
  • Grade papers
  • Meet with administration
  • Clean room and straighten

Here is the entire list in alphabetical order:

  • Change bulletin boards
  • Check my mailbox in office
  • Clean MY desk and organize files
  • Clean room and straighten
  • Complete attendance referral paperwork
  • Complete paperwork for logging money & reimbursements
  • Complete paperwork for students or administration (field trips, leave, incidents)
  • Complete progress reports/report cards – handwritten
  • Contact local businesses to locate free art donations/ supplies
  • Count money
  • Create centers
  • Create displays
  • Create examples for art lessons
  • Create power point presentations to show new lessons and promote technology standards
  • Create signs
  • Create signs, displays, fax cover letters, web banners, and other visual art for the betterment of our school
  • Create word cards or other need materials for lesson activities
  • Eat the lunch we didn't get to eat by the time we helped 5 yr olds through the lunch line
  • Email community partners
  • Email from administration – read
  • Email parents
  • Gather art supplies for projects (cut, count, create signs, clean art trays,)
  • Gather library materials and books
  • Gather materials from the book room
  • Gather math materials
  • Get a soda
  • Get called in to help in cafeteria for breakfast
  • Go to the restroom (Come on! You know this should rank first!)
  • Grade papers
  • Grades – justify
  • Grades enter in computer
  • Have students stop by to see what we are doing for class
  • Let someone in that locked themselves out of the building when they went to get something out of their car
  • Load the kiln
  • Look & Look & Look for materials to make a concept more interesting
  • Meet – Attend IEP/S-team meetings for students
  • Meet with administration
  • Phone conferences with parents (takes forever due to only 1 phone line)
  • Photocopies of seatwork needed for the week
  • Plan & adjust schedule to fit into programs, be flexible
  • Plan activities to go with my lessons
  • Plan field trips
  • Plan for aligning lessons with standards
  • Plan guided reading lessons
  • Plan lessons for the following week
  • Plan with counselor
  • Plan with our library media specialist (ranked 14 out of this huge list)
  • Plan with our reading specialist
  • Plan with teammates re behavior and academic progress of students
  • Prepare layouts for volunteers to help with memory books
  • Prepare student work folders to go home (communicate with parents)
  • Prepare work for absent students
  • Print photographs for memory books
  • Print pictures for teachers
  • Pump for nursing baby
  • Read educational magazines for new ideas
  • Research ideas for lessons on the computer
  • Register for workshops online
  • Review what was done last week
  • Sharpen pencils (about 10-15 minutes every day)
  • Students – Deal with discipline
  • Students – Deal with learning issues
  • Students – Make up tests & work from absences
  • Students – Take temperatures
  • Translate for Spanish speaking parents' meetings & phone calls
  • Try to find my sanity
  • Work on school yearbook
  • Write explanations for our projects to promote the program
  • Write newsletters
  • Write permission slips for field trips

Filter Woes & No's

  • Posted on April 19, 2007 at 1:12 PM

One of the most frustrating aspects of capitalizing upon the capabilities of modern technology involves lack of access due to no equipment, poor internet speed, and over filtering. Today one of my teachers reported she couldn't open one of the Reader's Theatre links from the SLJ blog because the "filter police" said she was being racist and illegal. I was very surprised so duplicated her attempt to link.  One of the sites was blocked with the  message below appearing. The teachers expressed their embarrassment to being accused of being hateful, racist, illegal, and cheating. Note that they don't read this part "identified as inappropriate includes, but is not limited to," but feel defensive about the entire message. This is a problem so I did something about it.

Your site ———- is blocked by the Tennessee Department of Education content filtering guidelines.

Web sites that have been identified as providing inappropriate content are blocked.  This determination is based upon the categorization of the website.  Content identified as inappropriate includes, but is not limited to:

  •   Adult-oriented material
  •   Illegal material
  •   Racist or hate-oriented material
  •   School cheating material

Please note the following when requesting a review of a site:

FREE PAGES: Sites categorized as Free Pages (e.g.,, etc.) are blocked by default since both appropriate and inappropriate information can be posted. Specific Free Page sites can be unblocked when ENA verifies that the content is appropriate.

