Thursday, May 23, 2019

How We Were Able to Skype With 4 Scientists

Sometimes cool things can happen when you simply ask. This year, one of our science teachers wanted me to help her arrange Skype sessions with a geneticist. When I met her for our preliminary meeting, I had no idea she would ask for so many connections in one day. I had offered to record a Skype session with one scientist so she could show her other classes, but the teacher requested that we find four scientists to connect with live for all of her classes if possible. In the past, after I discovered the Skype a Scientist program, I had only requested to connect with one scientist at a time. You can read about our first ever connection with a scientist through the program here.

After considering her request, I told the teacher we would fill out four forms and see what would happen. I knew this could be a great opportunity for her students to learn from experts in the field of genetics. I didn't know if the Skype a Scientist program would be able to fill our request. Days went by, and I wondered what the outcome might be.

The email came from Skype a Scientist a few days later informing me that they had found four scientists for us to connect with! The teacher and I were both super excited. After a few weeks, I had received emails from the individuals, and we began planning our Skype session for each of the four classes. We also had practice connection sessions via Skype when possible to ensure everything was working well.

Science Teacher, Mrs. Akin, connects with a scientist via Skype

The teacher began communicating with the four scientists and sharing what content she wanted her students to cover during the sessions. Some scientists sent ancillary materials for the students to review before they met so they could get an idea of what type of work they did. On the day of the sessions, all the connections were successful, and the students were very engaged. They asked good questions and made excellent use of the opportunity.




I'd like to thank Skype in the Classroom, the Skype a Scientist program, Dr. James Priest, Dr. Sarah Prescott, Ms. Syndell Parks, and Ms. Niranjana Krishnan for making these connections possible!

From an advocacy standpoint, I have reflected on how great Skype a Scientist has been for our high school library program. As a secondary teacher librarian, I have a flexible schedule. I think it is extremely valuable when I can use this flexible time to help teachers connect with professionals outside of our school walls! This is important because many teachers simply struggle to have time to make arrangements for connections in the classroom. I've also found that many teachers do not feel comfortable using webcams in the classroom. They tend to appreciate the support we can give in the library media center. I like to do shout outs to the teachers on social media after they step out of their comfort zones for sessions like these. It is beneficial for our learning community to see this via my social media since other teachers, administrators, and parents see the library being used this way. Have you helped teachers connect their students to professionals in distant places? Be sure to share your connection stories in the comments below. Keep connecting!

Other links that may interest you:

Our Outsiders Library Collaboration
Our Book Pickup Service





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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Academic Library Internship Reflections

This semester I will be completing my practicum requirement at Ouachita Baptist University's Riley-Hickingbotham Library. I am completing an ALA-accredited information science degree so I can work in an academic library much later in my professional life. Having been a graduate student several times over the past two decades, I've used academic libraries frequently.

I want to share a few of my experiences about this on the blog. I especially want to share tools and methods I learned about that could be used in school libraries. After spending the last four months at Ouachita Baptist University, I've learned so much about the organization and layout of an academic library. Each person in the library has a specific area for which they are responsible. In addition, they collaborate and assist each other when needed.

WorldCat and Interlibrary Loan

Some of the most interesting items I've learned about so far have been Interlibrary Loan procedures and the basics of how an archive works. I've always wondered how libraries go about exchanging materials between their institutions. I was reminded that OCLC has a great resource called WorldCat that reveals resources at nearby libraries to users. How many times have you had a student or teacher ask for a book you don't have in stock? Next time, you can help them use WorldCat to execute a search to see if a nearby library might have the item. I wonder how many of you might have Interlibrary Loan procedures at your school library? If so, please tell me how that works in the comments below.

LibGuides

Have you ever used a LibGuide? I was introduced to them this semester during practicum. I was able to assist the periodicals librarian in building a LibGuide for the theatre department. After using the tool to assemble links to databases, articles, books, citation tools, and more, I was convinced it is a worthwhile site. You can search the LibGuides Community to see plenty of examples from colleges, high schools, and elementary schools. Some libraries even use LibGuides to create their online presence like this one.

