What to do about Dewey?

Yesterday’s post by Van Meter super-librarian Shannon Miller has me thinking.  She’s not the first to blog about making the switch from the DDC system to more of a bookstore model of organization.  But what I appreciate about Shannon’s post is that she not only made a case for the why, but actually walked us through the how.  She made it seem….well….do-able.  There’s no question that it’s a lot of work (much of it  happened in the summer) but now I think I can be more open to the possibility because Shannon laid out what it entails.

I’m in a pre-K to 3 building and I can definitely see the positives;  naturally this would have to be a district librarian decision.  We would want all the kiddos that feed into the 4-5 building and middle school to have a similar experience.  Food for thought, maybe for some of this year’s meetings!

In the meantime, if (like me) you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and want to support your students within the Dewey system, Sonya over at the Library Patch has recently done six great posts  called “Deweying it My Way.”  She has found ways to tweak the system and make improvements which help kids find books more independently . Sonya also shares the how-tos for more attractive and effective signage, etc.  (Everything Sonya does is top-notch quality and she generously shares her templates and sources.)

Wherever you are in this debate, both of these ladies can help.  I highly recommend you check out their posts!

The buzz on bee-havior

I have written in the past about our very intentional efforts at my school to work on civility and behavior.  Things really became simpler for me, though, after spending a half day in a colleague’s school where I saw posted around the building some clear, concise rules.  (Thank you, Judy F.!)  So, inspired by them, for the past couple of years in the library, I’ve had 3 basic rules:

1.  Be safe.   (with self, others, and materials)

2. Be kind.  (to others and library materials)

3. Do your best.  (listen, participate)

Initially when I created posters for our little ones I used a clip-art bee to replace the word “be.”  Couple this with the fact that our local high school teams are the Hornets and this thing has taken on a life of its own!  I now have:

*a ceramic bee I bought at a yard sale that I use in our “Hickety Pickety bumblebee” game with our K’s and 1’s at the beginning of the year;  I also use it as a container from which to draw names when necessary

*”Bee a reader” stickers and bulletin board materials from Upstart

*A rotating “beekeeper” as a helper in every class.  This child wears a special badge and helps keep us all on track.  They “buzz” around near the end of our time together making sure that everyone pitches in to clean up, etc.  They report out to the rest of us as we gather back at the rug before dismissal.  Each class earns a total of 1,2, or 3 bees for the period related to our 3 rules.

*Once a trimester I will have a special plan to acknowledge classes that are doing a great job earning bees for their bee-havior and civility.  (This is new this year–I’m thinking maybe a shortened lesson and some board game time.)  I won’t be making any grandiose announcements because I don’t want to foster competition, but I do think it’s important to let the students know that I appreciate when they work together to follow the rules.

*a beehive cookie cutter which I might use to make the occasional batch of cookies instead of a Game Day

This whole thing with the bees has spread all around the school.  I think people really just like the simplicity of:  Be safe.  Be kind.  Be your best.  It encompasses so many things and is more real to kids than words like “respect” and “responsible” and “accountable.”  This hive is now in one of our hallways and all staff have a supply of paper bees which they can give out to students who are doing their job.  We don’t put names on the bees.  It’s simply an acknowlegement of the work that the school community as a whole is doing with our 3 rules.

What do you do at your school?  Your thoughts?

Fresh out of ideas? Check this out!

'288/365: Winners' photo (c) 2009, PlayfulLibrarian - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I am very grateful to have found a site recently called  Centered School Libraries.  It’s an amazing resource–lesson plan ideas, bulletin boards, printable bookmarks, suggestions for centers and stations, management techniques, you name it!  It’s all so beautifully done and professional looking.  (I’m jealous!) Cari Young is the librarian behind the site and her new book is apparently available from Upstart.

Just yesterday I was panicking about what to do for a new bulletin board. This site came to the rescue with some excellent  ideas.  Check it out here.

It’s all about the little things…

I know this is a small thing, but it makes something mundane in the life of my students a little bit more fun.  Without fail no matter what time of day it is, someone in the class needs to use the restroom during library time. So…these are our bathroom passes for the trimester:

We’ll change them up before too long and of course we entertain ideas from the kids.  What characters would earn hallway pass status in your library?