VISUAL SEARCH ENGINES: Sites categorized as visual search engines (e.g.,, etc.) are blocked by default and cannot be unblocked. These websites allow searches for both appropriate and inappropriate images, with no way to differentiate. Requests to review visual search engine sites will NOT receive a response.

If you believe a site is blocked due to being incorrectly categorized or you would like ENA to review a Free Pages site, please Request a Site Review. You may also utilize Authorized Override view the website for a designated time period. A valid username is required to log in to Authorized Override.

All librarians should know the telephone number of the help desk to request emergency overrides. When I clicked on the link to request a site review, the link wasn't working. In this situation the teacher needed reader's theatre scripts before her next class in 5 mintues. I couldn't wait. I called the help desk for immediate assistance. Notice that I didn't have to call a technician, the technician's supervisor, and other people who have no curricular expertise. I was able to go to the source of access.

The helpdesk personnel were wonderful. They asked my name, checked my history of requesting legitimate sites being unblocked, checked this particular site (which was incorrectly categorized as a work-around site), and listened to me vent the teacher's frustrations with the wording of the block page.

As I spoke more and more teachers wandered through the library and added their comments of frustration and shame at having been questioned on their attempting to access an educationally appropriate site – especially sites they had spent hours of their own time locating at home, only to be blocked at school.

I notified the company that I would be blogging about this and they ensured other company officials called back within the hour to help me. They sincerely want to have a well-written block page which explains why the site was flagged by the filters, yet doesn't convey such a negative message to educators, parents, and students. They gave me permission to include the above message and added the following:

Please provide feedback how we can modify the wording so that it is less offensive to teachers but still communicate why they received a block page instead of the intended website.  I appreciate your candor and your suggestions!

There have been times when there is a hidden reason why sites are blocked and through phoning the state help desk, I can learn why. The ENA personnel have even volunteered to help me find similar sites in a pinch if there are hidden links that will cause network difficulties. This is great service. Seven years ago the service was not as responsive. My husband recalls a time when he emailed in a request for review, then one week later received a form letter stating that the official presidential page was being "appropriately" blocked. He felt they hadn't even read his request. At that time we met with state level officials on behalf of our school library state association and discussed the need for correcting the procedure. They worked with us to establish one procedure and now are re-evaluating to see if it needs to be improved again.

Imagine if every school library organization was able to meet with the teams in charge of filtering decisions to discuss the messages conveyed and the significant problems they face on the front line. I submitted my blog to the state filtering organization years ago, they evaluated it and determined it was appropriate professional development for school librarians so it is unblocked. Hopefully you have similar procedures available in your state so you can request specific sites be unblocked.

Notice that I am not advocating totally unlimited roaming on the internet. I teach in an elementary school and don't want children mistakenly accessing some sites. However, I do believe the court rulings on CIPA indicate that there must be reasonable procedures in place for ADULTS to request reviews of blocked sites to provide timely access of appropriate sites. I am the information professional in my building and I do choose resources valued at nearly $1 million dollars a year. I am quite capable of ascertaining appropriate internet sites. The procedures need to be in place to value my expertise while still providing the protection my students need. Doesn't this seem too logical?

Librarian Act of 2007

  • Posted on April 18, 2007 at 6:37 PM

The LIBRARIAN Act of 2007 was introduced in Congress. This information was posted on several listservs from the ALA Washington Office. We need to celebrate National Library Week plus be aware of the efforts of Congress to support our profession. It's easy to complain that no one is doing anything for us. Now is the time to do something to thank those who are helping us. Participate. Contact your representatives and help raise their awareness. Be sure to emphasize our impact on student achievement and vital role in schools.