Personalized Search Strategies Template

One of the most useful things I learned as a school librarian was from the periodicals librarian. She showed me in detail how she gives reference interviews with college students. She prepares a personalized research resource for each student that schedules a time with her. The resource looks like the following:

Search Strategies for Honors Thesis Paper
Prepared for (enter student name here)
Librarian's name

  • Topic

               (enter name of topic)

  • Research Questions

               1. List 3-4 inquiry-based questions about the topic here.

  • Resources and Search Terms


                ProQuest (List a Database or other online search tool here)
                Search Terms > Give a Boolean search string here- or a simple list of search terms for                                                    younger students

I love this personalized method of assisting students with research! This could work at any level when time permitted. I'm going to consider using this template in my future research lessons with classes. While it won't always be feasible, I can surely work this in to assist some classes. If nothing else, I could create the template and share a digital copy with students that come in and need assistance on an individual basis. There are so many possibilities! Do you use something similar to this when you teach research? Please, share it in the comments below! 

There are more reflections to share about my practicum semester. I'll try to get in at least one more article before summer. I have learned so many things, it will be hard to narrow it down to just a few to talk about on the blog. When we are lifelong learners, we benefit as professionals, but, most importantly, those we serve benefit as a result of our continued growth!

Other links that may interest you:

Our Outsiders Library Collaboration
Our Book Pickup Service





I have an email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Outsiders Library Collaboration





One of my favorite things to do as a school librarian is to use our spaces and resources to bring literature to life. Recently, we have started a collaboration based on S.E. Hinton's, The Outsiders. 
After meeting with our 8th grade ELA teachers, we decided to have several learning stations set up in the library to help students understand the period and culture. The event took place over two days and consisted of these learning stations:



Station 1: Windrixville Church

Students were asked to name items that Johnny & Pony had at the church in Windrixville. There were also other discussion prompts for students to create responses.











Station 2: Drive-in Movie


We set up an area that resembled a drive-in movie and showed movie clips from the 1950s and 1960s. Students had to discuss how movies were different from the present time.









Station 3: Drag Racing

We used informative websites about the Chevrolet Corvair and the Ford Mustang. Students were asked to discuss why the characters in The Outsiders preferred these cars. After this, we had a hot wheels track set up in the library and students could "drag race" cars they selected.






Station 4: Gangs


We found YouTube videos explaining how gangs were organized in the time period of The Outsiders. Gangs were also discussed from the present in a separate video. Students were asked to respond to questions about gangs from both periods.





Station 5: The Movie & Museum

Students used https://www.theoutsidershouse.com to answer questions about the movie and the Outsiders House.


Station 6: American Bandstand

Students learned about popular dances from the 1950s and 1960s.










Station 7: 1960s Slang

Students had to match slang from the period with correct definitions.




Station 8: Smoking & Fashion, That was The, This is Now

Students viewed smoking advertisements from the period and were asked to compare them to now.







Station 9: Food

We had a menu of barbeque sandwiches, nachos, chocolate cake, and strawberry lemonade (these were mentioned in the book). Students got to watch portions of an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950s while they ate.









Student Feedback

In a Google Form, students indicated that they liked the drive-in movie station the best. Their 2nd place favorite experience was the drag racing station. One student said, "Things back then are a lot different than they are now." Another stated, "I learned how back then they wanted people to smoke and it was the big thing and the cool thing to do." Several students made connections to the vaping epidemic of our current time to teenage smoking in the 1950s and 1960s.

Final Thoughts

This has been one of my favorite library collaboration programs to put on in recent years. I wish we could have done something similar when I was a student in school reading The Outsiders for the first time!  Such experiences help learners understand different time periods and culture. It also provides an experience they will never forget. If you have lessons related to The Outsiders, be sure to share them in the comments below!


Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
An Easy Way to Share Stats!





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Our Book Pickup Service!


