Claymont Library Year End Review

2016-17

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Future Ready Librarians

This past summer at the ISTE and ALA annual conferences, Future Ready Schools announced a new framework for Future Ready Librarians. Led by Bill Bass and continuing the work started by Dr. Marty's commitment to Parkway Schools becoming Future Ready, the Parkway librarians' professional development for the past year has focused on how to apply this initiative to drive the direction of our libraries.


In this annual year-end report, I will focus specifically on how I used Future Ready Librarians initiatives during our most recent year in the Claymont library.


Additionally, information will be included from

  1. my Year 3 Student Survey
  2. details from my time spent on Parkway's Library Program Evaluation Team
  3. how I am including Parkway Cares in our library program

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We have continued to grow the use of our makerspace as a collaborative space. Students are currently guaranteed the opportunity to tinker and create each week. (This initiative will be described more under Empowers Students as Creators.)


Another way we have built community in our library is by adding puzzles and a chess board. Although the puzzles haven't been utilized as much as I had hoped, the chess set has been a huge success. Each morning, students have been hurrying inside to be the first to arrive at the chess board. Students across grade levels have connected over a common interest.


Students have also gained increasingly more opportunities to show ownership over the library. Our student volunteers, otherwise known as Library Minions, come each morning to set up computers, check in books, and clean the makerspace. I have provided them with opportunities to share their favorite books in a This Minion Recommends... book display. Mosaics students have also shown off projects on topics such as the Seven Wonders of the World, and a Girl Scout troop shared their knowledge of conserving water. After viewing these materials, several students have been inspired to learn more and utilize our nonfiction resources.


Some classes have begun to realize to the value of our space and have held classes in the library, specifically on days when students are selecting research topics or locating informational texts. With two teachers and a vast amount of resources, students are walking away with the tools they need to complete their assignments successfully.

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I'm excited to report I have collaborated with teachers more this year than any other so far. I attribute this to more communication of my desire to collaborate (including Book the Librarian as a feature in my newsletters to staff), as well as providing ideas for how I can add to curriculum under the umbrellas of literacy, technology, and innovation. The following is a list of some of this year's collaboration efforts:


  • most 1st grade students used green screens to share book reviews from their writing unit
  • one 1st grade class used Animoto to create videos which shared their book reviews from their writing unit
  • a 2nd grade teacher is using Recap as a formative assessement tool
  • all Kindergarten classes participated in a BreakoutEDU during Dr. Seuss Week
  • one 3rd grade teacher invited me in to share ideas of how local students have impacted their community through Genius Hour projects
  • our art teacher and I worked together on teaching about color as students were learning how to design buttons
  • a 3rd grade teacher utlized the makerspace to create catapults for their force and motion science unit
  • all 2nd grade classes visited the library with their teachers to learn how to use PebbleGo and proper note-taking skills in their nonfiction reading unit
  • I'm meeting with some of next year's 4th grade teachers to plan how they can incorporate genius hour in their classrooms
  • our Mosiacs teacher brought her class to the library so we could work together to provide resources for their rainforest research project
  • a 3rd grade teacher and I collaborated for a MakerCare project, using our button maker to raise money for a kindergarten student who has been battling brain cancer
  • a 2nd grade class learned how to create websites using the new Google Sites
  • a multitude of assistance in selecting good books for read alouds, mentor texts, or research projects for all grade levels
  • as often as my schedule allows, I am meeting with grade levels during our instructional coach's overviews of the new reading and writing Lucy Calkins units to understand how I can best assist in their implementation


Barriers such as fear of technology and lack of time/resources are beginning to crumble, and learning is being impacted in an exciting way. In the upcoming school board presentation for Library Program Evaluation, we will be recommending scheduling time for intentional collaboration between librarians and teacher teams to support curriculum. I'm excited to see how our collaboration grows over the next year.

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Our main source of creativity in the library comes from the makerspace. Each of our 500 students has access to the makerspace every week. They may make after they shop for books during their library visit. Once a month, each student takes part in a dedicated makerspace time during their class library visit. Sometimes, students have free choice in their making. Other times, students participate in a makerspace challenge. Some challenges this year have included...


  • building the longest cantilever
  • creating something with origami paper that you've never made before
  • working as a team to transport an action figure to the top of the balcony without walking or throwing him up there


As part of the Library Program Evaluation team, we held a face-to-face sit down with a selection of Claymont students representing various grades, races, genders, and library participation levels. All of these students had positive things to say about the makerspace. Some of their quotes are listed below:


"I’ve started to make things and be more creative."


"I was really creative. Now, since the makerspace, I’m really, really creative."


"I was only creative with solving problems. I wasn’t really creative with building stuff and seeing how stuff was made. I’ve always been interested in it."

