Showing posts sorted by relevance for query library. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query library. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, April 30, 2018

It's All About the Books Blog Tour

We are so happy to be the first stop on the It's All About the Books book tour!  We are so excited about this book. We have always been fans of Tammy and Clare's work --loved their book Assessment in Perspective and were part of their tour then!  We love this new book and are excited about the impact it will have in schools across the country.  Make sure to stop at all the other stops on the blog tour this week!

And we are giving away a copy of It's All About the Books! To enter, post a picture of some part of your classroom library somewhere and put the link in a comment below.  At the end of the week (Friday after 5 pm), we'll choose a random winner to receive a copy of this fabulous new book! (Don't forget to check back to see the classroom library photos:-)

We asked Clare and Tammy some questions about the book. Here is what they said:

Franki and Mary Lee: How has your thinking evolved about classroom libraries over the years?

Clare and Tammy: Initially, we set up our classroom library before the students arrived at school. All of our books were organized in plastic bins and we knew exactly where each and every book was located.  Our library remained the same all year except for one book display that rotated each month. Now we include students in the process of setting up and maintaining our classroom library.  Instead of getting everything set up before they arrive, we provide the baskets, labels, and markers and let the kids set up the library.  When the students set up the library, they know where the books are and feel more invested in the space.   As they decide how to organize the books, we listen in to learn more about their interests and passions. The more students are part of the process, the more we learn about them as readers and the better we can help them find books they love.  The classroom library is now more than a place to pick books.  When we design it with our readers, and when we are set up to flexibly meet their changing needs and preferences, the classroom library truly becomes the home of an active reading community.

Franki and Mary Lee: What advice do you have for teachers about keeping up with good books to add to their classroom libraries?

Clare and Tammy: We keep up with good books by relying on our PLNs, both locally and globally.  We connect with our local PLNs by visiting book stores and public libraries to check out what is new.  We also speak with the school librarians, teachers, and reading coaches at our partnership schools to hear about what they are reading and what their students are enjoying.

Our global PLN on social media helps us know what is up and coming. We participate in #IMWAYR every Monday and join #titletalk chats on the last Sunday evening each month.  We read lots of blogs including yours - A Year of Reading, Watch Connect Read with Mr. Schu, Nerdy Book Club, and Colby Sharps book talks on Sharpread.  We have additional resources we rely on listed in the online resources in our book - OR 6.1

Franki and Mary Lee: How do you think classroom libraries should evolve over the course of a single school year?

Clare and Tammy: Readers love new books! Classroom libraries should be refreshed and revised to meet the ever-evolving needs of our students. A classroom library should reflect the growth and curricular journey of the students throughout the year. When the class studies particular authors, genres, and topics, we add these texts to the library.  As students share their personal interests and preferences we can also add these texts to our library. We are purposeful in introducing new series and authors to add complexity to the library as our students’ reading skills develop.  Throughout the year, we try to look at our library through the eyes of our students.  We ask, “Does the library offer a range of choices that will engage and support all the readers in the class?"  We take this information and use it to revise and refresh the classroom library.

Franki and Mary Lee: How has your thinking about bookrooms evolved over the years?

Clare and Tammy: We used to think about bookrooms as a place to store shared leveled texts for small group instruction (i.e. six-packs.) As we observed bookroom after bookroom not being used by teachers, we decided to revise our thinking.  Now we design bookrooms as an annex to every classroom library – we design each with the other in mind.  Teachers need books to support all aspects of reading and writing instruction, not just books for small group instruction.  As we talked with teachers, we heard again and again that they did not have the volume or range of texts they needed for their students to read independently.  It is near impossible for a classroom teacher to source a library that is equipped to meet the needs of each student year after year. We shifted our thinking and decided the largest section of the bookroom needs to support independent reading. These texts are organized by bands of text complexity into baskets of approximately 20 single titles that are categorized by genre, author, series, and topics of interest.  This design makes it easy for teachers to grab a few baskets and add them right to their classroom library.  The bookroom also has baskets of read aloud suggestions organized by grade level, mentor texts for units of study in writing workshop, texts to support content area curriculum, and even baskets of paired texts to support partner reading.  We still have some texts organized in 6-packs for small group instruction and book clubs, but this is now only one section of the bookroom.  Ideally, bookrooms supply the depth, breadth, and volume of books to supplement what each teacher needs and every student wants. All of this organized in grab-and-go baskets for a teacher to simply (and quickly) take and incorporate into her classroom library.