One of the things I've noticed about businesses is that they are constantly changing to respond to the needs of their customers. This is a great practice to stay relevant as customers' needs tend to change over time. In the library, we can implement the same practices. In this blog article, I want to share one of the ways we have recently created a new service for our learning community that was inspired by local businesses.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to Wal-Mart Grocery Pickup. If you aren't familiar with it, this service allows customers to make a grocery list on an app, select the store they want to visit, select the time they want to pick up the groceries and pay online. When you arrive to get your groceries, a person comes out to your car (no matter what weather conditions exist) to place them into your trunk. The service has saved my wife and me so much time as busy teachers!

At the first part of the school year, we began discussing what this model could look like in the library. We decided to try a "book pickup" program for our students! To begin, we started with school email outreach. I sent an email to students informing them about the program. This is what was in the first email I sent out:


We had several students make requests right after I sent the email out to all grades in the high school. We noticed that those that used the service were learners that we don't typically see getting books in the library. Even though it was only a few students, they seemed very happy that we had reached out with the new program.

After several weeks, we decided it might be better to create a Google Form to share with students that wanted to make book pickup requests. This is the form we are currently using:


I sent the form to students via their school email. We had four orders within 30 minutes after it was shared! It has been fun to see students fill out the form and complete their orders. When we prepare their pickup order, we tie yarn around their book with a personal message (see below).


I will continue emailing periodic reminders to students that we have this service available. It will be interesting if it catches on with more students (and maybe even teachers). If you have a similar program for your students, please share it in the comments below! 

Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
An Easy Way to Share Stats!

Your Story is Worth Telling





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270

Sunday, October 7, 2018

An Easy Way To Share Stats

I'm always looking for ways to share our library statistics. I have used an annual report as a means of doing this for many years. I fear that an annual report may not be enough. During the summer months, administrators and library stakeholders may not have time to look over the report as they are preparing for a new school year. This year, I'm experimenting with posting our monthly statistic snapshots on social media. I've already posted for the months of August and September. I'm using the same format each month so it is very easy to read.

I decided to share our library circulations (including textbooks), our classroom technology support contacts since troubleshooting is a large responsibility for us in the library, collaboration programs, and reservations. We are reporting the statistics for the month and for the cumulative for the fiscal year (see the example to the left).


The monthly posts I make on Facebook and Instagram have several photos in addition to the statistics. I also share screenshots from our library circulation and textbook circulation reports.
Our technology troubleshooting report screenshot

I post a screenshot of the Google Form pie chart showing how many technology contacts Kaitlyn Price (Kaitlyn is the co-librarian at Lakeside High) and I have made in addition to the number of work orders we have pushed up to the district technology team.

An example of my Facebook post
It is my hope that administrators, school board members, teachers, and parents will see these statistics and get a snapshot of what we do each day in the library. Perhaps, this can also serve as a return on their investments to the library program. If it enhances their perspective and they see value in the services we offer in the library, our mission has been accomplished. Another goal is for this snapshot to remind teachers of the services we offer when they view it on Facebook and Instagram. Many of the teachers at my school follow me on Instagram and have friended me on Facebook. This is a wonderful way for them to see what is happening in the library.

I will continue this method of sharing statistics during the current school year. It will be interesting to see how it may impact our learning community. If you have successful ways of sharing your monthly or yearly statistics, please, post them in the comments below.



Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
Social Studies Maker Project Part 1

Social Studies Maker Project Part 2

Your Story is Worth Telling




I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270

Monday, September 3, 2018

An Easy Way to Make Library Newsletters

How Do We Share New Materials?
One of the challenges in our high school library is how to share new materials with our users. Displays are usually an effective way to show off new titles that are ready to circulate. Some of our student patrons don't always have time to stop and look at our new book displays. Last year, we started brainstorming some other ways of outreach.

One Solution: A Newsletter
We discussed the possibility of using a monthly newsletter to feature some of the new titles. You may remember from my previous article that we had also started putting all new arrivals on a Google Doc to share with students. We thought a newsletter could be an eye-catching addition. Many of our avid readers were already in our library Google Classroom, and the newsletter was an easy way to share a brief monthly digital document with them.

