Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Day in the Library: How We Spend Our Time

I have been thinking hard about the choices our students make in the library.  I am in year four in the library and I've worked to build quality choices for students once we've finished the lesson and check out.  A big goal for students in their use of the library is to find tools and resources that match their need. As the tools of learning expand and grow, I want our students to see how many options there are for learning and to discover the tools that best support them as learners.  

This graph was a Google Doc form that I filled out during each class over the course of a day in the library. I will look more closely at choices over time but wondered how kids were spending their time when given the choice.  I found the results very interesting.

There seem to be enough quality choices in the library at this point that kids are all choosing well.  There seems to be something for everyone and I try to introduce new options every so often.  We have spent time as a school talking about the importance of quality educational games so I wasn't surprised to see that so many kids chose to play one of these on the day I observed.

I was thrilled to see the number of kids who chose reading during this time.  Reading Online covered all reading that wasn't traditional book reading--so ebooks, websites such as Tumblebooks, researching a topic, etc. all fall under that category.

And I loved to take the time to see what kids are creating with the variety of tools we have available. From creating a new story about The Pigeon in a blank book stapled together by library volunteers, to creating a book trailer, kids are working to create project and to learn new tools. I am amazed at how quickly kids can envision what a tool can do- they don't hesitate to think about all that is possible and then to problem solve to figure out how to make it work.  One second grader taught herself to add video to a Pages project on the iPad while another learned how to create stop motion on the iPad this week.

This was just a first step in looking at the choices in the library and how they work to meet the goals we have for our students in the library.


  1. I have found this post interesting and has created a lot of questions for me? I'm wondering how long your library period is. How much time do spend on a lesson? Do you have an activity/assignment for the students to complete after the lesson? What sort of lessons are you teaching? Would it be possible for you to provide more examples of what the students are doing during the different categories of your graph? I don't have a lot of free choice in my library and I'm looking at how I might change that. I spend about 10 minutes on a lesson, 15 minutes on an activity/assignment that goes with the lesson and 15 minutes on book exchange. The students read after they have finished signing out the books. Some students get a lot of reading time because either they can't select books because of overdues or because they are so quick to choose their books. Thanks for all I learn from your blog.

  2. I can't help but notice the amount of gaming (well, you know the kick I am on right now). Perhaps you and fellow teachers could find ways to use that interest to connect their ideas around gaming to literacy. (or, make games)

  3. Kim, I have 45 minute classes- every 4 days. I usually do something whole class for 10-15 minutes which leaves 30 minutes for check out and choices. Some kids check out and some don't because lots of kids pop in and check out when they need a book. Kids check themselves out so I am free during Choice time to support kids in their choices. I don't often assign the whole class something but add new options every few classes. (teach a new game, challenge kids to create a chart to collect their data, teach kids to embed video in a Pages document, etc. Hope that helps!

  4. Kevin, Yes, games have become big in the library. I need to think about creating games--not being a "gamer" I have lots to learn. I have been following your work and am fascinated. Thanks for the nudge!

  5. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I love the idea of surveying the students and I'm going to do it this week using polleverywhere - cell phones and laptops. Our lunch time usage has doubled this year, after we decided to allow gaming (with Minecraft dominating the screens). Thanks for the idea.


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