At the METC Summer Institute: Building STEAM and Creating Spaces, I attended a wonderful presentation by librarians Carolyn Allen (@cmscaia) and Alissa Roades (@AlissaRoades). They shared their Makerspace activities tied to the Show Me State picture book award nominees from last year. For instance, after reading The Tooth Fairy Wars by Kate Coombs, students did research comparing animal teeth, then built a box that Nathan could use to keep his teeth safe from the Tooth Fairy.
Some advice Carolyn and Alissa shared:
- Include constraints/requirements and success criteria to help guide students, especially in early maker lessons but don’t show them the example, or you will get copies.
- Some students struggle with open-endedness and no right answer of maker activities, but hopefully they will get more comfortable with this over time.
- Coordinate timeline of units so same/similar materials can be used across various grades.
- Many of the Show Me connection lessons could be adapted to use with multiple grade levels
- Plan ahead to request donations of materials
- Before you do the other books consider using resources from Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere, Engineer (check out the event kit)
I’m excited to adapt this idea for my older students. I think reading an excerpt from the book and then completing a Makerspace activity tied to the book would be a great way to entice students to read the book and to incorporate Makerspace into literacy activities in the library.
To jumpstart this process, I have created a collaborative document where we can share our MASL Maker ideas for the Show Me, Mark Twain, Truman & Gateway nominated books for 2017-2018. I’ve already added some ideas Carolyn and Alissa mentioned in their presentation as well as some of my own brainstorms. Even if you are not a Missouri librarian, I invite you to check out the document, as it may spur some ideas for you to incorporate Makerspace into your promotion of reading.
One of the “wedges” of the Future Ready Librarians framework that is probably already a part of most school librarians current practices is building instructional partnerships. When I was taking graduate classes for my library media certification back in the early 2000s, collaborating with teachers was a major focus for us. The “holy grail” of collaboration at that time seemed to be finding ways to co-plan, co-teach and even co-assess a research project. However, I don’t feel this is always practical or even desirable. While making sure students are taught information literacy skills is one of my roles….it is only one of many, and it is not really feasible for me to “push in” to a single class for weeks at a time.
Leveraging instructional partnerships is still very important in my work. In the five years I’ve been in my current library, getting staff “on board” has been key in building a culture of literacy at our school.
I have taken inspiration from Belleville West High School, who were the 2014 grand prize winners of the Follett Challenge. Their video, “Making literacy a school-wide effort” inspired me to pay them a visit. Although I did not adopt the million page challenge at the center of their program, I did come away with lots of ideas I have incorporated. I am really impressed with how they leveraged instructional partners in their building including teachers, administrators and even athletic coaches.
Of course yet another area of instructional partnerships for Future Ready Librarians is in the area of technology integration. Here are some questions to consider: How are you leveraging digital tools and resources to improve your instructional practice? Do you model effective integration across content areas? Do you encourage through collaboration the strategies for encouraging discovery, analysis, creation and presentation?
I’d love to see your answers to these questions and more!
Check out this padlet for some great ideas on the many ways Future Ready Librarians are building instructional partnerships.
Please join in on the conversations by posting your own blog responses and by joining the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group, where a new weekly blog challenge will be posted every Wed. through May 24.
Started by Dr. Kristen Mattson, the FRL Facebook group has almost 6,000 members and growing and “seeks to support K-12 Future Ready Librarians as they support administrators, teachers, staff and students in Future Ready Schools.” You can also join in the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureReadyLibs and subscribe to/join my FutureReadyLibs Twitter list.
We sent Jennifer Frazer, one of our high school English teachers, who also serves on our tech committee, to the METC preconference workshop on integrating technology tools in English Language Arts to Meet Common Core Standards. She came back with lots of great ideas to share with her department colleagues, but we also asked her to do a short screencast of some of the webtools she learned about that would be of interest to all subject areas. So, Jen chose Newsela, Rewordify, and Instagrok. I particularly like how Rewordify makes a text easier to read not by shortening it (which most automated sites do rather in-eloquently), but by substituting easier words or phrases, while still allowing students access to the original word and its pronunciation.