An example of Peggy's work



Powerpoint to the Rescue
Peggy, one of our paraprofessional assistants, had previously experimented with Photoshop and Powerpoint. She decided to take on the task of building the newsletters in Powerpoint since she was familiar with it. Powerpoint is an easy platform for using graphics, clipart, text, and links. The task was fairly easy for her since she assists us in processing all new books. We were happy for her to pick her favorite titles and feature them in a newsletter. She also had the idea to video a few student booktalks and place them in the newsletters each month! 




Save as a PDF
Peggy discovered that she could save the Powerpoint slide as a PDF document. After she created the PDF, we could preview it before sharing in our Google Classroom. This system worked great for us last year, and several of our students enjoyed seeing the newsletters. We also periodically shared the newsletters with teachers. It was a great outreach to inform our users of new materials! You can view examples of these newsletters here.

Next Steps
This year the goal is for students to create the newsletters. Peggy has already asked a few students to take on this task. I think it will be much more powerful for our learners to produce these documents. In addition, students can use these as artifacts of their work in the years to come. I hope a team of students will eventually assist in the production of this outreach program.

Powerpoint is not the only option for creating newsletters. One might try Google Slides, Microsoft Sway, or any publishing software. It is easy to create attractive digital publications with all the powerful software currently available. If you have a favorite tool, please, share it in the comments below.

Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
Social Studies Maker Project Part 1

Social Studies Maker Project Part 2

Your Story is Worth Telling





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270

Monday, August 20, 2018

An Easy Way to Keep Track of New Books

It seems there is no end to the list of new books that are released by publishers each month. On top of being a literacy specialist, teacher librarians also must manage the facility and student visitors, collaborate, create programming, market library services, serve as school technology support, and many other duties. If you have found it a challenge to keep up with new books as a result of these numerous job tasks, I want to share a simple way that changed our practice in the school library last year.

The Struggle

I find it difficult to read as a result of the many daily tasks I experience as a teacher librarian. This is a fact I have worried about for several years. I've been working hard over the summer to read more, and I'm very proud to say that this will be a continuing priority for the new school year. The simple fact is that it is impossible to "sell" students on book titles if we can't speak about them with knowledge and passion! There is something very powerful about telling a student about a book that we have read and love. It is one of our most important tasks. We have used Junior Library Guild as a means of receiving new YA fiction titles for many years. In addition, we order books that are popular. We also make an effort to order appropriate titles that students and teachers request. But the question remains: "How do we truly know our book inventory?"

Google Docs to the Rescue

Last summer, I decided to use Google Docs as a way to record all our new incoming titles. I thought this could be a resource for placing the title and a brief summary of all the new titles we place in the collection. Kaitlyn Price, the co-librarian I work with at Lakeside High School, agreed that we could use this document in many ways. She and I both decided to sit down each month when book orders arrived and handle each book. We made this a regular practice throughout the school year. We decided to put the title, call number, genre, and summary information in each entry. While reviewing each title, we try to read a few chapters of the book in addition to the summary.

While this didn't help me memorize each title, I certainly had a much better handle on new titles each month. In addition, I could pull up the Google Doc at any time and do a search for any word in the document. This was especially helpful for titles that I couldn't remember. I may not recall the title, but I could enter a keyword in the find tool for the document and usually locate the book in question.

I have included links to the new title documents from last school year and our new one for 2018-2019 below.

Our Doc from 2017-2018

Our Doc from 2018-2019

Next Steps

This method may not be for everyone, but it has certainly helped us do a much better job of becoming familiar with new titles in the library. It has also been a great document that we can share with teachers that might be interested in new titles. We have also shared it with our most avid readers so they can see what new titles have come in. We plan to continue this practice each month during this school year!

In my next blog article,  I'll plan to show some of our monthly newsletter examples and how we share them with students. I hope these short "hacks" help you improve your service to students and teachers.

Other links that may interest you:

Our 2017-2018 Annual Report
Social Studies Maker Project Part 1

Social Studies Maker Project Part 2

Your Story is Worth Telling





I have a monthly email newsletter for the subscribers of the Library Media Tech Talk blog. If you are interested in exclusive content not appearing on the blog, be sure to subscribe by submitting your email address! Subscribe here!

Contact Me/ Follow Me


Are you on Twitter?

Follow me : @stony12270