Sunday, August 19, 2018

A New Twist On Our Fixed and Flexible Library Schedule!

We are very excited about a lot of things as we start a brand new adventure in the Van Meter Library this year. One of the things we are most excited about is a new twist on our elementary library schedule.  

First, let me give you a little background about our district and the history of our library schedule. 

Van Meter is a K-12 district with everyone in one building. We have one library that serves all of our students and teachers. This year we have TWO K-12 teacher librarians. My friend and colleague Jessica Rabe and I will be working together to serve all of the students, teachers and families within our community.  We also work alongside our friend Diana Hockenberry. She is our library associate. Di and I worked together before for 8 years. She has been at Van Meter for almost 30 years. 

We have 3 or 4 sections of each elementary grade level, kindergarten through 5th grade.  

In the past, I had a fixed schedule with each elementary classroom. I was part of the related arts rotation. When I started, I had each class for 30 minutes once a week. After two years and lots of advocating, each class came to the library for 65 minutes on a 4 day rotation.  They checked out books during this time too, but could always come to the library any time throughout the day too. 

I really enjoyed our schedule because I was able to see the students at least 5, 65 minute blocks each month.  We worked on information literacy, digital citizenship, technology tools and apps, and our favorite part, helped each and every student develop a love and passion for reading. Also, we worked on amazing projects as we collaborated with the teachers and connected to what was happening in their classrooms too. 

With our schedule, the related arts had lots of opportunities to collaborate on projects during this time too, which we loved. We were all part of the same PLC which allowed us time to plan and collaborate these terrific projects and experiences we provided for our students. 

The rest of my time was flexible as I inspired and supported our readers; planned, collaborated and co-taught with the teachers; helped students in the library; supported and assisted with the integration of technology; and lots more of course. 
One of the downfalls of this schedule was that projects often times spanned over several weeks and took a long time to complete. This was tricky sometimes in keeping the students engaged and hard for me in keeping things organized. 

But again, the best part.....I saw all of the students a lot in the library for their fixed time and within their classrooms during my flexible time. 
As I said, this year we are putting a new twist on our library schedule and we couldn't be more excited! 
Now, our schedule will be on a weekly rotation throughout the year.  Each classroom will be with us in the library every day for a week at a time.  With 3 or 4 sections of each grade level, we will see each class one week (5 days) out of the month.  
Our new schedule will allow us so many fixed and flexible opportunities with the students and with the teachers and other related arts teachers too.  

Since Jessica and I will be together, this will allow us to be flexible with our time during the fixed times. For example, if I am teaching kindergarten, Jessica can go upstairs and work with the high school reading teacher....this is where she is coming from as she was the high school reading teacher for the last several years. Or perhaps Jessica is teaching 5th grade, I can go down to the first grade to help them with a new digital tool or even to Skype an author.  

Even when our students come to the library with questions or need help, we will be able to serve them in so many different ways with this flexibility too.

It is going to give us so many unique and important opportunities all around.  
In fact, the teachers have started adding what will be happening in their classrooms throughout the year to our Elementary Collaboration Schedule and Collaboration Google Doc, which will guide us in planning these incredible weeks. 
Each class will also have a set time to checkout books every week.  The teachers signed up for these 20 minute blocks of time last week during the professional development days.  The teachers will come with them to the library for this time too.  Diana will help the students a lot during this time as it frees us up to collaborate and teach with the teachers and students.  
My teacher librarian partner, Jessica, and I also thought of a special way to spend more time sharing books with all of our K-12 students and teachers this year. 

Since there will be times in between when we have them in the library, we decided to create POP-IN STORYTIME where we will visit the classrooms to share special stories throughout the year.  

This will give us extra time to share wonderful reading experiences with the students and teachers, and also valuable time in their classrooms too.
We can't wait to see what POP-IN STORYTIME brings our students, teachers, library and community this year.  Stay tune for lots of updates!  

And one last thing about our library schedule....Our students can come anytime before, during and after school to check out books too.  We always love having them in the library. 

Ohhhhh and yes, we will have lunch.  With Jessica and I being together this year, it will give us time to have a break for lunch too. :) 

As I said in the beginning, we are excited about a lot of things as we take off on this new adventure and I sure do think our schedule is going to be very valuable in making a big difference within our school community and within the lives of our students. 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Creating Back-To-The Library Bookmarks!

We have been getting our library ready for Back-to-School Night and the first days of school.  Jessica, Diana and I can't wait to greet all of the students, teachers and families next week as we kick off an amazing new year in the Van Meter Library.

As we do this, a lot of what we are doing during those first few weeks is building community and sharing the important information about our library.  We have created displays, signage, an online newsletter and new library website.
PicMonkey Image.png
In the past, I have created little business sized cards to hand out at the beginning of the year to everyone.  These have been a big hit and we plan to do this again as they like how easy these are to tape to their laptops, put in their pockets or billfolds and take home to use anywhere.

And this year we are also going to have an extra special new treat thanks to an idea from my friend and librarian Tiffany Whitehead.
On her blog, Tiffany wrote about and shared the most adorable bookmarks to kick off her year too. You can read her post here.
I loved being able to use Bitmoji to create our friendmoji for our brand new library bookmarks.  The students will love seeing the three of us in Bitmoji style. 
If you haven't made your own friendmoji yet, read more about how to in this post I wrote
We were able to add all of the important information like the hours we are open, our library website and "Well Red" Newsletter, and where to find the @vmlibraryvoice on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

We also added a QR code so they can easily scan it to "put the library in their pockets" on their devices too.  I did add the url to our library site again underneath the QR code too. 