Franki and Mary Lee: For teachers who have very few books provided by their schools/districts, where do you suggest they start?

Clare and Tammy: This is a tough question because we believe that books are an essential tool for teachers.  When schools provide desks and chairs for students, they should also allocate funds to ensure that every classroom has a vibrant and engaging classroom library. In the first chapter of the book, we cite research to support teachers in advocating for what they need to inspire lifelong readers.

That being said, here are a few of the ideas we share in the book to get you started without school or district support …  

If you don’t have books to source a classroom library, we recommend you get in touch with your school librarian and begin by borrowing books from the school and public libraries.  You can borrow collections of texts organized by author, genre, series and topic to figure out what your students love.  Once you have a sense of what engages your students, ask the school librarian to help you gather some of these texts.  Some teachers even ask parents to help out by going to their local branch of the public library to pick up books they need for the classroom library.  Colleagues are another great option for borrowing books.  Many teachers have a wealth of books and are happy to loan books, especially texts their students are not accessing at that time of the year. Even colleagues with a small collection may be willing to rotate books between classrooms to increase their volume of books as well.

At some point, teachers do need to get some books of their own.  Scholastic book orders are a great option for teachers to earn bonus points to purchase books.  Box Tops is another way to earn money for books and families are happy to help out by organizing a collection. Families are also often willing to donate gently used books to supply classroom libraries.  Grants are another source of funding. Many schools offer grants through the parent organization or local school foundation.  Teachers also seek grants through Donors Choose and The Book Love Foundation (see question 6) to fund a classroom library.  If you do receive funds be sure to check out specials with vendors, discount book stores and even public library book sales to get the best bang for your buck!  We have many resources in our book, including lists of our favorite vendors and some of our tried and true texts, to support you once you are ready to go shopping!

Franki and Mary Lee: Can you tell us why you chose to donate all royalties from this book to Book Love. Of all the literacy organizations out there, why this one?

Clare and Tammy: When we decided to write a book advocating for more books in classrooms, we felt we had to help get more books into the hands of students and teachers.  I didn’t feel right to highlight the problem without trying to be a part of the solution. We were trying to figure out how we could make an impact.  Then we heard Penny Kittle speak at the Donald Graves Breakfast at NCTE.  She shared how Don impacted her personally and professionally, “That generosity for someone he didn’t know just became a theme in my life.” We looked at each other in that moment and knew what we needed to do.  We found Penny at the end of the session and asked her if we could join her mission for Book Love. Book Love is a not-for-profit organization founded by Penny Kittle with one goal: to put books in the hands of teenagers.  We were fortunate that Penny and Heinemann both supported our vision and helped us bring it to life by generously agreeing to allow the royalties of our book to expand that goal and put books into the hands of elementary and middle grade students as well. Each time someone purchases a copy of It’s All About the Books, the royalties go directly to the Book Love Foundation to fund elementary and middle grade libraries. This made the project so meaningful for us – a book about books that will bring books into the hands of readers – what could be better than that!

If you would like to donate directly to the Book Love Foundation simply send a check or donate online  If you would like your donation to fund elementary and middle grade libraries, please send an email to or write elementary or middle grade libraries in the memo line of your check.  Checks can be mailed to Book Love Foundation, PO Box 2575, North Conway, NH 03860-2575.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Vision for the Library

So, I have spent the summer thinking hard about my goals for the coming year. What is my big goal in terms of the school library. What is my vision? What can the library be for students and teachers? How do we get there? I have been lucky to find and benefit of so many experts in the field. I thought I'd share my learning and thinking. There are really no answers here, just pieces of inspiration I've found as I've been thinking through this coming school year in the library.

