Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How Community Engagement Influenced My Final Exam

This semester I’m completing my final exam for my Masters in Library Science. It’s a stressful time (as we all know), but it’s also really exciting. It’s exciting because part of my exam asks me to look over my work in the program and pick three projects to highlight. Off the top of my head, it was hard to identify my best projects, but once I started looking over my coursework, they jumped out at me…And most of the projects I wanted to showcase involved community engagement. This surprised me because I always thought I worked best alone. I thought I preferred working on my own schedule, with my own ideas. That might have been true in my more solitary undergrad English degree, but librarianship just seems better when you work together.

Read the whole reflection on YALSAblog.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday, several individuals from SRVS came to the library wearing red sweaters, ready to celebrate Valentine's Day!

We read two books about making Valentines for special people in your life, The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond and If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant. The last book was much sillier - The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by Brenda A. Ferber.

Then we made origami hearts. This was a great project because it required fine motor skills to fold the thin paper, and also because it made a cute little pocket heart! The individuals could give the heart as a Valentine, or put candy or a love note in the pocket before giving it to someone they love!

This program especially warmed my heart because there was a tea party the individuals could have gone to, but eight of them wanted to come to the library instead!

I've also written about previous library programs for adults with disabilities.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Book Whisperer: “Required” Reading Project

I have a stack of nonfiction books about reading and storytelling and children’s minds and children’s behaviors. I’m not sure how long I’ve been collecting them…some are at least two years old, because I bought them thinking they would prepare me for being a first time mom. I like to think I’ve done pretty good so far, but I feel lame having a stack of unread books that I really wanted, so this year I’m reading them, one a month. I started with The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, which was a great way to kick off my self-imposed “required” reading project.

I loved this book so much. I’ve always been an avid reader, but read only a few required books throughout my school career. I never really knew why, but Miller’s book addresses this problem, which is more common than you might think.

She has a refreshing approach to teaching reading and language arts: she lets her sixth graders pick their own books from her classroom library, and gives them time to read during class. I know I would have loved this, so it’s definitely an approach I’m going to adopt (the best I can, being a librarian vs. a teacher). Miller also recommends books to each student personally, after they fill out an interest form and she gets to know them. She even talks about bad books in her classroom, as in books she started but couldn’t get in to. This way students know they don’t have to love, or even finish, every book they try. It also has the perk of challenging some students to read a book the teacher couldn’t!

The book has more details about how she makes this work and still meet certain criteria for required lesson plans. Her theory is to ditch the whole-class novel because you’re “teaching readers, not books”. She suggests alternate plans to entice students who may not be readers - you can read aloud to the whole class, read aloud while they read along, etc. Miller did a great job of balancing the fantasy of making such a program work with the reality of how kids react to it, so while it’s an inspiring book, it doesn’t seem glossed over. It’s an easy, engaging read - not dense like some instruction books might be.