First 6 weeks: Dare to differentiate

Last year in this post I told you about a goldmine of a wiki I came across through someone in my PLN.  While perusing it again this summer  I found a link to another goldmine–daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com.

This wiki has a ton of resources that teachers and teacher librarians can use in their daily practice.  Big topics such as Supportive Learning Environments and Continuous Assessment are explored, and many links to relevant strategies such as scaffolding, flexible grouping, Webquests and centers are included.

Templates and rubrics in PDF form are available including tools for formative assessment (like exit slips).  There is A LOT to explore on this wiki;  I was lost in it for quite a while!

Try some of these out for yourself, then share with people in your building who would be interested.

If this was helpful, please consider subscribing.  It’s free!

Image above: ‘<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/40645538@N00/5734284170&quot;

First Six Weeks 2011: Getting Acquainted

'Weird School Bus' photo (c) 2007, Kevin - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Last year I offered some ideas for great books during the first six weeks of school here and here.

This year I’ll begin this series by passing along two resources you and your teachers might find helpful with some getting-to-know-you activities for those critical first few weeks.

Tom Barrett (of the Interesting Ways series) offers this collection of ideas, and the folks at Teachers First have put together this assortment of icebreaker activities.  (Click at the bottom of that site for even more ideas.)

Enjoy!  Please leave a comment and share what you do to get to know your students in the library.

12 Things on My Summer List

School’s out,  and for me that means tackling each room in my house, one at a time, for a thorough annual cleaning, weeding around my outside plantings, serving tea and scones to some of my treasured lady friends, sipping wine on the patio with my husband, and reading lots of books I’ve been meaning to get to.

But it also means getting caught up on some school-related items that have been niggling away at me, AND getting pumped up with new ideas for next year and a fresh look at the way I do things. (All that AFTER a week long trip to San Francisco to see my two oldest kids!  Can’t wait!)  So here are a few things from that list:   (Maybe blogging about them will keep me accountable?)

  • Update and organize my IPDP*: my certification is up in June 2012
  • Go back to all my starred items in Google Reader and act on them!
  • Clean up my livebinders;  many need more subtabs and fewer tabs
  • Add tags and categories to posts I forgot to do that for
  • Meet with a few colleagues in my area to plan some collaborative projects
  • Memorize some stories to tell at the flannelboard
  • Look more closely at a few intriguing web 2.0 tools
  • Plan a sequence of lessons to teach one of my teachers and her students how to blog
  • Plan tasks for mentoring a teacher-turning-librarian at my school
  • Re-read some chapter books and prepare booktalks for next year
  • Re-think kindergarten “library time;” (Changes are afoot!)
  • Keep blogging!

.  I’d love to hear what you’re doing this summer to rejuvenate and reinvigorate.  Please tell me what you’re up to by leaving a  comment!

*Individual Professional Development Plan  (fondly known as ” ippy-dippy” in these parts!)

What do I have to show for 2010-11?

Applausephoto © 2009 Peter Dutton | more info (via: Wylio)
In an earlier post (‘round about the time we were all making New Year’s resolutions as I recall) I challenged you all to think about compiling an annual report for your principal.  I have been doing monthly reports to share with my administrator for a number of years but I’d never done an annual report.  There are some great examples to look at here and I found them very inspiring.  (High school librarians—you rock!)  So I’ve been plugging away at mine, slowly collecting data and thinking about what to include.

It’s been a good exercise.  It has helped me to see just how much I have been able to accomplish and grow this year.  At the same time it is a reminder of what is lacking—greater collaboration with teachers, and more non-print resources for those online environments I keep talking about.

I also have come to realize that I need to take more photos to document what happens in the library during the year.  It would have been nice to jazz things up a bit with images for the report.

Doing this report was also an excuse to try out some web 2.0 tools for creating slick online documents (I’m trying to go paperless whenever I can). Richard Byrne was my inspiration here.  I love how he formatted so many of his resources for teachers using issuu.  Next year’s will be even better, but I’m reasonably pleased with my first attempt.  Please share any feedback or your own report with a link in the comments!