"Yesterday, coinciding with National Library Workers Day, the Librarian Incentive to Boost Recruitment and Retention in Areas of Need (LIBRARIAN) Act of 2007 was introduced in both the U.S. Senate (S. 1121) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 1877).

This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for Perkins student loan forgiveness, which will encourage individuals to become and remain librarians in low-income schools and public libraries.

"The LIBRARIAN Act of 2007 is a bold step forward for librarianship," ALA President Leslie Burger said. "With the face of information changing on an almost daily basis, bills like this do a great service to one of the world's most respected professions, attracting a younger and more diverse crowd with extensive knowledge of the hi-tech services offered
in today's libraries."

"Further, many of today's librarians are nearing retirement age," Burger continued, "and we as a society must do all we can to ensure that every library continues to be staffed by librarians skilled in both their profession and their community."

The bipartisan bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Becerra (D-CA), along with Reps. Grijalva (D-AZ), Ehlers (R-MI), and Shimkus (R-IL), and in the Senate by Sens. Reed (D-RI) and Cochran (R-MS).

"Librarians play an essential role in our schools and public libraries and help to foster a lifelong love of reading in our young people," stated Sen. Reed. "With a shortage of librarians across the country and with many more set to retire, we must urgently encourage more people to enter the library science field and work to retain valuable librarians who are already serving our communities."

Said Rep. Becerra, "The loan forgiveness provisions of this bill will be a valuable tool in attracting some of our brightest and best students to become tomorrow's educators in the communities where they are most needed."

The American Library Association strongly supports the LIBRARIAN Act of 2007 and encourages Senators and Representatives to cosponsor it.

Current law allows for the forgiveness of educational loans for several categories of professionals that serve in low-income areas, such as teachers for Title I schools, special education and Head Start, as well as members of the armed services, law enforcement officers, Peace Corps volunteers, medical technicians and nurses."

Where are the Books & DVDs for your Body

  • Posted on April 16, 2007 at 1:00 AM

If you ask for it, be prepared to deal with it and deliver! I asked my faculty (as I am sure you do constantly) what their greatest needs are for new purchases. The Physical Education teachers were the fastest to reply that they desperately needed new books and videos on health, nutrition, MyFood Pyramid, and exercise. They gave me a handout from our district highlighting these facts:

  • 43% of all Tennessee students are at-risk for overweight or overweight (obese). (CSH Pilot sites and DOH BMI data)
  • Tennessee is ranked: 47th in the nation for overall health status
  • Tennessee is ranked 3rd in the nation for childhood obesity (CDC, 2006)

I found these links while searching, but they aren't enough to answer the original question. I could invest weeks seeking materials, but in this day and age of collaboration, why should I be the only one seeking and sharing? There must be others in the same situation.

Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance
PELinks4U Technology in Physical Education
My Pyramid for Kids
SLJ Talked to Researcher Steve Sanders about a New Way to Fight Obesity in Kids in the Extra Helping on March 21st
Getting BodyWise! a web site for learning to take care of your body, to choose nutritious foods, to stay fit, and avoid eating disorders.

How will they use these materials? We have a large multipurpose room including stage, two outdoor playgrounds fenced in (one for kindergarten, one for the older children), a blacktop rectangle for activities, and a new community sponsored playground/park with equipment. Still, there are days when it's raining or inclement weather and other programs need the gym/stage for their needs. If they have a transition time or inclement weather time, they may choose to teach the nutritional part of their curriculum and need audiovisual materials and support. Honestly, I don't know every use they have, I simply know they have expressed a need, brought in justification as to the importance, and asked me to deliver.

Unfortunately, I am not finding GREAT resources produced in the last 5 years that are exciting, short, active, and capable of motivating the students to move. We had some jazzercize like videos before but they are old and the teachers have lost interest. We do not have unlimited funds to purchase DDR.

What do you suggest? Which vendors provide the materials that you need? Do any have adaptive audiovisual for my autisitc, visually-impaired and limited mobility students? What happened to exciting musically based active recordings?