This spring, all of our students spent time in digital creation. Kindergartners created art using Google Drawings, and 1st graders presented their first Google Slideshow to their classmates. At the same time, 2nd-5th graders began learning about Design Thinking. They each started with empathy and traveled all five stages while designing a button for someone else (and one for themselves). Within this project, students learned about narrowing down their message to the world, copyright laws, and the art of selecting colors and fonts.


This upcoming school year, I'm planning on launching a large MakerCare project. Using the Design Thinking Model, students will research an organization or charity that they would like to help via making. Instead of raising money or supplies, they will determine how they can make something in order to show their support. Examples include weaving sleeping mats for the homeless out of plastic shopping bags or using scraps of fabric to create chew toys for an animal shelter.


We also intend to continue our annual participation in the Hour of Code. Since the launch of our makerspace, we have incorporated elements of physical making into HoC, such as Spheros and Bloxels. I'm excited to add Bee-Bots and other primary-friendly coding tools next year. According to my Year 3 Student Survey, Hour of Code is the second most popular library program after the makerspace.
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This is definitely an area for improvement. Although I share digital resources, tools, and ideas in my monthly staff newsletter and in face-to-face conversations, there is not currently an online platform to easily locate these curated sources. This summer, I am taking a Parkway professional learning course on "Websites for Librarians" which will hopefully provide knowledge and time to explore and develop a helpful area of support on the new school website platform.


However, considering the sharing of our (mostly physical) resources, I have included a summary of our library's circulation statistics for the last six years. Even without increasing the amount of materials students are allowed at a time, our checkouts have grown by nearly 50%. I attribute this growth to...


  1. A welcoming atmosphere where students are encouraged to visit at their point of need
  2. Self-checkout allowing students to access books throughout the entire school day, even if I am personally unavailable
  3. An improved organization system where students are able to locate their preferred genres quickly and easily
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During the 2016-17 school year, I led a number of professional development opportunities, both inside and outside of Parkway Schools.


Inside Parkway, I taught Twitter for Educators this summer to about 20 teachers from various levels and content areas. I also led a session on GAFE4Llittles (K-2) during this summer's Parkway Google Academy. During the afternoon of our November professional learning day, I taught GAFE4Littles again to a packed room of about 40 primary-level educators, and repeated this session during our January EdCamp-style PD for K-1 instructors. As we rolled out our 1:1 chromebooks this year, I activated Google accounts and created login cards for all of our kindergarten and first grade students. I trained all of these students on Google basics, and I was able to meet with various teams (specifically in lower grades) and assist in setting up Google Classrooms and assignments. Of course, I continued to send out monthy (or sometimes bimonthly) newsletters as a digital means to spread professional learning opportunities to all of the Claymont staff.


Outside of Parkway, I presented at several local heavily-populated events. I shared GAFE4Littles (K-2) at the regional Google Summit this past October. In January, I joined other Parkway librarians in a panel discussion on makerspaces at EdPlus' Library Media Specialist Academy. I also was approved to present twice at METC in February, The Bookstore Model: Genrefying and More to Evolve Your Library and Break Down Your Walls: The Connected Classroom.


In addition, a librarian colleague nominated me for METC18 Spotlight Educator. The winners have not yet been announced, but if selected I will be a featured presenter at next year's METC conference.

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As a building that is blessed with 1:1 chromebooks and a nearly flawless wifi network, my equity focus has been on each students' experience. Some methods to accomplish this are to specifically create opportunities for using all major G Suite apps (Drive, Drawing, Docs, Slides, Classroom) by first grade. I have found that many teachers are much less hesitant to use digital tools if their students already have experience with them.


Another strategy of mine is to provide basically zero limits on the type of information a child can check out in the library. If a child of any age desires to read about Harry Potter, climate change, Donald Trump, refugees, WWE wrestlers, or Islam - they are allowed to acquire that information. Libraries are all about freedom of information, and I believe that freedom applies to all of our students, regardless of their grade.


I also do not limit our makerspace supplies or activities to just students in certain grades. Our kindergarteners have created some amazing characters for Bloxels video games. One third grade team smashed the Claymont record at building the longest cantilever. Fifth graders have been enamored with simple materials such as Magna-Tiles. The best makerspace materials transcend age limitations.


During my three years at Claymont, I have served on the Diversity In Action team. I have also been intentional about purchasing a large number of diverse texts each year. This year, I created a Diverse Literature Bingo card for teachers to encourage them to read books with characters from all cultures and ethnicities. We also hosted an EyeSeeMe Bookfair in February, in conjunction with our spring conferences and Black History Month. The week before the book fair, classes held a deep discussion in the library about demographics not represented in much of children's literature. Students displayed empathy as they realized that the basic reading experience is not equitable for many of their friends. Many were inspired to intentionally seek out diverse texts and expand their experiences in reading both fiction and nonfiction.

