More than checking out books

Due to drastic budget cuts at the end of the year, our district has reduced the 3 library media specialists for our 6 schools to 2.  That means I spend 4 days a week at the high school and 1 day a week at the middle school.  My fellow LMS works at all 4 elementary schools, teaching only grades 4-6 in the library, managing all the clerical without a para and helping plan for the K-3 classes which are being seen by a para.

It's so disappointing...and frustrating.

This week I worked with students at the middle school.  They have not had a full-time library media specialist for five years.  It has been a one day a week position for the past 5 years.  As a result, the space is dated and has become a dumping ground. "I don't know where it goes so let's just leave it in the media center"?

As a result, teachers do not look to the library media specialist as a resource and the room itself is seen just a book depot.

Building relationships is key to success in most businesses, and education is no exception.  Luckily, one of the Language Arts teachers graduated from high school with me.   He approached me about doing a library orientation for his 7th grade students.  Typically, the library para would give them the rules of media center, a general where things are and let them check out books.

I knew most of these students as I just had them as 6th graders.

The teacher was going to be out that day and asked that I work with students for full period, about 45 minutes.  I confirmed with him that students had access to their school emails and knew about classroom.  I was ready to jump in and build on students prior knowledge about the online library catalog and research

My plan for the orientation was:
  • Students log in to Gmail and join my Google Classroom
  • I demonstrate Destiny Discover...how to log in, how to search for books (I provided a video tutorial of this in Classroom for them to access later if they needed any reminders)
  • We talk about library resources vs Google information
  • Students search for and check out books
  • Students do a reading interest survey on Google Forms (see below)
  • We take a Kahoot quiz (this was a filler activity if there was time)  
The reality:
  • Only half the students even knew their email.   The other LA teacher did not know I expected students to have that information.
  • I changed up the order of activities so I could help students who did not know, how to log in. The others, jumped right to the Google form.
  • I also taught students the difference between logging in to Chrome and logging in to Google Apps and how to log in and out of both.
  • I demonstrated how to access Discover and some students had time to play with it.
  • 45 minute blocks go fast....there was not time for book check out but I was ok with that.  The library para can check out books.   
Reflection:
I got the sense that one teacher was not happy that students did not check out books and that frustrated me, that my role seemed to be tied only to books and not to technology.    The students, were excited to learn about how to use the technology and they were all engaged learners.

I am at the middle school 20% of the week.  This first year I will use that time:
  • to make the library a more appealing space that students want to come to research, read and relax. 
  • to change the perception of the library media specialists role to one of a co-teacher and collaborator. 
  • to create a physical and digital collection to support curriculum and student's reading interests. 

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