Winding down the year: Part 2

Hourglassphoto © 2010 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)
When the school year had just gotten underway I wrote a post about keeping a September folder with useful reminders and tips and forms to keep organized and get the year rolling with minimal stress. Today I must ask, “Do you have a June folder?”

I find it helpful to have a list of tasks and forms that are part of my end-of-the-year routine because in all of the craziness it’s easy to forget to do something. Over the years this list has changed somewhat (with the advent of SMART boards I no longer have to arrange for cleaning of the overhead projectors, for example), but in a nutshell these are my “closing tasks”:

• Line up volunteers to shelf-read in preparation for inventory
• Tend to my repair pile so I don’t have to face it in September
• Take a look at my budget folder. Be sure I have current catalogs for vendors I deal with annually
• Finalize book order. (Read how this has become easier for me here.)

End of May:
• Send home notices about our annual book swap
• Be sure important library dates are on the master calendar
• Gather together materials for local summer reading promotions
• Finish shelf reading
• Put in writing any special custodial or I.T. requests for the summer

• Accept donations for the book swap, and hold it the week before school is out
• Give teachers a list of outstanding books for their own account
• Give teachers a list of outstanding books for their students (Update every 2-3 days)
• Open inventory. Begin with sections that aren’t used quite as much.
• Create any forms I wish I had but don’t.
• Compile and collate material for annual report for principal.
• Archive all magazines. Clean plastic covers for them.
• Clean the plastic baskets that hold our leveled library and early reader collection
• Clean the microwave, coffee pot, and unplug the mini-fridge and clean when defrosted.
• Puppets and stuffed animals home to wash.
• Finalize and submit purchase orders for all line items.
• Inventory remaining sections.
• Send home bills for any outstanding items one week prior to last day.
• Take down bulletin boards.
• Turn off ink jet printers for summer to preserve cartridges.
• Evaluate, and set goals for/with assistant for next year.
• Thank you notes and gifts for volunteers and secretary.
• Prepare space for summer cleaning (chairs up, things away from windows, items up off floor)
• Change the message on answering machine.
• Be sure secretary has your home phone number.
• Plants and animals? Arrange summer care.

What am I forgetting? What tips do you have for year’s end?

Winding down the year: part 1

Hourglassphoto © 2010 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)
My lack of posts lately is a symptom of this busy time of year. I’m sure you are all in the thick of final projects, staff scrambling to finish curricular units, special programming, prepping for summer reading, end-of-year annual activities, etc. Very soon, when I get the word from the business office, I’ll be able to begin the process of entering purchase order requests for the next fiscal year. And I am ready!

I began using Titlewave about ten years ago when I switched to a district that had automated catalogs. It has simplified the ordering process tremendously. All year long as I read children’s literature blogs and SLJ reviews I enter titles into Titlewave. This “running list” grows a little bit at a time so in May and June I’m not overwhelmed. It’s a matter of looking at my book budget and deciding which titles are essential and should be marked “first choice,” and how much money I need to set aside for other vendors. (It’s a far cry from all the little slips of paper and index cards I used to keep in a folder all year long!)

Additionally, I can use the collection development features to find books that will fill holes in my collection, books that have won awards, etc. I love that I can even perform an analysis on my order with one click before I print it and attach it to a P.O. I know exactly how many picture books, chapter books, non-fiction books, etc. are on the order so I can tweak it to achieve a more balanced collection. (The non-fiction is even broken down by Dewey class.)
I learned the hard way (when my budget was frozen one year after the winter holidays) that I need to spend the bulk of my money before I leave for the summer. Having this running list is so handy for that purpose; it also means that if there’s ever a time when I’m given a “bonus” grant or money is “found” that must be spent quickly I can generate an order with very little effort or anxiety.
I understand that there may be less expensive options out there and we all have to do what’s best for us, but I have always been pleased with the service I get from Follett. Using Titlewave and Titlewise has saved me lots of time over the years and sometimes that’s like money in the bank!