Leader Librarians: A Reflection

Today I received feedback from a survey that was given to the students who participated in leader librarians.  The students were asked:

What did you enjoy most? Almost all students in the group listed “buying books” as what they enjoyed.  They also listed things like using Animoto for the school to see what was done, ordering and unpacking books, and bringing more books into our library.

What did you learn from Leader Librarians? Students said they learned how hard it is to spend the amount of money that you have to buy books.  They learned how to use money wisely and that it’s a big process to order books for a library.  They learned how to be a “good librarian”.

If you could change something or do something differently, what would it be? They wished that they could have bought more books and checked more of the books out to read before other students got to read them.  They also wished that more people could have come to the enrichment fair to see what they accomplished across our 9 weeks together.  Most of all, they said they really wouldn’t change anything.

It was such a treat to hear what these 12 students had to say about being a part of the budgeting decisions in the library.  We ran out of time to sit together and reflect on what we had accomplished, so I was thankful that our enrichment cluster coordinator found time to collect data from all students in the school about their clusters.  Hearing these students’ voices confirmed for me the importance of giving students the opportunity to be a part of decision-making in the library.

Leader Librarians in Action

Today the Leader Librarians’ 108 books went into circulation.  These students spent the last 8 weeks finding out what books students at our school are interested in reading.  They divided their budget among the categories they discovered and met with vendors to look at possible books for selection.  Last night, the students presented their books at our school enrichment fair.  By the end of today, only 24 books were left on the shelves.  Kids came in all day asking if they could check out the books and they raced one another to the display to make their selections!  Here’s a video of the Leader Librarians talking about their work.

Leader Librarians: Students as Part of the Budgeting Process Part 2

Last year, I embarked on a journey to give students a voice in the budgeting decisions in the library.  Last year’s students were a targeted group of below grade level readers in grades 3-5.  That project was funded by a grant.  This year, I wanted to expand the idea to include more than just a targeted group.  I once again obtained a grant of $1000, but I took $1000 of our book fair profits to match that grant.

This year our school began school-wide enrichment clusters.  Every Wednesday from 9-10AM, every student in the school goes to a cross grade level class that is based on interest.  Leader Librarians was the cluster that I offered.  12 students were selected based on their interest to be in my group.  An interesting thing is that 3 of the 12 students were students who participated in my student voice, student choice project last year.  It was great to see their interest in buying books for the library continue.

In our group, the 12 students made all of the decisions.  I told them that we had $2000 to spend.  I shared with them many of the ways that I make decisions about how money is spent from setting goals to assigning percentages to each goal.  After looking at the ways that I normally spend money, the students began brainstorming how to spend their own money.  They decided to informally survey the school from Prek-5.  Students assigned themselves to grade levels and set out with clipboards to collect information about what students liked to read about.  We put all of the data on the table and started looking for themes.  In the end, students identified about ten different categories of books to focus on that ranged from scary stories to comics to superheroes to sports.  Students paired up and chose categories to focus on and we divided the budget equally among the partner groups.  The students decided they wanted to meet with vendors like last year’s group, so once again Jim Boon from Capstone Press brought book samples for students to preview.  We also invited Frieda Julian of Children’s Plus Inc.  Students began making wish lists from the books they saw and the books found in catalogs.  Finally, students began narrowing down their lists to what they actually wanted to order.

Once lists were finalized, I placed the orders.  While we waited, the students worked on making posters, a commercial script for our morning broadcast, talking points for sharing the project with others, and an animoto video of the whole project.

When the books arrived, we made an assembly line.  Students had the following jobs: unpacking the boxes, checking the packing slip, inspecting the books, stamping the books, photographing groups of books.  Finally, students sat down and enjoyed reading the books.

We still have some steps to go, including presenting our project at our school enrichment fair on December 7th.  I’m very proud of these students.  There was so much that they wanted to do that we just didn’t have time for, but they accomplished a huge need in our collection: buying books that are guaranteed to be loved by students school-wide.

Check out their Animoto video here.

 

Connecting Our Stories

Today I received an interesting email when I arrived at school.  Chaela Herridge-Meyer, Senior Coordinator of Communications with the StoryCorps project, sent me a message requesting an interview about our Barrow Oral History Project.  Many of you know that last year our 5th grade students interviewed 27 former Barrow buddies from as far back as 1925.  During the project, students used online oral history examples such as StoryCorps and also used the StoryCorps National Day of Listening question generator to get ideas for the most effective interview questions.   After the project was complete, I posted the link to our oral history page on the National Day of Listening wall in the hopes that other people who were passionate about gathering community stories would find their way to our project.