It is such an interesting time to be new to the field of school library. As a new school librarian, I am busy catching up on reading and thinking specific to the field. I've spent a lot of time on the ALA website and reading articles that help me think through the current thinking in the field. I have followed several discussions in the blog world. There was quite a lively conversation this spring about libraries. Since I am fairly new to the field, I listen in a lot--But this conversation involved librarians as well as people who were questioning the role of libraries. Joyce Valenza chimed in on a School Library Journal blog stating:

"What is clear is that a lot of smart people--people who are out there teaching, speaking, moving, and shaking--are disappointed in what they see when they see school librarians. Either we have a perception problem or we need to do some serious retooling. I'd say we have to deal with both. In a hurry."

This is definitely where my thinking is lately--how do rethink what the library can be--what is possible. Not an easy thing to figure out because I want so much in terms of possibility.

I have always believed in the power of play and in the fact that there is a very fine line between work and play when the work is work we love. I LOVE this quote by Buffy Hamilton at the Unquiet Librarian:

"Through collaboration with the library and the use of a wide range of information sources and learning tools, together we could create this kind of learning experience via research in which students would not want to stop and would want to learn."

Another post that got me thinking this summer was from Kim Cofino. The new library they've created is GORGEOUS. Who wouldn't want to spend as much time as possible in there. GREAT LIBRARIES!

I love the idea of a Kinko's For Kids as suggested by David Warlick in his post last May. He says, "If the library might come to be seen more as a workshop where information isn't so much a product, as it is raw material (a Kinko's for Kids, if you will), then it may remain not only viable, but an essential institution."
Personally, I LOVE Kinko's. I try to find reasons to buy some of the little tools that are sold there. I love the counter with the paperclips, paper cutter, etc. So many possibilities for what to create. Kinko's is all about making great "stuff".

Through Kim, I found The Allen Centre. This amazing library and the people who run it have been kind enough to email me about the things they do. When I first saw the pictures, it was like someone had already created the library I had been dreaming of. So many ways for kids to find things to be interested in. How could a child not go into the Allen Centre without a sense of wonder and inquiry. The place invites questions and learning and finding the things you are passionate about. I love the link to the displays--it is one of my favorites on this particular wiki. So many engaged children around such interesting topics. Such smart invitations into learning. I was also excited when I saw the Dino-lite that is part of the Allen Centre. I immediately purchased one for our library. I am amazed at the images produced by this not-so-expensive digital microscope. This space helps me to see the possibilities for inviting kids to find the things they love to learn about. What better purpose for a library?

I loved this recent post about the Allen Centre--so many things going on at lunch. Kids in charge of their own learning in so many different ways.

Like many other school librarians, I am trying to work through the balance of books and technology. So many of us that I talk to are trying to figure out this balance--which is more important--books or technology? For me, I am not sure it is an either or. In my own life as a literate person, books are hugely important but so are my social networks, my tools, etc. They are all part of my days as a literate person. Darren Draper has a powerful little equation about libraries without technology on his blog. What happens when we, as media specialists, ignore technology?

Darren Draper again tells us what he thinks of when he thinks of The Ideal School Library. He says,
"In my opinion, the ideal school library is highly liberating and able to provide a learning environment that's not generally feasible, practical, or even possible in most traditional classrooms. While there always seem to be exceptions to every rule, I think that our libraries should be comfortable, collaborative, open, social, connective, modern, clean, up-to-the-minute, and with shooshing not generally required."

I recently discovered a great blog Getting Boys to Read. There are several posts that have helped me think through the kind of environment that would make kids, especially boys, WANT to come to the library. He even has a great post dedicated to the topic of GETTING BOYS INTO THE LIBRARY.

And then there is the question of gaming. What role should games play in a school library? I have been reading lots on the topic-catching up on the ALA documents, research, etc. I have been picking up games over the summer and plan to participate in National Gaming Day sponsored by ALA. I have lots of reading to do on this topic, but I definitely see the value in this.

And Wesley Fryer recently talked about an Internet Cafe that focuses on gaming in his town--a great place for young people. How do we create communities like this in our libraries?

I also watched this video on Today's Library. Some great thoughts by some brilliant people in the field.

