Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Award

Every year I tell myself that I am going to have our school participate in our state association's book award voting. Of course, I never actually do this. Elementary schools do such a great job promoting this, but I am not so sure that middle and high schools are as effective in doing this. This makes me wonder what changes. I suspect book length might play a role. Elementary librarians have an opportunity to share all of the nominees with the students prior to voting. Middle and high schools have to be more creative in their promotion of these books. Don't we want to show that we value good books?

This year it all changes for me. I am taking small steps to ensure that my students are involved. Earlier in the school year I purchased at least two copies of each book and created a display area for the books. I also created this nifty sign for the display.

As the nominees are returned, they are placed back on the nominee shelf. It is not uncommon to go by the shelf and see only one or two of the books. That means the kids are reading them, but now how do I get them to vote? I have created a Google Doc survey for students to complete and that way I can easily tabulate the results. Students will receive bookmarks with the web address for voting. 

Hopefully next year we can expand the activities we are doing to get students involved. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Year in Review!

It is hard to believe that it has been a little over a year since I started this blog, The Candid Librarian. In fact, December 16, 2010 was the death of my old, unused blog The Captive Audience and the birth of something that has totally changed my approach to my practice of librarianship. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this entry, but I just could not decide if I wanted it to focus on resolution or reflection. This was so much on my mind that I even asked my Twitter followers their thoughts. I got one reponse from coastalNCmama: reflections, always. So with that, here it goes.

2011 has been an amazing year for me. I have begun to focus on the development of my PLN, a wonderful group of library and tech professionals that inspire and motivate me. I wish I had the time and energy to implement all of the great ideas and lessons I learn from these individuals. In addition to my blog, I became a more avid Twitter user. While these skills are still developing, I am thankful for a world that allows me to communicate with professionals from across the country.

When looking at the instruction I provide for students, I see that the vast majority of it is based on teacher need. Last year I worked with a Social Studies teacher on a truly collaborative project. She had the idea and together we were able to develop the History Our Way project. I firmly believe that the scope and nature of this project will be something that those students will always remember. This upcoming year we will repeat the project, and I have plans to work with a 7th grade Science teacher on a similar project. While I will continue to provide instruction on topics like podcasting, Photostory, etc., I am always looking for those opportunities for truly collaborative units.

At my school I am librarian, teacher, technician, technology facilitator, and yearbook advisor all rolled into one. I know many of you fulfill these roles in your school too and it does present challenges. Sometimes I find instruction takes a back seat to the many other tasks assigned or required by entities outside of our school building. Fixed asset inventory or some other task has to take priority. I find this to be infuriating and often have to fight that negative impulse that arises when I feel those tasks take priority over the students and what our library can offer them.

The end of last school year was one of those times where we were finishing book inventory, fixed asset inventory, gathering software to be installed on our laptops that were coming in during the summer and on and on. During this time I was considering entering the Follett Challenge, but I soon dismissed the idea because I was simply too busy. With that I had a certain epiphany as we approached the deadline of the challenge -- I needed to show off what our students had accomplished and all those other things could wait. So I dropped everything to create a Follett Challenge video. Boy, am I glad!

In September I arrived at work one morning to find a message from Tom Kline at Follett. All the message said was "re: Follett Challenge". Well, it was too early to return that call, so I called my husband. Surely they would only be calling if I had won. He tried to talk me down, just in case. Fortunately, it was good news. We had placed and would be attending AASL11 in Minnesota. What an unbelievable dream come true!

Prior to attending AASL11, I had the honor of presenting with Jennifer LaGarde at the NC School Library Media Association Conference. While we may have been co-presenters, I learned an incredible amount from Jennifer during that session. This conference was also the beginning of my term as a secretary for the organization. I never saw myself holding a position in the organization, but my dear friend Sarah Justice, and current president, has a way of talking me into doing things that I did not see myself doing. Being able to meet more people from within our state is one of the perks of being a state leader. This is another way in which I have expanded my PLN.

You can read my post about AASL11 and I won't rehash it here. What I will say is that was one of the best experiences of my entire career. All because I decided to put aside those other tasks that did not directly impact my students. The recognition for our school was phenomenal, but the award could not have come at a better time and the improvements to our collection will benefit my students more than words can express. For those who think you will never win, believe me when I say, "you just might."

Building your PLN is a great way to expand your horizons, but taking a leap and doing something you have never done before may lead to unexpected rewards. I'll be looking for new challenges in the year to come. What will you be looking for?