Chaela and I had a wonderful conversation about the power of oral history projects bringing history alive for students.  We also talked about how our hope was that the students who participated in this project will go on to capture and preserve family stories to pass on to future generations.  Also, by sharing this project at professional conferences like COMO, GaETC, and the Georgia Conference on Children’s Literature we hope that other classrooms, schools, and libraries will sponsor similar projects.

November is national family stories month.  I invite everyone reading this blog to stop for just a moment, sit down with a family member, and interview him or her to gather some family stories you’ve never heard.  I invite you record your interviews to pass along through YouTube, video, photography, writing, scrapbooking, or any other means you discover.  I would love to hear about your stories.  I would especially like to post some family stories from our school on our media center website.  I’m even happy to help you in recording your story if you want to setup a time for me to help you.

The day after Thanksgiving is the official National Day of Listening.  Their website has resources for creating effective questions and recording quality audio.  I hope you will consider participating in this important day, but even if you can’t sit down for a family interview on November 26th, sit down sometime and listen.

“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how great it is to be alive.” -Dave Isay, Founder & President, StoryCorps

Oral History Next Steps

The 5th grade students involved in the Barrow Oral History Project have almost completed their interviews.  We actually completed interviews last week and then some more Barrow buddies contacted us in the hopes of being interviewed.  What fun!

The students have been coming to the media center over the past week to use Windows Movie Maker.  They are importing the digital photographs and mp3 interviews into movie maker and adding transitions, titles, and credits.  These projects are being uploaded to Teacher Tube and will eventually be featured on a page of the David C. Barrow Elementary School Webpage.

Here’s a sneak peek at a couple of interviews.

Balfour Hunnicutt

Frances Barrow Hoge Harper

Finding Barrow’s Stories

Imagine the untold stories that could be hiding in a school building that was built in 1923.  Our 5th grade students are working to uncover some of those students in a project called the Barrow Oral History Project.  This project is funded through a grant from the Athens Area Community Foundation.  The grant purchased 12 digital cameras and books about oral history and photography.
This week we kicked off our project with a session where students learned an overview of the whole project.  Then, students were placed into four groups to rotate through 4 centers.  These centers are the result of many collaborative meetings and emails to plan what students would need in order to take on a project of this size.
Ms. Biehl is leading a center exploring mounds and mounds of scrapbooks, artifacts, and loose photographs from Barrow’s history.  Students are looking at how the school has changed over time and thinking of questions they might ask our interview guests.  Students are also brainstorming ways that these scrapbooks and artifcacts might be shared with others.  At the moment they are stored in a cabinet our of sight.
Ms. Mullins is working with students in the computer lab to explore oral history resources online.  There are many great examples of oral histories that have already been done such as Story Corps and the Veterans’ history project from the Library of Congress.  Students are also using this time to look at the oral history books that were purchased through the grant, and teachers are taking some of these books back to the classroom to read aloud.

Ms. Beshara is exploring interview etiquette and interview question development.  She is using the question generator from the National Day of Listening as well as having students develop their own questions to pull from for their interviews.

I (Mr. Plemmons) am training students on how to use Audacity to record their interviews as mp3s.  Students are interviewing one another in order to explore the software and walking though all of the steps to export the file to a shared folder.  Students are also learning how to use the digital cameras to take photographs of their interviewee and upload their photos to another shared folder.

Our interviews will take place on March 16, 17, and 18th.  Following these, the students will make final products that will be used to build a webpage of oral history from Barrow.  I can’t wait to see what stories we uncover.

Student Voice, Student Choice Grant

Today, a group of students from 3rd-5th grades met in the media center with their lunch to complete another step of our Student Voice, Student Choice Book Club.  This club is funded by a grant from the CCSD Foundation for  Excellence.  In the grant, students have a budget to purchase books for our media center.  Students must spend their entire budget, which means they may have to combine their budget with another student in order to spend every penny.  The books will be ones that are of interest to the students in the group and books that are on a level that the students are comfortable with.

Today’s session featured Jim Boon, a representative from Capstone Press.  We will be using this company to purchase our books.  He brought numerous samples of books for the students to look at and read.  Students created lists of books that they were interested in.  Next week, each group of students will sit down with a Capstone catalog and their list and begin to spend their budgets and finalize their orders.

Once the books arrive, the students will be the first to read them and will write reviews to share with the rest of the school.  Then, the books will go into circulation for all students at Barrow.

Check out today’s excitement.