So, pretty much I want it all....I want to create a space that has something for everyone. A space where students, teachers, parents and community members love to hang out. I want it to be a place where kids own their own learning and find that they are dying to learn about. These posts are the posts that are helping me think about how that will actually look when the library is up and running.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Planning for the Year in the LIbrary

I learned about this great new tool from Buffy Hamilton. Mindomo is a great tool for brainstorming.  I will definitely be using this quite a bit and I think it is a great tool for students too.

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.

Web/Online Presence
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.

Teacher Support
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. 

Monday, August 02, 2010

Library Redesign--A Work in Progress

Good libraries have alwys been places where personalized learning takes place.  Good libraries...have a variety of spaces for individuals and small groups to work toegehter and often have a place for larger group presentations as well. Of course, they are also text-rich.  The message in this type of architechture is, “Here are some of the tools for you to learn with.  You are a trusted learner.  Go for it!” 

It seems that redesigning the library is an ongoing project.  Going into my third year as librarian at our school, I feel like the space is finally becoming what I had imagined it could be.  There is still lots to do but we are moving in a direction that invites great learning.  In May, during the Ohio Summit, Christian Long recommended THE THIRD TEACHER: 79 WAYS YOU CAN USE DESIGN TO TRANSFORM TEACHING AND LEARNING.  So, if you have run into me at all this summer, I have probably mentioned the book.  It has had a huge impact on me.  We have passed it out in several Choice Literacy workshops and the audible squeal from the crowd has been quite fun!  After loving THE THIRD TEACHER sooo much, I moved on to another book by the same authors, Prakash Nair, Randall Fielding, and Jefrey Lackney, called THE LANGUAGE OF SCHOOL DESIGN. I read this one cover to cover and have gone back to it over and over again.  I have also spent a lot of time on the authors' website, DesignShare.  It has been fascinating for me to read about school design from people who design schools. My learning about this has always been limited to educators. This book helped me think about design and environment in a much more strategic way.  Although I had always thought long and hard about the creating great spaces for learning, this book helped me understand so much more about learning and design.  

So, we are redesigning the library a bit. There are still boxes and things that need to be done but some big changes are in place.  One of the big things that happened over the summer that was more cosmetic than anything, was that the library was painted. Really bright colors. (really bright:-) I am finding that students, parents, and community all come into the library with a traditional expectation of what should/could happen there. I want to expand that idea for everyone so I want them to come into something new this year.  With the help of our amazing art teacher and brilliant custodian, we picked bright primary colors and created a plan for changing the entire feel of the library.  The colors help set the stage for an expanded definition of the library.  (I admit, they are a bit bright but once we add student art, book displays, plants, etc.  it should be perfect. It just might take a few months.)

I have often said I loved the feel of coffee shops and that is what I am trying to create in schools.  I love the socialness but I also love the fact that there are options and depending on the goal of my visit to a coffee shop, the space I choose changes. After reading an article by Prakash Nair and Annalise Gehling, they shared their own findings of these spaces.  They say, "There are interesting things happening.  There are invitations to participate.  There are places to meet. There are places for solitude and reflection."  Isn't this what we are trying to create in our libraries?

The authors of THE LANGUAGE OF SCHOOL DESIGN share four kinds of space that I have been thinking about (they share others but these are the key types for me right now): Watering Hole Space, Cave Space, Real World/Life Project Space, and Campfire Space.  I had always created spaces like these but had never had them named for me. Learning from the authors of THE LANGUAGE OF SCHOOL DESIGN helped me to become more strategic about the spaces I create for students.  

Watering Hole Space is able to provide for small group work and socializing.  This is often  my space of choice when I work. I want many spaces in the library where kids can create, think, socialize and collaborate. Whether they are sharing thoughts on a book they are reading, playing a game, creating a film, or debating an issue they are researching, space needs to be available for this type of interaction.  

Cave Spaces are places for individuals to learn and think.  Our library is small so I worry about having enough of these. But the authors state, "Since students are able to concentrate and think more clearly in different kinds of Cave Spaces, the important thing is to provide a variety of nooks and crannies."  (The Language of School Design, page  141). Once we get into the routines of school, I'll be better able to see how student use the space but having flexible seating that can be moved to different parts of the room to create these cave spaces seems important.