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At least one member of each grade level team piloted Lucy Calkins' new ELA units this year. A common consensus school-wide was the need for more nonfiction resources, and specifically ones that are accessible to those at a lower reading level.


The entire kindergarten and second grade teams piloted a free trail of PebbleGo. They found this database provided a wide variety of up-to-date, high interest articles at a lower reading level. Each topic also has a read-aloud option, is organized into easily understood sub-topics, and comes with various multimedia supports. I am requesting our building purchase a site license for PebbleGo Animals, Biographies, Science, and Social Studies databases for $1,045 per year.


Another requested resource is WeVideo. Both a third grade teacher and our strings teacher have expressed interest in a WeVideo for Schools account, which would allow students to access advanced video creation features and the ability to create an hour of published video time per month. The subscription costs $199 for 30 students, or we could request a quote for a package with more students access.

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Our closest partnership is with our parent community. Just under 30 parents dedicated their time this year to check in books, shelve books, assist students, and perform odd jobs in order for our library to remain fully functioning. The PTO has been incredibly generous in funding our makerspace initiative and sending in making donations such as fabric and old technology. Within our Library Program Evaluation surveys, one of the most common trends in the parent comments demonstrated their lack of knowledge of library happenings. Although I utilize multiple social media platforms to publish updates on our program (which currently have a combined 250 followers), not all parents are online and not all parents will "like" the library. Therefore, I believe it would be beneficial to send out parent newsletters once a trimester using a platform such as Smore. These communications would bring parents up-to-date on the functionality of a library in the digital age, provide book suggestions, show off photographs of their children as they grow in their technology skills, and communicate opportunities to volunteer or send in donations for making.


During Hour of Code, we were lucky to have two professional computer programmers spend the day with our students. One of these was a Claymont parent; the other was simply a community member and Monsanto employee. These women were a tremendous benefit to our students as they described how they use coding in their various lines of work and assisted our students in higher-level programming skills.


We have also grown our relationship with local libraries and bookstores. The St. Louis County Library has continued to provide all Parkway students with a public library card. Several hundred of our students received new cards this January and are now able to access both SLCL's physical and digital resources. Some of our teachers have encouraged their students to access these resources in our building when searching for a database or an ebook. The St. Louis County Library is also sending a representative to Claymont to promote their summer reading program and its incentives. Claymont students are frequent visitors to the county library, which I anticipate will increase even more after the Daniel Boone Branch reopens this fall.


Additionally, we have partnered with Left Bank Books and EyeSeeMe bookstore. Left Bank Books sponsored John Martin and Scott Seegert's visit to Claymont this February. EyeSeeMe set up their book fair during spring conferences, which I hope to have again for an even longer stay next year.

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This is another area of growth for me. I currently advocate for student ID and password protection with teachers (regularly encourage to not post in classrooms, keep information in a safe location, shred at the end of the year). I also have my library volunteers sign a confidentiality statement at the beginning of each year concerning student privacy with checkouts, specifically concerning both material content and overdue/fine status.


However, I believe I need to dive deeper and intentionally encourage students to advocate for their own digital privacy rights. The following two websites are examples of what I hope to implement in the upcoming school year.

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Inside our building, I continued to serve on both the Technology Committee and the Diversity In Action Committee. As I am in a unique position of working with all grades and all students, I also plan on joining the Advisory Committee next year. Within these committees, I initiated a "Technology Resources Cheat-Sheet" with links to various websites our building subscribes to and local "experts" to assist as needed. I also designed a "Diverse Books Bingo" to encourage teachers to select read-alouds which represent a variety of cultures and ethnicities.


I was also selected to co-represent Claymont at the West Area Communicators Meeting with Dr. Marty. It was here that I relayed the happenings of Claymont (including in the library) and passed on information on district occurrences such as the switch to Gmail.


Most significantly, I served on the Library Program Evaluation team. This group studied library trends both locally and nationally, met with experts in our field, toured recently remodeled library branches, participated in a Library Open Forum for the community, created and analyzed data from surveys, held Student Focus Group panels, and developed recommendations for the school board. These recommendations focus on...

  • Advocacy
  • Responsiveness to the Community
  • Instruction and Programming
  • Educational Leadership and Professional Development
  • Library Physical Spaces

I'm excited to see the growth, both at Claymont and district-wide, that comes from our work this year.

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Finally, in response to our district's Parkway Cares initiative, I included the following question in my Year 3 Student Survey. With 500 students to maintain a relationship with in our building, I was a bit nervous for the response to this question. It is a goal of mine to increase the number of personal connections I make with students each week.
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My METC18 Spotlight Educator Nominee video, featuring our students using their creativity, design thinking, and the makerspace to care for a friend in need.
Julie Boatner - Claymont Library

Julie Boatner

Library Media Specialist

Claymont Elementary

Parkway School District