Ohhhh and a nice little handy tip for your library site.....I bought from GoDaddy and then pointed the Google Site for the library to that special url.  It makes it so much easier for everyone to remember since our school website is

We ordered our bookmarks from like Tiffany did. The biggest thing to check before you order are the dimensions and boarder around the outside edge.  You don't want anything to be cut off.

Bring on a new year....We are excited, inspired and ready with one more tool for us to connect to our community in wonderful ways.  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Join The #IAmMore Movement Through These Special Projects, Ideas & Moments!

In just one week, we will go back to school. There are so many things that I am super excited about….sharing new books, technology, Makerspace resources and more. 

One thing that I couldn’t be more excited about  kicking off at Van Meter this fall is the #IAmMore movement I am joining with the students, teachers and community. 

As I shared in this blog post this summer, Voyager Sopris Learning is launching this special movement and contest because they want to encourage everyone to see that potential comes in all forms and to believe that literacy is possible for everyone.  Everyone within our community, and others all around the world, will be sharing what makes them more.  
It is easy to participate. You will find the #IAmMore poster here and follow….

...these three easy steps. 

Don’t forget, once they have created their #IAmMore poster, you need to share out their unique message with the world at the #IAmMore hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.  
Check out all of the #IAmMore pictures already being shared. It is just so inspiring to see these beautiful messages from people everywhere. 
What better way to reinforce this message than by joining the movement as well as entering a contest that challenges us all to think differently, and gives teachers the chance to show what MORE means in their classroom? This contest also allows us all to showcase how every student’s skills can be used to become all they dream possible. 

As we plan to kick off #IAmMore as school starts, we created an activity that I would love to share with all of you.  

To make it easy for you to integrate #IAmMore into your class, I’ve included a sample lesson plan for an #IAmMore Activity here: 

Lesson Plan Title: #IAmMore Activity
Concept / Topic To Teach: Community/Social Environment/Caring Matters. Seeing the potential in everyone. 

Standards Addressed:
General Goal(s): Give students and teacher a voice and illustrate what makes them “more.” Empower students and teacher to be seen as more than our limitations. Encourage confidence and drive to succeed.

Specific Objectives: 
Icebreaker - Learn more about each other
Inspire my classroom
Encourage communication and sharing

Required Materials: 
#IAmMore poster for each student and teacher. 
Markers (assortment of colors preferred so students have ability to decorate the poster)
Camera/phone and social media accounts for posting 

Step-By-Step Procedures:
1. Print #IAmMore posters for each student (and yourself). Posters found here.

2. Distribute posters and ask students to complete, answering the sentence “I am more than…”
a. Give examples: “I am more than the grades I make in school.” “I am more than an athlete. I want to be an engineer.”
b. Show the examples on the #IAmMore website that you will find here. You can also show them the #IAmMore Twitter and Instagram.  This will be great inspiration for all of your students to let their voice be heard too.

3. As they finish their posters, give everyone a chance to share. 

4. Take a picture of each student holding up their #IAmMore sign. 
This is also a nice tie in to a conversation about using social media for good and how it is always important to share kind messages and images on Twitter, Instagram and other social media forums.  

5. Upload photos (approved photo release only) to #IAmMore contest for a chance to win $1,000 for our classroom. 

We will be creating #IAmMore posters the first couple weeks of school and sharing them throughout our community and through social media.  

There are also lots of opportunities for tying this into other subjects and through collaboration.  Here are a few of the ideas we have as we kick off #IAmMore….

Possible Connections to Other Subjects: You could tie this #IAmMore project into different subjects including writing, language arts, foreign language, social emotional learning, art, music and more. 

It would also be a wonderful way for your students to connect with other students and educators around the world through Skype as they share their message aloud.  This would tie in speaking and listening skills as well.  

Adaptations for younger students and students who need a little extra support: This is a terrific activity to do collaboratively with different age levels and for those who need a little extra support by buddying up with a friend or even another teacher. The #IAmPoster could even be used collaboratively by completing the #IAmMore statement together as a pair or even small group. 

Extensions for the #IAmMore Activity: 

I love the idea of having students also create an art piece sharing how they feel when they say and write their #IAmMore statement. How can art show this statement, too? What makes students unique through the eyes of themselves as artists? 

Students could also create a video or digital storytelling project sharing their #IAmMore activity through images, video and words. These would be a nice thing to showcase at a special event and share with families. They would lead to rich conversations, too.  

Here is everything you need to know about how to enter the #IAmMore contest and where you can enter today. 
Remember, all you have to do is share your photos on social media to become a part of the #IAmMore movement. Be sure to use the hashtag #IAmMore and tag @WeAreTeachers, and you could win an awesome prize package….
...or $1,000 for your classroom! 
This is an opportunity for you and your students to have a voice and be seen as more than your challenges.
I’ll be presenting a webinar on September 19, 2018 to talk more about the #IAmMore movement and how I’m integrating it into my lessons. Register here at this link.  

We can’t wait to see so many #IAmMore statements and the meaningful creations that will go along with these special words. Your students will know they are more after this!