Connecting Programs & People

  • Posted on April 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Hidden tasks for today's school library media specialist include arranging programs, seeking speakers, and linking the wide world out there to our students. Many districts have SOP's (standard operating procedures) in place to guide the selection, hiring (or reimbursement), and marketing of programs. Some districts have nothing. There are several web sites available that link authors and their visits to schools, but we typically schedule far more than simply author visits. They may not have included training for this in your MLA program.

Over the past ten years we have hosted a wide variety of programs at my school. Sometimes I would arrange for a speaker, sometimes other teachers such as the P.E./Guidance/Nurse would schedule someone. Often after the first year, someone else takes on the role of scheduling their favorite programs. We have had the:

Tooth Fairy
Fire Truck
Bomb-Sniffing Dogs (since the SWAT team has a station on our campus)
Jerry from Subway
Ronald McDonald's Reading program
the Nashville Sounds (baseball team) and their mascot Ozzie to kick off their reading program
Kids on the Block
TV weathermen/weatherwomen
Scarritt-Bennett Museum representatives and their programs on other countries
Internet Safety
Benjamin Franklin (see photo at right by Michael Tyler) and notes below
Authors: Ronda Todd, Mike Shoulders, Tim Ross, Steve Isham, medieval authors

Whenever I discuss visits and their coordination with other librarians, they suggest new ideas and speakers at all ranges of costs. For example, I haven't called Abraham Lincoln to come to our school this year. Rumor has it he is alive and doing well in the Nashville area. For a modest fee, he will visit my school. Sounds intriguing and worth investigating.

We are still seeking funding to bring storyteller Donald Davis to our school May 8th. Somehow I need to still find $1000 and then I'll be able to offer students storytelling in the day and the families a storytelling program at night. I have long wanted to develop this program. It will happen. I'm not sure when. If we don't make our goal, we'll simply adjust the date not give up on the goal.

I wish we had an effective list of possible speakers.  Who do you coordinate visits from and which topics are you yearly expected to plan for and  host? Can you recall special programs from your childhood? Doug Johnson was reminiscing about the speaker Al Bell and his wife who toured the midwest when I was young. I can remember getting out of the hospital to go to school just to hear Al Bell's program one year. He traveled to a different country each year, developed a program complete with costumes, music, and a slide show(!!!) in our gym. I believe Al's programs are responsible for my intense wanderlust and love of travel. I fondly remember many of the details of his program on Spain and someday I will go there, too.

Can you say that you have provided programs that will remain in the minds of your students when they grow to your current age?

Benjamin Franklin!
Dr. Rich Davis visited Hickman Elementary School March 7, 2007. His program The Magic of Reading inspired the students, allowed them to participate and show off what they had already learned about Benjamin Franklin. All grade levels participated and proclaimed it a great success. They loved their scientific experiment. I asked first graders today over a month later if they could recall any facts about Ben Franklin while we walked out to the buses. They were proud to share what they remembered and were still calling facts out the window as the bus drove away.  After Dr. Davis' program, the principal sent all teachers an email encouraging them to incorporate his methods to actively involve students in learning.

One of my favorite parts of the program was preparing fourth graders prior to the visit. I read from a Picture Window Book biography Benjamin Franklin: Writer, Inventor, Statesman. Each teacher participated as I interwove facts from their reading series, science unit on electricity, and social studies unit on the forming of our nation into a story of one of the most fascinating men of that time. I was even able to incorporate some of the negatives of his life from Cokie Roberts' book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. After hearing her disparaging Ben during the ALA Annual 2006 in New Orleans, I had to read more. Two of the fourth grade girls were aware that he had a reputation with the ladies but I whispered they'd have to wait for middle school and the advanced program.

I hope that you can name one program this year that you enjoyed arranging for your students this year. Perhaps sharing stories online in comments and on your own blog will help you realize the positive impact you are having on your students. Sometimes blogs where other people share "how I did it well" are necessary to start the conversation so you can say, "Sure, but here is how I did it better."