We created a space that is much bigger--one that will allow
for large groups to gather.
Campfire Space is that space where a large group can gather in order to watch a presentation, listen to a storyteller, etc.  Since our library is small, this space has been hard to get.  It has been a missing piece--one that limits the things that can happen in the library and one that limits the ways students can share their own learning.  But this year, I moved one shelf to a new location and have now created a much larger floor space in front of our courtyard window. This space will allow for great learning--a large group can gather when needed but other activities can happen at other times.  The space is not ideal--just a large floor space. But it will allow for a type of sharing that wasn't possible before.

Project Space is the space where kids can create real projects.  I feel like we have good space for that. My challenge is that I want students to have access to pencils and sticky notes in the same way they have access to cameras, laptops, and iPods. Storing these in a place that is both secure and accessible is key.  I want students to be independent in the library so I want them to be able to get the tools they need to support their learning as quickly as possible.   I've created a corner space with a large table, the laptop cart, etc. I think kids will move all over the library but this space provides one great place to spread out and create.  

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a daylong trip to IKEA where we picked up some great things to add to the library. Once we had the big spaces in order, it is time to create some flexible spaces for kids and a variety of workspaces. If I think of all that can go on in the library, a variety of options for students is key.  

I am excited to think more about this. I have always believed that space and environment were key and it has been fun to rethink the space as I move into my third year as librarian. I feel like we have set the stage to expand the things that are possible in the library and I hope that the new changes will make the space even better.

Stay tuned for more info on the library throughout the next week or two.

**On a side note, if you are interested in thinking more about elementary design, Christian Long will be speaking at the fall Literacy Connection event on October 2.  On the homepage of his Be Playful site, he says, "Be Playful is a collaborative design studio empowered by the wisdom of play and focused on changing the way we learn."  Gotta love the whole philosophy that is behind this kind of design.   It should be a great day to continue thinking about design for elementary learners. 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Caine's Arcade in the Library

I had a hard time deciding how to end my time with kids in the library. I am excited to go back to the classroom, but leaving Riverside and the people there was hard. I feel lucky to have been part of the Riverside community.   I thought back to my four years in the library.  I started off my time in the library thinking hard about the spaces for kids, reading and learning. And I redesigned various spaces several times based on evolving goals. I wanted the kids to see the library as a place for more than just checking out books. I wanted them to see it as an energizing place for learning, one that was full of tools and possibilities.  I had big yearly goals, visions for 21st Century Learners, visions based on professional reading and pieces I shared with kids to help expand their view of what the library could be.

I started my time in the library creating a space that welcomed kids and learning.  We shared great books and laughed together a lot. We learned about favorite authors, enjoyed surprise endings and read and read and read.  We added computers and iPads, iPods and ebook readers.  We learned that there were so many tools for learning as we spent time using building toys, games and cameras.  By the middle of this years, students were pretty independent.  They came to the library with an idea of how to spend their time. We usually started our time together with a book, a new website, a game or a new tool I wanted to share. Then kids could choose how to spend their learning time. It looked simple, but it took years to build an environment that welcomed this kind of learning.  I loved standing back and looking at the variety of things kids were doing.

So, as we moved into the last week of school, I couldn't decide how to end our time together.  My gut was to read a good book. How could I go wrong with that? But I wanted to give them more than that.  I knew that I wanted to give them 20 minutes of choice time during their last library class -- they had come to expect it and to use it well. It was important to them as learners and there were really no choices they could make that didn't support their learning in some way.

I finally decided to end the year with each class by sharing the video of Caine's Arcade. Our art teacher had shared it with me and it had inspired us both.  It seemed the perfect way to end the year and our four years together in the library.  Better than a book, it was a message that I thought matched all that I'd been trying to say with our work in the library over four years.

