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I toured the school facilities which had just been renovated due to a massive flood in 2008. Many of schools materials had to be replaced. The media center, however, is on the second floor so the books didn’t get wet, but there was damage from moisture. We also reviewed the school website, the library’s online catalog, and the library’s website. In regards to privacy and confidentiality, her secretary does not post a list of fines or over dues, but instead gives each child a slip. In terms of balance in her collection development, she uses Titlewave/Follett and it helps her keep track of what she has. She showed me how to do an analysis of the collection using this software. We also discussed local values and priorities which differ from school to school in this large district. Where the librarian teaches, she said that their demographics are 93% and 91% (she splits between two elementary schools) low SES. For her first lesson I gave the 4/5 class a survey about the Internet. I went over the directions and explained the purpose behind it (i.e. it will give us an idea of what you know/don’t know, etc). They had to anonymously answer whether or not they used the Internet, had a Facebook account, and how involved their parents were in their Internet usage. The librarian and I both discussed personal experiences and facts about Internet safety and also the dangers of cyber bullying. After the lesson, I assisted students in using the OPAC to find materials and I also helped several students find books on the shelves. Before the lesson I also had to troubleshoot the projector. It is not mounted and it was not projecting the correct size. This is part of my supervisor’s technology duties, and it felt good to know I had been helpful and found a solution. I asked her what I could do to help, and she said she was testing the first grade students today. It surprised me that they would be tested. She gave me the standards for each grade level for our district at the elementary level. Called SLE’s (student learning expectations), these standards guide the lessons and are formatted into “I Can” statements that young students can easily understand. Today’s SLE was “I can locate E author picture cards.” So I cut out author picture cards that contained the call number (ex: E Car) with a picture of a book the author had written. Each student is given a different card and they have to go find that marker in the “Everbody” section. So she explained to the students what they had to do and I helped her
demonstrate. I then helped her assess the students and mark off their baseline scores. She also read them a story about friendship because the teacher said they were having that discussion in class. I then assisted students in using the OPAC to find materials and I also helped several students find books on the shelves. I also saw that one of the students had chosen one of my favorite books (“Pete the Cat”) so I sat down with him and read the story and sang the song. She also explained that the district was very big into collaboration between grade level and departments so each has time set aside every week or every month to meet and discuss certain issues. Personally I think this collaboration is very important and would have a great impact on student achievement. My supervisor and I also had time to discuss a few of the administrative activities on the checklist. As far as a library budget, I learned that it is split into several different categories including print, supplies, and subscriptions. The principal gives so much money to the library as well as the district. The district gives the library money based on how many students. The procedures for ordering differ from building to building. Some teacher librarians can order online through Follett without approval first if buying books. For supplies, you send what you want to the building secretary; she does the ordering after approval, and takes it out of the library’s budget. I also helped to repair a book that had been torn and had several pages come out of the binding. To repair the books they use regular tape or glue. If it is a popular book she will get it rebound or if it is less expensive, just buy a new copy. Today I attended a professional meeting, called PLC or Professional Learning Communities. It was the first meeting of the year so several things were discussed. There was a discussion of professional goals or IPDP. The goals must be written in SMART format and each teacher librarian has the same goal and we work together as a PLC to come up with the goals and also to achieve the goals. They need one goal related to curriculum and one goal related to web based technologies such as investigating web 2.0 tools that have an elementary focus such as blog, wiki, e-readers and developing webpages then also revising curriculum standards to align with the Iowa Common Core. There was supposed to be a discussion of professional development opportunities, but time was cut short so the librarians can offer suggestions via email.
I also noticed during the lesson that my supervisor tells stories while she is reading the book. She relates the book to her own life. I think this is interesting and is a good way to connect with the kids and let them get to know her. I helped manage this class by using proximity, reminding them to be active listeners, and sitting using body basics. The secretary was at a meeting during checkout so I checked the books out to the students. We also looked at several things on the checklist today. One of the big things was weeding. They had just weeded nine boxes of books out of their library. She doesn’t have a set schedule, but because of the flooding and new book shelves she and her secretary got rid of a lot of books. You can tell by looking at the collection that many of the books are very old and looked aged. We went through the process of getting rid of the books. . To determine what needs to be weeded they run a report through Alexandria (the OPAC) and it will tell them what hasn’t been checked out and other statistics. Next we talked about state legislation affecting the school library center. One of them is that our district is only required to have one certified library person per district, not school. They do this so the librarians can be shared between buildings. All elementary librarians serve two schools, with the exception of three. I asked about the local school library needs assessment process and goals. She assesses the needs for her libraries by analyzing the collection with Follett’s collection analysis. The district assessment needs are conducted in the monthly library PLC meetings which resulted in writing new curriculum a year ago that aligns with state and national standards. The librarians coordinated those standards with standards in their local reading program. They have also written lesson plans which are shared district-wide to assure more equality throughout the 24 district elementary schools. The local policies for circulation have a district wide start and end date for checkout for the year. Each school decides how many books a class checks out and the length of check out time. At both of my supervisor’s schools, she allows the teacher to decide how many books the class checks out at a time. Both of her schools have a policy states if a student has one book that is a month overdue, the student is not allowed to check out until the book is returned or paid for. If the child never returns the book or pays, and the teacher wants the child to have books in the classroom, they allow the child to check out books which may not leave the classroom. They do not charge overdue fines. They do charge for replacement cost of the book. All schools in the district share resources which include lesson plans, library books, and equipment.
