I used this tool in a way similar to how Buffy used it--to really think through my big goals for the library this year. It helped me visualize the big areas of focus for the year and to see how far along my thinking is in each of the areas. Here is some of the expanded thinking on some of the ares of my mind map.
I blogged about the Design of Space earlier this week. Really thinking through the space and the messages it gives is huge. I hope that the space will work in the ways we are envisioning it.
Supporting Independence in Learning and Library Use
One of my big goals for the year is independence in use of the library. When I think about Design for Independence, I am changing a few things this year. First of all, we will have mostly self check-out. I have always believed that the library is about sooo much more than check out. But I am amazed at how much of the staff time we spend on checking out students and teachers. It seems to consume us sometimes and then we are not free to do the teaching and support that is possible. We are including 2-3 new stations for check out that students and teachers can use on their own. If students need to check something out and the staff is working with someone else, this should help. Although we encouraged self check out before, the space was clearly a "librarian space" and people felt funny using it. This year, we are getting rid of any space that looks like we own it. Just as I got rid of the teacher desk years ago in my elementary classroom because it gave the message of teacher as power, I will be getting rid of the Checkout Desk that seems to give a message other than independence.
In THE LANGUAGE OF SCHOOL DESIGN, the authors discuss the messages we give kids when they have to wait for us to learn or create. For the past two years, I have started library classes with a class meeting including a read aloud, minilesson, etc. but in a 45 minute session, this seems to give a bad message. The authors say the message goes something like this, (p. 41) “Wait until the teacher enters the room and tells you what to do before you do anything. You are not capable of directing your own learning.” This is the exact OPPOSITE message that I want kids to get in the library. So, this year, I want kids to come in with a plan for their learning and use the library as needed. I want them to use it that way during their assigned time and I want them to be able to come in throughout the day as needed and feel like they can do what they need to do. We'll work on that early in the year. I will still pull the entire class to teach some skill or strategy but most of my teaching will be individual and small group in the midst of their learning. I can see calling over a group who needs a film editing lesson or a few kids who need support in research skills. I feel like I know the kids and teachers well enough to move toward this now. It has taken 2 years to set the stage for this but I think we are at the point where kids can use the library more independently.
Another big goal is to create an online presence, especially for our students, teachers and community. I think it is critical for students to be able to access tools 24/7. I have been looking hard at great elementary library websites. There are so many great examples on the School Library Websites Wiki. I have been exploring some of these to see what might work for our school and district. I had the pleasure of hearing Joyce Valenza speak at BLC10 in July and am inspired to create an online space that will give kids the tools they need whenever they need them. I also see a good website as a way to share resources with teachers, create stronger connections with the community, and invite more participation from students. I have just started to work on this and am excited about the possibilities.
I know that I need to do more to support teachers. So often I don't get a chance to share the best new resources or to collaborate because of time. We did create a room off the library that will house Literacy Resources. Although this is not technically a part of the library, we are hoping that the room creates a place for teachers to look at resources in a more relaxing way, think about ways to use them, enjoy some chocolate and chat. A website with a Teacher Resource page is one goal and hosting a few events to help teachers see the new things in the library will be important. Last year, I worked a bit with our Instructional Technology Specialist to share various tools with teachers. I am hoping we continue with these sessions this year. They started great conversations.
Even though I have been in the district for 20+ years, it always takes a few years to really get to know people, the ways they teach, and the resources they are looking for. I am hoping we can put a few things in place that make things more accessible for them.
Events and Celebrations/Home School Connection
I think if the library is to be a place for collaborative learning and thinking, lots of events should happen there. Last year, we had a few student groups that came in for lunch book clubs, Graphic Novel Club with Ray from CML, worked on projects, played games, etc. We also had a few speakers (George from CML is always a favorite!) But I want to include more of this. I am hoping for more family events and more choice events. I think that "Campfire Space" that I discussed earlier this week. If a student has something to share, I am hoping we have the capacity to offer it to others in the school. We have kids with great passions and talents and I see the library as a place for them to share these with other learners. I am also excited about our collaboration with the Dublin Library (Loren is AMAZING to work with--we are so on the same page with our bigger goals for kids. Pajama Story Time is now an official Riverside Tradition! ) It is amazing to see the relationships being built between our students and the public library because of these collaborative events. (It pays to have the 2010 Library of the Year here in Columbus, don't you think?) We also will continue with Book Fairs, Author Visits, and speakers but I am hoping to host some Family Library Events as well as opening the idea up to the kids for input.