So, I shared the video in the first 10 minutes of our last library classes.  Kids were glued.  They didn't move or make a sound. They smiled as big as Caine smiled as they watched the customers appear in the video. And they were inspired.  I told them at the end of the movie, that I had picked this to show them to kick off their summer. That I hoped they had a summer filled with with reading and writing of course. But to also fill their summers with creating and making and playing.  I felt that it was the right message to end my time with these amazing kids, who I will miss incredibly.  I felt that it was a message I hoped they would remember, one that would inspire them somehow.

I have to say, the impact was immediate. I gave the children 20-25 minutes of choice time after the video. In almost every class, someone created something different BECAUSE they had watched the video. Kids who had been building with straws and connectors for weeks, created games for others to play with these same building tools. They began to look at the building toys with new eyes. Kids who often spent their time writing books, instead created menus for restaurants they planned to create over the summer.  Some students created extensive drawings of dollhouse furniture they might make or cardboard statues they envisioned.  It was amazing and it happened within minutes of watching the video.

I wanted the library to be about possibilities as learners and I hope that it was for many children.  I hope that something in Caine's Arcade helps them to understand that creativity matters and that they have the capacity to create amazing things and to have fun while doing it.

I knew the video would be powerful but didn't realize how powerful it would be. I may start my year in the classroom with the same video. The message it has for our children is a powerful one. It is a video that invites, inspires and validates. It is a video that gives me a vision for what learning is all about.

(Today, I received this link via Facebook from Riverside's amazing art teacher, Drew Jones.  Caine seems to be inspiring learners everywhere!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2 New Games for the Library

I have been building our board game collection in the library over the last few years. Buffy Hamilton's recent mention of adding new games to her library this year inspired a quick shopping trip! Her post reminded me that I wanted to add some new games to our library too and I was near one of my favorite local toy stores.

When I think about my big goal for the K-5 library, I want kids to see it as a place for learning, thinking, exploring, discovering and creating. I want them to know that there are lots of tools for these things and that the library has a variety of tools to support the different learning they might do. Books, laptops, Legos, puppets, board games, cameras, magazines, and ipods are some of the tools available to kids in the library. I want them to think about which tool will support their learning and have access to a huge variety. I want them to see the library as a place that will support them with whatever tool it might be that they need and I try to fill the library with the best learning tools for elementary students.

In terms of games, some of the popular games that we have in the library are BANANAGRAMS, SCRAMBLED STATES, SET, and COUNTDOWN. Each of the games we have in the library supports learning in a different way. Some are strategy games, others connect to books. Some connect to specific learning that K-5 students do. Along with more strategy games (which I believe you can never have enough of!), I hope to pick up the new DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS board game as well as a FANCY NANCY board game for the younger kids. Some of the fourth graders asked about learning to play GO this year and having GO Tournaments, after reading HIKARU NO GO.

I picked up two new games that I am excited about today. The first is MULTIPLAYER PENTAGO. We have two of the regular (2 player) PENTAGO games in the library and they are a huge hit. If you don't know Pentago, it is a great visual strategy game for two players. Kids of all ages loved this game and after the first few days, I never won a game! This new 2010 version, is the same game but is made for more than 2 players. The board is colorful and up to 4 players can play this one. The 2 Pentago games were almost always in use so I am sure the kids will be excited about the new challenges and fun that this one provides. I also just discovered that you can play Pentago online--with a friend or against the computer. That will be another way kids can enjoy this great strategy game!

I also picked up SQUARE UP. It looked like a good game and I trust the Parents' Choice Award when it is on a game. This is a pattern/puzzle game in which two players race to slide cubes in order to match a given pattern. Although this is designed to be played with two players, it looks like there are ways for individuals to play and learn.

I also like to have some puzzles in the library. Most are either strategy puzzles or puzzles that go with books. I think puzzles encourage collaborative work in a way that other tools don't. When I saw the CRAZY CHEESE MATCHING PUZZLE, I thought it would be a great thing to put on a table during Student/Parent Walk-Through Day. I love to put things out that encourage parents and children to explore together. I think families could have fun with this one.

I don't have a huge budget for games but I do want to add a few more quality games this year. I would love to hear what other librarians are putting in their libraries in terms of games.