As always I helped the students during check out. A girl found the call number of a book she wanted and then asked me to find it for her. I told her I would go with her to the section, but that she needed to find it herself. When she couldn’t find it I asked her if she had checked the catalog to see if it was in or not. She said she hadn’t and when she looked again it said “out.” So she found a different one and again I walked with her to the section. When she found it she was so excited because she had found it herself. Today my supervisor did a similar lesson to these 4/5 grade students as she had at her other school, except she revised it. I was impressed that she said she had revised it because she has been teaching for quite some time. I think it was really good to see how she reflected on a lesson and then changed it to make it better. For her second lesson, she read the students “Piggie Pie!” It was a great Halloween story. She even put on her witch’s hat to read the story and pretended to be a witch. One of my favorite things to do is listening to the teacher librarian read to her younger students because she is so animated and does great voices. At the end of the story she kept her witch persona and asked the students to hypothesize what happens next and encouraged the teacher to have the students write their own endings. I got to spend some time collaborating with a teacher and also doing some administrative duties. When I first talked to the teacher about doing a collaborative lesson I assumed that he would be resistant or not really want to because of how limited their time is with the students and the entire curriculum they are supposed to get through. But instead he was really excited and had tons of ideas as to how he could use my knowledge and skills. When I asked him how often he got to collaborate he said not very often. He told me that the teachers are encouraged to have learning communities in their own grade levels, but not really throughout the school. He also said it is difficult since the librarian is only here every other week and has to teach classes. We also discussed which SLE’s he would like to focus on and said that the district really pushes reading and math because of the testing so that we could focus on a reading/writing SLE. We also talked a little about the kids’ backgrounds and that all of their research would have to be at school since most of them wouldn’t have access at home. She showed me how to create a MARC record for a book. They had an author donate a book and she couldn’t find the record for it so we went through all of the fields and created the record ourselves. Very rarely do I get to see the administrative side of what she does, so it was
refreshing to see that side of being a librarian. She said that she does a lot of the administrative on her own time because of planning and teaching and being split between two schools. Today’s lesson for the first class did not include a story. I think that sometimes people (myself included) forget that being a teacher librarian is more than just reading books. We have to teach students how to be finders of information. Last week with this group of students, the librarian taught them about the Dewey Decimal System and showed them a version of the rap on YouTube. She continued with that lesson by giving the students a scavenger hunt. We went over beginning of the year procedures (how to move the classes from K to 1, 1 to 2, etc) and set limits. The younger students may only check out two books and the older kids can take more. When you set the limits a note will pop up if the student tries to check out more than they are allowed. We also went over end of the year procedures which included changing due dates and how to review lost and discarded items and reordering them if necessary. She showed me the user manual for the OPAC and it looked like a dictionary! I asked her if she had read it and she said some of it, but mostly she learns by doing and only if she has a problem or doesn’t know how to do something does she accesses it. We also talked about procedures for selection, acquisition, evaluation and purchasing of equipment, including district and/or state bidding requirements, and writing specifications. The last class was a first grade class. She told them she was reading them a book about losing teeth because first graders lose their teeth too! I really liked how, even though they were little, she told them the purpose behind the book she was reading to them. I also thought it was great that she purposefully chose something that they could relate to. I think this builds relationships with her students, which can be difficult since she only sees them every other week. One great thing I saw today was the end result of the collaboration between the teacher librarian and the classroom teacher. For her fifth grade class today she told the kids that she had worked with their teacher and knew they were talking about bones. She began with an informational book about bones that was very colorful and appropriate for their age group. It was obvious the kids were engaged as they asked questions and had their eyes on her. She also asked them several questions while she read and the students seemed excited to be able to answer them. She also showed the students some electronic resources where they could learn more
about bones. I was also really impressed by how much the librarian knew. It was more like she was teaching them a lesson about bones rather than just a story about them. She would add in stories about her family when they talked about certain bones. For example, she told them a story about her father’s bypass surgery and how they had to cut through his sternum. She also incorporated an almost life size puzzle of bones so the students had to put together and they had to label the bones of a body on the SMART board. I thought this was a great lesson that showed how multiple modalities can be used in a library lesson. Between classes today, I collaborated with the fourth grade teacher. We looked at the rubrics for the assignment and talked more about what each of us would be responsible for. He talked to me about how he would use the graphic organizers I came up with using the Write Tools. Teachers use the tools to have students organize their ideas in paragraphs and papers. It was interesting to find out that he is going to use this lesson as a jumping off point to informative writing and that the students will continue with this type of research later in the year. Today I taught my collaborative lesson. The lesson went extremely well. I had all of the computers logged in when the students returned from specials, so I saved some time having the students start and log into the computers. They did a nice job of listening and asked a lot of questions. It was also nice to have the librarian and secretary there to help field questions. I was surprised to notice that the classroom teacher was gone for part of the lesson. I felt this lesson was very useful for me, the classroom teachers, and the students and plan on doing this lesson (after some revisions) in my own library classroom.